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Importing from PDFs and photos

Soundslice lets you import PDFs and photos of sheet music, using a type of technology called Optical Music Recognition.

Our system extracts all of the musical information — the notes, pitches, rhythms, etc. — and makes it interactive, so that you can play back, edit, sync with audio/video and more.

Importing PDFs and photos is limited to people in a paid plan.

This import feature is in beta. That means we’re still actively working on it and improving its capabilities, but it’s good enough for people to start using.

Importing a PDF or photo

In your slice manager, click “New slice” and choose the “Start with a scanned image” option:

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You’ll see a simple page where you can choose a file from your computer/device for scanning. Upload the file and our system will get to work.

It can take a few minutes to process the upload, depending on the nature of your music. You can see all your pending uploads in the “Pending image uploads” section at the top of your slice manager:

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When our system is done, you’ll get an email notification with a link. We’ll also update the “Pending image uploads” section to say “Ready for your review.”

The review process

After your upload is done processing and you click the link to view it, you’ll be taken to the review screen. Here, our system might ask you a few questions about the music — things like “Does this notehead have a sharp sign in front of it?”

The number of questions depends on the quality of your scan and the complexity of your music. In some cases there might be many, but in other cases there might be few or none at all. Our system learns from everybody’s uploads and will ask fewer and fewer questions over time.

Note: It’s possible that our system will decide not to ask you any questions. Nice! In this case, you’ll be taken directly to the generated slice.

Editing your slice

After you’ve completed the review process, we’ll create a slice and immediately bring you into our notation editor.

This is our normal editor, with one exception: you’ll see your original upload in the bottom half of the screen:

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This lets you cross-reference between the generated slice and your original image, to spot-check for any errors or omissions. You can toggle the display of the original image by clicking “Show image” toward the top of the screen.

From here, you have a full-blown slice — so you can edit it, practice it, share it with students, etc.

Tips for successful imports

Our system is powered by sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms, so it can deal with lots of “cruft” on your scan or photo — much more so than other music-scanning software, in our experience. With that said, here are some guidelines on how to ensure high-quality imports:

  • Use typeset music. Our system doesn’t work with handwritten music yet — maybe someday!
  • Keep the outer edges of the notation visible. Make sure the notation isn’t cut off.
  • Make things relatively straight. We can deal with wavy and slanted images, but at least make an effort to make the staff lines reasonably level.
  • Use decent lighting. We can deal with poorly lit images, but brighter/clearer photos will make our system happier.
  • Use decent resolution. We can deal with low-res images, but higher resolution will get you better results.

Supported file types

We currently support the following:

  • PDF documents
  • JPG images
  • PNG images

Supported notations

Our system doesn’t yet detect every single type of music notation. In the vast majority of cases, you can use our editor to add any notations that weren’t detected.

For more information on supported notations, see our separate help page.

Usage limits

Uploading PDFs and photos is still in beta, and we’ve placed limits on its usage. They are as follows:

  • You can only upload one file at a time. Once you’ve uploaded, you won’t be able to upload again until it’s processed and you’ve completed the review process.
  • There’s a monthly limit on uploads. For the Plus plan, the limit is 5 uploads per month. For the Teacher and Licensing plans, the limit is 15 uploads per month.
  • We only process the first eight pages of PDFs. You can upload longer PDFs, but we’ll simply ignore any pages after the first eight.

We’ll probably increase these limits as the system matures. If you’re in a special situation requiring a significantly higher limit, please get in touch.

Is it possible to use the PDF (or photo) instead of Soundslice’s version of the notation?

Not at this time. Slices always use our own notation rendering engine, which enables things like zoom, transposition, focus mode, showing/hiding parts, expanding repeats and more.