Android, Applications

SnapNPlay for Android reads sheet music and plays it back to you

One of my earliest memories is sitting in front of a piano. Although I had a wonderfully patient teacher I just never made a deep connection with the piano. I love music though and have collected various instruments over the years including an electronic keyboard. Every now and again I’ve attempted to brush up on my sheet music, but like a language not spoken often, my grasp of musical notation waxes and wanes.

With SnapNPlay for Android, you to take a picture of a piece of sheet music and the app plays it back to you. Even in its early stage of development, SnapNPlay’s optical music recognition algorithm does a good job of interpreting printed sheet music and it seems to work surprisingly well with sheet music snapped from electronic displays.

A steady hand, good horizontal alignment, lighting, and camera are all factors that will increase the probability that SnapNPlay will accurately play back the sheet music.

The free version allows you to set the tempo, but to set the key and clef you’ll need the paid version. The developer behind the app says that SnapNPlay currently does not try to parse rests, grace notes, and triplets and it sometimes interprets a non-note glyph as a note.

Although not a replacement for reading sheet music, it’s a fantastic aid to give a dabbler like me affirmation that I am indeed playing the correct notes. The app reminds me of the kReader print-to-speech technology developed by clever man and futurist Ray Kurzweil. SnapNPlay could have similar applications for the blind.

As far as we can tell the only app for iOS that does something similar is the KAWAI app in the Japanese iTunes store. Steinway’s Etude for iOS helps you learn sheet music with predefined files that can be downloaded through an in-app store.

Here’s a video of SnapNPlay in action.


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