Scanning music with sharpeye:
some tips

Scanning music into MOZART requires some attention to detail.   Here we present some tips for doing it using SharpEye.  If you use one of the other scanning packages mentioned under scanning,  the principles behind some of these steps may be still be useful.


Firstly, the steps below are how I do it.  There are many variations on these which also cover the important principles, and so they are by no means prescribed.   The steps are

Create graphic images of each page

Use your scanner to create a monochrome image of each page of the music in .tif or .bmp format.  This may be done with the software which comes with the scanner, or also with the aid of graphics software.   We shall consider these images the starting point for our considerations below.

It is useful to name the files from the various pages of music with a numbering system - something broadly like myPiece01.bmp myPiece02.bmp,  myPiece03.bmp, ...   I'll use these names here as generic examples.

Read the graphic image files

The above files are just a collection of black and white pixels - they contain no actual music information until one tries to discern what the pattern of pixels means.  The job of a music OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program is to turn this into a collection of recognised staves, clefs, notes etc.

Using SharpEye, it is done as follows:

  1. Launch SharpEye
  2. Use SharpEye's File/Open Image command on myPiece01.bmp. [The image is shown it its own window.]
  3. Use SharpEye's Read/Read command.  [After a short wait while SharpEye goes to work, the music now also shown in SharpEye's main window.]
  4. Save this using SharpEye's File/Save Music command.  It will be saved as myPiece01.mro - a file in SharpEye's own format, containing all the music information which SharpEye has detected in the image.
  5. Use SharpEye's File/Open Image command on myPiece02.bmp and repeat the above steps until you have files myPiece01.mro myPiece02.mro,  myPiece03.mro...  [These contain the musical information, but we still have to get them into MOZART.]

Correction and concatenation

At this point two potential problems must be overcome:

  1. Pages 2 onwards will probably not start with a time signature. This may cause MOZART problems if you try to import them by themselves. The answer is to concatenate the music from the different pages, before attempting to get the music into MOZART.
  2. Scanning music is a very difficult problem and, depending on your image, there will be more or fewer errors. Rhythmic errors (the wrong number of beats in a bar) will cause MOZART real problems. MOZART may delete a whole bar's worth rather than allow incorrect beat count. It is therefore important to correct the errors in SharpEye before attempting to import into MOZART.

These concatenation and correction steps can be done in either order: concatenate myPiece01.mro, myPiece02.mro, myPiece03.mro,... into myPiece.mro and then correct it, or correct each of myPiece01.mro, myPiece02.mro, myPiece03.mro,... save the corrected versions, and then concatenate into myPiece.mro. I'll adopt the first method here:

To concatenate:

  1. Open the first page myPiece01.mro with SharpEye's File/Open Music command. If SharpEye's window is already showing a piece of music, you will be asked whether this should replace, or append to, existing music. Choose replace.
  2. Use SharpEye's File/Save Music As... command to save it with a new name. I use myPiece.mro (to match the others but with no digits in the name).
  3. Open the second page myPiece02.mro with SharpEye's File/Open Music command. This time choose append.
  4. Open subsequent pages in order each time choosing append.
  5. Use SharpEye's File/Save Music... command.

Correcting scanning errors:

At this stage myPiece.mro will have the whole piece but there will still, in general be scanning errors. Experience suggests that the commonest ones will be:

  • Missing or wrong key signatures at the start of lines
  • Rhythm errors (beats don't add up) in some bars.
  • Missing or wrong accidentals on some notes

The first two in particular must be corrected at this stage. MOZART will have problems importing it if they are not.

All are straightforward to correct (see the SharpEye help system) and in particular SharpEye highlights rhythm errors with blue arrows at the end of each suspect bar.  Often it is just a question for example of turning a quaver into a semiquaver or adding a dot to a note.   Rhythm and key signature errors must be corrected at this stage. MOZART will have problems importing it if they are not.  Some of the other errors can be corrected later in MOZART.

Having corrected the errors, save myPiece.mro

Importing into MOZART

This is done in the following steps:

  1. Save the file in NIFF format (Notation Interchange File Format) creating the file myPiece.nif.
  2. Launch MOZART
  3. Use MOZART's command File/Import/Import NIFF to open the file (or simply drag it from a Windows Explorer Window and drop it into MOZART's main frame window).
  4. When MOZART has converted the file, use MOZART's File/Save as... command to save it as in MOZART's own format.

You now have the basis for editing the piece further.

Further editing

In case some scanning errors have been missed it is useful to:

  1. Set the desired tempo at the start
  2. Set a swing factor if desired
  3. Play the piece

This can highlight any further adjustments which are necessary - especially missed accidentals, or other small things which are sometimes difficult for scanning to detect - like dots on repeat bars, first and second time bars etc.

I am often going to use the scanned music as the basis of an arrangement. To this effect I start a new piece in MOZART with the appropriate file template, and copy and paste passages from the scanned music.



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