Sunday, January 31, 2016

Henle Library - Urtext in an app, digital sheet music done right

And they are doing it right. This is the future of digital sheet music. Henle is doing so much more than just providing Urtext editions in a PDF reader with some basic annotation and bookmarking, they are truly embracing the potential of the digital format.

The app will include many options for customizing the text in ways that you just can't do with paper. You can resize staves and change how many appear on each page. You can add or remove the solo part or the piano part in chamber music.

Annotation options include not only text or ink, but the ability to add markings using a "comprehensive Henle character font." The biggest innovation here is that all markings are basically in separate layers. You can layer on fingerings and bowings done by a long list of performers, editors, and pedagogues, or you can just remove them all and start completely clean. Henle promises an elegant experience switching between these layers as well.

There will also be a full suite of practice/performance tools like foot pedal support, a "professional" metronome (whatever that means), and the ability to record yourself as you play.

Another really exciting practice/rehearsal tool will be the ability to easily switch between your part and the same passage in the score. No more frantically digging through the score or turning everyone's stands around when you want to see how something lines up.

Since they're not bound by how much paper is or isn't being used up, you can buy individual parts instead of having to buy the whole score with all parts if you want a quartet. They'll also write out A sections that repeat after a B section like in a Minuet and Trio, so you don't have to flip back to the Minuet after the Trio, the Minuet will be written out again.

The iOS app is coming on February 3rd and they're also promising an Android app in May. So I'll have to wait a little longer to see how it works on the giant HP Pro Slate, but iPad Pro users should be really happy really soon.

Full news from Henle here.

Sign up for information about the launch here.

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