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Smart Sheet Music

The last thing a violinist needs is a paper cut.
  (+34, -1)(+34, -1)(+34, -1)
(+34, -1)
  [vote for,

Not really so much to avoid paper cuts, but I think a somewhat larger version of the display devices being sold as electronic books should be even more useful for music than for text.


1) The music would be scrollable so the musician would not have to turn pages, thus avoiding undesired noise, performance errors caused by a page turn at a difficult moment, the occasional "music all over the floor" catastrophe, and yes, paper cuts.

2) A backlit screen would eliminate the need for music stand lights, which are clumsy and require cords and in some cases cause a problem of too much light where it's not wanted.

3) In group performances, a cursor could indicate the "current" beat, preventing any musician from losing their place.

4) The music would likely be stored with all the parts, though the user could select which were displayed. This would allow a second oboist to track only the second oboe part, or to simultaneously track the first oboe or a vocal part. It would also allow two trumpeters to share a single display device so they could lend their extra device to the second oboist, who has left his/her device at home. This is an advantage because paper orchestral music scores for one part are no good to someone playing another part.

5) The music would never become torn or soiled, or lose pages, nor would a set of scores become useless because some of the parts are missing.

6) A proper screen surface and stylus would allow for personal annotation of the music, and these annotations could be permanently or temporarily removed for use by another musician. Or, a conductor could simultaneously annotate all the scores.

7) Repeats, codas, 1st and 2nd endings, etc., would be eliminated entirely, as they exist only to save paper or minimize page turning.

beauxeault, Sep 20 2000

(?) MusicML http://www.tcf.nl/3.0/musicml/index.html
Some people were talking about an electronic interchange format for sheet music ... [egnor, Sep 20 2000, last modified Oct 05 2004]

LCD Music Stand http://www.halfbake..._22music_20stand_22
Back from the future [reensure, Mar 10 2002]

Photo of Harry Connick Jr.'s Music Display System http://www.satchmo....yjones/tptchair.jpg
Not auto-scrolly - musicians turn the page by pressing a key. [waugsqueke, Mar 29 2002]

United States Patent: 6,348,648 - System and method for coordinating music display among players in an orchestra http://patft.uspto....648&RS=PN/6,348,648
Harry Connick Jr. is on the right track. [waugsqueke, Mar 29 2002]

MusicPad Pro http://www.freehand...s.com/products.html
What [OrdinaryTime] was talking about. [Acme, Oct 05 2004]

LilyPond software http://www.lilypond.org/
High quality digital engraving [Acme, Oct 05 2004]

Mutopia Project http://www.mutopiaproject.org/
Free digital sheet music [Acme, Oct 05 2004]

NYT Article http://www.nytimes....ts/20musi.html?8dpc
Smart sheet music products discussed in NYT Circuits [lquilter, Oct 05 2004]

MusicReader - Digital Music Stand http://www.musicreader.net
Software which runs on Tablet PCs [mbmleone, Apr 12 2008]

Gabriel Burca: VirtMus http://virtmus.com/
GPL'd music display software, written in Java [jutta, Sep 26 2009]


       Same for guitarists, et al.. If it could be programmed to 'flip' the pages for you in 4/4, 12/8 time it would be doable.
thumbwax, Sep 20 2000

       Great idea. I don't think I'd want the page to scroll, since it adds an extra mental task of keeping track of where I am every time I happen to glance away from the page (like, at the conductor for example). The visual effect of the page moving up a line as I'm trying to refocus my attention on the start of the next staff would be hard to track, too. A manual page-flip footswitch would be a nice option.
koz, Sep 21 2000

       I'm sold, just add a metronome...
Scott_D, Sep 21 2000

       No non-traditional mechanical aid to the playing of music will ever become popular among "mainstream" musicians. Why do you think players of "wind" instruments blow as the ancient Greeks had, instead of connecting air compressors? Any additional mechanization of the musician's job is simply one step away from dispensing with the musician. Playback of melodies is something that machines do best.
dsm, Sep 21 2000

       Surely there's a difference between automating the actual *production* of music (blowing of air, etc.) and simply making the equivalent of a page-turner?   

       I mean, heck. Sheet music is produced and printed with the full aid of modern computerized publishing technology, and the paper is produced in a plant that hardly resembles anything the ancient Greeks had... who are they kidding?
egnor, Sep 22 2000

       A useful first step towards beauxeault's idea (without the need for smart paper) would be the distribution of full orchestral scores in some convenient electronic form. The musicians could select the parts they wanted, and print off customised sheet music for use in performance. They also get the opportunity to specify stuff like bar spacing, print size and the exact location of page turns.
Mickey the Fish, Sep 25 2000

       But automatic page-turning wouldn't be *nearly* as gratifying as a quivering third violinist, or youth orch. member, turning each page at your subtle cue.   

       Even if it brought you water, after all, it wouldn't be able to convincingly laugh at your jokes.
hello_c, Sep 25 2000

       Bravo, beauxeault! Especially the part about the personal and global annotations. At least 1/3 of an average orchestra rehearsal is spent making sure everyone has the same markings, and with old scores the writing and erasing takes way too much time.   

       I'd nix the part about the automatic scrolling and 'current measure' indications-- tempo is always set by the conductor. Also, you could 'rent' a score from the publisher that would inactivate itself after the performance.
kellyryer, Mar 20 2001

       Thanks, kellyryer.   

       Yeah, I know the conductor has to set the tempo, and that it usually should not be constant, either. I had actually thought that the scrolling and beat indicator would be somehow controlled by the conductor, but I couldn't think of how this might actually be done. I thought the beat marker would be valuable for musicians who have to count 67 measures of rest, for instance. But I am persuaded by your remarks and waugsqueke's that a simple, unobtrusive marker to indicate the current measure would be better, and this could be controlled by someone assigned to watch the conductor and keep the marker current. I am also persuaded that the scrolling should be replaced by a page flip (or half-page advance, or single line advance, etc.) controlled by each instrumentalist via something like a foot switch (thanks, Koz). This might also allow hello_c to employ his assistant to work his foot switch and stroke his ego.
beauxeault, Mar 20 2001

       I'm not a musician, but I can see that this is a super idea. Buns to you!
human411, Aug 17 2001

       Great idea! I came here to add something sort of like it but saw your brilliant & well-articulated idea. Here's a couple of supplementary ideas: * Since I envisioned it originally on a piano, I thought foot pedal(s) could be used to manually control the page scrolls, left & right; optional for those who don't want or can't afford the device that tracks the song as played. * Internet connection (wireless) as well as some storage; so you have your own library, but can also pull up (a) files in music mark-up language and (b) images of classic sheet music from Library of Congress, Duke Scriptorium, etc.   

       rock on.
lquilter, Nov 15 2001

       awesome idea!   

       As someone who has had to tediously mark bowings into string parts, you get a definite croissant from me.
rebekkahshiri, Mar 10 2002

       What comment are you talking about Peter? The remark about tempo rubato or the one about ornamentation? Where did I say that tempo coordination was not valuable in an orchestral setting? I agree, you are out of your depth.
bristolz, Mar 30 2002

       Great idea! I see it a something for 'pep' and marching bands to use for outdoor playing. I vividly remember being in my high school's marching band and fighting against the wind at football games. We used clothespins to hold music down, but it wasn't too effective. This would have been what we needed.   

       But, if anything, it would help reduce the number of middle and high school music teachers suffering from nervous breakdowns caused by forgotten, lost, or ruined sheet-music.
Mr_Thundercleese, Mar 31 2002

       We usually memorized the music for marching. But this idea is neat.
jackryan, May 19 2002

       I had envisioned the display as being just a single staff that scrolled continuously right to left, not full pages that flipped. The entire score would be one continuous staff. The current measure would be in the middle of the display. The speed of scrolling could be controlled by the conductor.
KlidePhrog, Jun 07 2002

       This sort of thing is already available if you really want it. See www.sibelius.com and www.finale.com. These are two notation programs that are used to compose, engrave, and print sheet music. A cursor moves during playback to your MIDI interface (www.midi.org). Get a laptop and mute the output.
cleffedup, Nov 24 2002

       Excellent Idea, and I don't even play music.. If these were all networked, and each one had a web cam you could play along at home, watch it over the internet, or have some smart ass hack the shit out of it...
Supercruiser, Nov 24 2002

       Instead of scrolling or page flipping etc the score could flow continuously from right to leftwith the current point of the score about 1/3 in from the left side of the screen.   

       Just another thought . . . project the score into those virtual reality glasses & do away with music stands etc.
muzza, Nov 24 2002

       There is a product call musicpad pro. It is a approximatetly 11x8œ inch screen and the foot control is optional. The only problem is it does full or half page turns not scrolling.   

       Basically they say, you scan your music in or use one of the scoring programs (finale, etc.) on your computer and then use a usb port to transfer it to this "big pad" You can see the product literature here: http://www.freehandsystems.com/products.html   

       I haven't used it but as of Nov 2003 it cost about $1000. the plus version is $1200 has more memory and a slot for more memory.
OrdinaryTime, Nov 14 2003

       I thought this was MY idea and I'm amazed to see it all over my screen! The only thing I don't see is my zoom feature. I wouldn't have the scroll either, mine would show the page of music since that is what musicians are used to looking at, but a zoom feature would kick lines or measures onto the next page. The pianist or violinist wouldn't have to change thier glasses to see the music. With the touch of a toe, on the same control panel that turns the page, they could zoom right down to perhaps four very large measures on one screen, or out to the entire piece of music, albeit very tiny, if they want. How can we make this more affordable? I think it needs to be a compact unit with memory or disc option.
mack2, Jan 01 2004

       And the New York Times is covering in Circuits "Sheet Music Minus the Sheets." Described as the "MusicPad Pro Plus, a five-pound tablet computer made by a company called Freehand Systems. The $1,200 device, with a 12-inch liquid- crystal-display touchscreen, is the first of a class of computers that enable musicians to store music and edit it onscreen." It currently has page turning by foot pedal or by tapping on screen. Wireless is coming soon (to allow musicians to share music). It's also good for composition.   

       The article notes that there is also a device called the eStand which was patented in 1998 and 2000, whose inventor has filed patent infringement suits against the MusicPro folks.   

       See NYT, May 20, 2004, by Adam Baer, "At the Ready, Sheet Music Minus the Sheets," at http:// www.nytimes.com/2004/05/20/ technology/circuits/20musi.html?8dpc
lquilter, May 19 2004

       I'm only annoyed that you got here before I did! I want one for marching band rehearsal. Carrying music is hard enough for a flute/picc player without the damn page turns and music flying loose everywhere.
Tabbyclaw, Oct 10 2004

       Brilliant, and very easy to bake.   

       Sibelius can handle all of the parts, following music, etc. It has a built-in metronome and can handle easy editing.   

       The files could be linked somehow, to let the conductor edit the whole set.   

       Get a thin touch-screen with Sibelius build in, and this could be done.   

       Send me one when you're done!
dbmag9, Apr 17 2006

       This is a list with very useful ideas. Some of them are already in my product MusicReader, the rest of them are placed on my TODO-list. If you have any more ideas please let me know.
mbmleone, Apr 12 2008

       when there's a version that's heavy enough to not blow away in a mild wind, yet light and sturdy enough to withstand being dropped on the ground, stepped on, and speared by the second violinist's bow, let me know.
FlyingToaster, Apr 12 2008

       Perhaps a "Lesson Mode" as well? You could write your teacher's more general comments or practice suggestions in the (nice, large) margins of your music or on an associated "notes" page. Very handy for keeping all of your notes together and organized (rather than scattered in a notebok) and for when you're relearning or reworking a piece.
ryokan, Apr 13 2008


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