We all know how karaoke works: a music video that plays audio track with the melody vocals removed, while the song lyrics flash across the screen so that you can sing in synchrony. NomadPlay is basically Classical music karaoke!
NomadPlay is an innovative music platform which makes instrument practice fun and engaging. It’s created by a French start-up company, Digital Music Solutions, co-founded in 2014 by two young entrepreneurs, Clothilde Chalot and Hannelore Guittet. It took them 5 years of research to develop NomadPlay, which relies on an algorithm developed internally that separates sound input sources. This technology makes it possible to isolate any instrument from a live or studio recording, giving users the ability to silence that instrument’s track and subsequently play in the place of the original musician.
Having first grown in Europe, the music platform is now expanding to Asia, launching first in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. NomadPlay gives any musician, from beginners up to professionals, the opportunity to play along with orchestras and ensembles, singing along with choirs, playing a duet with virtuosic instrumentalists. A brand-new way to enjoy playing music and a chance to improve along with great artists!
Currently, NomadPlay has partnered over 150 artists and ensembles, gathered over 1000 titles and covers over 20 instruments. Currently available worldwide in 4 languages – French, English, German, Chinese – NomadPlay is easy to use:
- Choose a piece and its performers suiting your level
- Select the instrument you want to replace
- Play along with the audio track
What you can do with NomadPlay:
- Silent any instrument
- Create loop segments to practice a section over and over again
- Change the tempo
- Write annotations on the sheet (app version)
- Download pieces to practice offline (app version)
I requested for a trial account from NomadPlay and tried the full experience. You can access the content either from the web or from smartphone/tablet app on Google Play Store and Apple Store. The app version is more responsive and less glitchy than the web.
I scrutinized the audio tracks and was impressed at how NomadPlay’s algorithm could remove specific instrumental parts. It’s largely effective for compositions with few instruments, like duo, quartet or choral works. I would want to believe that titles with few instruments are purposefully recorded in separate tracks in order to achieve that perfectly clean “minus-one” quality.
For symphonic works, it still manages to remove the specific instrument but the remaining tracks sounded slightly less detailed. I would say the accuracy is 95%. However, I find that it does not affect the learning process, because you don’t really need to audio to be perfect, since you would be busy playing along with the “karaoked” audio. As long as the other instruments are still audible and your own part is muted, that’s good enough. In fact, if you are playing a symphonic work, it’s actually fine to have your own parts playing in the track, since it’s not a solo part.
I find that NormadPlay elevates my appreciation for musical compositions and how every instrument plays a part in a piece of work. It also lets me listen to my favourite Classical works in a different perspective. It put me in a conductor’s view of what a music would have sounded like without the solo part.
It certainly helps to improve score reading, and with NomadPlay, I do not have to source for scores to listen with the music. The NomadPlay platform provides audio, score sheet, and the experience to play or sing with an ensemble or orchestra. I can easily jump to specific bars, alter tempo, even write annotations. It would be great if I can select more than one instrument to be silent, so that there is an option to practice with another person, for instance, vocal sections.
The majority of the titles appear to be original works from contemporary composers, while the works before the 19th Century are relatively few. Here are some titles I found and added to my favourites list:
- Bach Suite No. 3 in D major BWC 1068 “Air”
- Beethoven Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major
- Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
- Mendelssohn Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Minor
- Mozart Ave Verum
- Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G Minor
- Mozart The Magic Flute Overture
- Vivaldi The 4 Seasons “Spring”
I highly recommend you to go to their website to browse their catalog to see if your favourite works are in there. Register for a 15-day trial, and sign up at S$9.99 per month (introductory offer). It benefits students, teachers, musicians, Classical music lovers. Use it to record your own YouTube video performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Bach “Air” in D Major.
The project has won many awards including Madame Figaro’s 2020 Business with Attitude award in the “knowledge” category, the ArtTech Prize 2018 (Geneva), Paris Innovation Grand Prix in 2017. In 2020, NomadPlay is also part of the Keychange Programme led by Reeperbahn Festival, PRS Foundation and Musikcentrum Öst, and supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
NomadPlay is available for smartphones, tablets (Android & iOS), as well as desktops and smart TV from www.nomadplay.app.