I’m exploring this new, very costly software for songwriting and composition that I have recently purchased.  Completely enthralled by the possibilities of actually being able to scan any piece of sheet music and playing it perfectly with any instruments, as well as being able to chart music from live audio or MP3 files and cd’s into sheet music form was just too much temptation for me to resist.  I started thinking about all those days of aural harmony notation and studying being a potential huge waste of time.  A computer could do in an instant what I labored to learn to earn my music degree.  Not to mention all those practice hours to perform something perfectly, now I can just scan it in.

Well, after actually using the program, I have to say, musician’s do not worry, we still have job security.  There is very little chance of just anyone using this program and being able to make it work for them, unless they indeed have a musical ‘trained’ background.  Despite it’s claims of being so easy that anyone could use it without training, it really is not that easy at all.

Enter my first attempt at scanning software.  This part way pretty easy to figure out.  Just plug the CPU into the scanner press scan and presto it scans.  Oh, except don’t forget you have to adjust the scanning settings because music can not be read on ‘color scale’, change it to gray scale.

Next the software will read your music, and adjust it for you automatically.  Here’s where the issues are found.  Any measure markings in your score?  Any of those fancy Italian or English words of expression?  Any changes of tempo markings noted?  Repeats, multiple endings, you know the stuff that makes music , well, music?  Yah, all that’s going to mess up the way the music is read by the software.  Another thing is if is starts on an upbeat, or like many chorus pieces, does not end or begin in a full measure it will display your music as having bad rhythm.

Once that is transferred to Sibelius 7, one of two things could happen.  The first, Sibelius tries to ‘correct’ the bad rhythm by dropping measures, parts and sections.  Or the second, Sibelius7 reads the score more accurately than Photoscore’s perceived problems, and un-glitch itself. 

Actually, I have experienced both so far.  If you really want to make this program work for you, there needs to be some doctoring involved, before you scan.  Copy all the music you intend to scan.  Cut out all words and unnecessary music notation parts (or white out or something), try to make each score line start and end in complete measures, get out a thin sharpie marker and fix any lines than need to be fixed, and then have a go at it. Yes, way more time consuming than politely scanning the actual music, but this will give you the best results.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather fix the ‘problems’ before scanning than try to mess around with fixing the music after it has been scanned within the program.  For starters fixing something in Photoscore is different than Sibelius.  Who’d of thought they are actually whole different programs with a different set up etc?  Yah, learning curve is a bit high on this.

My personal issue as well, is that I found out the audio score lite than comes with this bundle does not let you do all that cool stuff I thought it would.  You need to buy the Ultimate version, which is another $200+ upgrade for it to read and score the audio files from MP3 (up to 16 pts, recognized, and not percussion).  If it works as ‘well’ as the Photoscore Ultimate, well…Let’s just say I’m waiting on this one!

I hope my reflections help other users make the best of the scanning portion of this software.  Best of luck!