News roundup: W3C meeting at NAMM, Henle Library app, Music Memos from Apple


Fresh from last week’s Sibelius 8.1 release, we’ll take a visit to Anaheim to see what’s cooking in the world of notation open standards; we’ll hop on over to Munich to get a preview of an interesting new sheet music reader for iPads; and finally we’ll head back to California to see how Apple has made it easier to become a one-hit wonder using your iPhone. And the best part? No jet lag!

W3C Music Notation Community Group meeting

The W3C Music Notation Community Group formed over the summer last year with the goals of evolving the MusicXML and SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout) specifications “to handle new use cases and technologies, including greater use of music notation on the web, while maximizing the existing investment in implementations of the existing MusicXML 3.0 and SMuFL specifications.”

Co-chaired by Noteflight’s Joe Berkovitz, MakeMusic’s Michael Good, and Steinberg’s Daniel Spreadbury, the group met last week at the 2016 NAMM show.

W3C participants at NAMM 2016
W3C participants at NAMM 2016

Among the topics discussed were SMuFL 1.2 updates, including 4 to 5 dozen new characters, and some updates to the metadata layout for features like cutouts; MusicXML 3.1 updates, with support for more SMuFl glyphs and fixes to many documentation bugs; and an exploration of what’s next after the short-term SMuFL and MusicXML releases.

It’s encouraging to see participation in the group not only from the three co-chairs, but also from notable industry representatives including Avid’s Joe Pearson. Full minutes from the meeting are published online at the group’s web site.

Henle Library app

Sheet music apps have been available for tablet devices for quite some time, and even if you don’t use one yourself, by now you may have attended a performance that used them. However the apps are used, they usually involve some sort of compromise: either a static PDF that is shrunken too small to be readable on many devices or a inadequate engraving platform that does a disservice to the music, or sometimes both.

So when the esteemed publisher G. Henle Verlag announced that they have created a state-of-the-art iPad app to display their beautiful editions, it was worth taking notice. Henle acknowledged that “right from the start it was clear…that it wasn’t enough just to offer our Urtext editions in digital form for PDF readers…musicians don’t need us for this: nowadays they scan or download anything and everything.”

Instead, Henle says that they have created the Henle Library app — a customizable way of viewing and playing along with the best editions that Henle has to offer. Users will be able to view the digital Henle scores in vertical or horizontal high resolution formats, create their own alignment of the staves, optionally view layers of fingerings and bowings by top musicians, and record themselves playing along with the music.

Beethoven’s Spring Sonata in the Henle print edition, and in the Henle Library app on the iPad Air and the iPad Pro

It’s too early to tell if the app will be a success, but we plan on giving it a closer look after its official release on February 3. We have one question for now: does it take less than 8 hours to create page 40 of Henle’s Urtext edition of Schubert’s Violin Sonatina, op. 137, no. 3 in digital format?

Music Memos

At first glance, it looks deceptively simple: you tap on your phone to start recording yourself playing an instrument, such as an acoustic guitar or a piano. Sounds nice enough — you’re on the go and you want to capture a snippet or two of musical genius when inspiration strikes.

But far from being a digital recorder, Apple’s new Music Memos app — available free from the iOS App Store — will analyze your recording on the spot and create backing harmonies and drum tracks to fill out your idea, automatically adjusting for any variations in your imperfect human tempo.

You can even adjust the accompaniment with controls that are descended from those in GarageBand and Logic, and then export the resulting file into either of those programs to work on your project further.

Apple's Music Memos app
Apple’s Music Memos app

There are plenty of reviews all over the internet (The Verge, The Loop, Cult of Mac, etc.) so there’s no need to do another here. But for the price, it’s at worst a fun toy to amuse yourself and your friends, and at best an exciting new tool to add to all the other ways you can create music today.


  1. James Gilbert

    I find most PDF files perfect for viewing on an iPad in forscore (which allows one to zoom in). I find the Henle app interesting, but if it is only good for viewing Henle publications, it’s not very practical for a live performance of multiple titles.

    I think what a musician needs is an app that allows them to organize all their music in one location. If I have to load up the Henle app to view their music, then the Hal Leonard (sheetmusicdirect) app for their music, then another app for another publisher, it is very impractical, especially in a live performance. As far as I know, only a (well-produced) PDF file can provide the performer with digital music that looks best on digital devices. Unless the Henle app allows me to view my many PDF files in their app, I’ll stick to using forScore and scanning in print music or typesetting my own editions.

  2. sousperregui

    Je ne trouve pas de mot pour exprimer mon
    Enchantement et je pense traverser le
    channel très prochainement pour voir et
    vivre de telles applications..Encore Bravo..e

  3. Angela

    Has anyone used Kawai’s touch notation and found string bowings for up and down in the program?

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