Photoscore Ultimate update

Granted, elements of the UI are lifted (licensed?) from Sibelius/Avid, but the fact remains that Photoscore (along with NotateMe) is developed by Neuratron Limited, which is wholly owned by Neuratron Group Limited (99% if we want to nitpick - I’m not sure who Organum Ltd are but they own the remaining 1%). Neuratron Group Limited is owned by Martin Dawe (85%) and Zara Dawe (15%). This is a matter of public record - it’s freely available from Companies House.
See here and here.

P.S. You can buy NotePerformer from Avid, too, here. I happen to know that there’s no difference between “NotePerformer for Sibelius” and perfectly ordinary “NotePerformer”, as I’m using my purchase from Avid with Dorico right now. Avid doesn’t own NotePerformer either.

Well, then they could be involved into collaboration with Dorico. Would be nice if there is direct Export to Dorico, as it has to Sibelius. :slight_smile:
Photoscore saves me a lot of time when have to orchestrate an old piano piece, or to make an orchestral cover on old piece…
Since you are living close to their office, you can try to attract them for the cause. :slight_smile:

I’m sure Neuratron has the same wish. The issue, as I understand it, is that the XML generated by Photoscore is not very compatible with what Dorico is able to import from XML. Evidently there are many ambiguities, but somehow Finale and Sibelius have been able to reconcile those better than Dorico currently does today. It has been suggested that the root of the issue may be that with Dorico, notes don’t inherently have a fixed position within a measure having a strictly-defined meter. Perhaps that makes this reconciliation especially difficult. There may be things that need to change on the Photoscore side as well, so surely a discussion wouldn’t be a bad idea. It should not be necessary to run XML through Finale or Sibelius to get it dressed up enough to import into Dorico. I have similar problems with PDFtoMusic.

Could it be possible to compare musicxml files of the following extract using a preferred OMR application?

The original file is as follows:

I would like to compare the results. I tested with demo versions, and there are restrictions, so I could not see the real output.

This request is out of the scope of this forum, and it could be ignored if it is a too rude request.

Audiveris service on MuseScore website failed to convert this PDF to musicXml.

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Dear Marc,

I bought the update to version 2020.1.2 today.
Yes, the gui looks a lot smoother.
The keypad is recognised, which is fine; but: there is still a bug:
The key „X“, which I use for flipping the stem (just like in Sibelius - or „F“ in Dorico) does not work any more!
I tried to use „Z“ (in case it was a qwertz/qwerty issue) but, no:
instead of flipping the stem it turns the selected note into a semibreve…

As has been mentioned by Daniel and others, Dorico’s MusicXML handling leaves a bit to be desired. I can certainly confirm that as well. I know it’s on the list of things to be improved someday (before or after a new licensing scheme?). I wish it would happen sooner but I can wait. I imagine that hiring Mr. Good to do so is a non-starter since he is a VP at MakeMusic these days.

Likewise, I’d like a truly decent OCR for the Mac. If Neuratron would offer a decent cro$$grade on Photoscore to lure SmartScore X2 Pro owners over, I’d buy it and then later decide if I want to upgrade SSX2P — but @ $269, no thanks. I’ll wait till Musitek releases their next version demo and decide then.

I still need to spend a couple grand on app upgrades before I switch to Catalina so I’m not in a big hurry. OS 10.15 is on a test Mac now.

Dear Marc,

I bought the update to version 2020.1.2 today.
Yes, the gui looks a lot smoother.
The keypad is recognised, which is fine; but: there is still a bug:
The key „X“, which I use for flipping the stem (just like in Sibelius - or „F“ in Dorico) does not work any more!
I tried to use „Z“ (in case it was a qwertz/qwerty issue) but, no:
instead of flipping the stem it turns the selected note into a semibreve…

Dear k_b,
I reported this bug on Jan, 2nd (with no answer about this yet), and it probably would not hurt if you contact Neuratron’s support to report it too !

I have done so on 15th of January, Marc.
And already got a reply today :slight_smile:

Thank you for contacting us regarding this. It has been passed on to our development team.

Good news:

Keystroke “X” (bug)
This has been fixed in version 2020.1.14 which we have just released. You can upgrade to this version for free from the following page of our website:
Country Setting
Kind regards,
David Dawe
Neuratron Help Desk

Thanks k_b !

I underscore Marc’s comments completely about PhotoScore. I was faced with rescuing a 58 page chamber orchestra score and was able to use PhotoScore Lite to bring it directly into Dorico Pro. There were extensive double, triple and quadruple stops in the strings, and multiple articulations on many notes. To recreate the score from scratch in Dorico would have taken ages but I had a working (but not perfect) copy in about two hours. It still needed proofreading but the saving in time was considerable.

I have found that it is best to work within the limitations of the program rather than trying to get it to do things that Dorico does much better. I spent time experimenting to find the best settings for my scanner to produce the fewest errors. The only things I corrected in PhotoScore were rhythm errors, clef errors and key signature errors, then I exported the xml file directly into Dorico. Since I was going to proofread it in Dorico, it didn’t make sense to spend a lot of time proofreading all the notes, dynamics and articulations also in PhotoScore.

I have always used the Lite version ever since it came free with Sibelius 7. I have never tried the Ultimate version, so I can presume that results with it would have been even better. Perhaps this is a niche market but the product is certainly impressive in its music recognition capabilities.

Have a look at this “quick and dirty” PhotoScore 9.0.0 recognation.
Charles-Marie Widor Symphony for Organ No. 5: Toccata

recognation - “quick and dirty” repair - play


Musitek has put out what they consider a major release of SmartScore:

Here are some quick observations from a first test of the Smatscore 64 demo:

  1. It did not start well. I tried to drag a PDF into the open desktop app. It apparently isn’t supporting drag and drop. That’s rather disappointing considering how much they talked about workflow. I was able to open the PDF going through File Open. But even then, it seemed like the program didn’t respond to some actions. I eventually got it to interpret the PDF (which was a raster scan).
  2. The recognition completed without any exceptions and looked pretty clean.
  3. This was a well engraved music source with a clean scan. But it was a piece with numerous elements that have been challenging to all scanning programs.
  4. The quick assessment is that Smartscore 64 definitely scans better than X2 Pro. On this particular piece, With the exception of 3 measures in 3 pages, I didn’t miss any notes or accidentals. Almost all the key signatures and clef changes (a big problem in the past) came through fine. And amazingly, one of those 3 measures was a misprint in the original, with a measure having a dotted eighth rest that should not have been dotted. So SmartScore recognized the music and also flagged the incorrect number of beats.
  5. It is still getting too much wrong. The very first measure missed a quarter-note triplet that is perfectly clear. Most of the slurs seem to connect to the wrong notes. With the demo, I can’t save the XML to see how it imports into Dorico, but I fear those slurs will be a hot mess. It got one of the multi-measure rests beautifully and made a complete mess of the other. There was a sequence mid-staff changed from 4/4 to 2/4 for a half rest, followed by a double bar, key change from C to Ab , then 4/4 meter. In this sequence the key change was completely missed. That’s the kind of thing that makes these scanning programs so marginal. Many of the triplet brackets caused the first note of the triplet to incorrectly get a staccato.
  6. It got most of the dynamics – probably 90% of them.
  7. The playback was an octave too low.

So I am of mixed feelings. It is definitely an improvement, and maybe now solidly in the area of doing more good than harm. But it has been 6 years since the last upgrade. I fear I will not live long enough to see one of these programs actually work. Given how many bugs I found in 15 minutes with a very clean score, it appears that nobody really cared to test this program very much.

I installed the Photoscore Ultimate demo so as to test the same document I reported on above. Here are the results:

  1. Drag of the PDFworked and there were no uncertain responses.
  2. Amazingly PhotoScore also failed to recognize the quarter-note triplet in the first measure, failing exactly the same way Smartscore did. I swear there is absolutely nothing tricky or obscure about this measure, and both programs got it right after the first measure. Actually Photoscore did place a triplet bracket in the measure, but in completely the wrong place.
  3. Slurs looked mostly right in PhotoScore, including apparently trying to handle a slur between notes with stems in opposite directions.
  4. PhotoScore fails miserably on multi-measure rests, turning real MM rests into garbage and turning some proper measures into a fictitious MM rest.
  5. Most of the articulations are right. There are probably 15 in 3 pages I would have to fix.
  6. Like SmareScore, PhotoScore fails regularly on mid-staff key changes that are perfectly clear. How could this stuff not be tested?

I honestly can’t give either program an advantage. They both are an improvement over technology from 5 years ago, but both fail spectacularly on perfectly obvious things. Based on this one very limited test, if I had to buy one program or the other, it would probably be SmartScore because when it fails badly, it seems to do less damage. The bad failures on Photoscore will take more work to fix. But really, they are both very similar, and fail on such similar cases, it is almost as if they are using the same engine.

In my experience, Photoscore is “decent” provided I use a PDF file, and avoid the scanner.
The export to Dorico in XML is always challenging: no sound and crashes. My workaround: copy the imported notes from Dorico, and paste them in a new project, hopefully before the inevitable Dorico crash comes.

Dear Concha,
My experience is a bit different, because I have not tried to import directly into Dorico — it did not work before the 2020 version, so I’ve sticked to my workflow. I export an XML file which I open in Sibelius or MuseScore, correct whatever there is to be corrected there that could block Dorico and then import into Dorico to perform the other corrections and the real work. But I guess I should try to skip that step, since Dorico has improved XML import/export in the last versions, and since we need to send some feedback to the Neuratron team for them to improve their software !


I have found that I don’t need to make any corrections in Sibelius. Simply sending the PhotoScore file to Sibelius and then exporting an XML that I open in Dorico prevents any problems.


I agree. Nevertheless, this step should not be compulsory any more. So something has to be done, and my guess is it’s on Neuratron’s side to make sure their xmls work fine in Dorico, don’t you think?