Adele and Emeli Sandé's piano scores for iPad spark sheet music revival

The world's largest internet-based sheet music retailer has recorded 'double digit growth' for 2013

In an era before the phonograph first transfixed listeners, sales of sheet music defined the popular hits of the day.

Now notated music is enjoying a revival as a fashion for piano-led anthems has encouraged amateur musicians to discover their inner Adele by playing along with their iPad.

It’s no longer enough to replicate the vocal style of today’s hit-makers on The X Factor. With guitar and piano tutorials freely available on YouTube, aspiring performers want to sing and play along with hit songs.

The most successful songs in recent years have been based around emotive female vocals and strong keyboard-led melodies which appear deceptively simple for part-time pianists to emulate.

Download sales of sheet music are soaring as musicians learn to play along with Adele’s "Skyfall" and Emeli Sandé’s "Read All About It Part III".

Nine of the top ten best-selling sheet music songs of 2013 so far are by solo female singers including Pink, Birdy and Christina Perri, whose Twilight soundtrack song A Thousand Years has prompted countless amateur YouTube cover versions.

The sheet music industry, which had been facing potentially terminal decline, as music-lovers shared lyrics and chord notations over the web for free, has now seized upon the renewed desire to “play in  a day” current hits.

Musicnotes, the world's largest internet-based sheet music retailer and publisher, has sold more than 17 million downloads to 4 million customers worldwide, recording “double digit growth” for 2013.

Sheet Music Direct, another digital publisher with a catalogue that includes Adele, Katy Perry and Coldplay songs, today released a new iPad app, which allows musicians to download the basic score of a song for just 69p.

The iPad app is designed to combat unlicensed sheet music copies placed on the web by giving struggling musicians greater flexibility.

With a swipe of the iPad a song accompaniment’s tempo can be sped up or slowed down. The key can be transposed to help karaoke warblers who can’t cope with the original’s range.

Players can download an instant “set list” of their favourite songs.

There is no shortage of long-haired “how to play Stairway To Heaven” video tutors on YouTube but the app offers the sacrilegious alternative of flipping Led Zeppelin’s anthem from guitar to piano.

“Like the recorded music industry, sheet music has had to make a difficult transition from physical to digital,” said Alec Saiko, Sheet Music Direct’s marketing manager. “Digital is now about 15% of our sales and what is driving the surge in demand is artists producing piano-led hits.”

Mr Saiko added: “It’s often British artists leading the way, from Coldplay to Emeli Sandé to Adele. We sold around 6,000 score downloads of "Skyfall".  The overwhelming majority of the 2013 best-sellers have strong piano lines.”

The sheet music cause was boosted last year by Beck, who released Song Reader, an album which consisted entirely of 20 pieces of sheet music. With no recorded guide, the songs only “came to life” when they were performed and the singer encouraged his audience to interpret them using their own instrumentation and tempos.

Beck’s release harked back to the late 19th century, when the piano in the parlour resounded to the latest popular songs emerging from Tin Pan Alley, distributed via sheet music copies which sold in millions. The rise of the phonograph and radio brought sheet music’s golden era to an end, although the published format still provided the UK’s weekly hit parade until 1952.

The market research company IBISWorld warned that the sheet music industry still faced challenges from education cuts, reducing schools’ investment in musical scores for pupils, “karaoke on YouTube” and pirated versions of sheet music on the internet.

Consumers can shop around for the cheapest sheet music, reducing revenue, and as a result, “the number of companies in the industry is forecast to drop over the next five years by 2016,” IBISWorld predicts.

Digital sheet music however promises to revolutionise life for orchestras, liberating musicians from the requirement to carry around sheaves of paper music. Mr Saiko said: “The iPad means musicians have access to everything ever composed, all the time. That noise you hear when the musicians all turn the page of their score will become obsolete. There is a pedal you can tap which digitally turns the pages.”

Instant downloads helped David Osborne, “pianist to the Presidents”, who has played at the White House on 30 occasions, keep his distinguished audience happy. He said: “Requests were made at a White House party for some Stevie Wonder tunes so I pulled out my iPad, summoned Musicnotes.com and bought sheet music for 'Overjoyed' and 'Ribbon in the Sky'.”

Chilly Gonzales, the pianist, producer and songwriter, said: “My Solo Piano II song 'White Keys' looks great in the Sheet Music Direct for iPad app - the versatility enables pianists from beginners to experts to dissect the song from all of its angles and truly ‘know’ it.”

Top Ten best-selling sheet music scores 2013:

Emeli Sandé: Read All About It, Part III

Adele: Skyfall

Bruno Mars: When I Was Your Man

Rihanna: Stay

Christina Perri: A Thousand Years

Pink: Just Give Me A Reason

Birdy: People Help The People

Adele: Someone Like You

Emeli Sandé: Clown

Birdy: Skinny Love

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam