A big week for mobile music notation

It has been a big week for mobile music notation apps–primarily on the iPad, but also for some other devices.  Most of these have been covered by other bloggers, but as I usually do, I’ll try to put my own thoughts and reactions into those announcements.

The most anticipated announcement was the release of the Kickstarter project by ThinkMusic.  ThinkMusic has partnered with VisionObjects and Adonit to create a notation product scheduled for October 2013.  All of the publicity that ThinkMusic gained over its use of Sibelius and Good Reader can only be a plus as they attempt to raise $170,000.  They’ve raised over $10,000 with 375 backers so far, which is a good start.  I figure they will need 7500 backers to reach their goal.

Here’s where I stand: their app has a good chance to coming to fruition as VisionObjects is one of their partners.  VisionObjects made a fantastic calculator app (MyScript) that converts handwriting to mathematical equations–and it works quite well (I own it).  This partnership means that ThinkMusic will actually be able to create a working app.  This can really happen!

I’ve seen some grumbling from experienced notation users about this app, but I see real potential with this approach.  First, it takes advantage of the iPad.  I’m a Finale user.  I’d consider myself a high level user of Finale.  But Finale wouldn’t work on the iPad.  The interface would have to change.  Some apps have attempted to modify traditional interfaces for the iPad with varied success.  It’s kind of novel to have an iPad friendly solution.  Second, it meets a need where students–particularly college students–are asked to write many assignments by hand, as students need to learn how to write in notation.  This would be a wonderful way to convert that work to digital notation when all is said and done.  Third, the app would be appealing to people that didn’t want to learn a full-blown notation program.  And finally, if this app can accurately reproduce most handwritten notation, there should be a way to further increase the accuracy of scanning as a whole.

I’d highly recommend making a donation (for an award, or even just a $5 donation) to ThinkMusic to see if this app can get off the ground later this year.

The second announcement, and a surprise to me until I saw a Tweet roughly 24 hours before the news broke, is that Noteflight is moving to HTML 5.  This means that Noteflight will work on nearly all devices, mobile or otherwise.  I’ve tried Noteflight in the past, and as a Finale user, it didn’t really serve my purposes.  That’s okay, because I use Finale for specific tasks and in specific ways.  Not all users need all the functionality of Finale (or Sibelius, or MuseScore), which is why there are various versions of Finale sold to consumers.  Noteflight also has some wonderful partnerships with publishers and now CCLI.  Plus, anything you write in Noteflight can be brought to most other notation apps with MusicXML.  I’ll definitely try Noteflight on the iPad, and it certainly seems to me that the Noteflight interface, as a whole, is well suited for touch-based devices.

This may also be the only music notation solution available to students who have Android-based tablets or ChromeBooks.

Coming January 24th.

**As a side note, you have been able to view Noteflight scores on the iPad for sometime, it is the ability to create notation that is new.

Third, Notion for iPad announced a coming version that should be available in about a week and a half that includes real-time MIDI recording, retina graphics (I didn’t realize they weren’t already retina), autosave and more.   I’ve been using Notion a lot these days, and I’m happy to see the app improving–particularly as Symphony Pro disappeared.

Finally, MakeMusic also mentioned (in a mentioned tweet, so therefore, it’s public and not a secret) that I should eye on the Notation team (i.e. Finale) for apps.  We know that SmartMusic for the iPad is around the corner (coming this Spring), but it would be a great surprise to see a Finale-based notation app in addition to Finale Songbook.

Before the end of 2012, I said that it would be a great year for mobile notation solutions on the iPad.  I didn’t realize how extensive–and how soon–that would happen!


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