Home > Uncategorized > How to play sheet music without a piano

How to play sheet music without a piano

[Kelsey Gower has been faithfully contributing descriptions to the Project for some time and is gradually working her way through the scores and creating sound files for them. These will eventually be linked to the images of the sheet music on the What’s the score? platform. Meanwhile, a small selection of Kelsey’s transcriptions can be heard here.]

I found What’s the Score? late last year through Zooniverse. I found the history behind the sheet music fascinating, but I was not satisfied simply describing it. I wanted to hear the music, but aside from a few pieces on the project page and some classical pieces on Youtube I could not find recordings anywhere. Another issue was that I did not have a piano, so I could not play the songs the way I believe they should be played. Luckily, though I didn’t have a piano, I did not have to go searching for one. With some advice and help, I found I could transcribe the sheets in a MIDI creator and play the music on my computer.


A MIDI creator is a program that provides an easy way to annotate instructions to a computer’s sound card in order to produce music. So far, I have transcribed these pieces using the program Noteworthy Composer, which can be used to both produce MIDI files, print sheet music, and preview composed songs. I use the number keys to set note values and accidentals. I press ‘Enter’ to set a note on a specific place on the staff and press ‘Space’ for a rest. It’s a simple though repetitive system. Overall, I find the program easy to use and achieve good results with it. There are limits though – for one piece I needed to improvise a bit when I found that the program does not group quarter notes into quintuplets.


After I finish transcribing a piece of music, I listen to it, make corrections, and export it in MIDI format. From there, I convert the MIDI into an MP3 using a free converter. After that, the file is sent off to the Bodleian. Soon the MP3s will be linked from the songs themselves, and everyone can listen to the music stored in this archive. I currently enjoy making and listening to these songs, and I hope you will enjoy them too.


Kelsey writes about herself:

Kelsey Gower has had an interest in music history for some time. She started transcribing sheet music out of a desire to hear the music she was describing on the What’s the Score at the Bodleian? project. Previously she has served in the United States Air Force from 2007-2013 as a linguist. During this time she earned an Associate’s of Arts in Arabic Studies. She is currently planning on attending university for a business degree. Kelsey is also a regular contributor to other Zooniverse projects.

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