Update, January 7, 2013: See the follow-up post Makers of music handwriting app video used Sibelius and GoodReader to create dramatization
A promotional video for a new tablet app has created a bit of a sensation in the last couple of days. A company called ThinkMusic Technology has made an internet commercial for “The Music Notation App You’ve Been Waiting For” and posted it to YouTube on December 31, 2012.
It shows music being played into a tablet using an iOS interface via an onscreen touch keyboard and via a physical MIDI keyboard. It also shows users using a stylus to write music directly on screen, and, with the tap of a button, immediately converting their scribbles into engraved music. The app is shown to instantly recognize handwritten notes, chord symbols, dynamics, and lines such as slurs, hairpins and 8va lines:
However, if you watch the video carefully, you may notice that the engraved music looks practically identical to default output from Sibelius (which is why I felt it relevant to post about this on this blog), right down to the fonts, spacing of the music, and even how the slurs in the third system make use of Magnetic Layout to push the chord symbols higher:
Switching between the handwriting and the engraved image, as shown on the video, could easily be simulated using a screen drawing or annotation app.
If this a hoax, it’s beautifully done. If the app is for real, then shouldn’t the promo video should carry a disclaimer that the images are simulated? No doubt, an app that actually does what is shown in the video would be welcome among musicians, judging from the excitement in comments posted to social media. If ThinkMusic’s app designing skills are as good as the production values in the video, then this could indeed be cause for celebration. For now, though, we’ll take the skeptical approach.
What do you think? We have reached out to ThinkMusic via Twitter (no e-mail or phone contact information is posted on their site) and will gladly update this post if they reply.