Music Scanning with PhotoScore 8 and NotateMe for iPad

psasbundle8dvdpackIf you have ever worked with a group of musicians then you have run into the same issues I have – you will at some point in time need to take printed sheet music, turn it into digital notation and tweak it in various ways. Maybe it is because a part is too hard for your student, maybe it’s because you don’t have the correct instrumentation, or you need a different instrument to cover a section of the piece but the music isn’t in the correct key. Maybe you just need a rehearsal recording and you don’t want to play in all the parts yourself. Maybe one of your students arranged a piece of music and now the students in the band need parts printed out for their instruments even though the basic arrangement was only a quintet.

The nice thing is, these days it is getting easier and faster to get this job done. Neuratron LTD has released their latest and greatest of PhotoScore. PhotoScore is now at version 8 and now it comes with NotateMe Ultimate. NotateMe Ultimate is for those of you, with a touch screen computer, who want to handwrite music but have it turned into computerized notation. NotateMeNow and NotateMe are for iOS and allow us to handwrite our parts out on our iPads/iPhones so we can do this anyplace we happen to have a few moments. NotateMe and NotateMe Now for iOS also have a PhotoScore plug-in available that simply is as amazing as PhotoScore on a computer (well, pretty close anyways)

THE SCENARIO: I am always looking for the fastest way to get my marching band arrangements into my computer so i can do things like I mentioned above. I wanted to share with you what my latest findings are with the new PhotoScore 8 update running against the iPad version of PhotoScore inside of NotateMe. The results are pretty amazing….

EXAMPLES: Let’s take a look at just one part, the Quads part. The marching percussion music has always taken me the longest to get input into the computer so I think this is a good example. Now, for those of you who have ever worked with marching band music you will know that it is pretty small. The size is a factor in getting scanning software to recognize what it is trying to read. The quality of what you start with is always an issue as well – it used to be that in order for me to have ANY hope of PhotoScore working well I had to scan all my music as TIFF files at 400 DPI. Why is that an issue? Well number one – time. It takes longer! Number two – size of files. The quads part alone as a TIFF is 900KB whereas the PDF with ALL the 18 pages of parts in it is 1.5MB.

So here you go… Take a look at how this software works with the new updates. Three different ways to get to the same outcome – Here are the scanning results without any touch up. This will show you how extremely accurate this process is!

FROM A TIFF: I started the old fashioned way – On my Laptop running PhotoScore 8 reading a TIFF file that I scanned with the scanner sitting on my desk next to me. (which, may I add, means that I HAVE to be sitting here at my house to get done)
TIFF Version

FROM A PDF: Next I used my Laptop running PhotoScore 8 and opened the PDF version of the part. PDF Version

FROM MY iPAD RUNNING NotateMe and the PhotoScore Plug-in:
iPad Version

So as you can see, every which way you do this there will be some clean up to do. The part that astounds me is that with the exception of one added flat for some reason – EVERY SINGLE NOTE IS CORRECT! With the exception of the iPad putting the tuplets early every time EVERY SINGLE RHYTHM IS CORRECT! (Usually I will get a few rhythms and notes that need fixing when I do this for let’s say a flute or clarinet part.)

You can also see that using the 400DPI TIFF still is a better outcome than trying to read the PDF version. To be fair, my PDF files are scans done on our copier at school. I think that Neuratron says you should be using PDF’s created on a computer, printed straight from a Notation app. I have actually had real good success though with many of my PDF’s working well enough that I don’t need a separate TIFF file for every part. Again, marching band music is small so that causes issues!

Here’s what are still issues no matter which way you do this –

  1. Multi-measure rests are hardly ever read correctly. Not a problem on the desktop because it usually only puts in the wrong number of measures which is quickly fixed with a double click and typing the correct number. On the iPad you can see that the multi-measure rests were just skipped. Again, not too hard of a fix using NotateMe and my finger I can add a measure quickly by double tapping and drawing in a whole rest. Of course if there are a lot of rests you may just want to bring the file into a regular notation program and add the measure there.
  2. Accents – I was very surprised that the iPad did not fair very well here. Usually the iPad picks up most accents and staccatos. Marcato accents frequently are read as “A”
  3. Rehearsal Marks – Almost never read correctly. Again though these are better added later in a regular notation app even though you can do it at this stage.
  4. Percussion Parts that have bar and 2 bar repeats – again, never works. Simply add them later.
  5. Layout of the new digital version – if you for some reason NEED the new version to be played out exactly like the original then you can see that using the iPad doesn’t give that to you right away. Simply use Notion and set up your page layout options.

Here’s what works well –

  1. PhotoScore 8 and the the PhotoScore plugin inside of NotateMe for iOS is extremely accurate at notes and rhythms. I usually have very few notes or rhythms per part to fix (maybe 3-6)

Here’s how I clean it all up –

When using NotateMe on my iPad I find that I can fix many of the issues using my finger (or a stylus). It does take a bit of getting used to it but so does working with any notation app. I simply delete anything is wrong and redraw that measure if it is notes/rhythms. For the multi-measure issue I double tap and draw in a whole rest unless there are a ton of measures for some reason in a particular part – then it gets done in Notion. I will fix articulation issues inside of NotateMe because it is just so darned fast and easy to do here. I will also fix the tuplet issue inside NotateMe because after fixing it once I can simply copy and paste it every other time.

When using PhotoScore on my Laptop I will delete all the really wild issues, then I will use the option key to copy a few things like bar lines and whole rests so the 2 bar repeats can be added later and I don’t forget about them! I will not usually add in the accents, staccatos and marcatos in this app – that gets done way faster in Sibelius or Notion.

(SIDE-NOTE: I will say that when using PhotoScore on the laptop it is very nice to have the original piece of music in a split screen view to refer to instead of having to go back and forth from the paper original to the computer screen. When using PhotoScore on iPad you have to refer back to the paper sheet music to make sure all errors are corrected.)

NO MATTER WHAT – One of the last steps is to take all the individual parts and combine them into a score. That always gets done in Notion or Sibelius. I save XML files out of PhotoScore, import those into Notion and then if it is a transposing part I will transpose the part to concert pitch after which I select and copy the entire part. Then I switch to the full score and paste that part in.


It appears as though the first list above far outweighs the 2nd. In reality the first list is a bunch of quick and easy to things to cleanup. It is the 2nd list that used to take forever to accomplish when entering note by note! Here in 2015 this process takes so much less time. This process can be done ANYWHERE too! As you can see from the above examples – the iPad isn’t quite as good as PhotoScore 8 on a computer but it’s pretty darn close!

If you are a musician with an iPad I would be downloading NotateMe Now immediately because it is free and will let you run PhotoScore on a single staff piece of music – like a flute part.

PhotoScore is one of those pieces of software that is constantly up-to-date, year after year. If you have never tried it out, it is time to take the plunge!

NotateMe Icon SmallNotateMe Now – Free /PhotoScore inside of NotateMe Now – Free for one stave musicNotateMe –

NotateMe Icon Small NotateMe – $39.99 / PhotoScore Plug-in IAP – $29.99

PhotoScore BoxPhotoScore 8  – $249 (Free demo available)

As always – all links to software on my blog are affiliate links. That means that I get 7% of Apples 30% share of an app purchase. The developers still get their full 70%. These links are simply giving a little back for my time to write about my experiences. Hopefully by my blogging I save the rest of you some time or maybe money or maybe give you new ideas.

Apple Music and Apples Policy for Renewal Rock

IMG_2849I’ve got to say that there are so many things that Apple does as a company that really make them stand out amongst the rest of the crowd. Here is one of those shining moments…

After signing up for the trial Apple Music membership I received an email that outlined the fact that this was an auto-renewing membership (which I knew). Id I didn’t want to get charged then I would have to cancel my membership (which I knew)

Any other company would have left it at that.

Apple on the other hand did not leave it at that – they choose to take the high road and SHOW me where I could TURN OFF the auto-renew option in my iTunes Account! They did this by giving me a link that by tapping on launched the exact setting that allowed me to turn off the auto-renew “feature” right now!

Thanks Apple – We appreciate you being right up front and direct with us, your customer. Loyal because of experiences like this over and over through the years!

Apple Music Auto Renew

Happy Fourth! Here’s Some Looping Fun For You…

 I am interested in what kids could do if they had the chance to loop and create…. 

Apple Music

IMG_2849Did you know that Apple Music was released?

News about it is all over the web so you can get more details by a simple Google search but here are a couple of thoughts… (The simple version)

Cost is $9.99 per month or $14.99 for your family, if you actually have the Family feature turned on. That adds up to $119.88 or $179.88 every year.

Benefit is that you get to listen to any of the music that Apple has in its massively, large, humongous,  library. You can even download any of that music to your device for offline listening- which is one of the reasons people have paid money to other streaming services like Spotify. You also get to listen to that music in any order you want all ad free, which is another reason why people have paid for Spotify or Pandora.

Drawback is that once you stop paying that $ you are not allowed to play that music any more. If I just simply went out and bought the actual CD for the music that I really wanted to listen to then I think I am going to be further ahead down the road.

Now let’s talk about the Connect feature in Apple Music – Apple Music Connect is hopefully a spot where artists can share pictures, comments, videos, and other ways to communicate with their fans. Kind of like taking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram along with probably a few other social media sites and rolling it all into one neat little space called Connect. This feature could be killer IF and only IF Artists actually use it.

My major complaint about Connect so far is that I got signed up to follow a whole bunch of Artist I really don’t ever want to see anything from! When I first started using the service this morning it was harder then ever to figure out how to get rid of those people too! This afternoon Apple has given me a way to fix that finally BUT I should not have to go through this long list to tap on the UnFollow buttons .


My big wish currently for Apple Music or Connect is that I could read about each and every Artist in the catalog. Basically like a Wikipedia but without having to go to a different spot to find the info. This of course is going to take a little while to get input into Apple’s catalog of music, it is a big collection!

The good news is that there is currently a three month free trial of Apple Music. Just make sure to go into your Apple Music account and turn of the automatic renewal so you don’t forget in three months!

oh and by the way – No Apple isn’t filling YOUR library with versions of you your tunes that are DRM. Just saying though that it is always a good idea to have a back up of you library and not only have it stored as an iTunes Matched Cloud library!

Seline Redux Synth

Seline Redux IconSeline Redux Synth – Scale Based Dubbing Keyboard with Lead, Drone, Beat and FX

This is free right now and seriously rocks! This app fits right into the “what apps are great for music performances with my students?” question.

Here is part of the App Store description – “Seline is a great live performance and improvisation music instrument that will keep you playing for hours, even if you haven’t touched any synth before. The sound is altered on the fly with a dozen of subtle AI algorhythms that add unbelievable expression, character and life to your music. Drones (chorded synth pads) are generated on-the-fly based on the complex analysis of your melody line and provide an excellent background layer for your melody.”

No brainer – go get it! Now! Seriously!

Seline Screen Shot

LoopTree – New loop recorder app that is pretty sweet!

LoopTree IconI’m not sure why I think looping is so interesting – maybe because it is exactly the type of process I would love to see my students use when we do our compositions in band class? Anyways, there is now a new looping app to throw in the mix –

LoopTree – $6.99 (Introductory price until July 20)


Here is the introduction from the App Store – “LoopTree is an exciting new breed of looper that brings more fun than ever to creating live music! Record and group practically unlimited vocal and instrumental loops using a powerful, layered interface that gives you unrivalled control over the music you create.”

Part of what I am really liking from this app is the layout and design – take a look at how beautiful this is:


You can see the 7 slots for loops to liven the left up above. Being able to see the waveforms like that is very nifty and makes it easy to see what all is going on. In each of the loop slots you see little grey circles – those are to set volume and pan for that particular loop – drag it up-down for volume and left-right for pan. The three little blue bars on the blue loop is one other feature this app has up it’s sleeve! It’s called layered looping – take a look at this screen shot:

LoopTree Screen Layers

This is what you get when you go inside of that layer. Now you can see that there are 3 loops that are all a part of this overall loop, all layered together and each with it’s own volume/pan control that is set separate from the main loop volume/pan settings. This layered looping is all nondestructive which means that as you keep building up the layered loop the previous recordings are all still there and untouched.

Watching the two videos the guys have done makes it obvious that this app is easy to use, even when diving in and applying FX like Beat Repeat or the Filter (these are what you see on the right hand side of the screen shots above.)

I am looking forward to getting my hand on this app – actually I am looking forward even more so to getting this into the hands of my students and my own kids. I want to see what they come up with!

I also am not quite sure how the MIDI control/features work so I am hoping they put a video together for that! But I do know that with support for MIDI, Inter App Audio, AudioBus and Audio copy/paste your options are going to be pretty massive! LoopTree of course works with the built-in microphone or the microphone built into your headphones but you will get better quality through the use of an audio interface with better mics/instruments hooked up. That means you can record your guitar/keyboards through a direct connection and not have to rely on a mic’d sound source!

Here is a YouTube Video they have so you can see the app in action:



Scanner Pro 6 from Readdle – Updated and on Sale

Scanner Pro 6 IconToday marks a huge improvement for Readdle’s Scanner Pro app for your iOS devices.

Scanner Pro 6 is $2.99 for a limited time (regular price is $6.99)

Don’t let the “Pro” in the name fool you – they are serious! This app does an amazing job of what my professional scanner sitting on my desk next to my computer used to do!

It’s a major update that all 7 million existing customers are getting for free. Enjoy the all-new design and bespoke Scan Radar mode.

* BEAUTIFUL NEW DESIGN – We have redesigned every major screen in the app to make everything fast and easy.

* RE-EDITABLE SCANS – Adjust your scans long after they had been made. Change from B/W to color and even modify document borders.

* SCAN RADAR – Scan Radar automatically finds photos of documents and receipts in your Photo Library. Now you can use your favourite camera app to scan something and then quickly find it in Scanner Pro.

* AUTOMATIC SCANNING – Just hold your camera over the content to automatically scan it.

* FAVORITES – Scanner Pro 6 lets you easily add favorite file destinations with a single tap. Quickly upload your scans to any folders in Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, iCloud and OneDrive.

* OneDrive and OneNote SUPPORT – Upload your scanned documents, receipts and whiteboards to OneDrive and OneNote.


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