Sheet music of the future

Bring real-world functionality to digital sheet music with this unique software.

Leone's MusicReader is an excellent study in sheet music software. It offers the advanced annotating and editing capabilities of electronic sheet music in a format that can be optimized for performance or composition. To that end, it's designed to work with digital pens, touch screens, and Tablet PCs as well as laptops and desktops, with options designed for a variety of hardware configurations and environments.

MusicReader's extensive yet polite installer asks before installing extra features, such as print drivers and support for Tablet PCs, which are welcome options that not everyone will need. The installer also asks if you want to create a sheet music directory in Windows. The installation includes MusicConvert, a standalone utility for formatting and converting sheet music that can automatically save converted files in MusicReader's sheet music database. During installation, MusicReader also tests your screen's ability to rotate its display 90 degrees, from the typical landscape to portrait orientation, and when you first run the software, you're presented with five screen-orientation options. We chose the double-page view, which seemed well suited for a wide-screen LCD. Aside from an icon-based toolbar, MusicReader's interface is quite different from all other programs we've tested, with actual descriptions of each function written out in an elegant script. Nearly everything you need is right on the start page. Large bar controls toggle screen display functions like zoom and maximize/minimize. We like the optional, natural-feeling page-turning effects, similar to the increasingly popular electronic readers, with the added advantage of being totally silent in action, something any musician who's ever dropped a sheaf of sheet music during a performance can also appreciate.

This unusual but unique and effective software earns our eager recommendation. Though it's optimized for sheet music, it's hardly a one-trick pony, with easy-to-personalize features that can benefit everyone in the musical chain, from composer to arranger to conductor and performer, on stage or in the studio.

Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of MusicReader Solo Pro 3.55. The trial version has the following limitations: 21/30 days and 15 minutes notice.

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