There are only a handful of apps on the iPad that are actually useful for music notation on the iPad. Tonight that list grows by one.
SymphonyPro has been updated to a version that is actually useable! I have really wanted this app to be useable ever since it came out but every time I have tried it in the past there have been too many bugs. The developers really wanted this app to work too though and have stayed hard at work. With this update I was actually able to get the app to work. It did the job very well in fact! There are still a few issues – The interface for instance has been updated to be iOS7 comparable but it is actually way too light in several areas and this makes it difficult to see! I also had an issue when inputting a clarinet part and the transposition of the key did not work very well . I was able to find a work around though because SymphonyPro works well with MusicXML, so with a quick export of my score from SymphonyPro into Sibelius I had the issue fixed. In fact this sort of situation is exactly the scenario I see many people using the iPad for – starting musical scores and ideas on the iPad then transferring them over to Sibelius, Finale or Notion on a regular computer.
Let me make a list of some of the areas I thought was very useful in SymphonyPro -
- I could input and edit the music with very intuitive taps on the touch interface.
- I was able to use a MIDI keyboard to help input music along with using the virtual keyboard/fretboard.
- I was able to record that MIDI keyboard live (required some editing but could be faster)
- When recording live there are nice quantization options and the ability to turn tuples on or off.
- Nice selection of articulations, dynamics, and other musical markings like chords, text and lyrics
- Editing through use of normal copy/paste, insert/rearrange, along with undo/redo was possible.
- I could play back the score to listen to it.
- Exporting of the final product had several options – Music XML, PDF, Picture, AAC, and even MIDI! SoundCloud is even an option – Lovely job there guys, thank you!
There are still some areas that need improvement -
- Layout of the score – not nearly as nice as in Sibelius (See the two PDF’s I have below for comparison
- Trying to export a Picture resulted in the app freezing up (To be fair I was using my iPad1 so that may have been the issue?)
- Transposition of instrument parts still has something funky going on – I thought it was working correctly when I started but after finishing the entire score I noticed that at some point my clarinet part started displaying in concert pitch and I could not fix that issue. (and yes, I know about the “Concert Pitch” option in the score menu – did not work AT ALL!) Plus when I imported the XML file into Sibelius my clarinet ended acting like it was setup for an Eb AltoSax.
- Multi-Rest and Rehearsal markings
NOW FOR THE EVEN BETTER NEWS – All this capability comes at a very small price in storage demands! This app only requires 209MB’s! This is awesome news for those of us working with a 16GB or 32Gb iPad!
MY EXAMPLES -
Meadowlands-Sibelius - Click to see the PDF from Sibelius that I imported from the MusicXML file out of SymPro. I edited the transposition issue quickly and added rehearsal markings is all I did here.
There are two other very important apps that are available on iPad for music notation you should know about as well….
Notion Music, owned by PreSonus Audio Electronics, has both a desktop app and also an iPad app that is rock solid! I love that the desktop app is only $99 and that it works hand in hand with the iPad app, which is only $15 (Which is quite a bargain, if you are familiar with prices for music notation apps!) The problem with the iPad app is that it requires you to have 1.18 GB of free space on your iPad and that is only for the basic sound set! Now don’t get me wrong – these are going to sound awesome, but unless your iPad is of the 64GB or 128GB version you very well are not going to want to spare that much space!
Then there is NotateMe from Neuratron- This is an amazing app that is well worth the price! You get to handwrite the music and it turns it into printed/computerized sheet music! I was more than willing to pay the $22 full price for this app because it is so amazing – handwritten music notation – any idea how much THAT costs on a regular computer? PLUS they even offer a free 1 staff version!
NoteFlight.com works very well through the Safari app so this is another great option.
There are other apps that are fun to play with – ScoreCloud Express lets you sing/play/whistle into and it will tell you the notes you are singing and is on a spring time sale for only .99 cents! (You should only sing one note at a time in this app by the way – meant for mono-phonic music!) TomChord on the other hand will recognize chords you are playing or from a song in your music library!
All of this comes at the same time as a new blog entry from an upcoming music app from former Sibelius developers who are now working at Steinberg - http://blog.steinberg.net/2014/03/development-diary-part-six/