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Digital music displays—suggestions? #2959082 03/20/20 08:21 PM
Joined: Jan 2020
Posts: 22
AndyFielding Offline OP
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Hey everybody,

Sorry if I'm duplicating an existing topic here. I looked around but didn't see one.

I've been computing since the '80s (where's my walker? [grumble]), but I'm still tied down with printed music pages—and I'd like to get with it here in the 21st century.

I'm prepared to convert most of my sheet music to PDFs. I'd also like to stop printing versions of my own music as I write and refine it, and do more playing and editing directly from my notation program (Sibelius).

My Windows laptop's display isn't practical for this. It's too small, and has the wrong orientation, and switching pages from its keyboard is too awkward. But a tablet computer would be overkill for me. I'd rather keep everything on my laptop (with prudent backups of course), and connect some kind of page-size flat display. I assume this would be considerably cheaper than obtaining a whole separate computer, too.

I'd also like to connect some kind of pedal unit to my laptop that I could program to switch music pages (in a PDF viewer or Sibelius, whichever I happened to be using).

This is possible now, right? If so, do you have any specific hardware recommendations?

Please keep in mind that I'm Windows-based, and don't know from i-stuff.

Thanks for your ideas!

P.S.: I've posted this in the non-classical section, too, so I won't miss anyone's input simply because they prefer different genres... Hope that's okay. :?)


When people look at a tree, they look at the leaves. They don't look at the spaces between the leaves. – Keith Jarrett
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Re: Digital music displays—suggestions? [Re: AndyFielding] #2959138 03/21/20 03:30 AM
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thepianoplayer416 Offline
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I use MuseScore to edit my music. I usually make at least 1 copy of the original file so that in case I made an error editing, I can go back to the original. Definitely add in fingerings & notes as to how different sections should be played like "louder", "more legato", "sustain pedal", etc, on an edited copy.

After compiling the edited copy to a .pdf in MuseScore, I'd send it to my Email and then open the .pdf through my Email on my tablet and rotate it vertically.

There are pieces that are just over 1 page I'd change the scaling & margins in MuseScore so that the 2 pages would fit into 1 (no page turn). I'm squeezing more measures on 1 line and making the notes smaller.

The last piece I played had 4 pages. There were sections that started at the bottom of 1 page and continued to the top of the next. The issue was a 1 inch gap in the .pdf between pages where a section of music was broken into 2 making it hard to read. What I did was to adjust the page settings in MuseScore from the standard Letter size paper 8.5x11 to Custom 8.5x44 so that the score on the .pdf looked like it's all on 1 page. This made the piece easier to read on the tablet.

You can get a page turner gadget for musicians for a tablet.

Re: Digital music displays—suggestions? [Re: AndyFielding] #2959182 03/21/20 08:48 AM
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Beemer Offline
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Here is a solution that works for me. Unfortunately the tablet I use has been discontinued but you can still get used ones on Ebay. (see below) It is a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2.

I scan my sheet music on a Plustek 4800 which is a special scanner that scans even thick books right to the edge without needing to flatten the books, or get that annoying dark band near the spine. This produces PDF files either of individual pages or a pdf of all, or selected pages, from a music book. It can auto scan so it will rescan after the period you set to allow you to turn the page. Its software can be set to automatically turn the alternate pages right way up.

The PDF files can be opened in Adobe Reader and I can turn the pages forward/backward by either swiping or by using my Bluetooth footpedal.

I have too many music pdfs to store them all on my tablet so I put them on my QNAP NAS (network storage) and access them over wi-fi using an app called Qfile. I can access these files at home or from anywhere with Wi-Fi. An alternative is to connect an external usb hard drive to the tablet using an OTG cable. I use a 1TB Lacie drive which is mobile phone size.

MobileSheets is an android app I can use that allows bookmarking of individual pages and searching for any file by genre, title, composer etc.

The significance of using this specific Android tablet is
a) It has a 12.2" diagonal high resolution screen
b) Its aspect ratio is 16:10 not 16:9. This means that positioned in portrait mode a typical page of sheet music is quite close to its original size and shape.

The nearest current equivalent to this tablet is a SurfaceBook running Windows but this is probably nine times more expensive than buying a £205 used Note Pro 12.2 (Model SMP-900)
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Samsung-Galaxy-Note-Pro-SM-P900-32-GB-Wi-Fi-12-2-in-Black/233527801731?epid=193885359&hash=item365f577783:g:PUUAAOxycgVTg8-h

Ian


I'm all keyed up
2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Digital music displays—suggestions? [Re: AndyFielding] #2959217 03/21/20 10:25 AM
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Gary001 Offline
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If you're set on using your computer, you can get away with just about any USB connected pedal. If it acts like a keyboard and issues page down or is programmable to change which key it emits. The USB ones are far cheaper than bluetooth pedals too.

As far as screens go, if you're computer is your laptop, check if it has a HDMI (or any other video) port on the side to allow you to connect up an external monitor. Downside to this will be whatever flat screen you do buy, you'll need to run a power and video cable from your piano stand where it'll be to the computer/mains plug.

As far as which panel to get, you've a huge choice, just find something that's cheap, has minimal bezel and is just as big as you want and no bigger.

I went with a Surface Pro 7 rather than monitor though, as I wanted to be able to use a pen on the display to make annotations and also not have cables across my piano. The screen isn't quite as big as A4 but it's big enough for my use.

Regarding what I use to display the sheet music, MobileSheets, windows version.

Last edited by Gary001; 03/21/20 10:28 AM.

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Re: Digital music displays—suggestions? [Re: AndyFielding] #2960542 03/26/20 05:39 AM
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AndyFielding Offline OP
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Hi guys,

Thanks for your replies! Sorry if I wasn't clear enough. While I'm always interested in how people write and read music, I'm all set as far as things like notation software and creating PDFs. I'm wondering only about hardware—to wit:

• An external display large and sharp enough for music

• A pedal device for paging

I thought I should check with you to be sure I wasn't overlooking some specialized technology that musicians might be using. (Most of the larger orchestras have exchanged their music stands for digital displays, haven't they?)

So maybe I should just find a good-quality, high-res, widescreen, flat HDMI monitor (yes, my laptop has HDMI)? Then I could see two pages at a time, too, vs. just one on a tablet, right?

And these USB foot pedals you've mentioned... I assume they can be programmed with whatever key presses my notation app and PDF viewer use for paging? But where do you find something like that? Music stores? eBay? I've no idea.

Sorry to seem like such a noob about this particular thing. Till now, I've resisted going completely digital at the piano, but I can sure see the advantages, and I assumed many of you had already made the transition. smile


When people look at a tree, they look at the leaves. They don't look at the spaces between the leaves. – Keith Jarrett
Re: Digital music displays—suggestions? [Re: AndyFielding] #2960793 03/26/20 06:17 PM
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AndyFielding Offline OP
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Hi again guys (er, fellows? chaps? what do serious classical peeps call each other?),

As an extension of this, I'm now visualizing:

• A stand with raised areas on either side of a display, so the occasional printed pages could be laid flat across the whole thing.

• Using voice-recognition software, rather than a hardware pedal, for turning pages, opening documents, and even saving time with common notation operations.

Rather than tying up two sections of the forum, I invite you to join our discussion here in the non-classical section (where, apparently and perhaps rightly, those cavalier enough to disregard the classics have been relegated).

Meanwhile, thanks for your kind attention—and shouldn't you be practicing? laugh


When people look at a tree, they look at the leaves. They don't look at the spaces between the leaves. – Keith Jarrett
Re: Digital music displays—suggestions? [Re: AndyFielding] #2961234 13 hours ago
Joined: Feb 2019
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chateauferret Offline
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I'm using an Acer chromebook with MobileSheetsPro to display downloaded music from IMSLP. If I have the music on printed paper though I prefer to use that as rule. The screen can be turned to portrait mode to display a single page at a larger size and you turn the page with a single tap on the screen. I don't think you need anything elaborate.

Whether it's easier or not on the screen depends on the score I suppose. Not much beats a nice Henle edition for clarity and ease of use. I have lots of Peters ones as well which are good. OTOH some printed copies are just facsimiles of, or similar to, old editions of things. I would probably use just the chromebook if it weren't for the fact that I have a large collection of printed music; only thing is for modern stuff IMSLP won't hold it because it's still in copyright so for that you will still need to order the score.


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