Suggestion: Complete digital sheet music ecosystem!

Hi team,

Just wondering: Are there any plans (not anytime soon, I know…) to create a “digital sheet music” ecosystem around Dorico?
I play gigs using hardcopy prints, and while it’s a Jazz thing to be supposedly able to transpose stuff on sight, I can’t always pull it off…
I’ve always watched the tablet/iRealBook crowd with a certain degree of envy, so I was wondering:

Any plans for creating an app/program for displaying actual scores, retaining transposition capability or other formatting options, creating playlists, annotations and things like that?
Steinberg could even think about creating some hardware like A4 (13") or even A3 sized displays for sheet music!
So far, the units for this I’ve seen were rather hodgepodge, but with the power of Steinberg/Yamaha behind it, this could get to a whole new level of credibility!
Feel free to think along with me, input from the team is always welcome…


I don’t think there’s any chance of us producing our own hardware for the purpose, but the chances of us eventually producing an iOS app that can view, play, and perform basic edits (transposition, annotation, and the like) on Dorico projects are pretty high. But we are not working on it at the moment, as we feel that we need to concentrate our limited programming resources on rounding out the core functionality of Dorico itself first.

That’s fabulous! (y)
However, I think it would be good to have a UWP app with that feature set and focus for Windows as well, again with the clear purpose of providing a lean, fast viewer-style experience on Windows tablets. In due course, of course… :wink:


An iOS app is of no use to the vast majority of people, who use Android. :wink:

Unfortunately Android is of little use to the people who want to read music from a digital display, because there are very few decent large-format Android tablets around. I don’t think most people want to read their music from a 5" phone screen.

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Hi Daniel,
I’m really enjoying this topic! One reason I was excited about this tablet/reader device issue, is that, as you know, the Microsoft UWP platform has great native screen size adaptation capabilities.
Meaning, I could install the same app on my Surface Pro 4 and have a full lead sheet with melody, lyrics, chords and all, and on a smaller screen (i.e. a phone) the same app would just show the chord progression only! There’s plenty of people playing from a set of chords on a phone at a jam session, using available IPhone apps.

Exciting times!
But now back to Dorico… :wink:


There are plenty of apps for various platforms and hardware that can use MusicXML and PDF for page-turning and annotation.

ForScore uses PDFs pretty impressively, for example.


You’ll find this interesting:

To be launched later this year (website says there’ll be an announcement next month). It’s going to be pretty pricey (roughly the equivalent of two iPad Pros) but it certainly looks very nice; two 13 inch screens and an optional remote foot switch. I know music publishers are interested in this technology (obviously) but I’ve also had discussions on this on social media, and not everyone is quite ready for it yet; what if it breaks or runs out of power in the middle of a concert etc. But if you’re a touring musician you may prefer this over having to drag around hundreds of charts. File format is pdf so that’s compatible with Dorico, Sibelius, Finale, anything that crank out pdf file format.

1 Windows, 2 iOS and 4 Android (at the very least) decent large-format tablets. Unless of course, you think people can do with no less than a blazingly expensive 12-13 inch tablet.

Hi all,
thanks for your input!
The reason I’m bringing this up here is, that I’m hopeful for the availability of a transposition function in a sheet music display app. I’ve never worked with Scorch, but imagine it to some kind of a template on how things can work out.

I have absolutely no problem with preparing PDF binders and using related software to display them, which would be analogous to using a 3-ring binder with papers, of course… :slight_smile:
Or I could put entire Realbook collections onto a device, but again, I’m in this issue hoping for a transposition function to deal with pesky singers and the like…

I guess all I’m really asking for is a UWP version of the app that Daniel was talking about!

I find this very interesting from a hardware point of view, since it’s exactly what I had in mind in my original post. But since Steinberg won’t do it, I’ll make do with a tablet when the time has come… :slight_smile:


My quest wouldn’t be so much about the price tag (and I’d be reluctant to settle for less than 13 inches, the A4 paper equivalent!), but usability. And anything below 3:2 ratio and 12-13 inches doesn’t really deserve to be called “large format” anyway now, does it? I’ll gladly pay a lot of money, if the product gets the job done!
And a 16:9 tablet is inherently unsuited for this task, that’s the beauty of the MS Surface line…


Foot-switch page turning doesn’t solve all the problems. Organists have other uses for their feet!

I’ve seen an organ recital where all the sheet music was on a MS Surface tablet, but there was still a page-turner holding a mouse. Slightly surreal, but it worked. Also slightly surreal to see a tablet being used with a wired mouse, not a wireless one - but maybe the range of a wireless mouse was too short to be reliable, the page turner was probably 3 meters away from the tablet.

Most organ music is printed in landscape orientation, so a 16:9 display isn’t such a big deal-breaker.

Impressive eyesight on the part of the page turner? I’m not sure I’d be able to reliably read music from a distance of three metres on a Surface display.

He was sitting on a “normal” chair at floor level, at the side of the organ console. Maybe not quite 3 meters away, but his eyes were about level with organ bench, not with the music. He was wearing glasses, though!

I suppose it was a trade off between the viewing angle and the distance - music stands on 3 or 4 manual organs are necessarily quite high, even for the organist to read. (Not to mention monstrosities like this: Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ - Wikipedia)

I think it does, but let’s just agree to disagree on this subject. Besides, my comment was a response to Daniel’s comment about there being few decent large-format Android tablets (as opposed to the overwhelming numbers of different iOS tablets, I suppose). Apparently, he thinks Android is all about 5" phones and not much more.

There is no specific technical reason why we could not support Android (or indeed UWP) if there is sufficient commercial demand to warrant the required technical effort. Targeting more platforms obviously requires more effort.

Although Android does have the largest market share in mobile devices by some margin, I believe its market share specifically in large-screen tablets is considerably smaller than that of iOS.

So we would have to make a careful calculation about whether there would be sufficient return on investment to target any of these platforms.

You might want to have a chat with Jeremy Sawruk about this - he’s the R&D guy at JW Pepper, US’s largest music publisher. I had a private Facebook chat with him a couple of months ago.

The way I see it, is this.

  1. Leave the hardware development for readers to companies like Gvido and others. These are expensive contraptions. Requires a lot of $$ and man power to develop and market them, and who knows whether it’s going, and whether it’s ever going to be successful.

  2. If Dorico can crank out beautiful pdf printouts, that’s good enough for now.

  3. Different users have different needs. For example:

a. Traditional orchestras may be reluctant to move to electronic readers - they’ve been doing the paper thing for the last 100+ years or so, it worked well, so why change.

b. But film orchestras / studios may think differently - this is a fast paced environment, and if you can change cues quickly without having to put them on stands physically, who knows. In this instance, the investment in $$ Gvido readers wouldn’t be on the players, it would be born by the studios. Perhaps.

c. Traveling musicians - they’re all different but some people might prefer having scores or charts electronically rather than dragging around the 2 pound Real Book.

d. And then it gets personal – some tablets are not just contraptions for easily reading scores, they can be full fledged computers, with abilities to compose music. For example, the Microsoft Surface Pro, in combination with StaffPad / Sibelius / Dorico / DAWs / etc. Musicians aren’t just highly trained conservatory of music people anymore, they got a lot of different stuff going on at the same time … some of them are part time composers, or work on their own arrangements or parts. They will want more than just a music reader. If it’s combined in a sexy small tablet sized computer, oh yeah.

Interesting product.

Ridiculous advertisement. Not playing Beethoven on the screen at all. Poor marketing if you ask me.

Another problem here is the development speed and incompatibility of hardware, compared with the time to develop decent software. Microsoft have got the right idea even if the execution isn’t perfect - one OS for everything from servers to cell phones, and a track record of supporting it for about 10 years, rather than the “get a new collection of incompatible features free with every update” philosophy of some of its competitors.

In any case, the Dorico team have still got a notation app to finish, which (I’m guessing) will take them another 1 or 2 years to cover all the bases. And it’s anybody’s guess what the tablet marketplace will look like 2 years from now.

Anybody who has actually produced versions of a score in different transpose keys soon discovers it’s not as simple as just hitting the “transpose” button in your favorite notation software. As soon as some note stems flip direction, the vertical spacing of everything can change enough to need some manual intervention!

Here’s a little public service announcement:

I just discovered my dream Sheet Music reader, this is awesome and might even run Dorico itself decently:

Just thought you should know. I’ll be picking this up in a little while, as we’re moving back to Germany soon, but this looks like the solution to me. Very cool!