Scanning the music scanning apps

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
Scanning the music scanning apps

We’re talking all about optical music recognition software, or what you might call “music scanning apps”. John Hinchey is back on the show, and he has written a review for the Scoring Notes blog that covers four of these leading apps: PlayScore 2, ScanScore, PhotoScore Ultimate, and SmartScore 64 Pro. On the podcast, Philip Rothman and David MacDonald talk with John about his approach to working with these apps and how he evaluated them. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each program, and how you can incorporate them into your own work. John’s also prepared a step-by-step checklist of the items to look for once you bring your music into the scanning software, and he tells us what to do to get the music in top shape, whether you’re preparing the music for playback or exporting it to MusicXML for use in your favorite music notation software.

More on Scoring Notes: A review of optical music recognition software


  1. Yuriy Leonovich

    I use PhotoScore Ultimate almost daily (for the past 3 years). It’s a great tool! Because I work primarily with instrumental music, I do the bare bones recognition. There are 2 pet peeves that I have, but I work with them. One is that if you have a key change to 0 sharps/flats, you have to enter that. Otherwise, you can end up with 100s of bars of the old key signature. I forget that step occasionally. But it’s easy enough to fix and reexport. I typically export something twice, first checking for bigger mistakes in the initial export and then fixing these. The second pet piece is the nesting of tuplets within tuplets. Usually, I set up the “outer”/big tuplet in PS and then insert the smaller ones in Sibelius. The keyboard shortcuts and the Sibelius keypad are timesavers. Hiding time signatures is also a great feature.

  2. Adrian Verkouteren

    Was the instructor that had you play three parts and sing the fourth Luise Vosgerchian? :-)

    1. Philip Rothman

      No, but it was a similar experience, from what I have heard!

  3. Engela Fullard

    I work mainly with Photoscore Ultimate, but have recently discovered Playscore 2, a mobile app. Depending on one’s needs, this is a superb little app: you simply take a picture of your (good quality) score, and there it is! The playback sounds are not marvelous, but the point is that you can make rehearsal tracks, change the tempo, transpose, and export the file in various formats, MusicXML being the most obvious for me. Then simply import it into your notation software and do some editing, arranging, etc.

  4. Eric Crouch

    Around the time of the podcast I tried ScanScore and wasn’t very impressed by its scanning accuracy. Today I noticed that ScanScore 3 had been released and gave it a try. I tried it out by scanning a page of an indifferently printed keyboard edition of Varietie of Lute Lessons and compared it with results from PhotoScore Ultimate and SmartScore 64.. I was surprised to find that, on this test, ScanScore gave much the best result I think I’ll buy it!

    On another topic, I have an edition of Tobias Hume that is printed in Double Grand Staff notation (that is with the treble and bass clefs sharing middle C). ScanScore and PhotoScore can’t cope with this at all, but SmartScore provided an output that, with a fair bit of editing, I could use to make an arrangement.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks for that info, Eric!

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