A new music handwriting app called NotateMe has been released by Neuratron Ltd. Neuratron is the veritable maker of the AudioScore transcription software and PhotoScore music scanning software, and its lite versions of the software have come bundled with Sibelius’s recent versions.
NotateMe is a brand new app designed to recognize a user’s handwritten manuscript and turn it into music notation that can be instantly played back on the mobile device, printed, or exported to MusicXML and MIDI formats for use in other apps and desktop software like Sibelius or Finale. It is a universal app on iOS (designed for both iPhone 5 and iPad 2 and newer) and on the Google Android OS for tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note, S3, S4, etc.
Currently at “public beta” version 0.9.7.5 on both OS platforms, NotateMe is being offered at $14 on iOS and $15 on Android. The app is half-price during the unspecified public beta period, after which the price of the app will double, presumably to $28 on iOS and $30 on Android. As Martin Dawe, Neuratron’s CEO, told me, “We are currently offering it for half price to compile as many handwriting samples as possible (although it should already work well for most people).”
Yesterday Neuratron published a YouTube video demonstrating some of its most powerful features, including on-the-fly recognition, copy and paste by tapping and dragging, a Sibelius-style “Navigator” embedded preview window, adding instruments, zooming, and playback:
I asked Martin about the inspiration behind creating NotateMe. He said, “The technology is based upon the handwritten music recognition engine used in PhotoScore Ultimate, which has been in development since 2006. Our ambition is to allow musicians to create music whenever and wherever they feel inspired. I would love to see a resurgence in handwritten notation skills, particularly in education. I believe it stimulates creativity working with one’s own script.”
Interest in music handwriting software from potential users seems to be high. Readers of this blog will recall the dramatization video that a company called ThinkMusic created back in January, which initially confused many viewers into thinking the video demonstrated the actual app, before we reported that it used screenshots from Sibelius and GoodReader. According to ThinkMusic’s web site, their app is currently in development, and scheduled for release this fall. (The dramatization video and photos are still prominently displayed.)
Having just downloaded Neuratron’s NotateMe, however, you can be assured that their video demonstrates an actual, working app, and it appears to function as advertised. Some patience is required, though, as the app “learns” your handwriting style and attempts to make adjustments in real time. I was able to create a basic score, export it to MusicXML, and open it in Sibelius 7. The complete users’ guide to NotateMe may be found here, which is well worth reading if you plan on using the app.
Martin offered further advice: “If NotateMe doesn’t recognize your style immediately, keep at it, as it will adjust. Another piece of advice is to make markings clearer with further strokes if any transcription errors occur.”
Since the app is currently in public beta, there will likely be improvements over time, so potential users might weigh the pros and cons of paying half-price for a beta version or waiting for a more stable official version at a higher price, depending on each user’s interest and needs. (Once the app exits out of public beta status, the update will be free to those users who have purchased the beta version.) Neuratron is encouraging users of the beta version to email them examples of their handwritten music from within the app. Updates can also be found at Neuratron’s Facebook page and on their (brand-new) Twitter account.
Features not yet implemented but promised for the near future are:
- AudioScore In-App Purchase: Sing/play into your device’s microphone and it will be automatically notated using Neuratron’s AudioScore technology
- PhotoScore In-App Purchase: Take a photo of sheet music with your device’s camera and have it played back to you, or export it as a MusicXML/MIDI file, using Neuratron’s PhotoScore technology
- Enter music notation by playing the on-screen keyboard
- Save PDF files of NotateMe scores to publish online, distribute and print
- Automatically sync scores to the “cloud”
It will surely be exciting to see how NotateMe and other apps in this space develop, how users adapt to the possibility of using “old style” entry methods — writing music out by hand — on new technology, and how the results integrate with existing music notation software, such as Sibelius.