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Music notation software

Valski

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Hello everyone,

I'm entering this under digital and midi however this may be the wrong category. My question is about music notation software for a specific purpose. Like most of us I have a lot of sheet music from different publishers and authors. I've considered investing in music notation software to perhaps clean up my collection. Specifically I would be interested in scanning my songs into a program to change the font and make any required corrections or perhaps to change the key. When you read the brochures on the music notation software they seem to claim that this readily available and easy to use but have never encountered anyone doing this.

When preparing for a gig I like to prepare a booklet that I print for the occasion and find this to be useful but some songs are harder to read and my own custom copy would be better. I've tried asking retailers about this but they don't seem to have concrete information beyond what is written in the brochure or on the box. Perhaps someone on this forum would have more information.
 

Alan Sharkis

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Hello everyone,

I'm entering this under digital and midi however this may be the wrong category. My question is about music notation software for a specific purpose. Like most of us I have a lot of sheet music from different publishers and authors. I've considered investing in music notation software to perhaps clean up my collection. Specifically I would be interested in scanning my songs into a program to change the font and make any required corrections or perhaps to change the key. When you read the brochures on the music notation software they seem to claim that this readily available and easy to use but have never encountered anyone doing this.

When preparing for a gig I like to prepare a booklet that I print for the occasion and find this to be useful but some songs are harder to read and my own custom copy would be better. I've tried asking retailers about this but they don't seem to have concrete information beyond what is written in the brochure or on the box. Perhaps someone on this forum would have more information.
Are you looking for free software or commercial?

If free, the clear winner is MuseScore, although there are other choices. There may not be a scanning feature.

If commercial, again there are other choices, but I kind of favor Sibelius. It comes in three price/complexity levels and with “lite” versions of scanner and music recognition software. The least expensive version is called Sibelius | First. The middle level is just called Sibelius. The most expensive and feature-rich is called Sibelius | Ultimate. If you go to www.avid.com and click on the Sibelius tab you can find out more about it, compare the versions, explore pricing, and find out about their relatively new iPad app as well.

Good luck!
 

Glug

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There is an "import from PDF" under File in musescore that I used once some time back.
It open this in a browser:

Convert your PDF files​

Select PDF file
This is a free experimental service, that attempts to help you out to convert your PDF Sheet music to a .mcsz file. It is powered by the open source Audiveris software. The digital score is meant to be opened in our Musescore notation tool, so you can edit it further.

How it works​

Quick tip: Best results are obtained with gray level images and a resolution around 300 DPI.

  • Your PDF files will be queued during the conversion process.
  • You will be notified via email when the conversion yields some result, good or bad.
  • After processing, you can download your converted PDF files on this page.
 

Valski

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Are you looking for free software or commercial?

If free, the clear winner is MuseScore, although there are other choices. There may not be a scanning feature.

If commercial, again there are other choices, but I kind of favor Sibelius. It comes in three price/complexity levels and with “lite” versions of scanner and music recognition software. The least expensive version is called Sibelius | First. The middle level is just called Sibelius. The most expensive and feature-rich is called Sibelius | Ultimate. If you go to www.avid.com and click on the Sibelius tab you can find out more about it, compare the versions, explore pricing, and find out about their relatively new iPad app as well.

Good luck!
Hi Alan,

I looked at Sibelius and they were not very specific about the scanning software. Do you use it yourself and if so how well it does the scanning work?
 

Valski

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There is an "import from PDF" under File in musescore that I used once some time back.
It open this in a browser:

Convert your PDF files​

Select PDF file
This is a free experimental service, that attempts to help you out to convert your PDF Sheet music to a .mcsz file. It is powered by the open source Audiveris software. The digital score is meant to be opened in our Musescore notation tool, so you can edit it further.

How it works​

Quick tip: Best results are obtained with gray level images and a resolution around 300 DPI.

  • Your PDF files will be queued during the conversion process.
  • You will be notified via email when the conversion yields some result, good or bad.
  • After processing, you can download your converted PDF files on this page.
Thanks for the update on musescore. I tried this some time back and found the procedure somewhat tedious because you had to input each note manually. Perhaps I'll try this again.
 

Zevy

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Welcome aboard, Valski,
Music notation software people try to make it sound easy. The actual programs are not easy; some have a real large learning curve. One thing is for sure: Scanning existing music is not as simple as it sounds. It’s not as though you will scan a piece of music and the result will be pristine. At best, you will have to do a lot of tweaking.
Good luck!
 

Alan Sharkis

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Hi Alan,

I looked at Sibelius and they were not very specific about the scanning software. Do you use it yourself and if so how well it does the scanning work?
It's called, Photoscore Lite. Sibelius kind of throws it in as an extra, along with another called Audioscore Lite. Neither is published by Avid, so they won't say much about it. I tried it a long time ago, and it worked with a lot of editing, which you can do either inside the program or in Sibelius after the score is transferred to Sibelius. You might want to Google Photoscore Lite for more information.
 

Siegmund

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There is an annoying little "feature" of scanning: music that already looks so good you don't need to re-scan it may actually scan successfully. Music messy enough that you want to scan it and clean it up is liable to scan so badly that you'll wish you had just typed it in.

It's possible the scanners and music-OCR-ing have gotten significantly better in the last few years... but I concentrated on fast transcription into software, than ever going the scan-and-clean-up route. If you have success with scans, let us know.
 

Valski

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The problem with music notation software is that you tend to get a lot more than you actually need. In a lot of cases I would like to scan something and then convert the left hand into chord symbols to save space because we all know that flipping pages while playing the accordion is very easy. In some cases the score could be changed by inserting repeats in the right spot. Nothing really complex but merely annoying. That's why I want something that could import the notation quickly without too much fuss. Perhaps it's just not possible but I'd like to achieve that one day.
 

jozz

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The problem with music notation software is that you tend to get a lot more than you actually need. In a lot of cases I would like to scan something and then convert the left hand into chord symbols to save space because we all know that flipping pages while playing the accordion is very easy. In some cases the score could be changed by inserting repeats in the right spot. Nothing really complex but merely annoying. That's why I want something that could import the notation quickly without too much fuss. Perhaps it's just not possible but I'd like to achieve that one day.
Here's a vote for learning ABC instead.

I tried scanning once but had given up. I simply learned ABC notation, and use EasyABC.

Yes, you have to retype everything but you can 'optimize' the sheet as you go. After a while you can become really fast at it and it offers typing assistance options. ABC can be used for double-stave accordion style notation, has configurable fonts / display options and EasyABC can generate a PDF booklet.

EasyABC is also capable of MIDI input, playback, transposing. As soon as you have your whole catalog digitized, you can make small changes really fast.

ABC does not do everything in music notation, but it's certainly enough for basic to intermediate scores that I use most.
 

Valski

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I second the ABC notation system. https://abcnotation.com/ I play mostly ITM and other folk music. There are many free software solutions for this notation system. https://abcnotation.com/software
Thanks for this tip. There is a lot of information about notation software available. Unfortunately a lot of it is "fluff " that doesn't fully explain the various pitfalls of the various competing technologies. On a couple of occasions I had actually gone to a music store to purchase software and luckily the item in question was not in stock which no doubt saved me a lot of frustration.
 

Tom

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Count me in for ABC too!!! I love it. Now that I have experience and templates, I believe I can enter sheets as fast as the other softwares I have tried. Never seen EasyABC though, gotta try it. Like anything else, there are tricks to ABC and it's not perfect but it is free! And there are lots of folk and traditional tunes out there if that's what you play, although many need significant cleanup.
 

Jeremyh

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I have used Musescore's import from PDF in the past, you definitely don't have to type in every note. You need a Musescore account and it happens via the Musescore site, as above, you get a file that you can then load into Musescore. Like anything to do with scans, it's very dependent on the quality of the scan and I found that simpler pieces worked better than more complicated ones
 
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Alan Sharkis

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Count me in for ABC too!!! I love it. Now that I have experience and templates, I believe I can enter sheets as fast as the other softwares I have tried. Never seen EasyABC though, gotta try it. Like anything else, there are tricks to ABC and it's not perfect but it is free! And there are lots of folk and traditional tunes out there if that's what you play, although many need significant cleanup.
Here's a vote for learning ABC instead.

I tried scanning once but had given up. I simply learned ABC notation, and use EasyABC.

Yes, you have to retype everything but you can 'optimize' the sheet as you go. After a while you can become really fast at it and it offers typing assistance options. ABC can be used for double-stave accordion style notation, has configurable fonts / display options and EasyABC can generate a PDF booklet.

EasyABC is also capable of MIDI input, playback, transposing. As soon as you have your whole catalog digitized, you can make small changes really fast.

ABC does not do everything in music notation, but it's certainly enough for basic to intermediate scores that I use most.
My recollection of ABC notation is that it was designed for diatonic accordions. Is that still true, or has it evolved into a fully-chromatic system? I’d like to find out but my head is full of other stuff right now.
 

jozz

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My recollection of ABC notation is that it was designed for diatonic accordions. Is that still true, or has it evolved into a fully-chromatic system? I’d like to find out but my head is full of other stuff right now.
I don't believe it has anything to do with diatonic accordions. It is simply a notation language. Together with abc2pdf you can get quite quickly to a decently formatted PDF of sheet music.

I guess mainly intended for "tunes" and not full blown multipart scores. Extensions and scripts gave it more practical range, like abc2midi and abc2pdf, which EasyABC uses.

AFAIK it does not limit you to diatonics, at least I don't experience it does.
 

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