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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A year has passed since my original post and one has to pay a high price for a 12.9 inch IPAD PRO in order to see a page of sheet music the same size and shape as the original paper page so the revolution is not going to commence in 2020. I use a 12.9 inch IPAD PRO that displays one page of sheet music in the size and shape of approximately an A4 page or an American letter-size page. I hope one day to see larger displays for elderly musicians with failing eyesight. I heard of one conductor reading scores from a folding dual-page GVIDO music tablet. I would consider buying one of those for its dual page configuration if I could find one to inspect out here in Brisbane Australia.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
A year has passed since my original post and one has to pay a high price for a 12.9 inch IPAD PRO in order to see a page of sheet music the same size and shape as the original paper page so the revolution is not going to commence in 2020. I use a 12.9 inch IPAD PRO that displays one page of sheet music in the size and shape of approximately an A4 page or an American letter-size page. I hope one day to see larger displays for elderly musicians with failing eyesight. I heard of one conductor reading scores from a folding dual-page GVIDO music tablet. I would consider buying one of those for its dual page configuration if I could find one to inspect out here in Brisbane Australia.

Well time has passed, your original post became a distance memory and I had hoped that more people would respond to it. I’ve just checked the price of a 12.9 inch iPad Pro and in the U.K. they’re about £1000 each. At that price paper is still awfully attractive, but if I already had a Pro then as an individual I might want to use it. However an A4 folder costs little, doesn’t take up much space and isn’t fragile.

We’ll have to see what another year brings (hopefully 2021 will be a better year that 2020) but in the meantime it would be interesting to hear ideas from other forum members.
 

pbirch

Active Member
So, more time has passed - we have a player using a MacBook for playing- pros he has access to all the cornet parts an can switch quickly as required, he can load the program in order
Cons - it is great until the battery goes or until he drops it, or if the program order changes
(You can get specific stands for the reader but they are also quite expensive)
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
If electronic publication was to very significantly reduce the price of music ... (it) would be a game changer.

Always remembering, of course, that unless a band is going to be reading that digital music on electronic devices, it will have to be printed out. Printing costs money. Someone has to pay for the printer, the cartridges and the paper. And if you want it to last, you'll need good quality paper (not the cheap, flimsy copier paper most people use for day to day jobs), and you'll need a robust and good quality laserjet, not a bottom-of-the-range inkjet whose ink will run in the first rainy fete job of the year!

Even if the copyright issue could be solved, it seems to me that you couldn't really have half the band reading off paper copies and the other half from electronic devices. Pity the poor librarian who had to try and keep track of it all!

And who would pay for these devices? The individual or the band? Most players expect their band to provide them with an instrument, music stand and sheet music, so it seems to me that any band wanting to go down the electronic route would need to provide the devices too. According to 2nd Tenor (above), one of these tablets cost about £1,000 two years ago. And a band would need to supply somewhere between 25 and 30 of them, plus the specialist stands to mount them on. That sounds like fairly big money to me.

Asking individuals to supply their own reader will be, I suggest, an uphill task. Over the years this forum has been awash with disgruntled bandsmen bemoaning the fact that they had to pay £5 to go and listen to other sections at a contest, or pay a paltry subscription to be part of a national organisation, so you might be able to imagine the reaction when asked to spend a grand's worth of their own money, just to read music which could quite as easily be read from the paper copy for nothing!

And of course, not everyone will be able to afford a device - especially younger bandsmen who are still in education and not earning money.

So, on balance, I think that paper copies will be with us for a long while yet.
 

Heskyhorn

New Member
I use an iPad pro for practising at home with TomPlay.(There are foot pedals for turning pages in ForScore) Its great for that but when doing Well Dressing, Remembrance Days etc etc the British weather would not suit these devices, if its raining I wouldn't want to get an expensive device wet, when the sun is shining they are often unreadable. Lyre design would have to change and the balance of an instrument when marching would change dramatically. Paper will be around for along time maybe until Apple brings out its glasses which projects the image onto the lens!!!
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
Copyright issues will need to be sorted out.

Bands might consider commencing to scan their music libraries this year...

The implications of copyright enforcement shouldn’t be understated here and with it the ability to digitally snoop on Bands...

I feel that the copyright issue is being decidedly understated here. And contrary to the suggestion above, the issue is not "the ability to digitally snoop on bands", whatever that means.

The main issue is this. Making copies of copyrighted music, without the copyright holder's permission, is illegal. In most cases, the copyright holder will be the publisher. So, before anyone so much as flicks the 'on' switch on the scanner, the first task will be to compile comprehensive lists of every piece of music in a band's library, by publisher. In my experience, most band library catalogues will include titles and composers but not publishers. So compiling the publisher lists will have to be done manually, pulling the pieces, one by one, from the filing cabinets. Sizes of library will vary by band, but as a marker I once played in a band which had accumulated nearly 3,000 pieces of music in its 90 year history. How many publishers that represented I don't know, but I'll be willing to bet that they numbered several dozen.

The next step would be to send those lists to each of the several dozen respective publishers, requesting permission to make copies for performance purposes. This will result in one of three possible outcomes:

1. ALL the publishers REFUSE permission for electronic copies to be made. In this instance, the digitisation project is stillborn. It may be that some individuals might decide to disregard the publishers' refusal, but it would be a dangerous course. It would only be a matter of time before publishers or the PRS had their attention drawn to a band that was playing entire concerts of music read from electronic devices, and they would need only one band to make an example of, in a high profile court case, to discourage others. The fines for infringing copyright law (in the UK at least) can go well into four figure fines and, in extreme cases (the wholesale copying of 3,000 pieces, perhaps) imprisonment can be an option. Any officer of any band willing to risk such financial and reputational damage either to themselves or their band would be reckless indeed.

2. SOME of the publishers agree to the request, others don't. In this case, as I suggested above, proceeding with the project will mean that a band must make a choice. Either it must accept that it won't be able to play the music for which consent to digitise has been refused ever again. Alternatively, every performance will potentially involve players having to juggle between paper copies and electronic readers, as determined by the programme. As I suggested above, the latter option sounds like a logistical nightmare for both librarian and players.

3. ALL the publishers GIVE permission for the music to be digitised. In which case, your project is on track and ready for the next stage, which will be to begin the manual process of scanning. In the case of the band of my acquaintance, that will be 3,000 pieces x (about) 20 parts, many of them running to two or more pages, which by my arithmetic is an absolute minimum of 60,000 individual scans. Make sure you've got sandwiches and a Thermos of coffee on hand! This is a seriously long term job!

After all that of course, there's just the small matter of working out how to catalogue all these electronic files, how to get them to the players, who's going to pay for the devices and specialist stands, contingencies for wet weather jobs at the fete, bright sunny days at the fete, marching jobs, and so on.

As I and others in this short thread suggest, paper is going to be with us for some time yet!
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
I feel that the copyright issue is being decidedly understated here. And contrary to the suggestion above, the issue is not "the ability to digitally snoop on bands", whatever that means.

The main issue is this. Making copies of copyrighted music, without the copyright holder's permission, is illegal. In most cases, the copyright holder will be the publisher. So, before anyone so much as flicks the 'on' switch on the scanner, the first task will be to compile comprehensive lists of every piece of music in a band's library, by publisher. In my experience, most band library catalogues will include titles and composers but not publishers. So compiling the publisher lists will have to be done manually, pulling the pieces, one by one, from the filing cabinets. Sizes of library will vary by band, but as a marker I once played in a band which had accumulated nearly 3,000 pieces of music in its 90 year history. How many publishers that represented I don't know, but I'll be willing to bet that they numbered several dozen.

The next step would be to send those lists to each of the several dozen respective publishers, requesting permission to make copies for performance purposes. This will result in one of three possible outcomes:

1. ALL the publishers REFUSE permission for electronic copies to be made. In this instance, the digitisation project is stillborn. It may be that some individuals might decide to disregard the publishers' refusal, but it would be a dangerous course. It would only be a matter of time before publishers or the PRS had their attention drawn to a band that was playing entire concerts of music read from electronic devices, and they would need only one band to make an example of, in a high profile court case, to discourage others. The fines for infringing copyright law (in the UK at least) can go well into four figure fines and, in extreme cases (the wholesale copying of 3,000 pieces, perhaps) imprisonment can be an option. Any officer of any band willing to risk such financial and reputational damage either to themselves or their band would be reckless indeed.

2. SOME of the publishers agree to the request, others don't. In this case, as I suggested above, proceeding with the project will mean that a band must make a choice. Either it must accept that it won't be able to play the music for which consent to digitise has been refused ever again. Alternatively, every performance will potentially involve players having to juggle between paper copies and electronic readers, as determined by the programme. As I suggested above, the latter option sounds like a logistical nightmare for both librarian and players.

3. ALL the publishers GIVE permission for the music to be digitised. In which case, your project is on track and ready for the next stage, which will be to begin the manual process of scanning. In the case of the band of my acquaintance, that will be 3,000 pieces x (about) 20 parts, many of them running to two or more pages, which by my arithmetic is an absolute minimum of 60,000 individual scans. Make sure you've got sandwiches and a Thermos of coffee on hand! This is a seriously long term job!

After all that of course, there's just the small matter of working out how to catalogue all these electronic files, how to get them to the players, who's going to pay for the devices and specialist stands, contingencies for wet weather jobs at the fete, bright sunny days at the fete, marching jobs, and so on.

As I and others in this short thread suggest, paper is going to be with us for some time yet!
So many great points. I think the scope of the project could be managed, assuming option 3 is achieved, by only imaging the music currently being played by the band and adding to the digital library over time. That said, can, and if so, how does one go about making notes etc. on their individual copy of the music? Do these individually marked up copies get added to the library as well? Or do they remain only on the individual players device? I agree with several comments that paper will continue to be with us.
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
...how does one go about making notes etc. on their individual copy of the music? Do these individually marked up copies get added to the library as well? Or do they remain only on the individual players device?

More very good points. Apart from the difficulty of annotating the music for personal use and also retaining those annotations for future performances, it also highlights the fact that having obtained permission to make a copy of a piece of music, it will then require multiple more copies to be made for it to be distributed to the players. Which just adds to the complexity of the situation.
 

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