Brussels Philharmonic partners with Samsung, replaces paper sheet music with Note 10.1 tablets

by: AdrianNovember 8, 2012

If there’s one thing Samsung’s a master at (besides manufacturing reliable and fast gadgets), that’s advertising products in the most unexpected ways.

And while usually those range from the occasional busting Apple’s chops to the offering of free products to faithful and sweet fans, today we’re dealing with the start of a “musical revolution”. At least that’s what the Brussels Philharmonic calls the recent partnership between the institution and Sammy to replace paper sheet music with Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets.

Launched at a world premiere in Flagey, in the center of Belgium’s capital, the unique cooperation has as primary target to blend the traditionalism and prestige of one of the most respected symphonic orchestras of today with the innovating technology of the world’s best-selling phone manufacturer.

In other, more plain words, what the Philharmonic will do is save up paper, time and work to get to a much simpler way of creating art. The tablets that will replace the traditional sheet music should help the classical music institution save up around €25,000 in paper, making a lot of people’s work also much easier.

Composers will be able to deliver their work faster to the orchestra, but also make notes and annotations in real time, without worrying that these will be unreadable or without the need of transcribing entire sheets of music.

Musicians will share the scores faster and on the go if needed, not to mention the storage space saved by the Philharmonic or the much lighter luggage that the orchestra will now carry while traveling. Last, but not least, the page flipping should also be easier on a tablet compared with a traditional sheet of paper, with the Note 10.1 capable of accommodating more notes on its screen at any given time.

The tablets given to musicians in the Brussels Philharmonic will be one of a kind, having pre-loaded NeoScores software for easier sharing and tweaking sheet music, but also a special concert mode to block outside distractions when in “action”.

All in all, we have to give it out to Samsung for another original and well-thought marketing campaign, but also for helping classic music keep up with 21st century technology. Do you agree? Is there any downside to all the upsides listed above? Is Sammy starting a “musical revolution” with this move?

  • Greg

    The first time somebody runs out of battery in performance of the internet connection goes down or the app crashes or freezes not allowing a quick page turn when needed, or the device itself suffers some sort of problem, some poor player will get very embarrassed and this will be abandoned (or at least given a very serious re-think). I also wouldn’t be surprised if every player will have a paper ‘backup’ on his or her stand as well, just in case. I’m a professional singer living in London and a tech nut. While replacing paper music with e-music has long been a goal for a lot of people, I’m not sure the tech is fast or reliable enough. Making notes, for instance, in rehearsal is something that has to be done very quickly some times. Fumbling with an unfamiliar S-Pen – or whatever – may cause annoying and unnecessary delays. I *hope* it works and that it’s adopted elsewhere in the industry. I doubt it will, though.

    • Michael

      If they publish the final scores to PDF for distribution to the units, it should be as stable as reading a book in Kindle etc, and also have a couple spare tablets on hand. Adjust the powersaver timer of course so the screen doesn’t go blank in the middle of an extended piece :)

    • Nhat-Viet Phi

      As a professional accompanist who has been using an iPad 2 and AirTurn pedals every weekday since September 2011, I can make the following observations. Granted, this reflects only my preferred app on my preferred device, but the point likely stands. 1. Running out of battery in performance = failure of user to prepare accordingly. 2. Internet connection should DEFINITELY not be an issue during performance. Beforehand, maybe, but even that reflects lack of foresight. 3. Page turn freeze: not an issue, if proper checks were done before concert start. 4. Almost any other kind of problem can be attributed to having too many background apps left unterminated. Easily rectified.

      Downside: having to maintain and organize paper backups negates the advantages of leaving paper in the first place. Ergo, logically, the “backup” kit would include a second iPad (and AirTurn), updated to contain the same library as the first. This is not as easy as it sounds.

      I can only hope that publishers of traditional print music get on the bandwagon right the heck now and start selling their vast catalogs online for immediate access through forScore. Not just for the viewing convenience of tablet users, but for the publishers’ overall long-term survival. I absolutely wouldn’t mind paying full price for clean, direct-to-digital, Barenreiter digitals (for example), so long as I could acquire immediately, then fully annotate and re-structure them in the app of my choice.

  • john

    Look at the photo of the harpist. She has at least two paper scores on her desk. They look too large to be transcribed to tablet size. The accompanying video barely shows even a brief glimpse of the orchestra using tablets. My cynical self says this is more the orchestra doing this for ad dollars and I don’t blame them, it is tough to get funding. I bet paper scores is still a large part of their lives and editing is done in Finale on a laptop, not a tablet.

    I read from a tablet half the time I play the piano, so I know its benefits. While they’ve come a long way, they have a long way to go before completely replacing print scores. I also do much of my reading from e-ink readers and smartphones, so I am hardly a technophobe. From my view as an amateur musician, print still holds much appeal until something like the e-ink newspapers in Minority Report comes around,

    Power and crashing are issues, but don’t forget the unwanted popup.

    I’ll be more convinced of tablet adoption when it is not accompanied by a large ad campaign.

    • Nhat-Viet Phi

      Because most musical scores are inherently larger than letter-size, they may not translate directly to PDF and likely require changes for effective reading from tablet. This may be as simple as resizing on a copier before scanning, or may require more complex graphic manipulation on a desktop before final importation. It could be that this was already done, and that that the scores were just there for safety reasons.

      I haven’t found the iPad 2’s ten-hour battery charge life to be an issue; an extension cord was the only additional tool I have ever needed in those rare, exceptional occasions. Does the Tab 10.1 not last as long? Also, I’ve never seen unwanted popups in forScore; are popups a fact of life under Android or something? Finally, crashes in my experience are largely avoidable with sufficient user knowledge and preparation…

  • anything to help the arts is a plus in my eyes