What To Look For In The Perfect Digital Sheet Music Reader: Giants

by airturn

Working with digital sheet music is a bit like beans.  Beans are beneficial, but – let’s face it – they’re basically boring.  But if you came to realize that these beans were actually magical ones from a boy named Jack, then suddenly there would be a whole new world to discover beyond their bland taste and pasty texture.  With our third question, “What do you want to see?”, you can either settle for a computer that functions as a high-tech music binder, or you can discover that the right combination of applications and computer will open an incredible new world of viewing possibilities.  There are three particularly interesting capabilities that you may want to look for when making your software and hardware decision: Giants, Rainbows, and Crystal Balls.

Giants (Larger Views of Your Music)

Digital sheet music gives you the option to see enlarged views of your music, limited only by the size of your screen and the reader application.  Depending on whether you work with static sheet music files like PDFs, or dynamic ones like text files, you’ll have different options for resizing your music.  In the case of static files, several applications offer the option to view PDF files half a page at a time.  On a tablet, this is typically done by rotating the tablet to its side; on a desktop or laptop computer, this would be a selectable option within the program.  For both tablets and computers, this half page view takes advantage of the screen’s width ratio to effectively zoom the page – the larger the screen, the bigger the zoom.  In the case of an iPad, a half page view makes the music the same size as paper versions.  And with a desktop computer or a laptop connected to an external display, your zoom level is only limited by the size of your monitor screen.  Imagine connecting your computer to one of those new fangled, impossibly thin 80 inch LCD television sets and reading your music that way – no need for bifocals with that option!

A full page view of music on the iPad using forScore…

…Half page zoomed view of the same music on the iPad

With dynamic sheet music such as text files, you don’t have to worry about viewing by page increments.  You can adjust viewing factors such as font size and font type, and sometimes even line spacing depending on the application.  With this level of dynamic zoom control, it’s conceivable that you could read your text on much smaller devices like an iPhone or an iPod Touch and completely forego the bulk of a larger device.

Font options using OnSong on the iPad

Changing font type with OnSong on the iPad

Another font style

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at Rainbow capabilities.