Playing a musical instrument can be challenging, especially for beginners. Trying to follow along with sheet music and having to turn the pages while playing only adds to the difficulty. Tonara has developed an iPad app that helps eliminate this burden while providing additional innovative features to assist musicians.
“This technology is called acoustic polyphonic score following,” explains Yair Lavi, CEO of Tonara. “Score following is the ability, given the scores of a certain piece or song and the live performance of this piece, to follow with very high precision the exact location in the score of the performance. Acoustic means that it works with acoustic instruments like the piano or violin. It doesn’t have to have a digital connection. And polyphonic means that it works with polyphonic instruments. A polyphonic signal is a signal that is composed of several notes being played together. A piano is a polyphonic instrument, and several instruments being played together is a polyphonic setting.”
As a musician plays music from a score, a cursor follows his progress through the song and moves from page to page automatically. It works regardless of tempo and filters out external noise. There are currently 250 pieces of sheet music in the system, and Tonara is adding to the library at a rate of approximately 100 to 150 pieces per month.
Because it works well even for beginners, it can function as a great educational tool, showing progress from playing one page correctly, to two, to three and so on. In future versions, the software will be able to display the notes that were played correctly and those that were played incorrectly, so students will have a clear picture of where they need to improve.
Musicians can download each part of a piece of music but choose which part they want to synchronize on the screen. For example, the trumpet player might choose to sync only his part, while the pianist might choose to see everything. In addition to instrumental syncing, the app also works with vocalists.
“Tonara has the only polyphonic score following technology today,” says Lavi. “We actually developed it [over] a couple of years, even before the iPad. During the last year, we ported it into the iPad, and we plan to port it into different tablets. The tablet is the ideal platform for the musician, because they can place it on the piano or the music stand.”