[Last updated 31 October 2021]
Here are some guidelines for scanning music. Taking care at this stage ensures I can get a quick turnaround for you.
Photos of the scores taken by cameras, phones or tablets are not good enough, I’m afraid, because each page needs to be totally flat, and be in the .pdf format. Also, I have had people send me scans using iScanner which also does not produce good enough copies. It needs to be a decent flat-bed scanner that produces copies that my score-reading software will accept. If you don’t have access to one yourself, perhaps someone you know does.
I use PhotoScore to scan .pdfs. It’s similar to text OCR packages in that it attempts to read music and get all the staves, notes, accidentals, etc. in the right places. This saves me hours of work inputting each note manually.
I only accept printed scores; my software cannot read from hand-written scores.
If the piece is accompanied, please ensure all the accompaniment is visible. I can’t accept a vocal-only version of an accompanied piece as, in my view, the accompaniment is an integral part of the composition, and often is necessary to aid the learning process. I also supply accompaniment files as part of the service, so need to have it included.
Page size varies for music: my program can read pages of any size. It doesn’t help to increase or decrease the size whilst scanning. In fact, this introduces lots of fuzziness which my program can’t read. It doesn’t matter if there are some blank areas on the edges of the scan.
- Ensure the score is as clean as possible, and that markings are erased. Try to find a copy that hasn’t already had holes punched in the margins. These holes often punch out important information. Marking a stave with a felt highlighting pen may make it easier for the singer, but it often makes things impossible for my score-reading software. If a score is too “dirty”, or faint, or fuzzy, then my software won’t be able to read it; in which case I will not be able to create rehearsal files.
- Choose to scan to .pdf, not to .jpg, .tiff or .bmp. Scan at 300dpi – oddly, it is worse to scan at 600dpi so please don’t choose that. Most scanners should offer the option to choose either Colour or Black & White – don’t choose Colour and, if there are further options under Black & White, choose greyscale.
- Ensure that the music is as straight on the glass as possible.
- Ensure that you don’t crop the edges so that left/right-hand barlines get missed – my software needs these guides to detect where the staves are joined into systems. And I need to see the full name of the voices on the left so that I can allocate the staves correctly.
- Also be sure to include all of the music, and not to miss out the bottom line because, say, it’s just the organ pedal. I create accompaniment files as part of the service, so need to have every stave visible on the scan.
- If your scanner has a lid, lower it down carefully on to your original. If no lid, then hold the original flat onto the glass. This is to ensure no outside light creeps onto the page. It also ensures the staves will be scanned straight and horizontal.
- For music still in copyright, I need to identify the publisher and date; these are usually at the bottom of the first page of music.
- Ensure that all of the music on the page you are scanning is on the glass of the scanner, and that no music from the facing page is scanned.
- If you are scanning a small music book then you may be tempted to fit a double-page spread on the scanner. However, my software cannot read pages which are side by side, so scan each page separately. If this is impossible, send anyway, but I will need to split the page up into two separate pages here.
- It doesn’t help to enlarge small scores; this just introduces fuzziness.
- It helps if the scans are all the right-way up, but if some have to be upside down then don’t worry – I can turn them the right way.
- I prefer the pages to be all joined together into one .pdf, but for larger works with separate movements then bundle them into these smaller sections. If you can only create single pages then that’s fine – I will join them together here.
Once you have completed this, email the resulting .pdf to me. If it turns out to be too large for email, then you can use a file transfer service such as WeTransfer
Note that I reserve the right not to accept requests if I deem copies are not of a suitable quality.