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As a chorus and opera singer, I frequently download public-domain scores in PDF form and read them with my iPad. There is a built-in PDF reader on the iPad, and it is serviceable for music performance. But there are flaws:

  • Some PDF files containing high-resolution scans of the score take a long time to display. The degree of lag is a function of how the PDF file was made. In some scores it seems like the page starts off blurry and comes into focus.
  • It's difficult to jump to arbitrary points in the score (e.g. director says, "let's skip to page 166", those with books turn easily, I fumble fumble on the iPad)
  • It's hard to add bookmarks to PDF files to correspond to rehearsal numbers, to speed up jumping to points in the score.
  • There's no way I know of to make annotations on the score during a rehearsal, even an "x" to say "review this later".

A good PDF score-reading app for iPad would fix these problems:

  • App should read ahead in the PDF file, digesting the next couple of pages of the socre, so that when I turn to the next page it appears instantly -- for all PDF files, even those with high-resolution scanned images.
  • Easy ways to jump to page numbers and rehearsal numbers quickly, while rehearsing.
  • Ways to add bookmarks to scores for rehearsal numbers
  • Some way of annotating the score.
  • I can think of many features which would make the app even better.

Can any of you recommend iPad apps which work well for you as PDF score readers?

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forScore

This is the app I use--it's extremely stable and has a fantastic feature set. Only $5, too. What initially drew me to it was how easy it is to get files into the app--you can download them from a URL, from your Dropbox, upload from iTunes, use a built-in store, take a picture of a physical score with your iPad's camera... There's also a neat feature to share scores with other iPads over Bluetooth--something I've on occasion done with my piano teacher.

I don't even use all of the many features, but it's an app designed specifically for PDF sheet music reading and performance, so here are some I know off the top of my head:

  • Lots of options for metadata, categorizing, and bookmarking exist.
  • Annotations are built-in and very easy to use.
  • It's got a handy "performance mode" that disables extra functions except for the page turns.
  • It can even make use of a Bluetooth foot switch accessory for page turning.
  • You can rearrange/duplicate/crop the pages of your PDF so you have a linear set of page turns to deal with cuts, repeats, and codas.
  • You can bind page turns to an audio track for rehearsal or performance purposes.
  • Built-in metronome and pitch pipe for rehearsal purposes.
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  • +1 For a bluetooth foot switch. It's really going to be the year of bluetooth LE as people figure out how to use iOS and interact with the physical world. – bmike Jan 4 '13 at 17:37
  • I love ForScore. I've generally found it very full-featured and easy to work with for everything from leadsheets to book-length opera scores. – Marnen Laibow-Koser Mar 24 '14 at 0:15

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