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Thread: Digital Music Tools & Software

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Sacramento, CA area
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    134

    Digital Music Tools & Software

    I know several musicians who have switched over to using a tablet computer for storing and displaying their sheet music. I think that I want to join that crowd (me too -itis). I am not sure that I want to line Apple's already full pocket book. They seem to be the most expensive tablet out there, but they are highly regarded for this kind of use. So I thought I would check in here to get the lay of the digital landscape.

    Do you use a tablet or paper to store and display music?

    What brand/model do you use? What size do you use (dimensions)?

    What software do you use to organize and manage your digital sheet music, sound, and/or other music related files?

    Which apps and/or tablet accessories do you recommend to fellow musicians?

    Your opinions relating to all things tablets and music making/playing (but not sound editing/mixing) please (smile).

    - Sara
    Baritone - 3 Valve, Compensating, JinBao JBBR1240

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
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    3,139
    When I use my tablet (iPad) for music display I use "For Score". I've had it for about 6 years or more. It's very powerful where you can edit, highlight, make notes and have a pedal to turn pages if you desire. Pretty sure it's available for IOS and Android. When I bought it it was $5. BUT, with my failing eyesight I've gone back to paper. Sometimes it's hard to improve on paper and pencil. If I had a iPad Pro with a larger screen I'd probably use it more. One benefit is its back light so you don't need a stand light in dimly lighted environment.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
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    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
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  3. #3
    I have thought about it, but don't want to spring for an iPad Pro - I'm sure the larger screen would be 100% necessary for me.

    A foot pedal to turn pages would be a nearly-necessary accessory.

    Assuming I were playing from PDF files that I possess, I'd be pretty OK with it. I always allow for future years when software/hardware changes may come along and make special files unusable. But if I have a PDF of everything I could print it whenever I needed to.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
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    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  4. #4
    Here is a case in point for not wanting to rely totally on "stuff" that is out of my hands:

    https://thenextweb.com/cars/2019/09/...-app-was-down/

    Totally different scenario, but there is a common thread in there somewhere.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  5. #5
    Hello All,
    I have been considering some type of electronic reader as of late. Regardless of the manufacture (Apple $$$$$ or a Windows $$ or more, options dependent(memory, interfaces and etc)). After reading the above comments I am leaning toward paper and pencil. I am retired and my budget has its' limits.
    Having to deal with eyesight issues as well. My solution to schlepping around fifteen plus pounds of paper is to put together a performance book. It fits in a 1 & 1/2 in loose leaf binder/notebook. (prefer D Rings as opposed to others). I have been know to use the enlargement function on my printer/copier occasionally (115% works fairly well). My church ministries asked me to play for retirement homes and rehab facilities every other week. I have asked the residents and staff what type of music they would like to hear. So I have those tunes ready when I return. Using a foldable two wheel cart to haul my Euphonium, a stand, a light, and elbow pad all in one bag it works for me. For what it is worth my Euphonium with case weighs in at twenty pounds. I do play with a band (Energy City New Horizons (shameless plug)) and there is no requirement to haul the entire library. We only work music for the next performance. One after thought if you are not comfortable with the MS Windows PC environment would suggest researching Apple products. Also regardless of what platform you might choose your library will have to scanned into PDF file format. That task is dependent on the amount of music you want/need to put on the tablet / reader.
    Keeping a table charged up and ready for use is a requirement. There are ancillary support things that come with any technology be it a pencil sharpener or a back up power source (extension cord and charger unit)

  6. #6
    Good points above. One should also think about the fact that some sheet music won't scan on a typical home unit of the music is oversize. That can add a pesky barrier to getting the job done.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    1,990
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    Good points above. One should also think about the fact that some sheet music won't scan on a typical home unit of the music is oversize. That can add a pesky barrier to getting the job done.
    This is a good thing to keep in mind, and I'm loathe to make generalizations (particularly not knowing what sort of printers/scanners people "typically" have), but I don't think I've encountered a problem with this over the past 10 years of scanning in all kinds of (sometimes quite elderly) sheet music from several community bands. The oversize stuff can be irritating, but with some care I've always managed to get it scanned so that when I print it out, it at least displays on a standard (American) 8.5"x11" letter-size sheet.

    My printer/scanner (which we've had for some years now) is a Canon PIXMA MX880 (now superseded by other similar models). For oversize music, I SCAN it as A4 size, and then PRINT it as "letter" size with the setting to "shrink to page". At times this requires careful placement of the page on the scanner bed (with edges just a bit off the bed), can involve some trial and error (), and may result in some of the "publication information" (usually at the bottom of the first page) not making it onto the scanned image (which I save as a PDF). But with a bit of care and patience, even fairly large sheet music is scanable in this way. You could otherwise scan it in as even some larger format, but A4 seems to work in general and to have good relative height/width dimensions. Of course, when you print it out on letter-size paper, there is some reduction in size of the text and music notation, but this is minimal and unproblematic. Or, of course, you could always buy A4 paper and print it on that -- but then it won't fit into a standard American 3-ring binder ().

    Anyhow ... this approach has been working for me for quite a while. I suspect that most people who have printers/scanners have one with similar capabilities.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    1,990
    While in the abstract I very much like the idea of using some sort of tablet for displaying my sheet music, and playing from it, as a practical matter my own feeling is that the current technology is not sufficiently baked for me to move in that direction. It's pretty tricky (from my own point of view and for my own goals/needs) to find a "tablet" that is (a) capable of providing a sufficiently large display, (b) reasonably affordable, and (c) supports all the interactive and display features that would make it worthwhile. I'm also a bit (well, more than a bit) uneasy with plopping a $1,000 (or more) tablet on my music stand in a crowded community band environment and leaving it as a target of opportunity for any French horn, trumpet, percussion, or woodwind player who's barging past to get to his seat. My current (Lenovo X11) tablet/dual purpose system would WORK, but the display isn't quite as large as I'd want, and I definitely don't want to put my primary system at risk.

    There are (as I've mentioned in other threads somewhere) some more "special purpose" tablets being developed for use in "professional" (orchestra/band/solo) settings. But currently these are prohibitively expensive for "normal" people, still in development, and only beginning to be used by professional organization. However, until the features/capabilities/costs of those meet my criteria, I'm not inclined to go with what I regard as half-baked solutions. So likely in my playing lifetime I'm going to be using paper -- which is NOT bad and offers some advantages.

    A remaining problem with digital display devices for music is that the typically imagined usage scenario is of a group of musicians in a band or orchestra or other ensemble playing in an indoor concert environment. But what about those outdoor concert venues which are subject to wind, rain, and intense sunlight (which will render the image on your screen virtually invisible)? Not so good. So -- again from my perspective -- not only does the current digital solution fail to be adequate in some important respects in the typically expected environments, but the solution fails to be a general one (use it anywhere). For now, it's still the case that paper and trees rule. I am Groot.
    Last edited by ghmerrill; 09-04-2019 at 09:58 AM.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  9. #9
    I've been fully digital for music reading for about 2.5 years at this point. I use the 12.9" iPad pro, as it's approximately the same size as a standard 8.5x11" sheet of paper.

    I was concerned at first about bluetooth dropouts, battery life, etc, but I don't even carry paper music on stage as a backup anymore.

    I will say that it's incredibly nice to be able to relentlessly mark music up without damaging original copies, including multiple colors, etc. This has been very helpful for me.

    I don't use a traditional flatbed scanner, but use an app on the iPhone/iPad called genius scan to quickly scan pages. It takes a steady hand, but works well, even for music that is not a standard size. Of course, if you scan a sheet that's larger than 8.5x11, the resulting display is smaller than the actual sheet of paper, so there can occasionally be difficulty there. I've never felt it to be obnoxious though.

    As Dave indicated, I always use PDF files, as I would be in trouble if for some reason a proprietary file format rendered something unusable.

    As always, YMMV.
    Mike Taylor
    Adams E3 - SS Bell/Brushed Lacquer - Custom short valve set
    Adams E3 - SS Bell/Brushed Lacquer - Standard valves - Maybe for sale!
    Besson BE2056 Baritone
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    Illinois Brass Band
    Red Shield Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band
    Star United Mini Corps

  10. #10
    I’ve been all digital for probably 8 years. I started with an iPad 1, and I’m on the latest iPad Pro now. With the Apple Pencil and forScore, it’s faster and easier to annotate, and the annotations in color make it easy for me. For solos it’s great, because you can annotate the crap out of it.

    For band playing, the foot pedal is needed, for orchestra, not so much.

    3 ensembles I play with now are all digital, so I would have to print anyway. Phone based scanning apps are so good now, I got to an outdoor performance I was subbing in, and within 10 minutes I had scanned and uploaded the rep, and didn’t need to fiddle with stand lights or wind clips.

    In my 8 years using this system, I have not had a failure of any kind that put me out of a rehearsal or a performance. I highly recommend it.

    Don Winston

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