A new iPad app aims to re-invent the veteran music-sheet by being the first interactive “musical kindle.” The Tonara app is the first interactive sheet music app that listens to people while they play music or sing. The app enables musicians to see their exact position on the score, and turns the pages automatically for them, at exactly the right time. The app can continue tracking the performance even if the musician changes tempo, makes mistakes or repeats a section, and also in the presence of distracting external noise.
Tonara was founded in 2008 by Yair Lavi and Evgeni Begelfor, when both of them were PhD students. “The idea came from a true need- I’m a keen amateur piano and guitar player,” explains Lavi. At the beginning, the two focused on the technology behind Tonara and especially in its advanced voice recognition abilities, alongside their PhD. From 2009 they left their studies and started working on the project solely.
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“Tonara can filter out noises and detect rhythmic changes even if someone is singing or humming in the wrong clef,” Lavi told Israeli website Calcalist. “We can also track hundreds of different instruments at the same time. There is nothing like that in the market,” he adds.
Like other popular voice recognition applications, such as Shazam, Tonara’s system can “listen” to a song played on the radio or the computer and recognize it instantly. The technology was presented at TechCrunch Disrupt (a startup competition) earlier this year. When Randy Zuckerberg (sister of the Facebook founder) sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” Tonara detected the correct song and displayed the chords on an iPad.
With the launch of Apple’s iPad, Tonara say they found the perfect platform. “We suddenly understood what should be the next product,” says Lavi. “First we had only the concept and now we found the tool and the business module- iTunes. Musicians can come to us instead of buying dozens of dollars worth of music-sheets, or instead of looking online for sheets from unreliable sources.
The startup has raised over $750,000 from investors, including Alex Zubillaga, head of Warner Music digital department. “As for now, we sell only classical music scores but in a few months time we’ll add Warner’s music collection that has artists like R.E.M. and Miles Davis, and the collections of the other three big music companies. In a year we’ll have thousands of songs,” Avi said. Digital music-sheets cost between $1-$3, depending on their length and pop songs can cost $2-$7.
For Christmas, Tonara also announced the immediate availability of Christmas carols for use with its app. The Christmas carols include “Silent Night,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, “Jingle Bells” and the “12 Days of Christmas.” The songs are priced at $0.99-$1.99.
Acoustic search will be available in the future and enable recognition of every classical or modern song- even if the user is humming it or listening to it on the radio. “The aglorhytm is already working but we haven’t applied it to the iPad app yet. It takes a lot of processing resources,” Lavi added. Tonara will support features like karaoke and automatic play-along.
“In six-months time we’ll start our first significant fundraising. Our goal is to expand the variety of songs in our collection, employ more international workers and add apps for other tablets,” he told Calcalist. The Android and PC versions will be launched in the next few months as well as another app that will assist guitarists with playing chords.