Sunday, 29 June 2014

Dealing with Big scores Part 2. AKA scanning

So I wasn't really planning on doing a second part to this topic but following some comments, I thought it would be a good chance to do some comparisons. SO I have.

First off I don't endorse, nor was I approached to support any apps or programs these are ones I have used or others have. So this is just a comparison between three ways to get the score in. The three in the ring are:

  1. Scan Tailor (captured on a Nikon D90 with a 18-105 lens) ---> this is my preferred and usual method
  2. Scan to Text (Free version, leaves a watermark)
  3. Camera Scanner for PDF by S4BB Limited
So here are the results, they are linked as the files themselves would never have fit on the page.

Scan Tailor: (3 results from same photo. #1 No alteration, #2 +10 line darkness, #3 -10 line darkness. As always I don't use despeckeling as I find it does more harm than good to sheet music.)

General comments:
First off what I like about Scan Tailor is it is FAST and you can batch process a great deal of files. Once you start it you can go off an work on other things. Yes you are not doing it directly on the device but I can speak from experience my camera is faster at capturing photos, there are less glitches, and I have a more consistent product.

You can also edit things more, cropping, borders, margins, etc. The plus from this is a consistent product as you can match all pages to the same margins and position. Less irregularities are a nice thing.

Scan to Text:

General Comments:
What I do like about this app is it picks up pencil marks really well, in addition it doesn't just call a photo a document scan, as many apps I have tried put the photo in gray scale and call it quits. This app gives you limited editing, you can select content and compile a PDF in the app itself, so you can keep adding the next page until you are done. As well it will deskew the page for you, though with music this could get frustrating as you cant control the output and deskewing software I have used seems to struggle with music especially when you have long strings of 16th notes. (Dewarping is a mess... never use it with music on any platform, at least I have not found one that doesn't make the music useless)

Downside it is not fast. (I was using a BlackBerry Z10) This was the slowest app I used.

Camera Scanner for PDF

General comments:
Like Scan to Text, this allows basic editing and output in files.

Big downside, this is an app that converts to Gray scale and calls it done.

Overall comments:

My big takeaway from this is about finding what fits your needs. My preferred method is still Scan Tailor, the additional time of taking pictures (point and click cameras work great as well you don't need a DSLR) does make it seem like a larger project upfront. Though in hindsight if you have an efficient workflow it negates that as you can process a great deal of files in one go. In addition, you have more control over the output (editing). I did very very little editing with this post, in the past when I have worked with graphic scores I always take them to Photoshop first to make sure they are super clear so I get details like pencil marks, graphics etc. So again with Scan Tailor you get speed and control the apps don't offer. 

One plus to the apps is you can do it right on your tablet/phone and you have it on device. Scan Tailor is processed on computer so you will need to transfer the files (cloud storage, etc). Though, in my opinion there are some perks to having it all in the cloud.

With the apps I think the best is to try a bunch as you will need to find a good balance of speed, control, and quality to best match you needs.

At the end of the day I think the biggest factor is time and the availability of hardware... and patience. One of the apps almost caused me the throw my phone out on to the I-90 since it crashed several times (luckily it kept the files in my workflow....)

Let me know you were here. Hit the +1 or drop a comment or suggestion below.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Dealing with BIG scores and parts

So anyone who has been active in new music has probably dealt with this one time or another, that of the


So there are obvious challenges with this, including things such as transport, needing several stands to rehearse, arts and crafts to make it work for performances, having a copy for study, and more!

So before we go blasting people for this, big scores are useful when there is a great deal of information present. When you are doing a work for a complex audio track, two or more instruments, and timer you really do need to have all of that information on hand to execute a great performance. There are some exceptions with publishers. I won't name them here but with some you end up with what is a standard size printing on a score with GIANT margins. I did a piece like this recently I ended up taking a paper cutter to it (I own the part, librarians calm down) and turned it into a very usable size score (with the original binding).

Though the last thing we want to do is mutilate parts to make them easier for us. So I have a method that I have used in the past, and have used to help colleges out that I will share with you all. (Hold applause)

A year ago I built a book scanner to help me digitize my library so I could have it with me on my tablet at all times. The benefit of this was I had access to all of my resources at all times, so when I wanted a single page from Arbans I could just pull it up and use it. No copying, or carrying around that tome or the back problems that will come with it. So why is that pertinent to this? Well with a book scanning set up you can turn HUGE pieces of paper into whatever size you want very easily. I won't get into full book scanning workflow or anything as there is tons out there on the subject already. I will just help cover one sample case here, the problems I found and solved etc.

Here is that part we all saw coming. Don't start acquiring music this way that you do not own. Support publishers and colleagues that work hard making this available to us. If you make performance copies destroy them after etc etc we all know the drill here. If not, consult your local librarian and they will let you know how it works.

So Step 1:


  • Camera (that can have a wired/wireless trigger)
  • Tripod
  • Camera trigger
  • Conversion program. I recommend ScanTailor
  • Suggested: A way to convert images to PDF.
  • Piece of glass (recommended) or a way to keep the page totally flat (books/scores) if they are not it will warp the output.
Step 2:

Set up.

This is mine, I made the stand out of cardboard, you can find blueprints for this in tons of places. Not a necessity, but makes life easy, I have used a music stand in the past as well. What is important is that the angle between the lens is and the item being captured is the same or else you will warp the page.

Check out here for ideas.

Step 3: Take some pictures.

Now you get to process the photos!!

Here is a guide that is just better than what I would type up... so.... CLICK

Friday, 13 June 2014

Week off

Well, I have reached my week off from horn. I will also be taking this week to not think about music and such in any intellectual way. SO, here are some people that have already done that. Enjoy.

Also, check out this recording from a performance of Accords Perdus Max Pankau and I gave last week.

Here are some thought provoking things as well I have read recently.

Finally, from Erin Paul's blog

See you all in a week.

Friday, 6 June 2014


If you take a look at the top of the page you will see two new link, a project tab, and a downloads tab. I have put an exercise I like to do in there.

The idea behind it is practicing the division of a beat into rhythms we tend to not be as good at. Mainly, five, seven, and nine. I had a conductor once ask how often we all worked on those subdivisions... needless to say not a lot of people did, or do. The end result of that is we are great at dividing a beat into 2, 3, and 4 but our ability to play even 5/7/9/11/13 etc... is poor in comparison. So, just some food for thought. Use a metronome, take time to make sure you are accurate in  your subdivisions and not guessing. It is my opinion that this kind of work will make you a better musician, and when you encounter polyrhythms they become "not a big deal" which frees you up to be more expressive.

Exercise link

Some cool stuff in the pipeline so stay tuned. Leave a comment, hit the +1 button, you know the drill.