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Sonia Lancaster
Hello All
Since weíre all in the internet/technology world I hope you can shed some light on my question.
I am interested in what you use for sheet music mark up. Iíd be grateful for  your experiences on different software used to edit sheet music or scores. I usually use an iPad but I have a PC as well. I have used Notateme App on the iPad but whilst this has some good features such as being able to import .pdfs and  photographs of music it is very difficult to write or add features to the music that it recognises this takes such a long time. I know the other end of the scale would be to use hand written and cutting pieces of paper up, but again this takes a long time and gets messy. I guess in an ideal world Iím looking for:

Cheap or free. 
Preferably iPad but ok pc
Can import .pdfs or photos (even better) of sheet music
Able to add extra staves, edit the music with STRING notation eg bowing marks
Possibly electronic play through of the completed music
Quick and easy to use
Connects with Dropbox or iCloud.
Can print from it.
Anything else?

Thank you

Sonia Lancaster
9 Responses
Posted: March 20, 2018
Last Comment: April 11, 2018

Urban Kristan
Posted: April 11, 2018
I tried the program I linked to yesterday again on the "Air on the G string" pdf from the ViolinLab resources page. I don't know what went wrong before, but now it seems to have converted it with about 90 percent accuracy. It's in the first attached image. 

It doesn't do so well with something like the second image, where a lot of the lines are partially missing. 

I suppose 90% isn't that great since you still need to verify the output. However, it does give some assistance with that by highlighting what it has converted, so that you just have to manually add the parts which aren't highlighted - you don't necessarily have to meticulously check the whole score. 

With images of the kind of sheet music that something like MuseScore outputs, I think it gets to 100% accuracy. I'm not sure how this compares to the programs you mentioned.

Also, do you know if I'm missing something? Shouldn't this be easier than OCRing handwritting? There's a lot more variation in handwritting than in sheet music printing, yet, if I'm not mistaken, the handwritting recognition is very accurate.. 

Sonia Lancaster
Posted: April 10, 2018
Hi Urban Kristan,
There a a few apps that can do photo to sheet music, but they donít work too well and then trying to edit the score is tricky. Musicpal will take a photo and convert to .pdf then you can play it back. NotateMe you can take a photo, it converts it into music/.pdf which you can then edit. The translation is problematic. It has to convert the image into a score with rules behind it (OCR). It doesnít always get the music correct and then the edit is time consuming. Iíve started using Musescore for PC which seems quite fast to input scores. There is a trial of inputting .pdfs but when I tried it, it hasnít worked.


Posted: April 10, 2018
iWriteMusic for iPad.  I can enter notes, etc. using a stylus or the built in keyboard, the iPad is extremely portable allowing me to work on projects anywhere, and it is relatively inexpensive. 

Good luck in yur search.

Barb Wimmer
Posted: April 10, 2018
I use for sheet music and free finale 2012 

Urban Kristan
Posted: April 10, 2018
@Beth, Sonia

How messy/idiosyncratic are the sheet music images you want to convert? 
I found this thing:
It seems kinda promising. That being said, it choked on the "Air on the G string" pdf published here:
So the usefulness kinda depends on what kind of pdfs you have. The more similar they are to the pdfs that software outputs, the better the transcription. At least that seems to be the case from what I've tried. 
Also, it's not exactly straightforward to install if you're not familiar with setting up Java, so let me know if you need help. Maybe I could even send a folder from which you could run the program without having to build from source.

Probably best if you first point me to an example pdf that you want transcribed, so that I can test the program before you go through the trouble of installing it. 

Urban Kristan
Posted: April 10, 2018
I assume you need to convert pdf files that are actually just images of sheet music, right? Not ones that are exported from a composition program where notes are elements of the document. This can handle that kind of thing, but it's probably not what you want: 

You need something which takes scanned images of sheet music and converts them to musicxml, correct? Basically something that could recognize sheet music in an image.

I also find it weird that this isn't out there, easily available. I mean, a machine learning algorithm can reliably recognize handwritting, so something as well defined as music notation shouldn't be much of a problem. Unless I'm missing something.

Posted: April 10, 2018

Don't know, how it works with windows or mac (I'm a Kubuntu user myself), and it doesn't import pdf, but you can import midi files and turn them into sheet music (although they will need editing afterward. You also can make a music input via midi keyboard.
But if you use sheet music from musescore, you can import it directly.
Writing music isn't a problem either. Of course, you can print, you also have a midi included, that plays your sheets, and you can change tempo, etc. so you can play along. I just love it.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 21, 2018
I use Sibelius and it makes editing a breeze, but it doesn't import pdfs and convert to editable formats. That's what I'm looking for: something that can scan a pdf and turn it into .xml. There is one expensive program, but from the trial use, it does a poor job and the software is extremely convoluted. I'm so surprised there isn't an app that can do this simply and reasonably well.

Jose Felix MartŪ Masso
Posted: March 21, 2018
Hi Sonia; 
I think is a good app