All I can say is “Wow!”
Let me say that one more time, “WOW!!!”
Neuratron has really done it this time! First thing they did was to bring a handwriting app to market that we never hardly believed could happen! In fact, they did THAT in total “Apple style” – I don’t think ANYONE even mentioned it before that app just “showed up”! That app is called NotateMe Now (for the free but limited to one line of music version) or if you want the full version then the app is called NotateMe ($39.99 and worth every penny of it too!)
I will say that there WAS one company that had put together a very slick looking video with the concept of having an app that would actually allow us to handwrite music on our iPads. That video was THE hot topic for awhile – let’s see now… what was the name of that company again? Ah, never mind – it never came to be from them.
Now, Neuratron has done it all again! They released a plugin to NotateMe that allows you to take a picture of printed sheet music and it will then take that picture, perform magic spells on it and then turns it into a computer notated file! (OK…. it’s not really magic spells but it seems like it!) That plugin is called PhotoScore.
THE BASIC CONCEPT:
Let me give you a visual…. (Clicking on any of the pictures in this blog post will give you another larger version that is easier to see.)
You take Sheet Music
Take a Picture of it (I only used the free, one stave, version app – NotateMe Now. I have NOT tried the paid $29.99 In-App-Purchase – which I assume will work even better PLUS will do music with more than one stave in it!)
and you end up with this…
Now, to be fair there were just a couple of steps in between taking a picture and ending up with the Sibelius file but NOT MANY! What you will find that actually happens immediately after taking the picture in NotateMe is the app will scan the page and recognize the staves then recognize then notes. You get to watch as it does all that – it’s FAST! Then you will have this on your iPad…
Now, I made that a bigger picture so that you could really see how accurate this app is! Above you see what NotateMe scans the picture you took as and to compare, below you can see a jpg of the actual sheet music…
As you can see there were not MANY missed notes in the recognition! AMAZING! LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! This scan has the most amount of errors that I have gotten so far. I’ve done quite a few and usually there is only one or two missed items. In this scan you can see that there are some dotted 8th-16th note rhythms that the scanning process missed along with a couple of ties.
STEP TWO – EDITING THE SCAN:
Here is a link to a video which shows you how awesome NotateMe Now is at this whole process! In the video you can see how crazy easy it is to edit the errors in the piece from above – it took me just 3 minutes. Most of that was simply looking back and forth to make sure the app didn’t miss anything.
Below I take you through a few steps working with the NotateMe Now app, Notion for iPad and Sibelius on a laptop to get to a final product.
In the process of scanning some music with a lot of articulations in it I found that the app is not perfect on picking up all the articulations – it does pick up some of them but the Tenuto markings especially it has issues with. The D.S. and Coda text it did not pick up but it DID read the Gradually Softer marking. NotateMe does not read multi-rests either. So I had a few things to clean up but not much at all (In fact, I have used the laptop version of their app, PhotoScore, for years and I can say that this iPad version is BETTER!)
STEP 3 :ADDING WHAT WAS MISSED
So here are the steps I took to clean things up…. I COULD HAVE emailed myself an XML right from NotateMe Now and imported it into Sibelius on my laptop BUT this is about exploring the capabilities of what my iPad can do. So, I choose to use Notion for the iPad. Let me show you what I did….
Re-named the Part (This seemed to help later with transposing instruments especially!
Exported the XML
Opened it in Notion
Found the correct file (I did not think this worked the first time. I expected Notion to actually pop open the file and it does NOT do that. It puts the file in the list and you have to open it yourself.
Added extra measures because of the multi-rests
Inserted the actual rests
I then edited all the articulations in Notion – I feel like it is faster on the iPad then in Sibelius (and I’ve been working with Sibelius a really long time – I even have shortcut set up to speed up the process. I just feel like it is way easier to tap the note, tap the articulation – done.) Don’t forget – when there are multiple notes in a row that need the same marking you get them all at once!
Moved the dynamics and edited them (I’m not sure if NotateMe or Notion was putting the dynamics ABOVE the music but it was getting messed up!) There was one spot I could not squeeze in a crescendo either…
STEP 4: EXPORT TO SIBELIUS FOR FINAL STEPS
Then I finally sent the XML file over to the laptop to import into Sibelius (I really just did not feel like trying to figure out how to put all the single parts – flute, clarinet, sax, trumpet etc…. into one big score using Notion – That’s another day!)
Once in Sibelius I only had a couple of things to do – I had to work out the transposition. This was tricky…. I’m still not sure if this is me or the apps. Sometimes things worked out fine – other times I had to use the up and down keys to get the notes in the right spot. I’ll explore this issue more and write another post about it.
HINT – The one thing I DID figure out is that I needed to have the correct name for the instrument right from the get go – that’s why I renamed the part in NotateME!
So what did I have to do in Sibelius? I moved the dynamics into the correct spot BELOW the music and I reset my beam groups – you can see in the pics below that for some reason those 8th notes got really messed up some place in all the transferring between NotateMe, Notion, XML, and then Sibelius. A couple of clicks though and it was done.
Why even bother with this process? Imagine being able to give a student an assignment to learn a piece of music. Now, with this technology, if they have questions about how the music is to sound they can scan it and end up being able to hear the rhythms and pitch!
How about if a student wanted to write out a duet part? Well now that process is going to be much faster – they scan the first part, add a second part, copy the easy sections where maybe they just need to raise or lower the part a 3rd, add in the other sections where it takes a bit more rewriting and then print! Plus they can listen to it as well!
What if your band has no tuba players? Take the tuba part, scan it, change it to marimba and give your percussion something else to do besides hit each other with their sticks!
The list could go on and on!
The only reason that I actually even used Sibelius at all is because I am still using the free version of NotateMe Now which only scans single stave music. I am currently working on all my marching band music and trying to get it digitized. Of course one reason I am doing that is so that the students can do SmartMusic testing on our marching show music when we get back to school in the fall. So for every instrument I repeated the above process. Eventually I will end up with all the parts in one Sibelius file, all without hardly ever having to input anything by hand or playing it in with my keyboard.
Let me assure you – this does NOT take as long as it may seem. It takes a few times to get the hang of the process but after doing 3-4 you will be much faster at it all. In the time it took you to read this blog post I probably worked through two more parts.
For this entire Blog Post whenever I referred to NotateMe and PhotoScore, I used the free version of NotateMe Now which gives you the ability to work with a single staff for FREE! So you get the ability to handwrite music on a single staff for free AND the PhotoScore capabilities for single staff music for FREE too! Good enough for music students to make great use of in class and in lessons.
The full version of NotateMe is $39.99 – Yup, I know, someone just choked on their gum. For an iPad app it seems expensive. For what it does it is not! The In-App-Purchase to get the PhotoScore Plugin is another $29.99 – Let me put this in comparison for you though – The actual computer app that does the SAME thing is $249! Plus, I’m telling you, the iPad version is BETTER!
Don’t believe me about how awesome this all is? Go get the free version – NotateMe Now
Also, please make sure that you read about which devices are supported, especially for the PhotoScore app. This technology astounds me that it is even possible on a mobile device! It should not astound anyone that PhotoScore requires a camera that is of higher quality which means the iPodTouch 4th gen, iPad2 and iPadMini 1st gen are left of of the loop for PhotoScore. I mean, come on people, this is replacing a scanner for goodness sakes!
Using Notion’s iPad app ($15.99) to edit the files was a joy! This app is not for those of you with only a 16GB iPad though – Notion by itself takes like 2GB! That’s because of the awesome sampled musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra that is crammed inside of you iPad when you purchase Notion.
HINT – If you are a saxophone person you will have to spring for the $1.99 in-app-purchase to get that Alto Sax sound! Same for the Tenor and same for the Bari Sax. You will get a great basic set of sounds with your original purchase of Notion but for some STUPID REASON they don’t include saxophones in that set! I HOPE NOTION IS READING THIS AND CHANGES THAT DECISION! Or should I just talk to PreSonus?
SymphonyPro – ($9.99) would work just as well and doesn’t take up as much space on your iPad. Of course the London Symphony doesn’t come with SymphonyPro either
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