More musical symbols, barlines, clefs, time and key signatures, text
In addition to the basic musical symbols described so far, Touch Notation can also recognize fermatas, pedal marks, and arpeggios, and plays them back accurately too. Keep in mind that each of these must be drawn using the compulsory gestures.
Trills and octave lines are also supported. Once drawn and recognized in the score, they can be selected and then expanded or retracted in the same manner that slurs and hairpins are.
Although barlines are pre-drawn, you can add additional ones in anytime by simply drawing them in. Double barlines, final barlines, repeats, and first and second endings are supported. If you need to delete a barline, simply tap and hold it and tap Delete, or, if you’re looking for more fun, just channel your inner Beethoven again and scratch it out.
You can add special repeat marks to your score such as “D.C.”, “D.S.” “Fine”, segno, and coda symbols. Touch Notation will interpret these upon playback.
It is interesting to see how different handwriting notation apps deal with the fundamental musical elements of clefs, time signatures and key signatures. Both NotateMe and StaffPad favor pre-selected methods in favor of handwritten options (although you can draw in your key signature in NotateMe).
Touch Notation relies entirely on gestures to enter these items. Clefs are drawn in, and can be changed at the beginning of the score or anywhere in. Curiously (and perhaps in deference to the way one would write naturally), if you change a clef, say, from treble to bass the app won’t change the position of any of the notes already in the music. However, they will be recognized properly as different notes and played back as such. If you’re used to existing desktop software, this is a significant difference, but if you’ve only ever used pen and paper, it will seem entirely natural.
A clever approach is given to key signatures. Draw in one sharp for a key signature of G major — straightforward enough. But if you want a key signature of F-sharp major, there’s no need to draw in all six sharps. Simply draw the first sharp, then draw the numeral “6” underneath it:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXwsRY6t7aA]
Key signatures with flats work similarly. To enter the key signature of C major, draw the numeral “0”. To delete it entirely, select and delete it in the usual way, or scratch it out.
Time signature changes can be entered by drawing the numeral for the numerator first, if no time signature already exists. Touch Notation will make a reasonable guess as to what the denominator should be: a numerator of “3” or “4” will return a time signature of 3/4 or 4/4, respectively; a numerator of “6” or “12” will return a time signature of 6/8 or 12/8. Once a time signature exists, you can overwrite either the numerator or denominator, so most esoteric combinations are possible. Common time and cut time are also supported with straightforward gestures.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlxUYlETdSE]
A nice touch: you can select a key signature or time signature and easily drag it to another bar in the score. A not-so-nice touch: although a time signature applied in one staff will apply to all other staves, the same is not true for key signature changes. While advanced composers may welcome the ability to apply independent key signatures per staff, most users will find it cumbersome to add a key signature change to every staff in the score.
Dynamics are also drawn with gestures. These were hit-or-miss, in my experience: sometimes I was able to draw several in a row without error; other times it seemed near-impossible. Unsurprisingly, the more careful I was with my gestures, the more accurate the recognition was. Dynamics can be selected, dragged and repositioned.
Metronome markings are simply written in as numerals above the staff, without any preceding note value. Touch Notation will automatically choose the note value in the denominator of the time signature.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drM_b5ecF38]
Tempo text is approached in an interesting fashion, by drawing a lowercase “e” for expression, and then typing the desired text. If desired, the font style and size of the text can be adjusted further. However, text entered in this fashion seemed to be applicable only to the entire score; I could not find a way to enter in staff-specific technique text like “pizz.”, for example.