Orchestra gives all musicians iPads to replace printed scores

Orchestra gives all musicians iPads to replace printed scores


norman lebrecht

August 13, 2018

The Orchestre National d’Ile-de-France will equip all of its 120 musicians with iPads next month with a view to abolishing printed notes and music stands.

The first all-iPad concert will take place in October.

The technology has been developed by a French start-up,聽Newzik, which is also working with the Vienna State Opera.



  • mr oakmountain says:

    Can it be programmed to count rests and give a cue when one comes in again? It would revolutionise every brass player’s and timpanist’s life 馃槈

  • Archie_V says:

    Images of string players cursing as they use their fingernails to scratch in all their bowings – and, of course, then hurriedly backpedal to alter them whenever the conductor has a mid-rehearsal epiphany.

    PDF readers do have enormous benefits, of course, but easy, quick editability on a par with the high-tech combo of an HB pencil and an eraser ain’t among them.

    • DS says:

      If it鈥檚 an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil then it is much more easily editable then paper and pencil.

    • Archie_V says:

      Ha! “backpedal” would seem to be more accurate than I thought. I just checked out the app-developer’s website, which proudly flags up its hands-off page-turning feature: a Bluetooth-linked foot pedal!

      I’m all for taking advantage of new technology when it genuinely improves things, but it does sound as though this a performance by this orchestra is going to look like a 1950s driving-school class on double-clutching a Morris Minor.

      • Geoff says:

        Yuja Wang used an iPad with a foot pedal to turn the page for her Ligeti piece on her recent tour, at least she did in Montreal.

      • Bruce says:

        My oboe player uses one (it’s an Android-based tablet, not an iPad per se) with a foot pedal sometimes. It actually works very well for him.

        I still don’t trust the technology to be 100% dependable, but after last night’s outdoor performance I can appreciate the idea of music that won’t blow off the stand (although I don’t know what effect it might have on the clothespin industry 馃槢 )

    • Hildigunnur R煤narsd贸ttir says:

      Bowings done on the first desk will copy to the other stands automatically and it’s not more difficult to write with a ipad stylus than a pencil. (you do have to go into edit mode though, I suppose). I use an ipad for my choral stuff and it’s really convenient.

      • SVM says:

        >”Bowings done on the first desk will copy to the other stands automatically”

        A good string player is constantly alert to what the section principal is doing, and will internalise each change in bowing through the process of marking it in the part (or seeing his/her desk partner doing it). Automating the process is not only unnecessary, but actually unhelpful, since it results in the player no longer being under pressure to pay attention. The result would be that bowing in the concert would be a case of sight-reading, because he/she had not done the mental and physical processes of amending the bowings himself/herself when they changed in rehearsal.

        >”and it鈥檚 not more difficult to write with a ipad stylus than a pencil.”

        Depends on the pencil — if you invest in quality mechanical pencils with the right type of leads, they become an extension of your hand (like a musical instrument!), and are undoubtedly preferable to any stylus. For orchestral parts, I recommend 2B or 3B with 0路7mm thickness. For extending staves (to the very edge of the paper!) and writing-in the first bar or two of the next system/page, I recommend B or 2B with 0路5mm thickness (although if the rastral size is really small, 0路3mm may work better). For contexts where you are not likely to need to change things quickly in rehearsal, HB may be a better option (less likely to smudge, but harder to erase).

        >”(you do have to go into edit mode though, I suppose).”

        Conversely, with pencil and paper, it is possible to mark something in the part during the shortest of rests, or even while your desk partner is still playing. In fact, if you are a singer, it may be even possible to keep singing while marking. Similarly, a pianist may be able to keep playing with one hand while marking.

        • db says:

          Usually, one doesn’t just write in a change of bowing, one also rehearses it. And any change of bowing usually comes about in the first or second rehearsal, not later. Concertmasters tend to refuse changes in bowing after a certain point, and they are right.

  • Ronald Cavaye says:

    What do you rest the ipad on if not a music stand???

  • Christopher says:

    Just week saw the Australian Chamber Orchestra playing with iPads on their stands.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Wait until the operating system in them iPads decide to take a rest mid performance. I mean, if after a decade Apple still hasn’t managed to engineer a functionally flawless OS for the iPhone/iPad, imagine the disasters to come when they deploy self driving vehicles in the wild.

    • George Butler says:

      …or the Russians or that 400-pound guy in his bedroom in New Jersey decide to wreak some havoc during rush hour.

  • erich says:

    Does the conductor also have to have one? I also foresee hilarious incidents if some conk out or refuse to back pedal or turn to the next page. I saw the Belcea Quartet use them recently but an entire orchestra? Blimey….

  • Novagerio says:

    I don’t exactly picture the Vienna Philharmonic (or for that matter any other serious orchestra with its own cultural traiditon!) using iPads instead of parts they have used since the days of at least Mahler, and with bowings and indications that are over 100 years old…

    • Brian says:

      And if that perception is accurate, that’s one of the problems with the Vienna Philharmonic. They don’t accept a changing world very easily.

    • Eric says:

      It’s happening and will be completely normally further down the line.
      Just think about orchestra libraries and the touring problems of carting vast amounts of scores and parts around. Or the desire to substitute a last-minute encore into the programme only to find it’s back in the vault somewhere..

      Rehearsal time is saved when the conductor makes a change to the score which is instantly synced across all the parts.

      There are huge benefits to all this.

      There are lots of string quartets and chamber musicians already ONLY using iPads for performance. Orchestra usage is the next logical step.

      • Bruce says:

        Can the system work like that? Conductor writes a bowing or dynamic in the score and it appears on everybody’s screen?

        • Scotty says:

          According to Newzik, yes. I’ve used only ForScore, but a single copy of Newzik is only 9 bucks. Later today I’m going to take it for a spin.

          • Bruce says:

            I’d be interested to hear what you think.

          • Scotty says:

            So far I like it better than forScore. The interface is more intuitive. Here are features that aren’t in forScore: A little mark appears next to the new system after a half-page turn, then gradually disappears; I’d been highlighting half-page breaks in forScore. Annotations can be created in layers so that you can keep some and discard others. Annotated parts can be exported as PDFs. I don’t have a way here to test the collaborative features. And because I’m too impatient to read the manual, I’m fumbling around. At least it’s something to play with at 3:30 in the morning. Jet lag’s got me.

      • buxtehude says:

        I think Eric is certainly right and that there will me more time-saving wonders than thought of so far; how about scratch transcriptions for example? Orchestras especially need to start adopting this from the cost angle alone.

        I’m not sure if IT has addressed the very real prospect of the tech conking out on an orchestra in media res. The present hardware should have no trouble handling double or even triple redundancy in the software department; if not already in the works it will be after the first broadcast disaster.

        Another obstacle to overcome is the sickly glow, in whatever color.

        Android should prove a better bet than Apple in the long run, especially cost-wise.

  • Tamino says:

    And the next step is the abolishing of the musician and replacing him or her with a computer/robot.

    I like annotations. I like to see how they are done. How old they are. How many times they were changed, to point out the ambiguity of some notes.
    And I like to do them myself, because my brain processes them completely differently.
    Neuroscience knows all this.
    It is strange, that nevertheless they introduce tablets for this particular task.

    It’s different for soloists or an established chamber music ensemble, that performes similar repertoire repeatedly, where little is changed in the bowings, fingerings, phrasings, between performances.

    But a symphony orchestra needs that short rehearsal time for each unique program to work with the score, modify it, annotate. Not only read it.

    • Minutewaltz says:

      ‘And the next step is the abolishing of the musician and replacing him or her with a computer/robot.’

      Tamino I’m sure that day will come sooner than we think.

    • SVM says:

      Exactly — the physical labour of marking-up a part in one’s own handwriting is *vital* to internalising the marking (when teaching, I always insist on the pupil writing the markings himself/herself, rather than having me do it, for this exact reason), and keeping track of changes to bowing &c. The facility for annotation on e-readers is just not as good (is it possible, for example, to mark the first new notes of the next page at the end of the previous one, so that you can see how the phrase continues before the page-turn forces you to shift your eyes from bottom-right to top-left, thus losing the flow), the size is too small (how are you supposed to keep an eye on your section principal and the conductor if you are squinting to read the notes?), and all that blue light will probably not do anybody’s eyesight any good!

      As Archie_V has already said, this technology cannot compete with pencil and paper for “easy, quick editability”. Like him/her, I am not against technology /per se/, but I am against the deployment thereof for no other reason than its novelty. Unlike art, where novelty and originality are to be valued for their own sake, technology is merely a means to an end.

      Another issue to consider is how will orchestras deal with freelance extras and deputies? Will such players be required to pay a large deposit for one of the orchestra’s iPads, or threatened with not being paid in the event of the iPad being mislaid or damaged (if you look at any old set of parts, it will be obvious how easily such material can get damaged — players have enough on their mind protecting their precious instruments from being scraped/bashed/dropped/knocked/sat-on/mislaid/stolen/&c.)? Or will such players be required to *buy* an iPad of their own and install the relevant software (which, presumably, would require an expensive licence)? Either way, this would be bad for everyone: it would reduce the pool of available freelancers (because not all of them have iPads, and those who do might not have a compatible operating system), and increase the administrative burden of fixing them (last-minute emergencies happen, and it is hard enough to get a suitable player on short notice without technological issues… “Hello, we need a harpist for the big solos in /Swan Lake/? So you have played the part before? Excellent. Could you be at the stage door of Covent Garden in the next 45 minutes? Great! Do you have an iPad? OK; which version and which operating system? I see; could you install the update in the back of the taxi? Oh, and could you buy app X while you are at it? Oh, you were going to go by Tube, where there is no signal. OK, maybe you could do it while we talk? Yes, I realise it is 10GB and 拢500, but we can help with the cost and settle-up with the finance office on Monday. What is that… oh, your iPad is out of battery, your internet connection cannot handle a 10GB download, and you do not have 拢500 left on your credit card? Oh well, we will have to find someone else then.”).

      Much easier, surely, to send them a part on paper (or as .pdf on the understanding that they *print* it), than to try and send an iPad in the post (especially if the freelancer happened to be travelling internationally by air, and had already used up his/her hand-luggage allowance with his/her instrument… unlike paper parts, iPads cannot be packed in a suitcase in the hold, owing to the lithium batteries).

      • Scotty says:

        Man, you’re letting your imagination run wild. The largest, heaviest iPad weighs 700 grams. For carrying onto an airplane, it fits easily into the allowed “personal item.” The app costs 10 bucks. I just downloaded a copy. It took loss than a minute on my lousy Wi-Fi network. If the iPad is lost or damaged, the app can be downloaded to a replacement for no extra cost and the scores can be downloaded from the cloud. Total time, a few minutes. If you’re a Nervous Nellie, as I am, you can connect a small external battery. It turns out that the little battery I carry has never been necessary and I’m going to stop carrying it. Annotation is better, not worse, than on paper. Thousands on pages of scores or parts can fit on the device with infinitely more in the cloud. And if a last minute freelancer just can’t manage an iPad, the PDF can still be printed for him or her.

        • SVM says:

          And what happens when the app decides that your hardware and operating system are out of date and “no longer supported” (I encounter this increasingly with my eight-year-old laptop with its eight-year-old operating system, which I have spent ages customising to do exactly what *I* want, *not* what some software developer/designer thinks I should want)? Within a couple of years, you are forced to spend more money on more stuff (I had a problem with my laptop a few months ago, and took it to a computer store for service, and they refused point-blank to even try to fix the problem, because they considered my laptop to be too old/out-of-date… fortunately, I managed to find a freelance techie to take a look at it). What happened to the W3C paradigm of prioritising backward compatibility and “graceful degradation”? Paper scores and parts remain readable and usable for centuries… can the same be said for tablets and e-readers?

          • Scotty says:

            Surprisingly, it is not necessary to destroy your paper scores if you decide to read off a tablet.

      • buxtehude says:

        SVM you are Old School.

        In the future and it won’t be long (‘fore you look out the window when I’ll be gone) everybody’s tablet will be built-in, and detachable too, operating wirelessly.

        If lost or stolen it will regenerate, the more fruits and vegetables the faster. No worries.

    • buxtehude says:

      “And the next step is the abolishing of the musician and replacing him or her with a computer/robot.” — this too will certainly happen, whether Tamino was being serious or not. Not entire replace but eventually this will achieve at least some of the impact that recording has, compared to the good old days of live music only.

      In that cold future today’s listener will be able to customize their own preferred synthesized reading or simply impose someone else’s pre-sets on a score, the kind of thing that already exists with the editing of digital photos and videos, though not quite yet for the content of these photos.

      The fan experience in music will thus grow far more interactive than it is today, limited as it now is to buying tickets, collecting recordings either as CDs or links, or typing up opinions after the fact. People who can’t play a note on any instrument, let alone have an orchestra to conduct, can become the master of their own earphones.

      The luxury of time and the miracle of editing will grant them entry to this rarefied world, lack of talent will be no bar, just as the punk revolution allowed physically unattractive people to become fashion plates.

      There will be fewer live performances and those will have to be electric.

    • Ms.Melody says:

      We already have musicians, famous ones too and orchestras, that sound like robots, so this is where MUZAC is going, electronic scores, amplified sound.
      Time to play my LP.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I’m against it.

    The trend to turn physical activities into abstract technology is one of the ills of our times.

    • buxtehude says:

      Old School, Old School. You’re plowing the sea. Let’s encourage the inevitable just for once.

      • John Borstlap says:

        A comment resulting from the deplorable misunderstanding that if something or a habit is old, it must therefore be bad, or less good than what is done today. But nothing ages so fast as the newspaper.

        The blind lemming obsession that new inevitably means better, does not quite belong to the most developed levels of thinking. What matters, is whether something is better than something else, be them old or new; real progress is what is better in terms of quality than something else. That has nothing to do with ‘newness’.

        Many things in the world of today, especially in the arts. have seriously degenerated, because people thought it was new THUS better. Just a reminder.

        There are even people who suffer from the delusion that performing a musical work could as well be done by a computer or robotted process, if it could do it well enough. Such idea reveals total ignorance of what performing a musical work really is, and of course such people look forward with hungry enhusiasm to the moment when they can, through some technical gadgets, imitate a musical performance and spread through music life. There will not be much music making left if such people get their way and will dominate the scene. Just a reminder.

        The production, and performance, of a musical score is the result of a long tradition which has produced mountain peaks of human cultural and spiritual achievement, hardly ever emulated since. And most of it was ‘old school’. Just a reminder.

        • buxtehude says:

          The comment you initially address was a joke.

          For the rest: much of what was initially sacred — eg, live performance, has been in large measure supplanted by tech, in the first instance by recording. That was a bit hit even before it sounded anything like the original.

          Second, general maintenance of “the orchestra” faces insurmountable economic obstacles in future. This is not my philosophy or my dumb thinking, it’s just a fact.

          It’s funny to think that a relatively minor concession to convenience — the electronic score, sitting in front of players, will help expedite a process that will help to eat the orchestra. Nonetheless it will happen and one of the unintended results will be to open up the score for listeners to play with it, imagine — as antecedent for this — if a rock band were to make all 24 or 32 tracks available for tinkering.

          Of course you need powerfully expensive gear or equivalents but that will be available for nothing, or near to it, in the cloud.

          If you think gizmos don’t offer much aethetically, just look at what “rigs” have done for the electric guitar, especially compared with its “classical” antecedent.

          Spontaneous live at its best is best, of course it is; the grand tradition will not die, it will merely shrink in size.

          My prediction, mind you, only that. Thinking back life seems more like life before the internet.

          • John Borstlap says:

            There were many advantages to life before the internet. Has it improved the world? That depends upon the people using it, and – like with the problem of any technology – most of the time the sad fact emerges that humanity is, in general, incapable to develop to the level where technology can be mainly an asset.

            We know from history that a highly developed technology does not at all prevent the worst possible barbarism, in contrary, it can easily serve the darkest instincts of humanity with results far greater and more devastating than any inroad of the Huns 1600 years ago. It is naive to have faith in technology as such, one should be discerning to its use.

            As for humour: my initial – serious – comment touches upon an aspect of modern life which so many people have no idea about: reality disappearing into the internet, as if it is more real that reality. It is not difficult to see that the already rather weak understanding of reality to be found with a majority of people, is further seriously undermined – the daily news offers increasing evidence of this.

          • SVM says:

            Recording technology has superseded live performance in some contexts, but is it an improvement? It has set standards of perfection which are not humanly possible (because you have thousands of takes from which to choose, cut, and splice), but which pressurise performers into playing it safe. What has happened to risk-taking and extemporisation?

            Technology is a means to an end. Embracing it indiscriminately in the name of “progress” is a category error. Rather than utilise technology to serve us, we have far too often allowed ourselves to become slaves thereto. If something is “old” yet still extant, that means it has stood the test of time well. Paper and printed books (with their codex format, which is far more efficient than scrolling) are a remarkable technology, and will survive long after all the iPads have decayed and the mercury and lithium therein have leached into the environment.

            I could go on, but John Bortslap’s comments say what I want to say so eloquently and compellingly (despite my disagreeing with Bortslap on some other musical matters, such as on the merits of dodecaphony and of atonal musics), that I will leave it at that.

          • buxtehude says:

            @ SVM: “Progress” is only the alibi that innovators use. Innovation is usually all about cheapness and convenience, and innovators wanting to become billionaires.

            Faced with all this, the fine Shoulds tend to melt away swiftly as sand castles at the rising water’s edge. I’m not advocating any of it, merely noticing current history.

        • Jack says:

          I know. The introduction of electric lighting into concert halls completely lowered the quality of performance forever after.

          • SVM says:

            You know what, there is some truth in that. The idea of the darkened auditorium was inspired by the fact that candles were expensive. Alas, many concert halls nowadays are so bright that you can read to the letter what that cretin sitting nearby who is using his/her mobile telephone is writing. What happened to lighting only the stage? Or, although extreme, I would like to see more pieces like Haas’s /In Vain/ (where the auditorium goes *completely* dark for a significant passage).

          • Jack says:

            The hall is darkened in the halls where I attend concerts, so would-be multitaskers are at a disadvantage. Oh yes, darkened. Darkened even when there is a text to follow, as in a choral or vocal work, or lieder recital. There are some advantages to having a bit of light if things like supertitles aren’t available.

  • Hornbill says:

    The first time I saw an iPad used instead of a score was at a recital by Artur Pizarro on a fortepiano at Finchccks (RIP). It was the ancient meeting the modern

  • Peter says:

    Brussels Philharmonic started using tablets in 2012.

  • Scotty says:

    For solo guitar and small-ensemble concerts I use an iPad running ForScore software with a bluetooth pedal for turning pages. Unless I’m traveling heavy (more than one instrument, going out for more than a week) I carry an iPad stand, which offers the audience a better view of what I’m doing and is acoustically less obtrusive than an orchestra stand. Page turns are silent. Stand lights are unnecessary. I never have to remove my hands from my instrument. Annotating changes to the score is easy and offers more flexibility than paper, since colors, highlighters, and actual fonts (in any color) are possible. Every program that I play stays on the iPad and is backed up in the cloud in case my device fails or is stolen. Within minutes I could install onto a replacement iPad and be ready to perform. I’m not going back.

    • Bruce says:

      Good to hear from someone with real-world experience of the system.

      It is all-too-easy to imagine the performance disruptions that can happen if a system freezes. I guess the companies that make these applications realize that it will take years of flaw-free performance to make musicians truly accept them (as opposed to tolerating them because management has forced them down their throats).

      • Archie_V says:

        At the Bamberg concert mentioned above, the soloist’s screensaver apparently kicked in during one of the longer orchestral passages. Seriously!

        It’s obviously a development that will become standard procedure in time, but I agree that it should be a gradual – and very wary – process until the technology is just as foolproof and proven as the use of 100 pencils.

        • Scotty says:

          Apples and grapes. That was on laptops 18 years ago, not tablets now. Mac IOS apps can prevent the screen from going dark. I’ve played two-hour concerts free of the intrusion of flying toasters (to continue the anachronism).

  • Jean says:

    This will make audiences even more inclined to use their phones during concerts.

  • David Taylor says:

    In my experience the notes appear too small and not bright enough. It shouldn’t be mandatory.

    • Bill says:

      David, on an iPad Pro (12.9″ size), such as I have been using for this purpose for more than 2 years in both orchestral and chamber music, the active display area is essentially identical to the printed area on modern printed music. Measured on the diagonal, there’s about 1/2 inch difference on the Kalmus “Also sprach Zarathustra!” violin part I just grabbed for comparison purposes. The app I use (ForScore) has a feature for quickly expanding the page image so that any white borders around the music are not displayed. I have this discussion frequently with people who see it for the first time and say “but the screen is too small” – and when we compare the actual display of notes on my screen and their printed part held up next to it, that objection goes out the window. Now, if the printed part is already pushing the limits of your ability to see, then I agree that this might be an issue, though there are other options, such as half-page viewing with the device in landscape orientation instead of portrait. Or moving to the last stand of the violas by yourself, as seems to be a time-honored tradition 馃檪

  • Cubs Fan says:

    I tried this, but soon sold the iPad and foot pedals. For me, the standard paper size that publishers like Breitkopf and Boosey uses (A3 I think) is easy to read and gets a lot of music on one page. Plus you can always see two pages and that looking ahead to remind yourself of tricky parts coming up is quite useful. Using the iPad, when a phrase in the last bar of a page continues on the first bar of the next page, that sudden switch becomes annoying and tricky. And I can’t stand the glowing page. Maybe someday they’ll make large screens, like two A3 pages in size, using that technology used in some e-readers which looks more like paper. Until then, I’ll stick with paper. It’s been good enough for 55 years of reading music.

  • Rosana Martins says:

    Some of the younger pianists use IPads instead of printed scores, like Trifonov and Geniusas.

  • anon says:

    Good, the next stage in technological advancement will be computer assisted conducting, for instance, for setting a tempo, the conductor is free to shape the phrases rather than the mundane task of beating time, and let’s face it, octogenarian conductors do not beat time well, their hands are shaking.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The beating of time is organically related to phrasing, you cannot separate the two. And then, time beating by conductors is only one of the many tasks, and differ with every work and with every conductor. It happens to be a human thing.

  • Kurt says:

    Soovin Kim uses an ipad instead of a printed score when he conducts. I saw a cellist use one at a chamber music concert this summer.

  • Kelvin Grout says:

    This afternoon I was coaching a duo in Brahms lieder and the pianist turned up with IPad and footpedal for page turning. All went well in an extremely fast song until I told him to use the left pedal on the piano. Chaos everywhere!

    • buxtehude says:

      That’ll show him!

      He’s lucky you weren’t George Szell; that pianist would be fired forever by now it not killed dead.

      • John Borstlap says:

        During the French Revolution any musician who indulged in a wrong note during the festive marches on the Champ de Mars got under the guillotine.

  • Holzauge says:

    To get serious, we鈥檇 need a dual-screen e-ink music reader like GVIDO but with display panels of B4 or 10×13鈥 in size. Not available for the time being. iPad Pro鈥檚 screen is simply too small. Music must be displayed in the size designated by the copyist. If that鈥檚 not possible, then no real future for the product in the orchestral field. Sorry.

    • Bill says:

      Tell us, which publisher is printing orchestral music where the actual printed music area (not page size) is B4 or 10″x13″?

      • Lachera says:

        1. Scanning may be quick, but scanning the complete performance material of a full opera isn’t quick. Not saying it is impossible, just wondering if you actually need more librarians to do the thing that going with paper.
        2. A4 is too small for orchestra materials. Even Breitkopf & H盲rtel materials, that have a relatively small page, need to be reduced a few points in size to fit an A4 page. Most materials need a big reduction in size to fit A4 – and suggesting players to buy stronger glasses a quick way out of their job to most librarians. You can actually print on A4 for orchestral use only those materials that were originally designed to be printed on A4 – and there are not many of them.

        • Bill says:

          We did Massenet’s Manon last year, which required me to scan a complete set of orchestra parts. Took about 2 hours. That’s about what it would have taken to make a set of photocopies of the marked parts, because the physical operation is the same – open lid, plop down page, close lid, press button, turn page, repeat until done. Except after I made the first set of photocopies, I would only have 1 copy of each part (when I say I scanned a complete set, I mean one of each individual part, not each of the 6 1st violin parts, etc.). And marking a fresh set of parts by hand takes multiples of that time.

          As for the size, when you eliminate the margins, the printed area filled with notes is close enough to the viewing area on the screen that you’re probably also marginal reading the paper copies if the electronic one is too small. If you scan a page with large margins and keep the large margins, then yes, the notes will be smaller. Don’t do that.

          Again, these are fine examples of “that may well work in practice, but it will never work in theory!” It is possible to come up with some corner cases that are problematic, but most stuff is not, and you can still use the paper if necessary.

          There has been a downside to going electronic for me. Now when I get to the end of a page of printed music, I tap my foot and expect the page to turn. It almost never does. This may be a first world problem.

          • Lachera says:

            Being a librarian for a major opera house, I have a fairly exact idea of the time needed to scan orchestra materials. I am very much afraid that using Ipads instead of paper, for the time being, means that more librarians are needed to do the same job. I can see Ipads working for small ensembles or soloist, but I have serious doubts about large orchestras with multiple programming.
            An A4 screen is too small. I know you can cut away margins and I can tell that, after cutting away margins, an A4 leaf is too small to reproduce a Breitkopf & H盲rtel orchestra part, the old ones with the angel on the cover that are the smallest parts in ordinary use. All other publishers (and even B & H in their later prints) use larger pages – and even cutting out margins you will have to seriously reduce the printed staves to fit them on A4. There is no way around it.

            I also wonder if consumer devices like Ipads are sturdy enough to withstand the battering that ordinary orchestra equipment in daily use in a large orchestra or opera house takes. Apple connection cables are a laugh, most cables in power chargers get destroyed in one or two years of personal use at home, how long would you expect them to last in an opera house where the orchestra placement is reconfigured once or twice daily?

    • John Borstlap says:

      The most advanced technology will achieve an extremely thin screen of only a couple of milimeters Durchschnitt, with a surface smooth enough and in the same time, rough enough to allow a wireless little wand with a sharp point to notate things on the surface which will be immediately included in the already offered musical text, and all without electric feed because the gadgets are so cutting-edge that they generate the needed energy through movement and the light falling upon the items. Of course it will be a quite expensive thing.

  • Joseph Shelby says:

    I guess my main concern is scale and compensation. The music publishing industry is still primarily organized, at the accounting level, on the sale of actual printed pieces of paper. When everything is on ipod, how does the orchestra, the app company, and the music publishing firm, negotiate the payments to ensure the composer (and publisher) is adequately compensated?

  • Robert Holm茅n says:

    I would think the small size of an iPad screen , even the largest version, would be an impediment, scrolling or not.

  • Tutti Flutie says:

    Not just pianists – Emmanuel Pahud uses an Ipad when he solos.

  • Mojah says:

    What happens when there鈥檚 a pops concert and you need a stand light or someone walks by your Ipad stand and accidentally knocks it over??

    • Bill says:

      I play an expensive, fragile instrument. If anyone is walking around anywhere near me, I put a foot on the stand foot to keep it stable in just such an occurrence because I don’t want it getting knocked into my instrument or bow. The iPad might well suffer damage if knocked to the floor, so keeping the stand from moving helps protect it at the same time. At break, I take the iPad off the stand if I won’t be there to protect it. I don’t need a stand light, as the music is lit from within.

      Musicians frequently leave large instruments on the floor. What if someone tripped or fell and damaged one? Maybe we shouldn’t use those instruments in concert unless we can afford to have some spares on hand…

      • Scotty says:

        And I use an actual iPod stand. The iPod is fixed to the stand and can’t be knocked loose. An especially clumsy person could knock the whole stand over. Such people shouldn’t be allowed near musical instruments.

  • Ben G. says:

    What a great idea! Imagine all of the time saved during rehearsals that can be put to good use such as longer coffee breaks. In addition, musicians can also put their cellphones on the stand while keeping up to date with their e-mails. Conductors will never know the difference!

  • Roberto Occhipinti says:

    All good, but playing from memory is even better. Soloists and orchestras like Tafelmusik and some string quartets are doing it as well, as most of the world outside of classical and theatre does too. Of course I have a memory like a sieve,but I was mightily impressed when I saw the Tafelmusic Orchestra play a whole program ,no conductor, and from memory.

    Just started using an Ipad myself for Jazz gigs.

  • Jack says:

    I never thought that sometimes awkward page turns that occasionally resulted in music falling on the floor as part of a performance, though I can see that John Cage would have delighted in such a notion.

    I never thought that a bad page turner’s inattention resulting in a pianist’s mistakes were part of the performance.

    Indeed, my Friends of Chamber Music has now had several featured performers using this technology in their performances and I have noticed no difference in the resulting quality of the performance.

    As I mentioned above, the introduction of electrical lighting into concert halls seems to have had the positive effect of allowing the musician to better see the music on the page. Perhaps the introduction of a technology which enables the performer to allow his/her hands to concentrate on the music rather than the logistics of having one of those hands perform two functions at once (playing and turning) might result in a better performance.

  • luigi nonono says:

    The intrusion of technology onstage is just one more step in its murdering classical music. It is completely unwelcome. It adds a layer of filtering, wherein the musicians are not merely playing the music, they are playing it through Apple or whichever manufacturer and software company they use, rather than a good music publisher and their printing. What happens when they fail? They will. The pages don’t always “turn” with one swipe or whatever you use. A harpist does not have their feet or hands available to advance pages. Is the software company paying for this? The fact that classical music is acoustic and NOT digitally produced is one of its most important elements. Are the parts always there for back-up and prepared for use? This affects everything, including the audience. I am disgusted.

    • Bill says:

      Ah, so if you listen to a performance on youtube or the Berlin Phil’s Digital Concert Hall, it is no longer worthwhile? That sound you hear was digitally produced. And much music that is printed today is done so by a digital process.

      Paper pages don’t always turn, either, and sometimes too many turn, or the part falls off the stand. Moving air can cause a part to fall or a page to turn. Unbound pages can get out of order. All of these things have happened to me in performance, and I’ve seen them happen to other musicians as well, some in viral youtube videos. We had a couple of double page turns at the first rehearsal until my stand partner and I agreed that I would turn pages with the foot pedal and she didn’t have to also turn the page by swiping (oops, 2 pages forward) and then we wouldn’t both try to fix the problem (oops, 2 pages back). No chance of instrument collision as someone leans forward to turn the page because no one has to lean at all.

      I’m curious – are the digital scores that I use from Henle and B盲renreiter somehow deficient in your eyes? Or do they not qualify as “good music publishers” in your opinion?

      Your objection about the harp player needing both hands and feet is precisely why one of the major page-turning gadget manufacturers offers a switch which can be operated by biting.

      I always get a chuckle out of these posts insisting on the impossibility of doing what I do nearly every day. And the vast majority of the musicians I see using such setups do so because they find it makes their life easier, not more difficult.

  • Peter says:

    Amazing to read these so earnest and sophisticated, and largely hypothetical defenders of the status quo. Its really simple, if it works people will use it more, if it doesn’t they will stop. Just wait and see.

    For me: I’ve used iPad music readers – it works fine, and it will get even better. I think I enjoy playing from printed scores more, in the same way that I enjoy reading a paper book more than an iPad, but both work, and younger people will adapt faster than oldies like me.

    Only the strenuously averse to change will dig their heels in, and the tides of change will wash past them. As always.

    • John Borstlap says:

      That last bit is a nonsensical ‘argument’. It is people who choose for something to be changed, or to remain intact, and it entirely depends upon the question what is the thing that is to be changed or to remain. The lemming-like adulation of change for its own sake is a modernist utopia, like the nazi ideology was, and the communist idea of an ideal society, or the corporate wild capitalism which destroyes the planet and human lives, or the idealism of the jihadists. We should be very careful with the notion of ‘change’. It stems from the quasi-contradition of ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ without the possibility of combining them (dentistry) or of improving and preserving the best (natural heritage, art).

      • buxtehude says:

        Jeez John I think you’re making way too much of a reasonable observation. Digital aides and modernism in music aren’t the same thing, they just aren’t.

      • Peter says:

        Brilliant reply John, which wins you the Godwin’s Law prize for this discussion.

        Try writing that in clear English and see if it still makes sense to you.

  • Aurelia Azoulay says:

    Hi everyone,

    My name is Aur茅lia Azoulay, and I am one of the Newzik co-founders.

    I am glad that this news generated such an intense conversation and put on the table so many relevant thoughts about technology and orchestras.

    I did my best to give you some elements of responses below. If your questions haven鈥檛 been covered, please ask, I am here to answer!

    (NB: sorry for my English, please excuse my French :))

    1) Is the technology ready for orchestras?

    When we started developing our reader app 6 years ago, we simply wanted to build a tool for performing musicians. At this time, we felt that providing a rock-solid software/hardware for orchestras was still challenging. Indeed, the available technologies and hardware weren鈥檛 reliable enough to meet the demanding orchestras鈥 needs.

    That is why the 2012 Brussels/Samsung iPad pilot that @Peter raised wasn鈥檛 actually a real success since the musicians experienced severe software freezes/crashes and couldn鈥檛 properly turn pages with a Bluetooth foot pedal.

    But in 2016, the release of the 12鈥9 iPad Pro completely changed the game.

    This same year, the Opera de Rouen contacted us to experience the iPad Pro concert, like Brussels did, but this time, with more preparation, a deeper collaboration and with a better device and a software team who was ready to build tailored features for them.

    And that鈥檚 how we started this amazing adventure with orchestras. The concert was such a success that we kept on making iPad project with Rouen, and had in 2 years no more than 50 iPad concerts with other different orchestras around the world.

    And today, the Orchestre national d’ile de France is the first one to implement the software/iPad for a full season.

    2) This leads me to a second important point: our technology is not just a fancy tool.

    This 鈥淥pera de Rouen鈥 pilot showed us (and them) how much having digital scores instead of paper scores saves so much time for the music preparation.
    The most obvious example is that the librarian doesn鈥檛 need anymore to spend extra-night replicating the concertmaster bowing in each physical part. But there are so many other heavy tasks that could be avoided with digital.

    By freeing-up the librarian from these repetitive tasks, we can let him/her do more added-value work linked with music.

    @SVM, you mentioned that 鈥渢he physical labour of making parts鈥 is an important understanding process. I strongly agree with you. And that鈥檚 why each string player has inside the Newzik app the liberty to re-write the bowing in its own layer from his iPad.
    Speaking of markings, I can confirm you that the Apple Pencil experience is incomparable, and the writing sensation is even better than in a paper (no latency at all) and that you can erase in one click, add colors, highlights鈥

    3) Now, let鈥檚 talk about the iPad size
    The iPad size is A4 whereas orchestral players are used to playing with at least B4 sheet music. We are completely aware of this since this software has been built by librarians as well.
    However, based on our many iPad orchestral concerts, I can confirm you than having one iPad per string player, closer to him/her is better than sharing a B4 sheet music. More, inside the software, the musician can enlarge the white margins in one click. We were also positively surprised to see some musicians turning the iPad in landscape mode and enjoy the pedal page turn.

    Lastly, the iPad size has never been an issue when we do concerts with Youth Orchestras. Not just because of the repertoire played (which sometimes, I agree, can still be an issue, especially for contemporary music), but because of the absence of psychological barriers. Younger generations were born with iPads and are studying music with iPads. Thus, playing with iPads is very natural and convenient for them.

    4) Last, let鈥檚 talk about publishers
    Surprisingly, publishers are in favor of our technology, and we are already partnering with the main ones.
    Indeed, sending a PDF by email is risky. And I understand why they currently refuse to do it. But sending a PDF into our protected platform will bring them even more security than shipping the music material. So the music publishing is moving, faster than what we think.

    4) A gradual accompaniment

    The implementation of iPads for such a heavy structure is not as easy as doing it for ensembles, that you can already see with iPads. Orchestras need an external help. And our team is here for that.

    That is why we invite volunteer orchestras to have an on-hands experience by providing them with iPads and by training the staff and the musicians. Naturally, this experience is not mandatory for all the musicians, and some of them can keep on reading with paper. After each experience, we send a satisfaction survey and analyze the answers with the management team to really understand what are the exact needs and feedback.

    I hope these answers helped you get a better understanding of our approach and main vision: accompanying orchestras into this inevitable transition, by giving them opportunities to use the Newzik software on iPads gradually.

    All the best,
    Aur茅lia from Newzik

    • Peter says:

      Excellent work. Best of luck.

      • Aurelia Azoulay says:

        Thank you very much Peter!

        If you want to be part of our beta tester community, please feel free to directly write to me at aazoulay@newzik.com.

        I would love to get your insights & improvement suggestions!

    • Dear Mr Azoulay,

      I had this idea in the 1980s and tred to interest some of the big companies like Sharp and Sony in the idea but it was an idea before its time. So glad that somebody has finally done it.

      I am the music director of the Torbay Symphony Orchestra (www.torbaysymphony.org) and we would love to ditch our music stands and havr iPads instead. In fact our leader already uses one 100% of the time and everybody who tries it thinks it is fantastic.

      There is huge potential here – for example, allowing the leader to put in a bowing and have that reflected immediately in all the other string desks.

      Also in contemporary music where synchronisation can often be a problem, a moving cursor might be a great help.

      There are lots of other areas too – great work! Would love to talk to you more about this.

      Thank you,

      Richard Gonski

  • Lachera says:

    Who told that having a conductor write directly on orchestral parts is a progress? Just think how many concerts get through in spite of the conducting.

  • Lachera says:

    And now the serious questions:
    1. what about librarians having to copy everything on PDF? Do not tell me this is an added-value work.
    2. what about publishers having their rental materials scanned?
    3. what about short sighted players always needing enlarged copies?

    • Bill says:

      Scanning is pretty quick – I do about 5 pages a minute on the BookScanner I use. Remember, while some amount of time is spent scanning, I don鈥檛 have to scan each and every string part, whereas it would be necessary to copy the conductor or principal鈥檚 markings into each one.

      A less-obvious advantage: a set of marked parts can be kept for each different conductor that might program the work, without having to purchase and maintain a complete new set for each conductor.

      Obviously, for rental music in copyright some agreement is necessary to stay within the law. However, there鈥檚 no wear and tear on the parts either, which is worth something to both parties. As long as sufficient parts are rented and electronic copies destroyed after use, a reasonable publisher/rental agent should be willing to play ball, especially if saying no means you program something else where they get nothing.

      A new prescription for appropriate eyeglasses seems like a useful step. I can鈥檛 recall ever seeing a professional group in performance where one of the players had much larger music. And what of your concern about duplicating rental parts there, hmm?

    • Bill says:

      Also, there鈥檚 little stopping a group from using paper parts for some works if that is necessary or more convenient, and going electronic where it isn鈥檛. Horses for courses and all that.

      • Aurelia Azoulay says:

        I couldn’t give a better answer Bill! I just add some other info for two of the questions

        2. what about publishers having their rental materials scanned?

        We are running very strict policies in terms of publishing copyrights and are always receiving the publishers’ authorization to use the digital version on iPad.

        3. what about short-sighted players always needing enlarged copies?

        On the contrary, they can zoom in on the ipad and see better their markings. They turn iPad in landscape mode to get an enlarged version.

  • her royal snarkiness says:

    From a practical standpoint, how does this work when players share a stand and/or are some distance from the stand? btw, I think an unacknowledged improvement is the wireless stand light. Elimitnates a major headache of pit work.

    • Aurelia Azoulay says:

      We did many iPad concerts in the 2 configurations:

      1) One iPad for 2 string players.
      And this works like in the traditional way. One player uses the Bluetooth Foot pedal to flip pages. We have inside the Newzik app a way to let musicians turn “half of the next page” so that they can anticipate the music.

      2) One iPad for each string player.
      This is the choice of the Orchestre national d’ile de france for instance.
      It is what we recommend from far since each musician can now turn pages hands-free and enjoy making digital markings. He/she can put the iPad closer to him/her and turn it into portrait or landscape mode.

      You are absolutely right for the light! Having a backlit screen definitely eliminates the cable issues…

  • Peter Wagner says:

    Newzik is not a professional solution. First of all because it runs on a consumer device. Secondly scrolling the pages with a pedal is funny but it’s the only way with PDF files. PDF or photocopy is the same approach. They do not care about musical content. It’s managed like a text! Thirdly Newzik does not care about copyrights. I heard that publishers have initiated legal action against the company. Being professional costs a lot of money and selling an app for 鈧10 is not really the way to ensure sustainability.