Free iPad sheet music viewers

June 9, 2010

There are other sheet music readers for the iPad, but I rather think they’ve missed the boat on the business model — the widget should be free and music, out of copyright stuff aside, is where you pay. That said Musicnotes gets the model and SonataNote has some nice features and Scorecerer is more open.

There are three popular (and free) sheet music readers on the App Store right now — Musicnotes Sheet Music Viewer for iPad (iTunes, free), SonataNote and Scorecerer. Though each of these apps has advantages, none scratches the entire itch.

As an online platform, Musicnotes, which includes five pieces from the get go, seems to be the most advanced as it includes integration with their desktop software and online music store. So, getting music in and out of the app is really easy.

The Musicnotes store is essentially their website sandboxed in a WebKit (I assume) browser. Tapping a piece brings up a single-page preview, that’s also watermarked, and sheet music is priced from a few bucks and up.

That said, the interface is fairly rudimentary and is portrait only. There is no metronome, no way to make annotations and no transposition. However, Musicnotes is promising all of these features in future releases, though you can, for example, transpose on the store when you purchase or in their desktop software.

A free cul-de-sac

SonataNote has the now familiar bookshelf UI and it’s very well stocked with 31 pieces, mostly in the classical and popular veins. Just as importantly, the app already has an integrated metronome and automatic page turner. So, “x” beats after the count in, the page will automagically turn, which is a very nice feature. Also, their metronome can be configured to provide either an audible beat or visual cue only — thoughtful stuff, that.

Thereupon, SonataNote is a cul-de-sac as there’s no way to get new music into the app, aside from waiting for the developer to issue an update with more tunes. Another reason oddity is the fact that this app is landscape view only.

Let freedom reign

Scorecerer is more advanced in a entirely different direction. This app also pairs with desktop software, though the interesting thing here is that it’s all about your music, which can include music you’ve scored in the Scorecerer desktop software and PDF sheet music.

PDF sheet music? That sounds very suspiciously like “scanned” music, which is simultaneously a super cool thing and a “potential” source for piracy.

See also: Wanna be a DJ? The iPad’s the way to go…

Scorecerer also comes stocked with a half-dozen pieces. However, these are just documents that can’t be edited or annotated and there’s no metronome.

Obviously, the big thing with Scorecerer is that it fits with the desktop software and it does PDF. So, you can multisource music — stuff you’ve written or scanned.


Musicnotes, SonataNote and Scorecere all approach the question of sheet music on the iPad in entirely different ways. If you’re already deeply invested in printed sheet music and/or scoring your own material, then Scorecer is probably the app for you.

Musicnotes is all about commerce and convenience with in-app store integration. Additionally, an in-app metronome, transposition and automagical page turner aren’t there yet, though they are promise and this company certainly seems reputable.

Lastly, if you just want some music with no strings attached, SonataNote is a nice little stand-alone app with the aforementioned metronome and page turner. As of this writing, however, there’s no way to get more.

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