Importing PDF of Scanned 18th Century Sheet Music Possible?

• Jun 10, 2021 - 15:53

Hello Musescore community! I am new to using this software and one of the features that drew me to it was its feature to import PDFs. I am working on a research project on the life of an 18th century printer named James Barry and he was a prominent fiddle player. It was my hope for this project that I would be able to take his written sheet music and convert them into a machine readable format. I took a scan of one of his pages of sheet music and used the import PDF feature, but unfortunately the software was unable to make out the notation. The written sheet music is pretty clean, but its possible that the software had difficulty reading the image. Now my question for this community is whether there is a way to improve the image quality some way so this music can be converted from a PDF to a Musescore file? Please forgive my inexperience with software like this, I am quite new. I appreciate any insight anyone from this community can provide me. Also below I have included an example of a pdf page I imported into Musescore.

Attachment Size
Barry_PDF_Example.pdf 2.2 MB


Handwritten notation is going to give fits to pretty much any scanning software. But simple examples like this would take only a couple of minutes to enter directly, that's bound to be much faster than searching for, installing, and testing various different scanning programs. Unless maybe you've got a thousand of these, which is of course possible.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you for the reply! This project has at least over a hundred different fiddle tunes like the one included in my post. It would have been easier if the PDF's could be read, but it looks like I will have to go the manual route for this one. Thankfully MuseScore is pretty straightforward for manual entry.

I have tried using commercial OMR software on very neatly written compositions dating from around 1900-1930. For a human reader the music is easy to read, even if you're not used to reading music from an original handwritten manuscript.

For me the claimed software recognition of handwritten music unfortunately didn't work, although I get excellent results with OMR when using scans of printed music. So in my case OMR of handwritten music was an interesting (but expensive) experiment which turned out to be a failure!

In reply to by CalMcClelland

"Do you mind me asking which OMR software you used for your experiment?"

This was almost three years ago, so it's quite possible that things have moved along since then. The software I used back then was PhotoScore 2018.7 (8.8.7), which works very well for recognition of printed sheet music.

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