New Features — April 2015

It’s that time again. Instead of a lot of little things, this month we have a small number of big new features!

MIDI Recording / Transcription (experimental beta, Crescendo/HTML5/Chrome only)

We’ve been working for some time on our new transcription feature and we’re very excited about it. This feature lets you play a musical performance directly into Noteflight via a MIDI controller (such as an electric keyboard, midi guitar, or other programs inside your computer such as Imitone), then automatically converts what you played into music notation, on the spot.

How does it work? Pretty easily. If you’re a Crescendo subscriber using Chrome, you’ll see a new Record button in the HTML5 Editor toolbar next to Perform (reload the page if you don’t see it; if you are in our Flash editor, switch to the HTML5 editor in the View menu inside the score; HTML5 loads on mobile devices). Click Record and you’ll enter a special mode:


Press “Start” and you will hear a count-in metronome for some number of bars (you can adjust how many, or turn this off). Then Noteflight starts to capture whatever you play, beginning at the currently selected measure in the score. You won’t see notation yet, but it’s listening! Keep on playing as long as you want, then hit “Stop.” The music you played will appear, converted into notation. The metronome and/or other parts you already had in the score will be your accompaniment as you enter each new part, so you can record into each staff one at a time, accompanying yourself and creating a fully orchestrated musical texture.

Our unique approach to converting performance into notation balances accuracy against simplicity. In each measure of the music, Noteflight chooses the simplest way to notate your performance while remaining fairly accurate. This is typically what you want. Transcription that is too accurate can end up looking overly complicated and hard to read. Such notation should usually be made simpler so that it is readable by performers. But notation that is too simple is also often wrong: it should be complex enough to capture the nuance of what you actually played. Noteflight tries to find the balancing point between these two extremes. One thing you can do to make your recorded score look more simple is to make the minimum note value it allows larger (under Options), for example choose “8th note”; this will avoid having your score filled with messy and confusing 16th, 32nd and 64th notes.

We think this balancing approach is the best option available, but is it perfect? No, and a complex problem like this where computers are attempting to make human judgments will perhaps never be perfectly solved. But we’ve made some great strides and we’re ready to let our users try it and have a dialogue with them about how to improve it further!

Important! MIDI Recording is only available to Crescendo and other Premium subscribers of Noteflight, only in the HTML5 Editor, and only in Google Chrome browser (since it depends on a brand new browser feature called Web MIDI). To use it, you must enable the still-experimental Web MIDI feature, which we expect to be officially released in Chrome soon.

To find out more, please visit this section of our User Guide here!

New Japanese Translation, and More

And now a brief briefing from the language lab.

We continue our labors in the translation trenches, and the latest result is a Japanese version of our site! A big thank you and shout-out to Maho Azuma, the many-talented translator who helped with this.


Michael Meixner also contributed the first-ever translation of our Users Guide into German, as part of our exhibiting at MusikMesse 2015 in Frankfurt this year.

We have also begun a more ambitious effort to allow many different translators to contribute their efforts to Noteflight, in a decentralized way. This will not only allow many more languages to be supported, but will also let translators do a better job of keeping up with the many changes and improvements to Noteflight. Watch this space for further announcements about language support!

To change your language setting in Noteflight, click “Info” on our main page and choose your preferred language in the lower left corner. The User Guide in German appears after you have switched the language setting to German.