This summer I was contacted by the ScanScore team about the latest update to the program, which was first released in 2018. ScanScore is from the same company that makes Forte, a music notation program. I have never reviewed Forte as I haven’t personally used a Windows computer since 2008.
Although I would have liked to have reviewed Forte and the company was kind enough to offer a copy for me to do, I couldn’t do this. I’ve mentioned Forte on this blog in the past.
As mentioned earlier, the ScanScore team asked if I would be willing to review their app. My immediate response was, “Sorry, I don’t have a Windows PC.” They responded quickly and let me know that ScanScore was written for Windows and Mac, and there’s even an iPhone app. Don’t be too excited about the app. She’s using the phone as an image scanner, and your computer has yet to lift the ScanScore app heavily. There are also different versions of the app if you need fewer features (from $ 39 to $ 179).
I use scanning, but I do it at very short intervals and prepare scores for my classroom, my own choirs, or for other choirs. When I make a ukulele lead sheet, I do it from scratch most of the time (ukulele is my main focus outside of school these days). I haven’t needed a scanning app since last January, and since the choirs in the school are closed for this school year, I may not need to scan anymore something this academic year!
I have existing scanning tools that work very well for me. They include:
- PhotoScore (by Neuratron) (Mac or as part of NotateMe on iOS) ($ 249 Win / Mac, $ 70 iOS)
- PlayScore 2 ($ 22.99 per year)
- Sheet Music Scanner ($ 3.99)
- PDFtoMusicPro ($ 199)
When I need to scan something, I start with these apps. Sheet music scanner then is step # 1 PlayScore 2 is step 2.
I have used PhotoScoreLess and less on both iOS and Mac, and much of that stems from problems with Mac OS Catalina. The latest version of PhotoScore no longer works with Catalina, and it costs $ 99 to upgrade to PhotoScore. I struggle with the concept of paying $ 99 for an app that I use a few times a year. PhotoScore’s accuracy is very good most of the time. However, each of these apps requires some cleanup.
PDFtoMusic Pro is a wonderful app if you have a PDF published by a notation app. In this case, PDFtoMusic Pro will generally read this PDF file and convert it to MusicXML with great accuracy. If the PDF is a scanned image, PDFtoMusic Pro will not work at all.
You’ll notice that I don’t have it SmartScore Listed – I previously owned SmartScore, but PhotoScore turned out to be more accurate than SmartScore while SmartScore upgrade prices drove me away. Therefore, I cannot provide you with any current insight into SmartScore. We are sorry.
So … where does the new ScanScore application come from?
First, it’s cheaper than PhotoScore and tries to recognize text, just like PhotoScore. Second, you can use your phone as a scanner and send the image back to the program. And it brings your scan to an editor after scanning, similar to PhotoScore.
How did it work Again, I’m not in scan mode right now, so I’m making an artificial comparison (something that really doesn’t matter to me when it comes to getting it done as quickly as possible based). I decided to take a version of Beethoven’s Moonshine Sonata from IMSLP and see how the programs handled it.
Here is the original:
I scanned this with the various programs, exported the results as MusicXML (no corrections) and opened the MusicXML files in Notion. Here is ScanScore… you can see it didn’t handle the triplets and tried to import the text:
How about some other programs? Here is PhotoScore from my iPhone (I had to save the PDF as a photo first). It shows more triplets and less text. Action 5 is a problem with all scanning applications. The Mac version might handle this a little differently, but again I’m having trouble justifying the $ 99 upgrade.
Here is Sheet music scanner, the $ 4 app for iOS. Note scanners don’t handle much – triplets are one of the things they don’t … but when you think of the piece in 12/8 … it works.
How about if the original was computer generated? PDFtoMusic Pro? Overall, it looks pretty good, but Measure 5 is a mess.
And finally, how about the program that seemed to handle it best – as a scan? Here is PlayScore 2. It does weird things with the left hand and puts all the notes in different voices.
How about some conclusions?
First, I’m glad that ScanScore is available as another option at a lower price than some other competitors.
Second, it’s nice to have another product that tries both Musical OCR and Text OCR.
Third, expect a cleanup with every scanning app. I prefer to do this cleanup in other apps that I already use (Notion, Finale) than in an application (offered in ScanScore, PhotoScore or PDFtoMusic).
Fourth, I like the ability to use a phone as a scanner.
And finally, I’m pretty sure ScanScore will take a look at this article and try to find out what happened, learn from it, and improve the product. The score is from https://imslp.simssa.ca/files/imglnks/usimg/d/d0/IMSLP218185-PMLP01458-Beethoven_Op_27_No_2_I.pdf As a free PDF resource, anyone can download it and try out their own software.
There are many different types of scanning that favor one score over another, and different scores present different challenges. A lead sheet has different scanning challenges than a band director’s score, and a choral score has different challenges than an orchestral quintet. When I need to scan something and the Sheet Music Scanner or PlayScore 2 doesn’t work well, I sometimes try other options. In other words, it’s nice to have multiple options when doing a task.
Interested in ScanScore for your Windows PC or Mac? Visit: https://scan-score.com/de/
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