PhotoScore and NotateMe Ultimate Updated! (for Computer and iOS)

psasbundle8dvdpackIn case you missed the news a few weeks ago Neuratron has updated their PhotoScore and AudioScore apps (Actually it was June 11, 2015) – My friend Chris, over at http://techinmusiced.wordpress.com, wrote about his thoughts on these apps along with his trying out the new updates – Read it Here

PRICE: The prices are an amazing deal currently:

MY THOUGHTS: I have to agree with the points that Chris brought up about PhotoScore being one of those apps that I have used the longest and with very good reason! Well, actually there are two reasons: 1)PhotoScore lite has been bundled with Sibelius for a very long time now. That was where I discovered the app. 2)Most important reason is that after discovering PhotoScore I found that the app worked wonders! This latest update only continues that amazement I have with the app.

PhotoScore 8 and NotateMe Ultimate does not disappoint in being an all around better version from the previous! The fact that now NotateMe (Neuratron’s tablet handwriting music app) has been integrated into the desktop version is one improvement that many will appreciate. I want to focus on a few other abilities though….

THE SCENARIO: I am currently starting the process of putting together my marching band show for the fall. This is one of those times when PhotoScore and NotateMe along with Notion/Sibelius/Finale are hard at work on my laptop or iPad. This is one of those times of the year that it is important to find the right tool for the job too because otherwise it will take forever to get the job done.

THE JOB: The end game here is that I have all of my Marching Band Music in SmartMusic/iTunes so that my students can have practice recordings to work with to learn their parts better and faster. They will also test out on their parts.

THE PROCESS: step one is obvious – get the parts into the computer as PDF’s so that students can access them and start working from the paper sheet music (you know, old school style like we used to do it). This is quick these days as I use the schools copier which has a scanning feature WAY faster than I used to do at home. So within ten minutes I have a piece sorted and scanned along with renaming it.

Step two – I used to have to do two scans, one was the PDF and then another as a TIFF file for PhotoScore. Now PhotoScore 8 simply opens the same PDF I already have! Since I am working with one part at a time the hardest part here is to tell PhotoScore 8 which page to scan. Then it reads the page and within less than a minute I have an extremely accurate reading of the static PDF sheet music now as digital sheet music! This is SO COOL! I used to have to hand input all the notes one at a time or play them in from a keyboard. Let me tell you…. that took WAY longer than one minute! That gives me something that looks like this…

Horn Part Scan As you can see there are two parts to the screen on the computer – the top one line focuses in to show you the original from the PDF and the entire bottom section is the scanned and recognized music. All I can say is that PhotoScore is scary good! I find very few errors these days with actual notes and articulations. The recognition process is not perfect though as there are three items that I know are going to be wrong every time. 1)If there is any text any where on the page like composer, lyricist, copyright, part name or sections labels – Those sort of text items I just end up deleting. 2)Multi-rests are constantly wrong – That 10 measures for instance is supposed to be 4. This is a simple and fast fix though – double tap the thick line and change the number. 3)Any rehearsal markings just do not work. I simply delete these and then when I get the music over into a traditional notation program I add them there.

You can see that PhotoScore alerts you with red markings and also tells you how many notes off any given measure is… So in the example below I’m being told that I am one 8th note/rest off. Again, there is that Multi-rest of 10 measures – this time is should be 3.

PhotoScore Error

Step Three – After fixing those few errors then I send the file as an XML file to Notion OR since I have Sibelius I simply hit the send to Sibelius button. Having Sibelius really saves me some time as I am working with instrumental parts that transpose. Here is the scanned file imported into Notion first and Sibelius second.

Notion ImportSibelius Import

Notice a few differences? Sibelius is the clear winner here – dynamics are on the bottom where they belong and the rhythms are beamed correctly in the first line. PLUS…. (and this is the winner of all time savers people) Sibelius gives me a pop up BEFORE importing the file all the way that asks if this is a transposing score which saves me from having to transpose myself. Here is that pop up window that I love so much….

Transpoing Instrument

CONCLUSION: PhotoScore 8 is a very nice improvement over prior versions and well worth the price for an upgrade from the lite version! If you have access to using a stylus on your laptop then the inclusion of NotateMe Ultimate is going to be a huge time saver as well. I love using NotateMe on my iPad. In fact I will be posting a few more posts here in the next couple of days outlining the difference between the above process on desktop and simply using my iPad.

If you are still using step entry or entering notes with your mouse one at a time or even playing in the parts in real time from a keyboard, MAKE THE SWITCH! Especially since the price is so reasonable!

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