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Monday, April 18, 2016

More about iPad and church music—the basement tapes

Because I'm such a Chatty Cathy, the overworked editor at World Library Publications was forced to truncate my previously published article by a few dozen paragraphs to get within an order of magnitude of my required word count. These paragraphs are included below for your edification and amusement...

Tips for using forScore with Finale 

For your original music and arrangements of
public domain music, you don’t need to have a special file to create good-looking forScore documents. What will help is to do two tasks one time, and you will have access to them forever – first, create a tablet-sized page for the Finale “page set-up” task, and then create a tablet-sized paper size for printing, so that when you create your PDF it will be the perfect size for an iPad. For a Mac computer using Finale 2014.5, the steps are described here. Remember, you don’t need “margins” on your iPad – maximize screen real estate by printing almost to the edges of the document. These steps will help you do this.

  1. Navigate to the file “pagesizes.txt”. In Finale 2014.5, you will locate it here:
  3. Open the file in TextEdit or another text editor.
  4. Type in the following information under the bottom line of the listed paper                            iPad = 5.8, 7.75; .1, .1, .2, .1, .5
  5. The first two numbers are width and height of the page, in this case, the iPad screen, the next four are the page margins. The last number is for left-margin instrument scores…probably you don’t need to know that. The top and right margins are assumed to be negative, no minus sign is required. 
  6. Next, in Page Setup (under the “File” menu), choose “Paper Sizes” and then “Manage Custom Sizes.” Click the “+” sign to add a custom size, name it “iPad”, and enter the iPad screen dimensions, 5.8 X 7.75, and either “0” or a small number like “.05” in the margin boxes. Your margins are already fixed in the Finale page size. Click OK. Now you’re ready to print to an iPad screen size. 
  7. As you finish a Finale file,
    you will choose “Print PDFSave as PDF…, and navigate to the folder where you want to save the document, either on your hard drive or on the cloud drive.
From inside Acrobat, File -> Properties will let you
store the name and composer as properties of
the PDF itself. These will be recognized by ForScore
so that you can readily add them to the app.

Tips for scanning music into forScore. 

Use the lowest-resolution scanning setting you are comfortable with (I use 200dpi), and black and white image source, scanning directly to PDF. When in "Preview" mode during your scan, crop the preview of the final document to as close to the edges of the music as you can. Remember that you don't need to see the title of the song when you're playing, because the file itself will be the title of the song. You want your scanned music to be as much music and as little extraneous information as possible. If your scanning software doesn't allow you to do this, you can also crop the music from within ForScore, maximizing the screen real estate for the music itself, which is what you want to see.

When saving the PDF to your cloud source (e.g. Dropbox), save the actual name of the song and the composer to the “title” and “author” information lines of the PDF. This way, the information will be available to forScore on import.

Handy functions in ForScore

ForScore has a lot of ways to conveniently store and manipulate your music. One handy feature is the "notes" feature, which I use to create notes for myself that "overlay" the songs in a set list that I might use at a concert. This helps me to store ideas for introducing songs and see them when I'm about to play them. Annotations, both written annotations attached to the score and simple color highlighting are available.

Adding scores to ForScore is as simple as drag-and-drop from within iTunes using your desktop, or can be done on the fly by storing your pdfs on the cloud in Dropbox or other online storage, like Google Drive. Just direct the "Cloud Services" icon to your storage location, and you can add pdfs to your setlist from anywhere.

For my money, the best feature in ForScore, aside from being able to crop your purchased or scanned music of its unnecessary margins, is the ability to create smart jumps, so that when you get to a repeat bar on page 5 of a score you don't need to page back 3 pages to page 2. The app allows you to set a jump point with a dime-sized colored circle on the page to another place in the score. You can do this more than once within the score, too, in case you need a coda jump as well.

What's changed since the article appeared?

The big thing, literally, is the release of the iPad pro, with a screen size roughly the equivalent of a sheet of letter-sized paper, minus the margins. Music on the Pro is so beautiful that Apple includes ForScore on the demo tablets in the Apple Store so musicians can stand in front of them and drool (that's what the buckets under the counter are for.) A Facebook friend in the city remarked that using a Pro in landscape view would allow for viewing two pages at a time, reducing the requirement to turn pages by a substantial margin with a minimum reduction in page size for those accustomed to the size of the current iPad. I still haven't made the jump, since my iPad Air still serves well, and it's a chunk of change to invest in one of those late-model behemoths (though the price came down a bit at the last Apple event.)

For more information on ForScore, see their website, or go to the forScore page at the iTunes App Store.

and PLEASE! Only make legal copies. 

If I’m making a PDF in order to avoid buying a piece of music, I’m making an illegal copy. Ask yourself this question – when this copy is being used, is there a physical copy on a shelf on the premises for every electronic copy? Every scanned file I have must have a physical copy not in use.

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