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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Gvido Tokyo E-Music Reader

I wonder what my uncle would think of the technology available to today’s musicians.

My uncle Harold Joseph was the conductor for India’s Army and the New Delhi Symphony Orchestra back 30+ years ago, and was in the process of recording Indian folk songs before they became lost to history.

Apparently he and I look quite similar now—and I even shared his ability to drink copious amounts of alcohol without achieving an annoying next morning hangover—unfortunately, he’s long since passed.  

It’s his fault that my dad—who really looked up to his oldest brother—put me into music, learning to play the accordion—because that’s what we could afford and had the room for—before I switched to the piano when I was 16. Along the way, I played clarinet for orchestra, tenor sax for band, and baritone sax for stage band.

Along with the saxophone(s), I taught myself how to play all brass, woodwind and keyboard instruments—not having the syncopation coordination for percussion or the patience to develop callouses for strings.

I ended up teaching piano and clarinet to supplement my income while in journalism school which all helped me in my process to get to Japan to assistant teach junior high school English on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

I personally did not enjoy music all that much, but I did when I first came across an instrument for the first time and discovered the thrill of knowing I could play it immediately. I know, weird. It’s why, when I picked up an instrument and discovered I couldn’t play it, that I was ticked off and never put the effort in to learn it (percussion and strings). 

As a musician/athlete/lousy academic student, one of the most frustrating things after failure to launch a new instrument, was having to turn the sheet music sitting on a stand…

Some 30 years to late for me (I do not play a musical instrument any more—I just don’t feel it, which is why I get my creative energies out via writing), the Japanese firm Terrada Music Score Co. has created a device that allows the musician a simple way to turn the page—the Gvido Tokyo.

It looks like a tablet… in fact it’s two 13-inch tall e-ink screens… and it comes with a Wacom touch pen.

The screen can show two A4-size pages of music… and the pen means you can actually write notes on the sheet music.

And all for US$1,600… say, what? What else can it do?

Pages are turned on screen by simply touching the side of the Gvido, or there’s a Bluetooth hands-free foot pedal you can use—that sounds like a better option, rather than accidentally knocking the expensive device off a shaky music stand.

Still… there’s no chance of the sheet music being blown off the stand when the percussion cymbalist smashes his instrument together.

  • storing music scores in the Gvido, or it can be synced to the cloud via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth;
  • reads scores in PDF format;
  • allows you to place musical scores in order for less hassle during a performance;
  • runs for several days without needing a recharge.
At the price tag being asked, only the well-heeled musician or spoiled brat could afford a great tool like the Gvido.

I’m unsure if my parents would have bought one for me. My dad did buy me a crystal mouthpiece for my pearwood clarinet… a beautiful piece… but an electronic music sheet holder… probably not.

Still… I would think that professional musicians might like it.

I wonder, however, during rehearsal after finish a piece, the conductor then says he wants everyone to play from such-and-such place… how easy is it to find the spot he means?

Ah, I’m sure Terrada Music Score Co. has thought about stuff like that.  

Allegro, presto-presto,
Andrew Joseph

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