Tell me about your electronic sheet music readers and software.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by PauFerro, Jan 20, 2018.

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Curious to know what people are using these days to read lead sheets in live performance situations. What hardware, what software is involved, challenges you face with reading PDF files, and recommendations for such items. Need to get into this electronic side of things soon...the hard copy books get beat up pretty fast, and they are a bear to carry around...
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
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  2. tsheldon


    Jun 20, 2005
    Western New York
    I use forScore app on an iPad Pro 12.9” with an AirTurn Duo to turn pages. It was expensive and time consuming to get it going but it is a tremendous time saver now.
  3. CryingBass

    CryingBass Sowing the Seeds of Uncertainty Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    And the batteries in those bigger iPads are a plus if you don’t want a cord dangling
  4. I only use charts when I play jazz. I used to carry a 30 pound bag of Real Books to gigs. Now everything is on iGigBook on my iPad. It holds up to 30 Real Books, with full search, setlist, and annotation capabilities. It is not the best with your own scores, though.
  5. Winoman


    May 15, 2005
    Vienna, VA
    Is there anything available for Surface users?
  6. s van order

    s van order

    Oct 4, 2012
    I have wondered about going electronic too. I mark up my music with bowings, fingerings, writing directions in margins, etc. Can you do this with electronic sheet music easily? Thanks.
    PauFerro likes this.
  7. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I use Setlist Helper on Android occasionally when subbing (with my regular band I have it memorised).
    Winoman likes this.
  8. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    iPad Pro, Blue Turn and SongBook for me. Works flawlessly. Sync’d with Dropbox.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  9. tsheldon


    Jun 20, 2005
    Western New York
    I can only speak for forScore but you can annotate music with your finger or Apple Pencil. I’m sure that’s the same with most iPad apps.
    s van order likes this.
  10. Maple

    Maple Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I also have an iPad Pro and have iGigbook and ForeScore on it. I find that both had shortcomings if you play jazz.

    iGigbook is great as long as you don't annotate the charts on the fly. My band leader is often making changes to charts on the fly so it gets frustrating with iGigbook because you can fumble for minutes trying make edits when the rest of the band (using paper and pencil) is ready to go. What I like is that it otherwise handles compilation books really well -- and this is what most jazz players deal with all the time.

    foreScore as mentioned previously has the editing part down much much better. But it has a really big flaw that prevents me from using it in any meaningful way in a jazz context. It assumes each pdf file is a different score. You can create a bookmark of a page within the book but you can't really treat that bookmark like a searchable tune and you can't have multiple bookmarks with the same name.

    From what I've read on their forums, it looks like both developers are aware of their shortcomings but haven't managed to deliver improvements.
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  11. tsheldon


    Jun 20, 2005
    Western New York
    I agree forScore’s could use the ability to combine separate pdf files into a single score as a convenience for those using flatbed scanners. I’ve not found that to be any more than a mild annoyance.

    On the other points it’s actually very easy to create bookmarks within a larger document (Real Book for example) and search them as separate tunes. I’ve been using it for 2 year now and that functionality has been there the whole time. Additionally you can have files of the same name. When you import a duplicate it gives you the option to duplicate or replace.
  12. Yes. It is designed with Real Books in mind. The illegal ones, the new Hal Leonard ones, and the Sher Music ones. One thing you must know: if the PDF file has any pages missing, they won’t index properly, and will pull up the wrong song.
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  13. madbanjoman


    Feb 23, 2011
    I use ForScore and iReal Pro with an old ipad 2. I got our book scanned but it was one big pdf. I took the time to save each song as a separate pdf and it is much easier to find the song I am looking for. I then put over 300 song into ireal pro by hand. Slow but worth it. I don’t need the melody and the chords are easier to read. Also transposing is a snap.
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  14. rocu


    Jan 28, 2015
    Missoula, MT
    I use OnSong on an old iPad with an airturn pedal.
    I find it easy and convenient for lead charts. Easy to edit, easy to transpose.
    You can load sheet music in pdf into it but I have not done that yet so can't comment.
    There are sync features to allow one iPad to send cues and changes to the others in the band but I have not used this either.
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  15. Maple

    Maple Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I'll have to dig into this further! Making bookmarks will be time consuming - we pull regularly from 5 or so compilations - that adds up to thousands of songs (or unique versions of songs) I never know in advance what we're pulling from so I have to have everything available.

    You can quickly import thousands of standards from the iRealB website! Most of them are good or close to whats in the books. I tried using iRealB for a little while in a band setting but found I needed the melody for catching hits and melodic lines.

    I started bringing in individual scores and am finding it works reasonably well. Some of my band mates write interludes or solo sections - I can bring them in as "My Scores" and put them in the set list. If they're sorted next to the original in the set list, I can have both pages open side by side. - I use the TurboScan app to save PDFs to my iCloud drive and I can then pull them right into iGigbook (or ForeScore)

    - You can set an index value to these books to correct it. It's odd the first time but once you get the hang of it, it's super easy to fix.
    Phil Smith likes this.
  16. Maple

    Maple Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I started digging deeper into forScore - looks like if the CSV files aren't set up correctly (like with end page numbers for each song) then the resulting bookmarks are considered to have "incomplete metadata" and don't seem to be fully featured.

    I cleaned up a couple of my book indexes and found them much easier to search and add to set lists.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  17. Maple

    Maple Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I took the deep dive on forScore a month or so ago and am now doing more advanced stuff with it.
    It has many great features that for me that make it way better than iGigbook. But it cost me a lot of time to set up correctly for what I needed. The basic features seemed really easy to get. The advanced features that involved bookmarking were, I felt, fairly challenging to figure out. Also, many of the popular books aren't indexed so you need to do that stuff yourself -- the indices I found online weren't complete enough and had many errors.

    - I can now quickly edit charts on the bandstand using the apple pencil (woohoo!)
    - I have a gig of originals coming up and was able to link iTunes tracks to those charts to practice to.
    - I set up Ed Fuqua's book with the lesson tracks embedded in the practice pages! This will make study go so much more smoooothly!
    - I added a blank music score PDF sheet to my iPad's folders so whenever I need to chart something from scratch, I can import that file (I can add it many times over and it will recurse the file name so I can do multiple songs from scratch from that single file). I have to create bookmark data for that page (which is pretty easy now that I know what I'm doing) and then scribble to my hearts content on it. Though not super fast, this is quick enough to set up at a practice session.

    - I can pull up forScore (or iGigbook) with iRealPro. minimize the iRealPro window so that I can read real charts while having a backing track (the iRealPro position marker must always be disabled!)
    - I can have forScore (or iGB) and iRealPro up side by side while editing iRealPro charts. I often have to edit those iRB charts so they better track what's in the books.
    - Spotify does not multi-task. But I can use Amazing Slow Downer (ASD) to access my spotify (or iTunes) playlists.
    - I can then have forScore (or iGB) and ASD side by side-by-side when I need to practice something off of spotify.
    - ASD pitch-shifts too. Great for when you need to practice a tune in a different key from what it was recorded in.

    - Apple bluetooth sharing is great - I was on a gig where the pianist didn't have a chart that I had. It was super easy to send him the chart he needed without any wifi service.

    I haven't explored page turners yet but that might be next.

    Other apps in this ecosystem:
    Amazing Slow Downer
    Turbo Scan (forScore has a "Darkroom" feature that might be similar) - I was using this for my other job so I've been sticking with it for scanning charts.

    Finally - headphones.
    From using electric basses, I got used to using closed ear headphones like AKG's and had to blend the bass pickup and iPad through a mixer. But the upright bass is not going to be quiet! So I found I can use open ear headphones (like one of the old Grado's I have laying around), I get good sound from the iPad while still hearing my acoustic sound pretty well.
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  18. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    I have an iPad Pro using irealB & Forescore.

    I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I had clean PDFs of all my charts - but it’s amazing how many tunes I still don’t have!

    Thanks for all the advice on the advanced Forescore features - I need to look into those.
  19. Winoman


    May 15, 2005
    Vienna, VA
    I guess from getting no answers, no one here uses any windows-based products?
  20. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    Not me, I ditched Windows for Linux in 2008 and haven't regretted it for a minute, you would have to pay me to use a Windows device now.