Music printing is a specialized process, with multiple binding methods, quantities, page scaling, and more all coming into this mix. What if you had a utility that could do it all for you — in one click?
PDF-MusicBinder is that magical app. What’s more, there’s another app called PDF-BatchStitch, which takes multiple PDFs and stitches them all together into one file, along with the option to set the number of copies for any of the PDFs. These apps, along with PDF-BatchScale and PDF-BatchBooklet, come in both PC and Mac versions, and can be obtained from the Productivity category of Notation Central, our online marketplace for music notation technology. They were all developed by Abraham Lee.
I made a video demonstrating the process of assembling the pages for parts by printing the music single-sided and taping it together so that it lays out on the stand and three full pages can be viewed at once. This is known as accordion, or concertina-style. I showed a common scenario where pages 1 and 2 are printed 2-up on a page double the size of a single page, and then page 3 is printed separately as a single page.
The video shows how to assemble the paper, but how do you set up the music to be printed this way in the first place?
This is where PDF-MusicBinder comes in. PDF-MusicBinder takes single-sided PDFs that are generally outputted from notation software, and rearranges them into PDFs that can be printed on larger size paper and then folded. It can even resize the PDF in one step.
PDF-MusicBinder’s most amazing feature is its ability to automatically separate the final page of an accordion-style part into a separate binder, for only those parts that have an odd number of pages.
However, PDF-MusicBinder is not only for printing music accordion-style. You can also create ordinary booklets with it, where the music is double-sided and saddle wire stitched or stapled in the middle.
My colleague Robert Puff and I jointly commissioned Abraham to create this utility after describing to him the multiple steps we were taking to get from a series of individual PDFs into printed and folded music. Abraham created something truly amazing that has already saved me precious time in my printing workflow.
Here’s a video describing how PDF-MusicBinder works.
PDF-MusicBinder is a fast way to create consolidated PDFs for easy printing for either accordion-style layout or stapled imposed booklets.
PDF-MusicBinder takes single-sided PDFs that are generally outputted from notation software, and rearranges them into PDFs that can be printed on larger size paper and then folded. It can even resize the PDF in one step.
Let’s see how it works.
Here I have a lot of jazz charts. Most are 2 or 3 pages in length. A few are only 1 page long, and I have a couple of 4-page charts as well.
Right now they are all single-sided letter-size, or 8.5×11 inch PDFs.
I want to print them concert size, or 9×12 inches, and I want to set them up for accordion-style printing.
First, I’ll simply drag all of the files into the PDF-MusicBinder window. I can resize the window if necessary and reorder any of the files.
I’ll set the size at Concert size. If your size paper isn’t listed, you can enter a custom size.
I’ll leave it on Portrait Orientation. You can adjust the margins if you need to. You can reduce margins by entering a negative number.
In order to make the accordion–style parts, I’ll select Straight Page Order, and Allow 1-up Sheets.
You have the option for PDF-MusicBinder to automatically number your files, and you can change the default filenames and output directory if you like.
Back in the browser window, you can set the number of copies you’d like printed for each part. In my case, I need 2 copies of the Piano/Guitar part for each chart, so I’ll set those to 2, or sometimes 3 if the Voice is included.
Once that’s done, I’ll just click the Create Binders button, and, nearly instantaneously, I have two files: A 1-up binder and a 2-up binder. The 1-up binder contains the last page of any parts with an odd number of pages, as well as any 1-page parts. The 2-up binder contains all the pages of any parts 2 pages or longer, except for the final page if it’s an odd number of pages. If I specified multiple copies of any part, that’s been included in the binders, too.
You can also see that the PDFs have been resized to 9×12, or, in the case of the 2up binder, 12×18 for 2-up printing so that the resulting size when folded is 9×12.
From here, you can print the PDFs in order and then fold and tape as necessary, and everything will remain organized in the order that you specified.
PDF-MusicBinder can be used to create folded booklets as well. The process is the same, except choose Folded Booklet Order instead, and you’ll likely want to uncheck Allow 1-up Sheets.
The Number of Copies option is especially helpful here when printing orchestra music where you might have a string section with several desks for each instrument.
PDF-Music Binder will create a binder with the booklets imposed in the correct order and quantities, for easy 2-sided printing.
One of the component features of PDF-MusicBinder is its combining multiple PDFs into one file, along with the option to set the number of copies for any of the PDFs.
This feature is contained in a separate app, called PDF-BatchStitch. This is a very handy app to have if your PDFs are already correctly sized and set up, and you just want to combine them all into one file in order to print.
Like PDF-MusicBinder, simply drag and drop your files onto the application window, or click the Add Files button to locate them in your file browser.
Set the number of copies per part, and re-order by using the Move Up and Move Down buttons.
If you plan on printing double-sided, but want to ensure each file starts on the “top” side of the paper, be sure to click the very handy Add blank sheet to the end of files with an odd number of pages checkbox (thanks to composer John Mackey for this suggestion).
Click Combine to save the file. A window will appear prompting you for the file name and location.
While it is possible to obtain these apps for free, you can support development by naming your own price, which we really appreciate. We suggest $10 — a modest amount, when you think about all of the time it will save you!
If you like these apps, there’s more where that came from:
- PDF-BatchScale, which scales the size of many PDFs at once;
- PDF-BatchBooklet, which creates imposed booklets for many PDFs at once.
Please let us know if you use these utilities!