While I generally embrace digital technology, I don’t consider myself to be an app guy. I don’t follow the top app charts in the App Store or play any games on my phone or iPad. I’ll admit to having played some Clash of Clans back in 2016 when my then 10-year-old son was into it.
I have my app habits such as Spoify, YouTube, social media — you know, the standards. However, last week I came across an app which I might end up using daily, depending on my musical practice habits.
The app is called nkoda (no upper case “n”) and it is, for lack of a better description, the Netflix or Spotify of sheet music. The London-based startup was founded in June of 2018 and has licensed the catalogues of 98 publishers.
When I first subscribed to Spotify, I was not spending $120 per year on recordings. I was listening to my own library and YouTube-ing it. When Spotify figured classical music out, I subscribed because of the freedom to explore.
The same thing can be said of nkoda. The monthly subscription is $9.99. Have I been spending $120 per year on sheet music? No. Have I donated my Ring Cycle scores because I was tired of watching them collecting dust as I’ve delayed listening to the entire thing in one day year after year? Yes.
My first test of nkoda was Verdi’s Aida since I’m singing in it at San Diego Opera this October. I made the score available offline and proceeded to bookmark the chorus scenes so I don’t have to turn 30 pages to get to the next section. You can see the chorus scenes on the right hand slider. I put each scene in its own color.
The only issue I can see with using nkoda at the Aida rehearsals is if the company uses the G. Schirmer edition as opposed to the Ricordi edition. It appears as though Schirmer isn’t onboard with nkoda at this point.
What I find most interesting about nkoda is that it provides equality of access/opportunity. Equality of opportunity is a big deal. It is the foundation of any egalitarian society. Companies such as nkoda succeed in accelerating equality of opportunity more effectively than any government.
In 1791 Benjamin Franklin was quoting The Declaration of Independence to Thomas Jefferson regarding African-Americans. It wasn’t until the 1960s that African-Americans received equal status on paper. The equality of the status wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on because of the way the pre-internet culture functioned.
Say what you want about Amazon, but Amazon has never followed someone around the store suspecting they are a thief based on the color of their skin or their gender. With nkoda, there are no looks of disapproval at the sheet music store if a kid doesn’t look like the right type of customer. There is no aura of arrogance toward those who are uninitiated into the culture of music.
We can look at nkoda as the next step in the demise of print media but we can also look at it as another step toward an egalitarian culture based on equality of opportunity.