Back in 2008, one of my first posts in this blog, I did a post on scanning and music notation software. The concepts and information in that post are still relevant. If you have sheet music that you want to scan in, using a scanner and converting them to TIFF files is the still the best option. See the post for details.

In this post, I focus on scanning in PDF files.

Scanning Software: Free or Fee?

The first step is to choose the software for scanning PDF files. As of now (April, 2014) the free version of Scanning that comes with Sibelius, Photoscore Lite, does allow for scanning PDF files.  The free version that ships with Finale,SmartScore Lite, does not.

TIP: With Finale, there is an option using the free scanning software that comes with the program: convert the PDF file pages to a graphic TIFF image and then read them into Finale. That’s a bit of a pain, but if you don’t have the money to purchase the full version of SmartScore, then this can get the job done. You can convert PDF to TIFF files using any one of many free options including websites and free PDF readers such as Preview for Mac and Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Paid/Pro Versions of Photoscore and SmartScore

If you do a lot of scanning and importing PDF files into Finale or Sibelius, then consider upgrading the Pro versions. I recommend downloading the demo and experimenting with it to see how it does with PDF files. If it is accurate for the music you want to scan, then purchase the full version of the software. The advantage of the Pro versions is they recognize text, chord symbols and much more and the conversion process is also more accurate.

Sibelius PhotoScore Lite and Photoscore Ultimate

With Sibelius and Photoscore Lite and Photoscore Ultimate, you launch a separate program and then import the PDF file. Once the PDF file is imported into PhotoScore, you can then correct any mistakes. The last step is to send the converted file to Sibelius. Consult the Sibelius manual for more information on the scanning process.

Finale SmartScore Lite and SmartScore Professional

First you must convert the PDF file to TIFF files using one of the options mentioned above. Then, import the TIFF files directly into Finale. Be sure to watch the scanning video that Finale produced.  With SmartScore Professional, you launch the program, import the PDF files and then edit any mistakes in SmartScore and then send the file directly to Finale.

Sources of PDF files

PDF files are ubiquitous on the Internet. And, there are many sites that feature PDF files of music in public domain so you can scan in the music without violating the copyright law. These sites include:

  • Choral Public Domain Library  Thousands of scores in PDF format, and some are in Finale and Sibelius format as well.
  • Petrucci Music Library (Almost 250,000 scores)  Mostly in PDF format. There are some MIDI files as well.
  • Google the name of the piece of music and the letters PDF.