Archive for April, 2013 sounds like a time-saving and reasonably-priced service for those of us with large libraries of printed music that need to be scanned into a digital format for use on an iPad/tablet or other computer.  For as low as $1 a book, will scan your book and convert it to a PDF file that you can download and use on your computer or mobile device.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: With this service, your physical books are NOT RETURNED, they are digitized and then DESTROYED!  So don’t use this for your precious tomes with sentimental value where you can’t let go of the physical volume.  Do use it for books that are cheap, used, and/or easily replaceable.  I’m sure this policy of theirs is some kind of CYA for copyright laws.

Some other quick facts to know about this service:

  • Base price is $1 per 100 pages.
  • For an additional cost, there are add-on services such as:
    • Text recognition to make the book searchable (in English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and other languages)
    • File compression and de-skewing (compression is important when using scores on a mobile device)
    • Express service
    • Accept direct shipments of your book orders from Amazon or other online book/music vendors
    • (Coming soon) Direct upload to your Dropbox
  • Processing time is 2-4 weeks for regular customers, 5-10 business days for Platinum customers (plus round-trip shipping time)
  • Book covers are not scanned (so scan covers yourself beforehand, if you wish).
  • They accept local drop-offs at their San Jose facility in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • They accept orders shipped from inside or outside of the U.S.

The website has a page about how it works, a FAQ, some sample scans, and pricing details.

Review Lagoon has a pretty good review and follow-up report about their experience with the service, and Living Dice also has a review.  There are only a handful of reviews on Yelp about, but all are positive so far.

If you’re shipping a lot of books from the U.S., check out the economical USPS Media Mail rates.

I haven’t yet tried out this service, but I will eventually – follow-up post to come.

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I recently found one of my favorite resources on Baroque performance practice and ornamentation on IMSLP:

Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen (Quantz, Johann Joachim)

To further explain what it contains, here is a description of this text from

Johann Joachim Quantz’s On Playing Flute has long been recognized as one of the most significant and in-depth treatises on eighteenth-century musical thought, performance practice, and style. This classic text of Baroque music instruction goes far beyond an introduction to flute methods by offering a comprehensive program of studies that is equally applicable to other instruments and singers.

The work is comprised of three interrelated essays that examine the education of the solo musician, the art of accompaniment, and forms and style. Quantz provides detailed treatment of a wide range of subjects, including phrasing, ornamentation, accent, intensity, tuning, cadenzas, the role of the concertmaster, stage deportment, and techniques for playing dance movements. Of special interest is a table that relates various tempos to the speed of the pulse, which will help today’s musicians solve the challenge of playing authentic performance tempos in Baroque music.

The whole text is available from IMSLP in the original German as well as in French translation.  There is also an English translation of Chapter 13 only, regarding ornamentation, with the wonderfully florid title: Easy and fundamental instructions whereby either vocal or instrumental performers unacquainted with composition, may from the mere knowledge of the most common intervals in music, learn how to introduce extempore embellishments or variations; as also ornamental cadences with propriety, taste, and regularity, translated from a famous treatise on music, written by Johann Joachim Quantz, composer to his Majesty the King of Prussia.

That florid title is not too surprising, given that this public-domain English version was published in 1780.  Actually, the 18th-century English usage, typeface, and music notation of this edition are a rather challenging read for me, but there is a more modern English translation of Quantz’s text available for purchase from and other sellers if you find yourself in the same boat.

If you’d like to explore similar texts on IMSLP, they have categories for performance practice, music history, and general writings.

Flemish Radio Choir / Credit: Bram Goots

Flemish Radio Choir / Credit: Bram Goots

Here is a new addition to my Pinterest pinboard about Sheet Music on iPads and Tablets.  The Flemish Radio Choir adopted tablet-based sheet music to rehearse and perform their recent concert, titled “Digital Poem”.  They have Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets running Android and the neoScores sheet music reader platform.  Here is their news release:

Flemish Radio Choir replaces sheet music by tablet

The news release begins as follows:

The Flemish Radio Choir took a further step in the digitization process launched in November by the Brussels Philharmonic, neoScores and Samsung. For the first time, the entire production trajectory of a musical score will be carried out digitally: from the delivery of the music for practising at home and rehearsals through the concerts to archiving after the end of the performance.

The conductor, Nicolas André, comments:

I am pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use the digital scores. The work by Dufay leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and thus evolves in the course of the rehearsals. Thanks to the tablets and the neoScores software, I can mark up the score quickly and easily, and can pass these on immediately to all choir members, who in turn can immediately access the updated version.

Here is a two-minute video (in Dutch and French) from tvbrussel showing the Flemish Radio Choir using the tablets in rehearsal. At 1:19 one of the singers demonstrates annotation on the tablet.

Vlaams Radio Koor goes digital (2:06)


And here is a screen capture of a print article (in Dutch) about it (click for larger version):

Credit: Het Belang Van Limburg / neoScores

Credit: Het Belang Van Limburg / neoScores

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This might be useful to you voice students and teachers out there.  I’ve posted before about the Vaccai vocal method book being available on IMSLP, but it didn’t dawn on me until recently that many more vocal methods/studies and related writings are available there.  Here are links to the relevant categories on the IMSLP website:

And here are some items that caught my eye from the pages above:

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Now that I’ve been using forScore 5 for about a week, here’s a little show-and-tell about my favorite new features in this upgrade.  You can click on any of the images for a bigger view.  But first, let’s talk about bugs I’ve encountered in forScore 5.0.1.


Not to beat a dead horse, but BACK UP your forScore library (both PDFs and the .4sb score data file) before you upgrade!!!  This saved me when my setlists vanished after the upgrade to version 5.0.1.  I was able to restore them using the forScore backup file I made right before I did the upgrade.

The upgrade did erase most of my settings, and I couldn’t restore those from the backup.  I had to go into the Toolbox menu and re-enter them.  The upgrade erased my custom pens (grrr) but NOT my custom stamps (whew!).

I ran into a issue with the global search tool (the magnifying glass icon) where searching for “Bach” yielded “Offenbach” but not “Johann Sebastian Bach”.  Although searching for “Sebastian” DID return “Johann Sebastian Bach”, oddly enough.

When the tab bar is open, it’s possible for the bottoms of scores to be cut off at the edge of the display.

The most serious issue I noticed, other than setlists & settings being erased, was that during rehearsal last night, there were a few times when forScore froze or kept skipping over multiple pages during a page turn.  I wasn’t able to isolate the exact conditions that caused it to happen, and I had to restart forScore for it to return to normal operation.  That would of course be catastrophic during a performance, so I’m going to report that bug and hope that they can get to the bottom of it very soon.

The jury is still out on the issue that I saw in forScore 4 where annotations would get “stuck” and not update when the page was turned (and it turns outs I’m not the only one who reported that problem).  I haven’t seen it yet in forScore 5, but I’ll wait and see if it happens any more.

Now, on to my favorite features:


You can now view two pages side-by-side in landscape mode.  Tap on the number/circle icon to the left of the title when in landscape mode to toggle between one-page and two-page view.  (The two-page view is rather small to read on the iPad, but may be useful if you have the piece almost memorized and just need a roadmap, or are visually skimming/searching though the piece.  The two-page view is most useful when projecting the iPad to a larger display.)  I posted a video demo of the two-up feature here.

Photo Apr 15, 1 38 49 AM

Quick Peek

Quick Peek shows you a thumbnail preview image of the score.  You can now access it through the score menu (eighth-note icon) and the global search tool (magnifying glass icon).  To access Quick Peek, just tap and hold on the score title (instead of a single tap as you would do to open the score normally).  Notice the plus sign in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail image – tap on it to open the score in a new tab.  (I posted a video tutorial on Quick Peek and Tabs here.)

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Tabbed View

I love this.  You can now have multiple scores open, each in their own tab, and switch between them.  I do think this feature needs additional refinement to make it faster and more convenient to open a score in a new tab and also to switch tabs, but the current version is a step in the right direction.  I posted a video tutorial on how to open scores in tabs here.

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Merge PDFs

Now you can combine multiple PDF files into a single PDF.  Just tap the “Edit” button in the Score menu, select the files to combine, then tap “Merge”.  Very handy, and a nice complement to the existing Rearrange feature that lets you copy/re-order/delete pages in a score.

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Setlist Creation & Placeholders

The setlist editor is now a snazzy two-pane window with the setlist on the left and your score library on the right – just browse and tap on scores to add them to the list.  There is also a handy way to add placeholders to your setlist to represent intermissions, songs performed from memory or by other performers, etc.

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Here’s what it looks like when you’re paging through a setlist and arrive at a placeholder:

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Page Number Offsets

I’ve been desperate for this feature for a long while.  It lets you specify a numerical offset so that the page number displayed by forScore matches the page number printed on your sheet music.  Great for finding your place during group rehearsals, as well as for navigating scores that were excerpted from a larger collection, like an anthology.  Tap the number symbol in the bottom right corner of the metadata window to enter the page number offset.

Also, I’ve heard from inside sources that future versions of forScore will support negative page offsets, with pages before 1 shown as Roman numerals.  This is helpful for aligning the page numbers in scores that have front matter – cover, preface, table of contents – that cause the printed page 1 to appear later in the PDF file.

Photo Apr 15, 1 40 43 AM

Adjustable page breaks for half-page turns

The page break for half-page turns now has a slider so you can adjust where the break occurs on each individual page, see below.

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Automatic margin detection for cropping

forScore’s cropping feature now does automatic margin detection.  As an example, consider this score page with lots of whitespace in the margins:

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If you select the “Crop” option from the Toolbox menu…

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The crop tool automatically expands the page so that the printed content fills most of the screen, then lets you make further adjustments before doing the final crop.  (I still prefer tools like Briss for cropping the margins of my lengthier scores – see my post on PDF bulk margin-cropping tools – but forScore’s enhancement to the cropping tool is certainly useful and practical for scores that don’t have too many pages.)

Photo Apr 15, 2 54 35 AM

To read about the rest of the new features in forScore 5, check out forScore’s official list of new features and the forScore User Guide.

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Here’s a quickie video I made to demonstrate another favorite feature of mine in forScore 5 – the ability to view two pages of a score side-by-side.

forScore Tutorial: 2-Up – View two pages side-by-side (1:39)

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I just created a video tutorial on one of my favorite new features introduced in forScore 5: tabbed viewing of scores.  The tutorial also covers the Quick Peek feature which shows you an thumbnail preview image of the score before you open it.

(If you’re new to forScore or this blog, or if you’re just curious about what it’s like to work with sheet music on an iPad/tablet, check out my series of forScore tutorials at .)

forScore Tutorial: Tabs & Quick Peek (6:45)

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The Diction Police logo

I recently listened to Episode #68 of The Diction Police (featuring bass Maurizio Muraro on Banco’s aria from Macbeth) and in this episode, host and fellow iPad addict Ellen Rissinger mentioned a number of useful online/digital resources for Italian language and diction:

The resources I talked about on this episode were the Dizionario d’ortografia e di pronunzia from RAI (the Italian television station) and the Wikipedia entry for standard suffix endings in Italian, including lists of words ending in -MENTO and -MENTE. The iPad apps that I now use for translation and diction purposes are the Harpers Collins Italian-English Dictionary and lo Zingarelli Italian Dictionary (which also gives open and closed Es and Os for all verb forms!).

You can hear Ms. Rissinger talk about these resources in more detail from 2:20-5:35 in the podcast.


I got wind of the Russian Art Song website via the Diction Police Facebook Page and the Your Accompanist Twitter feed (thanks, you two!).  The site is by Dr. Anton Belov, a baritone who hails from Russia.  Resources include (from the description on the home page):

  • IPA transcriptions and word for word translations
  • Song lyrics read by a native speaker
  • Multimedia online diction manuals
  • Vintage common domain sound recordings (how to access audio files)
  • Scores (for reference only)
  • Biographical information

Also check their About page for links to other websites related to Russian opera and song.

One especially outstanding resource on the site is A Guide to Russian Diction, a 67-page book available as a free PDF download.

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I’m sharing this job listing on behalf of SingersBabel, the lyric diction website, in the hopes that one of you tech-savvy singers may fit the bill, or knows someone who does! Please spread the word!

SingersBabel is seeking an ASP.NET web development contractor with e-commerce experience to make enhancements to their service. Experience with PDF generation and video/audio media workflows is a plus; experience with opera/choral/classical singing and lyric diction is a BIG plus. To apply, send résumé, client references, and links to similar e-commerce/media websites you have developed to .

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