Early impressions of the Gvido music e-reader from the 2017 MOLA conference


For the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of presenting at the annual conferences of the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association (MOLA) in Miami, Montreal, and Helsinki. Although I wasn’t able to attend this year’s gathering in San Diego, I continued to take a keen interest in the latest developments in the field, particularly on the tech end of things (recall that it was at last year’s MOLA conference where Dorico’s name and release plans were officially unveiled).

I asked Tony Rickard, music library manager of the Royal Opera House and past president of MOLA, to fill me in on the news from MOLA 2017. Fortunately, he agreed to take the time to send me his recollections. Although he said that “I wasn’t able to see everything due to clashes with other sessions I was either presenting or needed to see or with Board duties,” I’m grateful for his account, below, which focuses on the Gvido music reader and the field of device-based sheet music reading.

Tony Rickard of the Royal Opera House and Juhana Hautsalo of the Finnish National Opera & Ballet (and current MOLA vice president), at the 2017 MOLA conference in San Diego

Three of the companies most active in the digital sheet music market were present at the 35th annual MOLA conference which took place in San Diego May 5-8, 2017. Newzik, nkoda and Gvido all gave presentations, either as breakout sessions or one-on-one, and demonstrated that the field of device-based sheet music reading is maturing very fast.

What has perhaps been lacking is a device of a size large enough for musicians used to being unconstrained by screen width. Perhaps the answer is Gvido (pronounced Gweedo) Digital Music Score from Terrada Music Score Co Ltd.

Named after Guido d’Arezzo, the eleventh century monk credited with the invention of music notation, the Gvido comprises two hinged 241 x 310 x 6.05 mm displays which utilize E Ink Corporation’s Carta e-paper technology. This means a screen look much closer to that of the Kindle rather than an iPad or similar backlit tablet, and therefore a correspondingly longer battery life measured in days rather than hours. A weight of 1.45 pounds (660 g) is also something that won’t trouble the on-the-road user that much.

The body of the device is made from carbon fiber and was developed in conjunction with the people behind the VAIO. It’s strength was demonstrated at length in the form of slo-mo videos of the device being dropped in various manners and emerging unscathed. Given that the now confirmed US sale price is $1600 for each unit, I’d have thought this alone would be incentive enough not to drop it, but I guess it will be a comfort to those users with a poor cell/tablet screen record.

The device has a storage capacity of 8GB and can display PDF files interfaced currently by either microSD or micro USB, and in the future from a Gvido Cloud service using the 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz) wi-fi capability. Page turns are effected either manually via infrared sensors located on the right and left sides of the device, or by optional (and as yet unpriced) wired or Bluetooth footswitch.

The UI allows for stylus annotations which can be shared with other users, but again the stylus is proprietary and currently unpriced. In promotional video the display looks extremely classy and this is born out in the flesh, so to speak. The contrast between the black of the notation and the white of the background is extremely sharp and there is no noticeable screen reflection. However, it would be interesting to see how a user-generated PDF scanned at, say, 200dpi looks by comparison to the demo files as there is no facility within the software for nKoda-style enhancement.

— Tony Rickard

Promotional image of the Gvido reader


  1. Dr. B.

    What does: “…as there is no facility within the software for nKoda-style enhancement” mean?

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