Optical Music Recognition Technology Will Be the Google Books of Music Scores…

  • Save

How can older music scores become relevant again?

According to Phys.org, Lancaster University is leading a project that could solve that problem. They are developing technology that will be able to read content from images of thousands of musical scores stored online.

These scores are stored as static images, so it’s not very easy to search through them.  Furthermore, if a musician needs to alter a piece for an instrument, he typically has to copy the entire score to make changes.

The project in question is called “Optical Music Recognition from Multiple Sources“. It is led by Dr. Alan Marsden.

The optical music recognition technology will operate similarly to Google Books, allowing people to search scores by phrase or note combinations.

Dr. Marsden says:

“Within a year, we hope to bring about significant improvements in Optical Music Recognition technology, bringing new life to old scores and giving people with an interest in music new opportunities to interact with these large online music libraries.”

This project is one of 21 “Digital Transformations in the Arts and Humanities” projects being funded by a £4.6 million fund set aside by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Photo from Flickr by Toshihiro Oimatsu used with the Creative Commons License.

8 Responses

  1. Minneapolis Musician


    Eventually all music that was ever written will be available on the Internet.

    There are already so much available that I wonder why I need to write any. Well, I do it for me, for the joy of it.

    And the music a person hears is the music that is presented to them in the current moment, regardless of how much is actually available if they were to search. So if it is my music that is presented and they enjoy it, then I have served a purpose for good.

    <a href="http://www.reverbnation.com/GlennGalen&quot; title="Glenn Galen, Minneapolis"

    • Anonymous

      “Eventually all music that was ever written will be available on the Internet”

      Not all music — you always have to wait 70+ years after the death of the composer and the arranger.

  2. Anonymous

    This is actually a great idea — provided of course that all content is by composers and arrangers that have been dead 70+ years.

    Otherwise, it’s just theft.

    But then again, most of the sheet music people want is much older than that. And it doesn’t make sense that publishers still make fortunes from music in the public domain.

    • wallow-T

      on making money from public domain sheet music: there was an old saying from earlier in the copyright wars. “You’re not paying for the content, you’re paying for the container.”

      New editions of public domain compositions can create copyright landmines. An editor’s claim of copyright on a version of a score nearly destroyed the respected classical music label Hyperion Records back in 2004-2005.

      • Anonymous

        “New editions of public domain compositions can create copyright landmines”

        Very true, indeed.

        But in this case, only the content survives the transformation from bitmapped pictures to editable and searchable files.

        If it’s done correctly, of course.

        So the old container is gone. It’s just like if you use notation software to rewrite a Beethoven Symphony. Then you’re free to upload it and sell it.

        • Anony2

          It’s the design, layout and typesetting of the edition that is in copyright, not necessarily the content that edition is holding (unless it’s an arrangement of course).

          So as long as you find a score where the musical work is written by a composer/lyricist/arranger who died before 1955 AND the edition was published more than 25 years ago, you can reproduce until the cows come home.

  3. TuneHunter

    In this zone they can suit themselves!

    Not to many dollars destine for GOOGLE advertising furnace.

    Intoxicated by advertising cursing thru middle ages of marketing of 21st century!