Apple iPad – the digital sheet music king?

OK, everyone seems to want to put in their 2 cents about what the iPad is going to kill 🙂

Could it be a Kindle killer?  Maybe?  It would be nice reading books on the iPad.

Maybe it would be a digital comic book killer – not that there is any specific device in that market at the moment.  There are various digital comic book reader software on computers and iPhone devices though.

In today’s SMH, there’s an article saying that the iPad may be the ultimate mobile video gaming device.  Not sure what ultimate means, but I’m sure the kids would love to play on one on long road trips.  They’re already loving their iPod Touch and Nintendo DSi devices.

One market that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is the digital sheet music killer.  Yep – I want to put in my own prediction now and say that the Apple iPad will kill all other digital music reader devices.   Not that the market is very big at the moment – a quick Google shows specific hardware like the FreeHand Systems MusicPad Pro and a range of software for PCs like MusicReader.

But just imagine, you have your iPad with you.  It’s loaded up with backing tracks in iTunes.  You flip open the sheet music application, find the sheet music you want and play along.  Gosh, if it was integrated enough, the iPad could listen to what you’re playing and turn the page at the right time for you, or I guess you could just use the touch display to flip music pages over.

For gigs, you could rock up and have all your music with you in a thin device.   Music would never be lost, it wouldn’t fall down off a music stand out of order or flutter in the wind in an outdoor concert.

Then, in rehearsals, you could write markings and notes on the music with your finger. 

With the iTunes store, if they expanded the digital library section to include sheet music (maybe in conjunction with some online sheet music stores), you could buy sheet music through iTunes straight onto the iPad.  The whole delivery and billing mechanism infrastructure is already there!  If it was competitively priced, because of the ease of buying things through the iTunes store, I’m sure sheet music sales would sky rocket.

And with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in, you could even link up your iPad with other musicians next to you if you’re playing in an ensemble!   Or even better, bowings from the principals of each section could automatically be transmitted to all other desks.  What a time saver!

Apple – this is it!  Imagine the musical revolution around the world to take sheet music to the next level!   Do it!


9 thoughts on “Apple iPad – the digital sheet music king?”

  1. I agree that the iPad is an impressive piece of kit and has been immaculately produced, as usual, by Apple.

    However, for musicians a 9.7” diagonal screen is too small for reading a score. We are regularly told that the MusicPad is small with a 12.1″ diagonal screen.

    The MusicPad still represents the only dedicated practical music reader on the market which is already being used by amateur and professional musicians worldwide.

    A bigger iPad would certainly give us something to think about in which case your comments would be spot on!

    1. @Marco Hi there!

      Whoa I didn’t know that this was already being planned but I guess I should’ve guessed.

      All this talk about 9.7″ screen being too small. I guess if a larger iPad came out that would let people see more music, people would definitely prefer it. But I wonder if anyone has done research into how much music does a musician need to see ahead. Obviously we’re only playing one bar at a time. But we need to look ahead. Also, constantly changing the screen would get quite annoying. How about if it scrolled up slowly or a line at a time? Do we have to stick to old conventions of having a page of music? Why can’t it be continuous or more free formatted for electronic devices? Pages are really a limitation of printed and physical paper.

      For example, lyrics in SingStar or notes in GuitarHero or RockBand, even teleprompters for Presidents or newsreaders scroll. Perhaps some similar concepts could be used to overcome screensize while reducing annoyance?

      Actually, thinking about it more – there’s obviously different markets within the sheet music market.

      I’m over generalising – but there could be pop/jazz/gigging musicians/buskers/campfire performing musos who want to take a large range of music around with them and their music is not very long, not that “complicated” (as in not too many semi/demisemiquavers), 3-5 pages at most. They could probably live with a small screen.

      There would be more serious musos/classical musos with music typified with lots of notes (think Bach semiquavers for entire pieces), potentially quite long, or even orchestral parts. I can see that a larger screen would be most useful here.

      There would also be musos who do perform, but usually without music (eg. classical soloists), or music students who study music who maybe don’t need to perform the music, but bring it with them to read. Even at the moment, the symphonic scores are in little booklets, but that doesn’t really matter as they’re not playing it in realtime, just following along. I think size here doesn’t matter so much.

      Ahh.. I’ve gone on too long. I just am excited about what I would be thinking in 5-10 years time when I look back at this post 🙂

  2. @Bernard Thanks for visiting!

    You do have a point – just like how some people are saying that even though the iPad could be used as a reader, the Kindle’s screen is much more suited to long periods of reading and has better battery life.

    For music where it is important to see clear notes and lines, a larger screen would be essential.

    However, for less complicated music, guitar/jazz/chord charts or people who don’t mind the sacrifice of screen size for the convenience of having less devices, a smaller screen may still be OK and maybe Apple’s marketing and accessibility will mean the iPad will introduce some competition, which in the long run can only be good for consumers (even just for awareness of existing capabilities and pushing the envelope of other devices).

  3. The iPad is much clearer than you might think. I perform live all the time and many others do using the program I wrote: unrealBook.

    Anyway, for $5 if you have an iPad, it works.

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