Today, NeoScores went live with their new digital music service. At its core, NeoScores is a HTML-5 based Music XML music reader that can work on any platform. The basic service gives you the ability to upload and use 25 scores; the paid version offers a number of additional tools. You can also upload PDF files to NeoScores, and NeoScores promises a service in the future that will convert PDF files to MusicXML format.
I have uploaded both a MusicXML file and a PDF to NeoScores, and you know what? It works well. After the first “load,” scores load instantly and quickly. You given an annotation tool (mine appears olive green, and I need to see if I can change that setting) which translates across device to device; and of course, the real power is in MusicXML files that can be played back, parts turned off (e.g. A band director could give students a complete score, and have them turn on only their part), and more. Furthermore, you can zoom into a MusicXML file, customizing the size of the notes you can see.
I have tried the new NeoScores website (this is all web based, but it works even without a wi-fi connection after songs are loaded) on my iPad, a Chromebook, my MacBook, and a Nexus 7 Android tablet. The music display works; annotation is less smooth on some platforms than others, and playback (an advanced paid option) has some issues (notes highlight as they play, but do not clear off the screen as pages are turned). You can see the potential, however, and if you use Chromebooks, you can rotate the screen (see my previous post about Chromebooks as music readers) and turn pages (quickly) left-to-right.
The trick here is to get music into that MusicXML format. Again, NeoScores is promising a tool in the near future, but you can also use NotateMe/PhotoScore on iOS or Android; or PhotoScore or SmartScore on Mac/Win. I find that I can convert a standard choral score to MusicXML–with solfege written in–in about an hour. If you are new to the process, it can take significantly longer. You may also want to look at PDFtoMusic Pro (a new update is coming soon) that allows you to take a PDF file created by a notation software package and convert it to MusicXML.
Truly, with all the hard-to-read scores on websites such as CPDL, the MusicXML files look better and offer more flexibility. Is it time to ask people to share all their scores in the MusicXML format as well as a printed format?
If you haven't checked out NeoScores, do so today. I have written them asking for more information about use in schools–including the possibility of using GAFE accounts (Google login) to make accounts at NeoScores.