Trying out Notion app for music notation on iPad

Posted: October 18, 2012 in apps, iPad, music notation, sheet music

I’m trying out the Notion app for music notation on the iPad.  I don’t do a ton of music notation in my day-to-day musical life, but I do use it for simple tasks like writing out ornaments and cadenzas for my arias, making instrumental parts for my musical collaborators, and very occasionally for more complex tasks like re-typesetting choral scores.

At the moment, I’m just doing some ornaments and cadenzas, so I need a simple music notation app that I can get going with quickly without getting too bogged down in bells and whistles.  Notion fits the bill so far – here are my initial impressions:

  • It wasn’t too hard to figure out how to set up the score and staves, bring up the keyboard, and start entering notes.
  • Entering new notes was easy, but inserting notes into an existing bar, or changing values of existing notes, was a little tougher to figure out.  I ended up just inserting a new empty measure (by using the bar line tool), putting in the new notes I wanted, then deleting the old measure.  If anyone knows of a better way, please let me know.
  • I like the “Select” button.  It works a lot like highlighting text on an iPad.  You select/highlight a sequence of notes, and then you get a pop-up with options to cut/copy/paste/etc.
  • The two-bar-per-staff formatting limitation is kind of annoying.  It makes a score take up a lot of space, especially if you want to print it out.
  • You can do text underlays for a vocal line.
  • Tie and slur are actually two different buttons under different toolbars, although their icons look somewhat similar!
  • There is a nice basic playback feature.  I had to add a metronome marking to the score to get it to play back at my desired tempo.
  • I really like the feature for emailing the score as a PDF.  With it, I can import my Notion score into forScore, email it to someone, or print out a hard copy and show it to my coach so he can tell me how outré my taste in Baroque ornaments is.  (Just yanking your chain, coach – love ya.)
  • Notion is still a bit buggy – for example, the playback would sometimes play notes I’d already erased.

I’ve heard of the Symphony Pro app as another option for music notation on the iPad – will have to try that one in the future.

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