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At the start of a recent concert in Seattle, pianist Christopher O’Riley strode onto stage with an unusual accessory tucked under his arm. Rather than the typical book of sheet music, O’Riley carried an Apple iPad, which he handily placed on the music rack. A pair of electronic pedals on the floor interfaced wirelessly with a musical score app on the iPad, enabling O’Riley to electronically flip through the music during his performance.
This high-tech page turning setup is gaining popularity among musicians around the world. iPads and other tablet devices are becoming frequent concert hall companions for classical musicians, eliminating the need for paper scores and human page turners. The trend is even beginning to take hold among the ranks of high-profile performers. In 2012, the Washington Post brought attention to page turning technology with a profile of pianist Sam Haywood, who regularly tours and collaborates with violinist Joshua Bell.
For many classical musicians, page turns are an inevitable inconvenience. Flipping between pages in a concert setting can be tricky, distracting, or downright disastrous. In the classical piano world, it’s standard practice to hire a page turner for a concert. In an orchestral setting, stand partners allocate page turning duties — one musician stops to flip the page while the other keeps playing. Sticky pages, books that don’t lie flat, and dense chamber music or orchestral scores are just a few of the potential hazards.
In recent years, a host of digital music readers have appeared on the market, providing an alternative to troublesome paper scores. The growing popularity of tablet devices has made music-reading software more accessible and efficient. With their portable form factors and intuitive touchscreen interfaces, tablets are the ideal device for digital scores. In recent years, many software companies have jumped on the digital score bandwagon, developing apps that make it easy to read and annotate musical scores on a tablet device […]