I flippantly commented on Twitter earlier that StaffPad, a new music notation app for Microsoft Surface, had a likely audience of one—Alan Pierson, the lone musician Surface-owner I know. It’s easy to poke fun at dorky old Microsoft, but I’m genuinely just sore that I can’t try out the app. To expend as much development effort as StaffPad clearly has only to address the 2% share of tablets that run Windows seems like a risky business strategy, to put it mildly; I sincerely hope they’re successful, though, because promising new software in this category doesn’t come along often. The target audience is small to begin with, and the number of talented musician-programmers even smaller, I’d imagine.
Perhaps, though, StaffPad isn’t even meant for me. It doesn’t appear to have real engraving capabilities (it lacks, fir example, cross-staff beaming—a relatively basic feature) and therefore wouldn’t obviate my need for Sibelius. Yet it also can’t export a Sibelius file—only MusicXML, which is far too rudimentary to be useful, in my experience.
But I have wanted a way to “do music” on my phone and iPad for awhile, and nothing I’ve seen has quite fit the bill.
The hypothetical software I’ve been imagining is far less elaborate—a companion to big notation programs rather than a replacement for them. The interface would be a blank sheet of music paper, and you’d just draw on it. Notes, shapes, pictures, text, whatever. Add a simple filing system, to keep all your related sketches together, along with voice memos and photos. The result would be the digital equivalent of a music Moleskine, or like a musically-oriented Vesper. Maybe it could have some kind of handwriting recognition to clean up the input a bit.
Fully expecting like a dozen venture capitalists to get at me right after I hit publish on this. It’ll be the next Facebook, I tell ya!