Almost 5 years ago, in a Microsoft presentation, the people of Redmond introduced us to “StaffPad” . Available since then in the Windows app store, it is an application designed for musicians and composers .
An app that allows us, with the help of Microsoft’s Surface pen, to write our score through real-time OCR handwriting recognition . In this way we can “draw” the score and a clean digital version is created to be used in any field, to reproduce it, to print it or to serve as a guide for interpretations.
The other day, however, we were surprised by the news that StaffPad arrives on iPadOS with the use of the Apple Pencil . Both normal iPads and iPad Pro with Apple Pencil 2. And not only that, the app features a renewed interface, better options and comes with a new StaffPad Reader app, which allows us to connect different iPads and use it for single-score performances. A renovation that has also arrived for Windows 10, along with this new app.
We will tell you in more detail what its possibilities are .
StaffPad is a professional tool that joins several very interesting possibilities for musicians in one single app: writing, editing and playing.
The main function that stands out as soon as you open the app, is obvious: score writing . We can write and edit our score using the Apple Pencil. In fact, the app won’t allow us to write notation if we don’t have an Apple Pencil, so we can say that it’s mandatory.
The app will allow us to choose the tempo, scale, key and any other element that we can also change according to the beat. Not only can we write notes, but also slur notes, dotted lines, pilot whales, articulations of intensity, duration or combined, all kinds of dynamics… any element that may appear in a score, we can draw it naturally and it will be placed in its place by means of handwriting recognition .
If we make a mistake, all we have to do is gesture with the pencil as if it were an eraser, and the editor itself will recognize that we want to erase something and remove it .
StaffPad allows us to put as many score lines as we want and assign to each of them an instrument , so we can also hear the result of what we are writing.
This way we can not only write and save our scores in digital format by simply writing them freehand, but also we will be able to listen to the result . The app has 55 instruments included in its little more than one gig, which will allow us to reproduce the score and get an idea of it.
In addition, they have reached an agreement with 3 of the most important professional instrument library companies such as CineSamples, Orchestral Tools and Spitfire Audio, so that we can buy a compact version of their orchestra libraries directly as an integrated purchase within the app.
Below you can hear the intro of Walt Disney Pictures of the Castle, performed by the iPad on the score and with the help of the CineWinds, CineBrass, CinePerc and CinePiano libraries from CineSamples, as well as Berlin Harps and Berlin Strings from Orchestral Tools. Because obviously, we can combine the different libraries offered by each brand .
StaffPad, besides writing, allows us to edit the score. We can select notes or a set of them by making a “loop” that includes more than one element (also by marking with the finger and dragging) and with it we can copy and paste pieces of the score , duplicate them and even transpose some notes, change the key or the type of major or minor chord, etc.
Another interesting feature is the incorporation of the chords. Not only can we see the chords or generate them with the use of switch , but also we have a real time harmonic analyzer that will allow us to put the necessary chord in the right place. Also manually, of course.
StaffPad allows us to write, correct, reproduce and export our work in an easy, fast and intuitive way.
Notation also allows us to control the volume of the music within each staff to create a clearer interpretation of what we are looking for, and a good mix of our work .
StaffPad includes the use of versions of the score, so we can modify and record as many different versions of the same work as we need and switch between them with a simple touch.
And of course, none of this would make sense if we couldn’t export our work, not just save it in the app itself. For this reason, StaffPad is able to generate audio files of our work in MP3, AAC or WAV, print the score or pass it to PDF and, of course, supports export to MIDI and MusicXML formats .
Along with the launch of StaffPad, the company of the same name has launched StaffPad Reader . This is a solution for concerts or live performances where the same score can be synchronized with other iPads. A free app.
With it we have the option to synchronize several iPads that show the score being played and choose which of the instruments we send to each iPad so that they only see the lines that correspond to that instrument. It has an intelligent performance detection system that will follow the music and turn the page automatically when it is played.
It will be enough that we have all the iPads in the same WiFi network for them to connect to each other and even synchronize in real time to the changes that “the score owner” ( the one who uses the StaffPad app ) makes on it in real time.
It offers us 3 levels of zoom and a few demo scores to give us an idea of how it works. It remembers our default settings for each file and integrates with Bluetooth page-shifting devices for live performances.
StaffPad y StaffPad Reader.
Also we can annotate the score with the Apple Pencil (although for this app its use is optional) or with finger gestures. We can choose where we want to start, hit Play so that the score moves according to the tempo it has and we can even put a metronome that gives us the pattern and rhythm.
If playback is started by the device that has the StaffPad app with the parent score, all other devices will also be set to Play and it will turn the page on its own when it is your turn . We can even do this if we only have the Reader app when connected to the same network and its playback will be synchronized. StaffPad Reader is able to synchronize iPadOS or Windows devices, indistinctly .
StaffPad Reader will allow us to follow a score, rehearse and perform it. In addition, it synchronizes with StaffPad to create an orchestra with its different parts.
Without a doubt, StaffPad and StaffPad Reader are two essential tools for any musician who works with scores and plays in some kind of musical group or orchestra. We’re not talking about a cheap app, since it’s 100 euros what it costs (yes, you read right, 99.99 euros or $89.99).
At Apple, this was Steve Jobs’ day-to-day life when he worked at Apple and Pixar
In fact, many of the instrument libraries (which are optional as integrated purchases) are priced at $109.99 or $99.99, although there are some that are a little over $30. It works on any iPad with Apple Pencil support and iOS 12.2 and above. In the case of Windows, Surface devices are recommended because it requires the Microsoft Pen, although it could work with any other Windows with a compatible digital pen.
A new professional app coming to the App Store, for music professionals who will gladly pay for a tool of this quality. Keep in mind that the music libraries we are talking about, if we buy them in the desktop version they have higher prices, from 400, 500 or 600 ? onwards. And a similar desktop app, such as Avid Sibelius, costs more than £600 although it can now be purchased by subscription. Professional software is priced .
Links to the App Store