Sibelius has shipped with free Lite versions of Neuratron’s music scanning and recognition technology since before even the first Windows version (Optical Manuscript shipped with Sibelius for Acorn computers in 1997). The new Sibelius is no different and includes PhotoScore Lite 8, which now features the reduced functionality version of our music handwriting app, NotateMe Now. Sibelius can also be purchased as a bundle with the full versions of PhotoScore & NotateMe Ultimate 8. As the founder of Neuratron I thought it would be interesting to give you some background about these apps, how you can include them in your compositional workflow and how they integrate with Sibelius.
The way we use computers has been changing rapidly the past few years. Going are the days of clunky desktop machines controlled by mouse and keyboard; replacing them are highly mobile devices connected wirelessly to the web, controlled by touch and voice.
At Neuratron, we’ve been aware of these changes for a number of years and our highly acclaimed NotateMe music handwriting app for Android and iOS shows how we have strived to adapt.
NotateMe makes it possible for musicians to compose digital scores anywhere, for example, on the train or plane, at the park, or on the sofa. You simply handwrite notation using a stylus or finger on a tablet or smartphone and it is converted to printed notation in front of your eyes. In fact, it’s just like using pen and paper, with the amazing benefit that you end up with an automatically formatted score that can be played back and printed out. Now that NotateMe is integrated into PhotoScore 8, it can even be sent directly to Sibelius at the tap of a button, in the same way as scanned scores.
We’ve actually been making it possible to write digital scores on the go since we released PhotoScore Ultimate 5 in 2007, with recognition of music handwritten on special PhotoScore Paper. However it was fairly obvious that the ideal solution is to write notation directly onto a computer screen using a stylus and have software convert it immediately to printed notation.
The problem back then was that the processing power of phones and tablets had not advanced sufficiently for our recognition technologies and furthermore, touchscreens were not sensitive enough to pick up small drawings such as half-noteheads. Then, in Summer 2012, Microsoft announced the Surface tablet, and we realized straight away that this was all about to change.
The first NotateMe prototypes were tested using a Samsung touchscreen device running Windows 8. However, rather than releasing for Windows, the first commercial apps were made available for iOS and Android in Summer 2013. This is partly because we thought it made more sense to integrate our technology into the next major PhotoScore release, but we were also waiting for Microsoft Surface Pen technology to reach a certain maturity.