You may have read my review of some of the basic features of the music notation software ScoreCloud: ScoreCloud – Software that Notates Your Music. I recently tried the Pro version, and here are my findings.
ScoreCloud Pro – Music Notation Software
ScoreCloud’s claim to fame is the ability to notate music as you play it. As I discovered in my first review, it works remarkably well for MIDI and single-note (monophonic) audio recordings. My main goal when reviewing the Pro version was to explore the polyphonic (multiple notes at one time) audio recording feature. To do this, I tuned up my acoustic guitar and sat in front of my laptop with headphones on.
It took me a few tries to understand the program, which is reasonable with a new feature like this. I soon discovered that it is best to play every single chord tone absolutely simultaneously. In addition, using very large chords (5 or 6 strings) is very hard to have the program notate. Not playing each chord tone simultaneously (even rolling the chord a little), different inflections, minor note omissions, and string buzzing can really mess up ScoreCloud’s transcription. For these reasons, it seems that a piano would be better suited for this than a guitar.
Here are some examples of how I tried out the polyphonic feature. Notice how sometimes it gets the chord right, but other times it gets quite messy.
Recording a song
I decided to try recording an excerpt of John Petrucci’s song Glasgow Kiss to get a better handle on the program. Keeping my chord background, I overdubbed the lead guitar part, rhythm guitars, and bass parts. Like my previous post, I was very happy with the monophonic transcription–this program does a great job recording one note at a time! This feature was the main reason I was so excited about the program in my last post.
This made the rest of the process really easy. Having the lines recorded, I quickly was able to do some editing and engraving. For example, I changed the music font to Bravura, renamed and re-ordered the staves, added markings, and did some basic cleanup.
I was then able to use the Auto Chords feature, which worked really well. This feature automatically detects the chords in your piece/song and inputs the appropriate chord symbols. It even helped me discover a wrong note when I recorded one note in the rhythm guitar part wrong! It gave me the incorrect chord in that case, which I saw and was able to correct.
The result is an acoustic version of one phrase of John Petrucci’s song Glasgow Kiss. Check it out!
I was really excited to try out the polyphonic/Pro version of the software. I had been excited by my success in the first post. While the transcription feature is great, it requires a lot of cleanup. The slight timing differences, a little bit of twang, and differences in picking attack that most artists use on a guitar, even when playing “straight”, are differentiated in the notation and require a lot of cleanup. My suggestion would be for the developers to have a “de-humanize” function–not just a quantization, but something that summarizes the human elements to create notation. (It is interesting how this really exposes how notation is just ink on paper, and performance is so much different in actuality.)
The program, while incredibly powerful and easy to use, can be a bit buggy when transcribing audio. When I record over 60 seconds of music, I tended to get errors and timeouts.
Besides these notes, the program works really well if you’re recording single lines and know enough musically to clean up the score afterwards.
Overall, ScoreCloud has great base features and great potential. While my excitement is a bit tempered, I encourage the development team to continue pushing this program’s limits. This really could be the forefront of music notation once the polyphonic recording system, and perhaps a “de-humanization” feature, are perfected.
(I was provided a temporary voucher to try the Pro version of ScoreCloud.)