StaffPad Piano Product Image

Deepfakes may have hogged many of the headlines around AI music this year, but below those controversies there’s growing interest in other applications for AI technologies in music. Especially when they’re tools designed to help musicians.

The latest example is a feature called ‘Piano Capture’ that has been added to StaffPad, a composition app sold by Muse Group.

The feature ‘listens’ to what you’re playing on a piano and converts it into readable sheet music. The pitch is that composers can capture their musical ideas as they tinkle.

The company thinks it will be particularly useful when teamed with another new StaffPad feature called ‘Video Staffs’ which enables people to import film clips into their scores. The key use case being if someone is composing for a film, TV show or game soundtrack.

StaffPad founder David William Hearn described the process used to build the new ‘Piano Capture’ feature.

“We built a special training pipeline — called Pianola — able to generate thousands of hours of music, recorded through digitally-controlled acoustic pianos and sample libraries. This simulated all kinds of real-world scenarios and environments, resulting in a huge collection of output recordings,” he said.

“Pianola then analyses each performance in reverse, learning to recreate the audio input. Over many hours of training time, the system learns to recognize what note pitches and durations look like, even within chords. And from there, it learns to transcribe piano performances it hasn’t heard before.”

The AI then “tidies the score” to ensure other musicians can easily read it. Muse Group sells StaffPad as an $89.99 app for iPad and Microsoft tablets.

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