After my session in Salt Lake City, a choir director came up to ask me if I knew about PDFtoMusic Pro. I do know about PDFtoMusic Pro, and I will use it from time to time.
PDFtoMusic Pro can be purchased from MyriadOnline, and costs $199. The program runs on Windows and Mac computers. It reads PDFs generated by a computer, and then converts them into MusicXML files. It also plays AND SINGS (emphasis intended) what is on the score. If you scan your music (most music is not available in MusicXML files or computer-generated PDF scores), this program typically isn’t of much use to you. However, if you use a lot of music from the Choral Public Domain Library or can get a computer-generated PDF from a publisher, PDFtoMusic Pro can save you hours of work.
The choir director that recommended the use of PDFtoMusic Pro had another suggestion, which I had not considered. As PDFtoMusic Pro sings back a part, he scanned his music with another app (I believe Sharp Eye, which is a Windows-only software package), edited the scan in Finale, and then saved his song as a PDF specifically to open in PDFtoMusic Pro. PDFtoMusic Pro then creates rehearsal files for his choir members with its synthesized voice.
I just tried this process with Rollo Dilworth’s “Everlasting Melody” which I am studying with my 6th Grade students in the next months. I scanned the music with PhotoScore Ultimate, then edited the music with Notion for iPad. I then exported a PDF and tried opening it with PDFtoMusic Pro. The result was okay–but PDFtoMusic Pro didn’t like the Notion-created PDF. For example, it didn’t play ties (over barlines) correctly. Next I exported the Notion file as a MusicXML file to Finale, and then saved the Finale file as a PDF, opening it in PDFtoMusic Pro–and PDFtoMusic Pro worked just fine with the Finale-generated file.
So what I’ve learned so far is that if you want to follow this path to make rehearsal accompaniments, generate PDFs from Finale.
I have made rehearsal/accompaniment tracks for some time, and I usually prefer to do so from Notion (on the iPad) because it is so easy to use the “mixing board” to elevate one part and mute/lessen others and then to export audio. Of course, this means that choir members have no actual “voice” to follow other than a piano sound. As a result, this PDFtoMusic Pro solution for $199 might be worth its weight in gold for some people.
It also leads me to wonder why the notation programs haven’t included this technology in their software–if Myriad can do it, certainly others could (or the technology could be licensed). Wouldn’t that be a great feature in the next Finale/Sibelius/Notion/MuseScore?
If you would like to hear what this sounds like, I have embedded a couple of SoundCloud clips below: one of “Everlasting Melody” generated soprano-strong from Notion, the other generated from PDFtoMusic Pro.