Reviewed by Roger Maycock
Aside from practicing, one of the most time-consuming tasks musicians face is that of producing clean scores. While notation programs have, in recent years, enabled musicians to compose with the computer, the prospect of converting published sheet music into electronic form has been severely limited.
If you have a computer and a scanner, you're just one step away from resolving this issue. Musitek's SmartScore, avail-able for both Mac and PC/Windows on the same CD, is the answer to the daunting challenge of electronically importing sheet music. With very modest system requirements and a surprisingly simple installation process, SmartScore enabled me to scan Mozart's Minuetto Allegretto with my HP ScanJet 6200C scanner in a matter of moments, correct a few minor interpretation points and play the file via my computer's soundcard. And I printed the notation, saved a MIDI file and exported this piece into Coda's Finale 98d &endash; all without ever cracking the manual.
SmartScore's approach is quite intuitive. After placing the sheet music on the scanner, a click of the Scan button enabled me to preview the file until I had satisfactorily positioned the paper. After scanning, the program first saves the document as a TIFF file, and then immediately interprets the file and saves it again in its own proprietary ENF format. While working on the file, you view a split screen that shows the scanned image on top and the interpreted file below. As you scroll either window, the corresponding window follows, enabling you to inspect the file in either format and check for errors.
I must emphasize that SmartScore interpreted this sheet music extremely well. On the included Quick Start card, I discovered that pressing "X" on my keyboard enabled me to delete errors simply by clicking on them. Similarly, pressing "C" enabled me to change or insert notes &endash; accomplished by clicking on the desired note value to the left of screen and then clicking on the lower staff where I wanted to make my correction.
SmartScore has an extensive feature set. The application recognizes and plays back repeats, dynamics and articulations, has automatic recognition and display of contrapuntal voices with direct voice-to-MIDI channel linking, provides automatic instrument assignments according to the number of staves, and offers automatic linking of collapsing and expanding parts to MIDI tracks while maintaining play-back continuity. SmartScore enables you to create engraver-quality scores using your mouse, keyboard, MIDI instrument, MIDI file or scanner as the input device. You have complete control over page layout and spacing, along with instant part and voice separation. Additionally, SmartScore imports standard MIDI files to display, transpose or print out. And with Coda's new Finale 2000C, it's now possible to import SmartScore music pages with all page formatting intact.
With its intuitive interface, abundance of professional features, the ability to edit either notation or MIDI data, and a well-written manual, SmartScore is worth its weight in gold.