iWriteMusic (iPad App Review)

I’ve been working with Notion for the iPad quite a bit as of late, but a tweet from David Falconer (a music teacher in Northern Ireland, who blogs at https://musicnipadsblog.wordpress.com) introduced me to an app called “iWriteMusic.”

There is a free version and paid version (iTunes Links) of the app (as of 3/2013, it is $5.99–and it is on the educational volume purchase programs in groups of 20 or more for $2.99).  I had downloaded the free version a very long time ago, and did not find it useful, but Mr. Falconer’s tweet made me want to reevaluate the app.

The app has a video, which shows both the strengths and weaknesses of the program compared to a “traditional” notation program:

iWriteMusic could be incredibly useful for specific tasks, particularly where a single melodic line is the end result.  Some applications would be for short compositions (particularly with young students), or for students needing to enter a melodic line into a program to be able to hear it.  A “large” programs such as Finale, Sibelius, or even MuseScore might be “overkill” for such needs (the key word is “might,” as those programs are definitely up to the task).  Another use would be for people wishing to compose on the iPad, but lack keyboard skills (Notion relies heavily on the piano keyboard or a fretboard).

My main use of notation products these days are to enter the music my choirs prepare so that I can create accompaniment tracks and create SmartMusic assessments.  Most of the time, I scan music with Photoscore Ultimate and bring it into Finale for editing.  I occasionally “recreate” music from scratch, and I have been doing so with both Finale and Notion for iPad.  iWriteMusic is not ideal for this purpose, as it is somewhat “clunky” and slow compared to the speed with which I can enter notes on any number of other notation programs (desktop or Notion for the iPad).  It is even less ideal for my purposes because of its method of export.  iWriteMusic can only export music you have created through MIDI…and MIDI (although it is at the core–no pun intended–of all computer playback of music) is a terribly rough way of transferring music notation from one program to another (MIDI is a format that is over 30 years old, and it is still in use–which is nothing to scoff at).  MusicXML has become the standard of transferring music notation from one platform to another–and if a program doesn’t have MusicXML, it is generally useless to me.  Furthermore, you cannot write in multiple voices…a thing that happens all the time with printed music.

So…allow me t0 recap: iWriteMusic might be the answer for you if you are looking to compose short melodies (you can use multiple staves, but at some point, you will find that another notation program will better serve your needs for that), or if you lack piano skills.  You can export your music–via MIDI–to other programs at a later time (chances are that if you are composing with this app, MIDI will meet your needs for exporting music as well).  Check out the free version of iWriteMusic and see if it could work for you.





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