Check out this amazing software that actually PLAYS your sheet music! Tell ’em Danno sent you 🙂
098 Play Score.mov: Video automatically transcribed by Sonix
All right, Ben, Let’s pass it over to me. We’ll get started Ben.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. This is Danno Sullivan and it is ukulele practice time with Danno. It’s 12:01. And that is the minute and that is the hour for ukulele practice time with Danno.
So a lot of people were commenting yesterday on the little dance routine that I was showing before the 12:01 mark, and we called it the Charleston just as a throwaway. But watching it more closely, I’m seeing a lot more dancing in there besides just to Charleston. So if you tune in early tomorrow, watch closely and see what else you can spot. I am no expert in dances by any means, but I’d be curious to know if anyone who knows more about it than me can spot some of the dances, even though I can’t recognize the dances.
I love a lot of the names of the dances, like the Huckle Buck and the Lindy Hop and the Black Bottom and all those things.
Different things for different days
So I’d be really curious to know if you can spot any of those. Today, my friends, you know Ukulele Practice Time with Danno can manifest itself in any way.
Some days we work hard on a song. Some days we goof around and don’t work hard on anything and wind up chatting about ukulele related stuff for a while. Some days we think about techniques or strategies to apply to make your ukulele practice easier, better, more fun.
Technology of Today
And today we’re doing something that we only have done once in a blue moon, which is to look at some helpful technology. Now, I know that everybody who’s here either now in real time or in the future must be somewhat conversant with technology because we’re using technology to have this get together in the first place. Right. And we’ve talked about some other useful things that the technology world provides us.
Introducing Play Score
But today I’m going to show you something that really honestly blows my mind, man. It’s a program called Play Score, Play Score, and I’m going to show you exactly what it does, but I’m going to give it this quick little preface, which just I had decided that today was going to be technology day. Why? Because I’ve got these neat programs on my iPad and my iPhone — I’m an i-guy — that I use often and that I am excited to share with you. And I finally have worked up the technology that allows me to share with you — I can share my screen from my iPad onto the the same service that we’re using to share the video of me with you. So it took me a while to figure out that. So now that I figured that out, I’m excited to share these programs with you, these apps that I have on the iPad. So today I was going to be a technology day and I had these three apps to share with you. One is called Play Score that I just mentioned.
One is called Chordify and one is called it’s got a horrible name. I-Realbook P ro. And I was going to share all of this with you today.
And I realized, no, you know, my goal is to keep these practice sessions relatively short, 10, 15, 20 minutes, and we almost always run long. And I realized that my excitement level for each of these three apps is such that I could spend the whole time just talking about one. So that’s why I decided to do this. Just talk about what is called Play Score.
Let me see if I can get Ben to bring this one up, Ben, are you there?
I’ll just I’ll take care of it. There we go. So looky here, everybody
Looking at Play Score
This is just the main screen that comes up because I have scanned in some sheet music, so.
Boy, oh, boy, the age that we live in, if you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket, you’ve got probably the best camera you’ve ever owned in your life if you’re not a professional photographer. That certainly is the case for me.
And back in the day, if you wanted to take a picture of some sheet music — here’s “Somewhere in France is Daddy” by the great Howard. I feel like we may have reference this one in the past at some point. —
A camera was a very awkward way to do it. So you would buy a scanner and you would run your sheet music through. And a scanner basically takes pictures, but it was specifically for documents. So there were a lot of problems with that. With fragile 100 year old sheet music, it meant that you were crunching up that fragile paper, trying to get it into the scanner. And then once you got it scanned, what were you going to do with this sheet music? It was it’s all very fine and well to have a picture. Unless you’re a piano player and you can read this as piano music and play it on the piano. Having a picture alone is not anything special.
The new technology
So what an app like Play Score does, the first thing it does is it lets you use your phone to take a picture. So it’s like using a scanner. It’s smart enough that it can justify, not justify. What’s the word that I’m looking for? It can correct. So if you take a picture of a piece of music.
Don’t worry. I’m really taking my time to explain this to you. What is going to do is it’s going to play the score for us. It’s going to actually play the music for us. But so let’s say you take a picture of your music and it’s crooked.
Well, the software is smart enough to take the scanned image, the photographed image and straighten it. Right. Let’s say that it’s. Skewed this way, you know, top to bottom, it’s smart enough to change the keystoning, I believe that’s called, to correct that problem, too. So what you will wind up with is a nice square flat, nicely focused piece, a photograph, of your sheet music.
What can you do with this?
All right, so what can you do with this?
I gave away, I buried I unburied the lead, as they say, and I told you that once you scan it in, once you take the photograph, Play Score is smart enough to read the music and play the music.
Now, what I’m showing you here today is not a demonstration of how to do all these things, because I’m still learning very much, I’m still learning. And it’s not a review because I haven’t learned all the things that it can do to give it a real good review. My review is so far, I love it. Over the years, I have tried different versions of software that claims to do this and some of it has been OK. Some of it has worked. If you had a perfect scan of your software, I mean of your sheet music.
But play score is the one that I’ve come to to see that it really does do what it claims that it can do. So let me start to demonstrate that for you now.
OK, Annie, it’s not expensive. It’s I think it’s maybe 15 dollars. And that’s an annual subscription. You have to pay for a subscription. If you want the advanced features, they have a free version. But I’m going to show you what some of the advanced features are. And for 15 dollars a year for this kind of power, at least for a year, I’m all in.
All right. So I’m going to bring up this one. Let’s see. I need to get Ben to take me back.
Example with simple page
All right, so this is an old blues song, “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me.” And what do you notice about this? This is a ukulele arrangement, right? This is what we usually get. So it has — I can’t draw on my screen to highlight points so just follow along as best you can. But when we get a typical page of ukulele sheet music, we get the notation, which is the melody of the song, Right? We get the ukulele chords written above in the lyrics below. So as ukulele players, mostly what we want is that chord name. That chord diagram is nice. And the lyrics, if you if you read notation, then you can start to work out the melody of a song that you don’t know. In my experience, most ukulele players do not read notation, so this is the first way some software like this can really help.
Let’s hear what it sounds like
This is the scan. It looks just like a page of sheet music, a photograph. But I’m going to be at the bottom of the page, You can see the big blue play triangle. So I’m going to hit play so you can hear what it does. And hope that this comes through to you, Ben.
Now, I’m going to stop that because it’s not very exciting, but you get the idea, it’s playing the melody.
Now, the reason it’s not exciting is because there’s nothing there except the melody. There are blues that you get from worry. There are blues. OK, so that’s the melody line that you would sing if you were strumming with ukulele. So why is this valuable? Why do I think it’s valuable?
So here’s the thing. I’m not going to be able to do this. There’s too many things going on. And I’m going to address your comment that it doesn’t sound like the ukulele. I can’t show you the screen, play the music and demonstrate ukulele at the same time. So join me, if you will, as we imagine putting these pieces together.
Strum your uke along with the melody
So imagine that melody line playing, imagine you can’t read the notes, you don’t know what the melody of this song is, but you’ve been given the sheet so I can read E Minor. And while the music is playing the melody, I can start to hear and associate how the melody and the chords go together. If I do that five times, I’m going to learn the melody of the song directly on the ukulele.
I’m going to go back to the sheet music, I’m going to push the play button and I think you’ll be able to hear the melody playing. And my uke playing together.
This is an experiment, friends. There’s no guarantee that this is going to work, it works for me in real time. There’s no guarantee that it’s going to work as I try to broadcast it to you.
So that was by no means perfect for several technical reasons here, it takes a little bit of doing because you’ve got to find the rhythm of the song, right? OK, so that’s one example of how you could use this. Does that make sense? It’s going to get much more interesting much more quickly here.
Why it doesn’t sound like a ukulele
Let me address why it doesn’t sound like a ukulele. They’re actually settings in here for. And he and others where you can change the sound of the instrument, I actually prefer when it’s just playing the melody for it not to sound like a ukulele, I’d rather have it sound like and I think it’s set for accordion right now, like something with a little sustain So when you hit a whole note, it lasts the whole note. All right. I’m going to jump into a much more complex example.
Like I said, I’m not trying to sell you on this. I’m not trying to prove that it’s great. I’m just trying to share my interest and my excitement with you, because to me, it’s doing some pretty amazing stuff.
I’m sure you’ve seen at some point programs where you can write notation on a piano. In the old days, you’d hand draw it just like handwriting, Right? Now there are computer programs where you can add a note onto a staff and the computer knows that it’s a C note. So in that case, it’s no big deal for the computer to say, I know that that’s a C note because you told me it is. And I know to play the sound of a C note because, as a computer, I can make that match. What this is doing is like optical character recognition for music. So it’s having to read the information off the page and understand that a C note is a C note and then convert it into a sound. So it’s impressive that it can do it with a simple single melody line like this.
Wow, a fulll score!
But what I’m about to show you is what it does with a full score and why this is really fun if and also helpful. I was going to say if not helpful, but I think it is helpful for ukulele players. And yes, let me show you how you can change the speed real quick, because it’ll be clearer on this real simple, real simple song.
It has a speed slider, so not real slow. Stupidly slow.
All right, so this sheet music looks more like a piece of sheet music you’d buy in a junk shop or some place — piano sheet music.
Different instrument sounds
I’m going to show you the settings and then I’ll play it for you. So remember, I said, I prefer for it not to sound like a ukulele? So I have line one set to accordion and I’ll show you why in a second. I have line to set to sound like a piano
So I’m going to leave number two set for piano and number three is going to be the baseline, so what if I set it to something very bass-like like a tuba?
And because I know the way this is set up, I’m going to turn the volume pretty low on number one, I hope you can see these adjustments that I’m making as I make them.
Save it, we go back to the sheet music now to the human eye. These have no correlation to the instruments we just set, but to the computer, we have now said that line one, Which is a line of single notes — and I’ll tell you that it’s the melody — is set to accordion; line two, which mirrors the melody again and adds in some harmony notes, is set to piano, I think. And then line three is the bass clef — the base notes that a piano player would play with the left hand, down in the bass notes of the piano I’ve set to tuba.
Let’s hear what it sounds like.
So you can really hear the melody. To hear what it’s doing, is that amazing?
If you try to keep your wristwatch dry.
So there was a little hiccup right there, but what it did, it was smart enough down at the bottom of the page, there’s a first and second ending to the song, and it was smart enough to recognize the first ending and jump back to the beginning of the song to play the second verse.
Yeah, I’m glad to see that some of your sounds like you’re seeing what I’m seeing in it, that it’s even if it’s just a toy, it’s a fun toy. But I’m really seeing the valueusing it as a learning tool.
Sheet music info
Let me show you one way I was messing around with it. So do you understand that — Let me go back line one and line two of the sheet music are about the same. So the melody of the line, the melody of the song that you sing is by itself on line one. The melody is doubled up again on line two with some extra notes. So a piano player would would read line two and line three. The piano player wants the melody and harmony notes and the bass line. So the first line is just the melody by itself.
So you could go back and say, I just want to hear the melody and I know that the melodies online, once I’m going to adjust the volume and make that one completely loud and I’m going to turn the volume all the way down online, too, and all the way down on line three. So that is essentially soloing line one.
All right, let me show you the inverse of that, all right.
All about that bass
In this case, let’s say it’s I know this song well and all that. By this time you’ve heard me reference the stupid don’t hit song so many times that you’re getting to know it, too. So I know where we’re running along. And I’m going to wrap it up here in a minute. But let me just show you one more little trick. So in this case, I’m going to turn staff one all the way down. I don’t want to hear the melody because I want to sing it.
To make this example extreme, I’m going to leave piano — Staff number two all the way down. So all we’re going to hear is the volume. I’m sorry, the bass. The tuba.
And this would be great if you we don’t have the chords for the song from this arrangement, but imagine if you had the chords in this could give you just the bass line.
You’ll learn and try keep your wristwatch dry.
So you see how you can mix and match, isn’t that fantastic? All right, I’m going to honor Julie’s request and I’ve actually never used the transposed feature, Julie.
So let’s give it a try. Let’s just see.
so I’m going to bring up my commands. I’m going to bring the volume back up on two. And how many steps shall we transpose? Why don’t we go up three steps to make it fairly conspicuous, one two three. Which means I have to bring the tuba line up three steps to or, it won’t match. So one to three, like I said, I’ve never done this. I’m curious to hear how it sounds.
And here we go.
Seems to have worked.
All right, so I hope that that is fun to you. As Julie Chen, you may not have enough time in life to work out all the fun things that you can do with some of the technology we have these days. So don’t worry, I’m not going to pile on technology all at once. I’ll save it up and do do a little bit now and a little bit later. I’ve got these two other programs that do very different things but are also extremely helpful. So fool around with this. You can get the download to test for free, I’m pretty sure. And I’d love to hear how it works out for you. So I’m always excited to share something that I’m excited about. So I hope you get excited about it, too.
Let me say, as we wrap things up today, that tomorrow I have a very special treat for us and I really hope you can make it and invite your friends. A friend of mine, Clare Sera from Los Angeles, is coming on to talk about her surprise ukulele related specialty.
I don’t want to spill the beans, but I know that it will be fun, funny and entertaining. So meanwhile, I say thank you to everybody was able to be here today. And we’ll be back again tomorrow for a very special episode.
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