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
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'

Is this the end of the Dowager Countess?tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
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.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn