Musitek SmartScore is software for PC or Mac that allows you to convert printed sheet music into MIDI files.
Using SmartScore you scan sheet music into a black & white compressed TIF image which takes very little space on your hard disk. SmartScore then performs its recognition process where it analyzes the picture of the notation and converts it into a format which can be edited called an ENF file. The ENF screen shown in the left side of the screen shot above is where you compare the scanned picture of your music (the upper window with a tan background) with the ENF editable notation directly below (the lower window with a white background). This is where you correct any mistakes SmartScore has made in interpreting the scanned image. You can also add or change notes and symbols. From the ENF window you can play back the music using the space bar or bring up a control panel which allow more parameters and more precise playback control. While in the ENF window your music is played back by a temporary conversion to MIDI. If you want to actually create a MIDI file you can export directly to a MIDI file (a new feature in version 1.1) or tell SmartScore to create a separate MIDI file which can be edited in the MIDI window.
These windows are separate and independent but one can be used to update the other in either direction. One drawback is if you use the MIDI view to update the ENF view then the image of your original scan will no longer be visible as a reference. This makes some sense because it will no longer reflect the source data since the source is no longer a scanned image but the MIDI data from the MIDI window which has presumably been altered from the originally scanned piece. This means you will want to be sure you are done correcting any scan recognition errors or adding any symbols from the original scanned image before you start handing data back and forth between the ENF and MIDI views unless you are only handing data from the ENF view to the MIDI view.
Since I began this review I have put SmartScore SmartScore through testing with a wide variety types of sheet music but so far the results are amazingly accurate. Since version 1.2 it seems more stable and even more accurate. Some of its problems with adding bar lines that were difficult to remove seem to have been fixed. On occasion I had to remove some overlapping notes before it would allow me to remove an extra bar line but putting the notes back is pretty easy. One important thing to consider is that a very accurate recognition may still sound pretty bad when played back initially. This is because a single note out of place will often cause SmartScore to add additional beats to a measure. In cases like this you will often find that correcting a dozen notes will cause the music to playback quite well. SmartScore has no choice but to pay attention to contrapuntal voicing so fixing a recognition errors is often not as simple as changing a single note. A stack of notes (a chord) in a single conrapuntal voice are considered by the program to be a single object and you may have to delete the whole stack and reconstruct it to fix a single note. A recognition mistake can also force SmartScore to interpret the music (correctly) as though there is an additional contrapuntal voice. In cases like this fixing or removing the offending note is often enough to restore the interpretation to the right number of contrapuntal voices but often you will have to make some additional adjustments to move things back into their proper voices. SmartScore allows for four contrapuntal voices per system which is reasonable given that musical notation is typically limited to upper-staff-stem-up, upper-staff-stem-down, lower-staff-stem-up and lower-staff-stem-down. Remember that contrapuntal voices can be polyphonic so this does not mean you are limited to four individual voices per system.
Smartscore can be set up to play individual contrapuntal voices on separate instruments on separate MIDI channels even if they are on the same staff. This carries over the the MIDI file export so that these voices will end up on separate MIDI channels and/or tracks when imported into your sequencer depending on how your sequencer handles importing of channelized data. This is a very nice feature of the program but it has a weakness. If you have a piece of music written for only one or two contrapuntal voices and you want the four notes to go to four separate MIDI channels then you have to alter the actual notation to show four contrapuntal voices instead of one or two. In cases where you have stacks of no more than two notes in a chord within a single contrapuntal voice this is made easy by a SmartScore tool just for splitting these stacks in two. However, if you have more than two notes in a contrapuntal voice this tool will not work so you will have no choice but to delete these notes and re-enter then as separate voices. If your tune has a lot of this then it can be almost like entering the entire tune by hand.
I have not spent much time with the MIDI window but my initial explorations left me unimpressed. It may be good enough for a few simple edits and is definitely welcome if you need to edit the MIDI data and can not afford separate program. But as a sequencer it is the most rudimentary one I have every seen.
When taking all these observations into account SmartScore is still an amazing and fun program and it performs a task that no other program can do. This alone makes it worth buying and if you do I think you will be amazed at how well SmartScore work when you consider what it is up against. It can even do a passable job of recognizing hand written music so long as it is written neatly.
Probably the ultimate question is whether the time and work saved in using SmartScore versus direct note entry into a good sequencer are worth SmartScore's price. I say yes, absolutely!
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