Paperless music

Paperless music for bands
Author: Raymond Morris October 2018

Middle aged and younger readers will see the phase out of paper sheet music and the general use of compact low-priced display devices. The price of band arrangements will plummet because the vendors will no longer incur printing, storage and distribution costs. Each band musician will be expected to provide their own display device compatible with a universal standard.

Problems to be overcome
Scanning of existing sheet music
Long established bands hold large libraries of sheet music including some that are one hundred or more years old. Some of this paper is fragile. It has to be hand fed onto a flat-bed scanner and cannot be fed through a magazine. Some of these pages are larger than today’s standard metric A4 pages (8.3 x 11.7 inches) or American letter size (8.5 x 11 inches) so they need a scanner larger than regular flat-bed scanners. Some of these pages are smaller than metric A4 or American letter size pages and those pages can be expanded to provide better legibility. March cards are a good example of this. Some bands might choose to purchase new music in electronic format rather than pay for the scanning of their entire library but a lot of band music will be unobtainable from outside sources and scanning will be the only option for those sets of music.

Copyright
Copyrights laws will require amendment to recognize the need for electronic reproduction and to provide reasonable protection for copyright holders. It is in nobody’s interests to make lawbreakers out of all of us.

Limited visibility
Right now in the year 2018 an increasing number of musicians are using electronic displays to display a single page of music at any one time on screens that are significantly smaller than the original sheet of paper. They can split the display into two half-pages; they can program each individual instrumental part to automatically skip to a particular page to accommodate “D.S.” “D.C.” and “To Coda” skips but this burdens the musician with extra complexity. They can use a foot pedal for skipping forward to the next page or skipping back to the previous page but they cannot see what is coming on the new page in advance and they commonly miss playing some notes after each page turn. The musician needs to be able to see two life-size pages of music at the same time just like they can do with paper music. In fact the musician could completely eliminate the problem of bad page turnovers by viewing pages 1 and 2, then pages 2 and 3 and so on.

Pedals
A set of page-forward and page-back pedals would be used. Wireless pedals are more expansive than pedals that have a USB cable.

Lap-top or note-pad computer
The player of a grand piano or electronic keyboard can rest a laptop or notepad computer above their keyboard, either with its own large monitor or with a second larger monitor. However these are too bulky for use on a music stand for other musicians.

Touch-screen tablet
Excellent music-display applications exist for IPAD and ANDROID tablets but now in the year 2018 there do not seem to be any IPAD or ANDROID tablets large enough to display two full-size pages of sheet music. The Samsung 18.4 inch ANDROID tablet might be a usable compromise but although advertised it seems impossible to purchase a new one of these.

Dual-screen devices
Two or three manufacturers can provide a dual-screen display device that hinges together like a book and displays two full-size pages. These have three drawbacks.

1. A special pen must be used instead of the user’s finger.

2. There is no back-lighting so a dance-band musician would still need to use a stand light.

3. They are very expensive ($1600 U.S. dollars).

Future devices
The dual-screen display device seems to be the way of the future but the price will have to be halved before most musicians will buy one.
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Copyrights laws will require amendment to recognize the need for electronic reproduction and to provide reasonable protection for copyright holders. It is in nobody’s interests to make lawbreakers out of all of us.
Now there's a knotty problem, which could keep lawyers and politicians arguing for years - and, bear in mind, we're talking about the laws in hundreds of different countries.
Two or three manufacturers can provide a dual-screen display device that hinges together like a book and displays two full-size pages . . . (but) . . . they are very expensive ($1600 U.S. dollars).
If my experience is anything to go by, if such goods are imported to Britain, you can just delete the Dollar sign and replace it with a Pound sign - so they'd cost us £1600. And who is going to pay?

In our band, we make it as easy as possible for people to try playing; we lend them an instrument free of charge, and provide a free lesson each week. That way, you don't have to lay out hundreds of pounds (even if you can afford to, which many can't) before you play a single note, and if you decide it's not for you, it's cost you nothing to try.

But, even if we say that learners can stick with paper music, and only the main band will switch to monitors, are we to say that everyone provides their own (bear in mind that about a third of our band are under 20 years old)? Or is the band supposed to shell out for the lot?

Even if the price of such devices halves, imagine the feelings of a family with little cash to spare, one of whose children has been offered a place in the main band, but are then told that they will have to provide the child with a monitor costing £800, or they can't move up - or the feelings of the band's treasurer, if told that they have to find about £27,000 to pay for monitors.

From what I've read about consumer electronics, by far the biggest cost is not actually producing them, but doing all the design and development work, and setting up the production facilities. That being so, manufacturers will only make such a massive investment if they can confidently expect huge sales - or else the retail price would be ridiculously high. When companies started developing large screen TVs, they knew the potential market was billions of customers, so it was worth the investment. But how many potential customers are there for the kind of dual-screen display that you've described? If it's only musicians, there aren't enough of us in the world to make the exercise worthwhile - and the fact that even the Samsung 18.4" tablets are so scarce seems to indicate that Samsung don't see it as a winner, and they will, in any case, only show one page.

I don't see the phase out happening for a while, yet, and not at all until there is a truly mass market available for a device which can show at least two pages of music simultaneously.
 
Now there's a knotty problem, which could keep lawyers and politicians arguing for years - and, bear in mind, we're talking about the laws in hundreds of different countries.

If my experience is anything to go by, if such goods are imported to Britain, you can just delete the Dollar sign and replace it with a Pound sign - so they'd cost us £1600. And who is going to pay?

In our band, we make it as easy as possible for people to try playing; we lend them an instrument free of charge, and provide a free lesson each week. That way, you don't have to lay out hundreds of pounds (even if you can afford to, which many can't) before you play a single note, and if you decide it's not for you, it's cost you nothing to try.

But, even if we say that learners can stick with paper music, and only the main band will switch to monitors, are we to say that everyone provides their own (bear in mind that about a third of our band are under 20 years old)? Or is the band supposed to shell out for the lot?

Even if the price of such devices halves, imagine the feelings of a family with little cash to spare, one of whose children has been offered a place in the main band, but are then told that they will have to provide the child with a monitor costing £800, or they can't move up - or the feelings of the band's treasurer, if told that they have to find about £27,000 to pay for monitors.

From what I've read about consumer electronics, by far the biggest cost is not actually producing them, but doing all the design and development work, and setting up the production facilities. That being so, manufacturers will only make such a massive investment if they can confidently expect huge sales - or else the retail price would be ridiculously high. When companies started developing large screen TVs, they knew the potential market was billions of customers, so it was worth the investment. But how many potential customers are there for the kind of dual-screen display that you've described? If it's only musicians, there aren't enough of us in the world to make the exercise worthwhile - and the fact that even the Samsung 18.4" tablets are so scarce seems to indicate that Samsung don't see it as a winner, and they will, in any case, only show one page.

I don't see the phase out happening for a while, yet, and not at all until there is a truly mass market available for a device which can show at least two pages of music simultaneously.
Many good points were made in this post. Perhaps someone will write an app that lets one general purpose IPAD or Android tablet control a second tablet (displaying two pages of sheet music) and someone will market a simple hinged cover that holds two tablets. The user would have to buy two tablets plus the holder. Bands could own a number of tablets and rent them out to youthful beginners who may or may not continue with playing music. However all this is at least five years away.
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
Many good points were made in this post. Perhaps someone will write an app that lets one general purpose IPAD or Android tablet control a second tablet (displaying two pages of sheet music) and someone will market a simple hinged cover that holds two tablets. The user would have to buy two tablets plus the holder. Bands could own a number of tablets and rent them out to youthful beginners who may or may not continue with playing music. However all this is at least five years away.
Bluetooth page turner pedals are available for less than the price of a 2nd tablet. Seeing 2 pages on 2 tablets, whilst advantageous, seems unnecessary to me and I very much doubt will be the way that this progresses.
 
[QUOTE
Whe="4th Cornet, post: 877489, member: 49001"]Bluetooth page turner pedals are available for less than the price of a 2nd tablet. Seeing 2 pages on 2 tablets, whilst advantageous, seems unnecessary to me and I very much doubt will be the way that this progresses.[/QUOTE]I
Bluetooth page turner pedals are available for less than the price of a 2nd tablet. Seeing 2 pages on 2 tablets, whilst advantageous, seems unnecessary to me and I very much doubt will be the way that this progresses.
Bluetooth page turner pedals are available for less than the price of a 2nd tablet. Seeing 2 pages on 2 tablets, whilst advantageous, seems unnecessary to me and I very much doubt will be the way that this progresses.
Bluetooth page turner pedals are available for less than the price of a 2nd tablet. Seeing 2 pages on 2 tablets, whilst advantageous, seems unnecessary to me and I very much doubt will be the way that this progresses.
When reading paper sheet music I can see what is coming on the next page and I can see where the sign is as I approach a D.S. al Coda and I do not want to sacrifice this capability. It is common in big band music for a fast passage to be split over pages 1 and 2 because both pages are visible to the reader but this will guarantee a few missed notes if the reader cannot see what is coming on page 2. Good music display apps such as Mobile Sheets give the option of displaying two half-pages but I don't want added complexity while I am playing. Being able to see two pages displayed at the same time makes bad page turnovers a thing of the past. In a multi-page set the reader initially displays pages 1 and 2 but midway on page 2 the user switches to displaying pages 3 and 2, then midway on page 3 the user switches to display pages 3 and 4. I have owned a page turning pedal for years.
 

Queeg2000

Active Member
I think tablets will be the way forward for music, though the technology isn't quite there yet. What is really needed is a program that will display a PDF music file but identify repeats, D.S, D.C, Coda etc and listen to what is being played, like an autocue. It can then scroll through the music allowing the player to zoom into one or two notes or zoom right out but always able to see the current bar.

Most of the tech exists in some form or another, it just needs a programmer with sufficient musical knowledge to program it.
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
[QUOTE
Whe="4th Cornet, post: 877489, member: 49001"]Bluetooth page turner pedals are available for less than the price of a 2nd tablet. Seeing 2 pages on 2 tablets, whilst advantageous, seems unnecessary to me and I very much doubt will be the way that this progresses.



When reading paper sheet music I can see what is coming on the next page and I can see where the sign is as I approach a D.S. al Coda and I do not want to sacrifice this capability. It is common in big band music for a fast passage to be split over pages 1 and 2 because both pages are visible to the reader but this will guarantee a few missed notes if the reader cannot see what is coming on page 2. Good music display apps such as Mobile Sheets give the option of displaying two half-pages but I don't want added complexity while I am playing. Being able to see two pages displayed at the same time makes bad page turnovers a thing of the past. In a multi-page set the reader initially displays pages 1 and 2 but midway on page 2 the user switches to displaying pages 3 and 2, then midway on page 3 the user switches to display pages 3 and 4. I have owned a page turning pedal for years.
Your points are all valid (except for the one regarding D.S. al Coda because any type of repeat should become redundant in the digital music world), I would however be very surprised if the compromise of having a single page view isn't one that is universally accepted. It is more likely that scrolling pages will be the solution before we resort to more hardware.
 
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Queeg2000

Active Member
Is it really that difficult to reach out ones left hand and swipe left?

I understand it's all the rage in the dating business.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
It is more likely that scrolling pages will be the solution before we resort to more hardware.
Not sure I'm keen on that. It's already easy enough to accidentally skip a line when reading music; imagine how much easier it would be if the lines were moving ...
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
Not sure I'm keen on that. It's already easy enough to accidentally skip a line when reading music; imagine how much easier it would be if the lines were moving ...
True. There are variations on this where it wouldn't an issue. E.g. when the top half of the page has been played, replace it with the next section of music while playing the bottom half.
 

Queeg2000

Active Member
Not sure I'm keen on that. It's already easy enough to accidentally skip a line when reading music; imagine how much easier it would be if the lines were moving ...
I think it would be easy to adapt to, once you get your head around it, no different to reading subtitles or singing karaoke really.
 

4th Cornet

Well-Known Member
I think it would be easy to adapt to, once you get your head around it, no different to reading subtitles or singing karaoke really.
That's an interesting point. Subtitles and karaoke lyrics (and autocue for TV presenters) only show the immediate text. Applying this approach to music would avoid GJG's concerns. When following playback in Sibelius panoramic view, it's very easy to keep track.
 

Queeg2000

Active Member
That's an interesting point. Subtitles and karaoke lyrics (and autocue for TV presenters) only show the immediate text. Applying this approach to music would avoid GJG's concerns. When following playback in Sibelius panoramic view, it's very easy to keep track.
Not familiar with Sibelius, but do use Musescore from time to time and find it easy to play along even zoomed right in.

The more difficult job will be in a few years when an old paper copy gets taken out of the archives and the PlayStation Generation have to read a hand written piece on manuscript paper.

I always struggled to read hand written parts and usually put them into Musescore and print a readable copy. It's not helped when a lot of them look like they were written on the back of a bus after celebrating a good contest result. (Or commiserating a bad one)
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
I always struggled to read hand written parts and usually put them into Musescore and print a readable copy. It's not helped when a lot of them look like they were written on the back of a bus after celebrating a good contest result. (Or commiserating a bad one)
I have exactly the same problem, Queeg - and invariably transcribe them using software called Crescendo. I thought it was pretty cheap for what it does, and it does everything I need. It does take me a while to do, as I'm not that fast on computers, but the ease of using the result makes it well worth the effort (especially as my sight-reading is still a 'work in progress'!)
 

Ron Lander

Member
Paperless music cant come soon enough for me. I have been waiting almost two weeks for delivery of a score for a brass band test piece. Apparrently the printer only works part time!
 

bsdunek

New Member
[QUOTE
Whe="4th Cornet, post: 877489, member: 49001"]Bluetooth page turner pedals are available for less than the price of a 2nd tablet. Seeing 2 pages on 2 tablets, whilst advantageous, seems unnecessary to me and I very much doubt will be the way that this progresses.
I



When reading paper sheet music I can see what is coming on the next page and I can see where the sign is as I approach a D.S. al Coda and I do not want to sacrifice this capability. It is common in big band music for a fast passage to be split over pages 1 and 2 because both pages are visible to the reader but this will guarantee a few missed notes if the reader cannot see what is coming on page 2. Good music display apps such as Mobile Sheets give the option of displaying two half-pages but I don't want added complexity while I am playing. Being able to see two pages displayed at the same time makes bad page turnovers a thing of the past. In a multi-page set the reader initially displays pages 1 and 2 but midway on page 2 the user switches to displaying pages 3 and 2, then midway on page 3 the user switches to display pages 3 and 4. I have owned a page turning pedal for years.[/QUOTE]
My thoughts exactly. Of course, I'm old and like paper and my cameras still use film.
 

Euphonium Lite

Active Member
Interesting concept. I guess the optimum would be a "music stand" where the actual stand is just replaced by a screen. In turn, these could be linked to a central computer (perhaps controlled by the band librarian) with everything in order, and no more issues with missing parts or misfiled items. This could be done in "real time" so that the screen only needs to store 1 piece at a time, or on a whole concert basis. I think there needs to be some sort of adaption so that "pencil marks" can be added (and remembered) but can also be deleted as needed.

Cost will have a big bearing and for most on here it will probably be prohibitive for a long time - British brass band players are generally amateur, rather than being paid for playing - so the cost would have to be found by the band.

But I can see a time when it will come - not sure about in my life time (I'm a middle aged player) but I'm sure my son will see this in his lifetime
 
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