How can I listen to the music on IMSLP?

I am sure we all agree that IMSLP have an amazing collection of music. It has become a standard resource when a score isn’t to hand or some part is missing, and for many other purposes. I don’t know about you but sometimes I just like to browse. I get scores up on my PC screen I didn’t even know existed. Some of them are pretty messy I’ll admit; but for any even half well known piece they usually have at least one good edition. Bach keyboard, organ, chamber – eat your heart out.

But unless you eat scores for breakfast the feature you miss is the ability to play them back. Why can’t you do this? Well you would need a good OMR (Optical Music Recognition) music scanning program, and they don’t come cheap do they? Well actually done the right way you can actually listen to these scores for free, using just your smartphone. I thought of this the other day and to my amazement it worked. All you need is a smartphone and PlayScore. What is playscore? It’s an amazing OMR program but in the form of an app. In other words it plays printed music straight from an ordinary photo. My eureka moment came when staring a a complex looking Bach fugue on the screen from IMSLP.

Now I have been using PlayScore to help me with my piano assignments for a while. It works like a dream. I can just snap the music and hear what the music is supposed to sound like before I try it myself – takes a lot of the agony out of sight reading in fact. Well, as I say I am sitting there looking at this Bach and suddenly I had the thought ‘maybe it works from a screenshot?’ In two seconds I had out my iPhone and snapped the screen right there through PlayScore. 5 seconds later I was listening to Bach’s lucid part writing just as if I had been playing it myself (well, maybe not me). How about that? Obviously you need a reasonable edition and a bit of care with the photo but basically it works. Amazing.