Over the last few weeks, I’ve been testing out Notion for iPad.
Notation apps for iPad are getting pretty impressive these days but it can be hard to find the right one to suit your working style. Notion is a good cross-over for people who are used to software-based applications on their Mac or PC and want similar functionality on their iPad without handwriting recognition.
If you regularly use an iPad in your studio and are looking for an easy way to notate music in a professional way, I’d highly recommend checking it out. I’d previously struggled to get my head around Symphony Pro (which cost a bomb and is no longer supported in any case) and while Finale and Sibelius have music viewers (here’s a good summary of the options), nothing, in my opinion, has the functionality, features and ease-of-use of Notion.
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- Fully featured – this app can do everything!
- Unusual note heads? Done. Percussion notation? Done. Articulation and Dynamics? Sure. Ornaments? They’re all in there. Instrument-specific signs and symbols? Yup. Lyrics and chord symbols? No problem!
- The MIDI note input is excellent (i.e. you can connect your keyboard via USB and Apple Camera Connection Kit, and play directly into the software – fastest way of notating anything!). Although it doesn’t have a quantize function, it does allow you to select a ‘margin of error’ (minimum velocity and minimum duration) of between 20ms – 60ms when you record to allow for notes not being playing at exactly the right time or keys being accidentally half-depressed. This worked really well in testing and was a big feature lacking in Symphony Pro.
- The layout is easy to use once you know the main sections.
- There is a good help feature for when you can’t work out how to do something, including a quick overlay reference to show you what all the buttons do. I couldn’t instantly work out how to change key signature in the middle of a piece, but with a quick look at the in-built help file, I found where the key adjust was.
- The quality of the final print-out was excellent.
- Can output to lots of different formats incl wav, output to PDF/MIDI/XML, email, save to Dropbox, etc.
- I liked some of the tricks like “fill score with rests” and a number of other time-saving features.
- Recent updates have solved a number of bug and crash issues that have been reported in previous reviews.
Granted, I don’t need to notate on a daily basis, however when I need to quickly write and print something, this will be my first port of call from now on as it’ll be just as easy as (and far more professional than) hand writing.
Want to find out more? Check it out on the app store now.
What’s your favourite notation app?
Let me know below what you use for notation? Do you stick to Sibelius because it’s what you already know or are you venturing into the handwriting-recognition apps?
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary download of this app for review purposes. I was not required to write a favourable review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.
I’ve been trying Notate Me with moderate success. It most often recognizes my handwriting. I have been a Sibelius user for decades and find it hard to find something better (I know all the in’s and out’s). Looking forward to trying out Notion. Love that it works on the iPad.
I want a key of D major with guitar dropped d tuning. But for some reason I can not work out how to change the key signature to indicate this. Any help ideas. Thanks for any help
Sorry – I’d suggest you leave a support request. Not sure about that one Gavin.
Hi Coo, you can insert text into the Notion file and change font and size, but as Tim says, it might be easiest to export directly as a pdf from the app and insert into another document to format. To make an image instead, you can take a screenshot (press both buttons on the iPad together), and then insert the image into another document to crop and format. Any problems, drop us a line via Tim’s website, or on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, that’s really helpful. I appreciate it. It looks like a fantastic App!
Hi Coo – I haven’t tried making worksheets in the program but I imagine it would be better at making the music and then exporting the excerpts as PDFs or images and insert in a Word document or Publisher to format. If I get time in the next week, I’ll try it out for you!
Anyone else with experience in this?
That would be fantastic, Tim! Thanks very much. Coo
Hi Tim, I was wondering If you think this App would be useful for creating worksheets or is it more designed to create scores?
Yup – you won’t be disappointed! Enjoy it!
I just bought this app today so I’m glad to read such a positive review!