I made a promise to myself last month that if I practiced consistently every day of February, I would reward myself at the end of the month.
I did manage to do this, and I did reward myself, as promised. What I picked up was software called ScanScore 2. The reason I wanted this was because it can take a PDF or image of sheet music and play it. Even more useful, it can export to MIDI — that was the major selling point for me.
While most of the violin books I’ve bought have some kind of CD or audio download, not all of them do. Also, picking up sheet music from online, there’s no promise they come with the audio either. I am very auditory when learning a song, especially if it’s one I’m not familiar with. I need to hear the tempo and the melody.
After searching for software, I settled on trying the free demo of ScanScore. You can import a score as PDF, image, or by using the ScanScore phone app to take a picture and import to the software. The demo allows you to do everything but export.
I first tried the phone app, and I have to sadly admit, I had no luck with it. Maybe the lighting wasn’t right or something. I tried two songs and neither of them came anywhere close to being correct when importing.
So, I took a picture of the sheet music with my phone and transferred this to my PC. I then edited the image in Photoshop (this may not be essential, but I will do it for mine) to turn it grayscale and sharpen the brightness and contrast, hoping this would make it easier for the program to read the notes.
This worked pretty well!
Once converted within the program, it indicates areas that it had trouble with during the import. Usually this means it missed a note or something like that. Both songs I worked with today needed some editing, but nothing massive. And you can do that right there in the program by clicking to drop in notes.
I’m used to using programs like Noteworthy Composer, so this was no trouble to me.
One thing to keep in mind is that this program is looking for straight up notation. So, for example, I tried to scan in this sheet music, and ScanScore had no idea what to do with it.
The letters within the notes completely threw the program for a loop. So make sure you’re using clean notation with this.
Also, for sheet music that includes tabs below the notation, I edited out the tabs before importing just to be safe. This appeared to work just fine, as I converted Silent Night from BGD to a MIDI.
Once you’ve scanned the sheet music in, you can play it back within the program and make edits until it’s to your liking. You can even choose what instrument soundbyte it uses.
You can save the project as a ScanScore file just in case you need to come back and edit it more. Or, if you’re ready, you can export it to MusicXML file, which other notation software can use. The big one for me was exporting to MIDI, simply because I wanted a file format I could sample and listen to on the fly.
Adding the Songs to My Tune List
The one thing I did discover was that WordPress sadly has no embed for MIDI files. I really wanted to use these exports on my Tune List page for my own reference. So, I had to jump through a few more hoops to make that happen.
First, I had to convert the MIDI to a WAV file — there are several online converters that do this for free. Then, I installed the Html5 Audio Player plugin for WordPress. Because apparently WordPress also doesn’t embed WAV files. : /
A little bit of tweaking later, and Silent Night now has a WAV file as a tune reference on my Tune List page! This file was converted to MIDI using ScanScore, then converted to a WAV to embed.
Again, this is not meant to be a musical masterpiece, but rather a sound file that I can reference for when I want to remember how a song sounds. Usually, if I can hear the first few seconds of a song, I will remember how to play it.
When I purchased ScanScore, I went with the cheaper Melody version. I don’t foresee myself needing multiple tracks or anything like that. All I want is the violin main melody in a place I can hear it when I need to.
In the future, I hope to start converting all of the songs on my Tune List and embedding WAVs there. Then, it really will be the reference that I need it to be!