Behind the Scenes of Transposing Music Online

By in Music Creation, Notation

Sibelius Cloud Publishing has been going from strength to strength with further adoption on commercial publisher sites and more recently an update to reintroduce the ability to transpose the music into several different keys on the fly. This allows you to see digital sheet music directly in your web browser and change the key you need for the performer’s range or to make it easier to play or sing.

 

Try it for yourself here to see transposition in action by clicking the Transpose_button-02 button:

Choice of keys

Sibelius Cloud Publishing (SCP) makes clever decisions in the way each key is chosen, for example, it prefers fewer accidentals in the key signature and will choose keys that are easier to play than others. For example, in the C Major scale above, it chooses Db major rather than C# major. This is done by SCP taking the initial key of the music and getting all the possible keys to which it can transpose into. It then compares the enharmonic equivalents and chooses the keys with the fewer accidentals.

  Accidental Count

 

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

  Sharps

major

C

G

D

A

E

B

F#

C#

 

minor

Ami

Emi

Bmi

F#mi

C#mi

G#mi

D#mi

A#mi

  Flats

major

C

F

Bb

Eb

Ab

Db

Gb

Cb

 

minor

Ami

Dmi

Gmi

Cmi

Fmi

Bbmi

Ebmi

Abmi

Once SCP has worked this out, it processes the score into all the various keys and generates separate MP3’s for each transposition. This gets stored in the SCP database and is ready to be streamed to the customer’s web browser when they choose each key. You’ll notice with the example above and those on publishers’ sites that retrieving each key is close to instantaneous.

Why just three keys up and down?

We’re providing transposition in seven keys in total i.e. the original key plus three semitones up and three down. We’re restricting this, for now, for a number or reasons, however our research and years of experience of providing technology to allow the online publication of sheet music has shown that scores that used the Scorch plugin weren’t often transposed more than a few semitones. We found that transposition is used to find an easier key or to move the music into a more comfortable range (Sam Smith’s top D, anyone?).

As is stands today, we are limiting the number of keys to also reduce our own technical overheads on our cloud solution as each score will, on average, have 7 assets (MP3 + pages). Multiply this by the number of transpositions and for all the 100,000+ scores we have processed and it starts to become rather gargantuan.

We have plans to expand this to include 12 semitones up and down. Do to this, we’re looking at clever ways to refactor the music so less is rendered, stored and sent to the browser while still providing the same high quality experience and music in all the keys you need it in.

Where can I see Sibelius Cloud Publishing in action?

Sibelius Cloud publishing is now impressively serving over 5 million requests every week providing scores in various keys, all with a synchronized MP3, to sheet music publishers and their customers around the world. To see it in action, I offer you to visit any of these sites:

www.sheetmusicdirect.com

www.modernscore.com

www.musicroom.com

 

 

I’m a publisher and want to know more

Sibelius Cloud Publishing is currently only available to commercial publishers. To integrate it into your site, you need a good understanding of web development and REST API usage. Sibelius Cloud Publishing will allow you to embed a score into your site using a simple iframe. We let you look after the customer experience on your site allowing you to handle the catalogue, searching, user accounts and the e-commerce side. To find out more about the service,  the API, how much it costs and more, get in touch.

 

 

I’m an individual or an educational institution and would like to know more

We are working on providing solutions for individuals to share scores with each other, allowing you to write music in Sibelius and quickly share a link to the score online. We’re also making good progress with planning how educational institutions can use this in their online learning environments, allowing students to learn music with interactive examples from within the Intranet or when learning remotely.

Until we have these solutions live, there are sharing features in Sibelius to post your score to YouTube, Facebook and Sound Cloud, which can can be embedded in your own websites, too, using the tools from these providers. If you’re looking to publish your own music today, you can do so through Sibelius to upload directly to www.scoreexchange.com. To find out more about these sharing features and more, see the Avid.com website.

Get Your Free 30-Day Sibelius Trial

Get The New Sibelius Today

Access Sibelius in more ways than ever. Subscribe, perpetual, and upgrade. You can also crossgrade from Finale, Notion, Encore and Mosaic.

BUY NOW
As senior product manager at Avid, I work with all the departments in Avid from Design, Development, Sales, Marketing, Legal and Global Services to produce the future of the Sibelius family of products and solutions.