Music display devices

Some musicians now read their sheet music from IPADs, Android tablets or portable computers. On the good side the musician is able to have a large quantity of music at his/her fingertips and bands will be able to buy new paperless music at much cheaper prices than paper music. On the bad side the devices are expensive and page turning is unfriendly. This writer believes that bands will not move to 100% display devices until dual-page displays become available at low prices. The displays will have to be no smaller than the original paper pages (especially for older musicians). The change away from paper seems to be inevitable.

Bands will want to make their existing paper library available for display devices. Copyright issues will need to be sorted out. The pages will need to be hand-fed into a scanner rather than magazine fed. Some music from a century ago is on oversize pages that will need to be reduced but if the reduced pages are not sufficiently legible then those pages will need to be transposed onto a greater number of pages. (Sibelius and Finale have good tools for reformatting music.) Music formatted in landscape mode on small march cards needs to be enlarged. If you don't want the players to have to turn their display devices sideways for landscape mode viewing you will have to reformat those pages into portrait mode. With very old music libraries you might encounter music for Db piccolo or other non-standard instruments and you will have decide whether to transpose those parts for modern instruments.

Bands might consider commencing to scan their music libraries this year instead of doing it in panic mode five years from now.

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I can see definite advantages to music being displayed on tablets and do have quite a lot on my own device, but none of it is band music. The existing medium of paper has a lot going for it too, and I very much prefer reading off of paper to reading off of a 10 inch screen. Sales of digital books are not insignificant, but given the choice I prefer to buy paper books and so do a large percentage of other readers.

Of course when large tablets become cheap enough some ‘Bandsman’ might want to use them but neither the cost of change or timescales involved (for cost reduction) are small - even £100 for ‘just’ a 14” tablet isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Relative cost and hassle are the factors here, it costs virtually nothing much to stay with paper and it would be loads of hassle to digitise a band’s library - doable but man-weeks of effort for precious little benefit over the existing system. IIRC then I know of one Band that has digitised its music, but they had free skilled labour and it’s digitised for security reasons (fire, water damage, misplacement, etc.), they still use paper copies. Sheet music is easy to both hand out and collect back in, paper is cheap, you can easily write on it (annotate) and it’s not dependent on batteries.

The implications of copyright enforcement shouldn’t be understated here and with it the ability to digitally snoop on Bands; show me a Band that only has copies of music that it has paid for and I’ll show you a most unusual group. Personally I believe both that the price of music is higher than it should be for casual and amateur use and that copyright lasts too long. If electronic publication was to very significantly reduce the price of music then that, in several possible ways, would be a game changer. Matt Kingston is, I believe, a pioneer in that field (electronic publication) and I recommend his music and model to all.
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