One of my long-term tools when it comes to dealing with MusicXML files is SeeScore, which is a (paid, but there is a lite version) app that is a MusicXML reader. When I have an issue with a MusicXML file, I often need to determine whether the problems are created by the program that creates the MusicXML, or the program that is opening the MusicXML. If a score opens cleanly on SeeScore, I know that the problem lies with the app trying to open the MusicXML file; and if SeeScore doesn’t display it correctly, the problem was with the program that generated the MusicXML file.
You might wonder why you would ever need this ability–but when it comes down to contacting a company for technical support, it is best to have all possible information available to you.
In my opinion, SeeScore is the best MusicXML viewer on iOS…but it lacks features that would make it a replacement for apps like forScore and unrealBook, as well as the new generation of MusicXML and PDF viewers, such as Newzik and Gustaf. I do believe that the engine from SeeScore can be licensed by the company and used by other programs, much like the handwriting feature used by MusicJot and Notion.
The company that makes SeeScore is Dolphin Computing, and they were kind enough to contact me a while ago and ask me to look at their scanning app, PlayScore. PlayScore comes in two versions…a Lite Version and a Pro Version. It is also available on Android Devices, much like NotateMe. You can find the PlayScore website at http://www.playscore.co.
The app can use a picture that you take, or select a photo from your camera roll, recognize it, and play it. You can adjust the tempo, and you can even create a playback loop on the screen. There is also an accompaniment mode (great for singers) that ignores a melody line and only plays the accompaniment. In my trials using my iPhone 6S, the playback is very accurate. PlayScore does not seem to recognize repeats or multiple endings, nor does it attempt to recognize lyrics.
Now, however, I have to talk about my use of scanning software, and in that context, where PlayScore needs to improve to be a solution for me. I recently prepared rehearsal tracks for our high school choir programs to use this fall. My tool Music Optical Character Recognition of choice is usually NotateMe, on my iPhone, as it scans music (with the camera) and pulls in most diacritical markings AND lyrics. It is incredibly accurate, even with large scores. There is clean up to do–but I am spared hours of entering things into a notation program. NotateMe is a $70 when you add the PhotoScore In-App Purchase, but it is a purchase that pays itself back in time within a few uses. Once I am done scanning, I can export the scan via MusicXML to Finale or Notion (ultimately, I use both) and I can honestly say that NotateMe is on my essential tools list. In truth, NotateMe didn’t arrive as a scanning app, but its scanning component is far more valuable to me than its notation component.
PlayScore has potential, but it is lacking in three areas that I hope that Dolphin Computing will address in future versions.
First, it can only work with one page at a time. Time is essential to me, so an accurate scan is important…but I typically want to scan, edit, clean-up, and then produce. I don’t want to keep going back between scanning and editing on the same song.
Second, you have to use iTunes to copy files from PlayScore to anything else…and to be honest, many users don’t even connect their devices to iTunes any more. When you have Apple Music (or Spotify) for any kind of music you would ever want, and you buy streamed movies from iTunes or Amazon…why would you need to connect to iTunes? (Side note: if you still use iTunes, don’t feel bad…but many people don’t). PlayScore should be able to export directly out of the app to another app, AirDrop, or e-mail.
Third, there is another app, Sheet Music Scanner, which is less expensive, and while it does not scan everything (e.g. Triplets, lyrics) you do get multi-page scanning, as well as the ability to import PDF files. I would like to see PlayScore add more features. If Dolphin does so, I will certainly follow up with another post.
In conclusion, PlayScore is a photo-based scanner that scans one page at a time with great accuracy–but needs some more features before I could use it in my work flow. PlayScore would work well for someone like my dad (now 72) who sings in a male chorus and does not play piano. He likes to practice his part, and could use his iPhone and PlayScore to work though a score and practice on his own. You may recall that I reviewed the app What’s My Note, which is another intriguing app that scans music and allows you to play any note by touching it. PlayScore would be a better fit for someone who wants to hear all the parts at a set tempo. PlayScore might be the app you are looking for–and if so, you can buy it today on the Apple App Store or the Android Play Store.