scan score into MuseScore

• May 16, 2024 - 23:30

Can I scan a score into MuseScore that would allow me to make changes to notes and change key signatures?


You can scan it into a PDF file and then import it into MuseScore. It will be sent to where Audiveris is running. It delivers an xml file.

It is better to install Audiveris (free) locally (, where are possibilites to correct unrecognized notes, flags and so on.
But (AFAIK) it is only available for Windows.
Unfortunately, Audiveris is not very easy to use and you definitely have to correct many things afterwards, as some things are not recognized correctly. Sometimes it is quicker to transcribe a score manually than to correct the remaining errors.

There are supposed to be commercial programs that have a better recognition rate. But none of them are perfect. The big problem is the quality of the original.

In my experience, if the score is shorter than about 10-20 pages, you'll find it quicker and easier to simply enter the notes manually.

Best bet in that case is to enter it all with the key signatures given on the document, proof-read in the original key, then change key once you've got it all correct.

In reply to by TheHutch

"In my experience, if the score is shorter than about 10-20 pages, you'll find it quicker and easier to simply enter the notes manually."

Sorry, but I disagree on this point.

I still use SharpEye as my optical music recognition (OMR) software. That software is old-fashioned and cranky - it can't handle PDF files and works best with TIFF files. But for any music more than two pages, I usually capture the score with OMR. Depending on the quality of the original PDF, it's still worth converting from PDF to TIFF because the recognition can be 95-98% correct.

OMR often gets a bad name on the MuseScore forums, but my experience has been very satisfactory. SharpEye is extremely good on music recognition, somewhat less good on recognition of lyrics.

In reply to by DanielR

And I’ll second that comment. I use SmartScore 64 Pro, and I wouldn’t be without it. It also uses TIFFs, but it automatically converts the PDF. I’ve done hundreds of scores, and it’s saved me countless hours. The ability to spot and edit errors before going to the XML export is worth every penny.

The people who badmouth music OCR have only used the “black box” scanning programs that don’t give you any chance to fix the inevitable errors.

In reply to by DanielR

I used SharpEye something like 10-15 years ago. I found it horrible: it took two or three times as long to correct a CLEAN image as it took to input it manually. It hasn't been updated since before that (, so I wouldn't even take a chance on installing it now. Keep your virus scanner up-to-date!

I don't know whether I've ever tried SmartScore 64 Pro, but I have tried half a dozen others since SharpEye. None of them saved me even the time it took to install them.

I'm glad your experiences have been satisfactory, but don't belittle someone else's experiences when you don't know them.

In reply to by TheHutch

I’m not belittling anyone’s experience. I know exactly what you mean. Because I dealt with exactly the same thing, and had the same lousy results. The current version of SmartScore is a completely different animal. I’f you’d like to meet online off of the forum, I’ll be happy to demonstrate.

In reply to by frfancha

All programs have their pros and cons. To put it in black-and-white terms, MuseScore is a notation program, with rudimentary scanning capabilities, and SmartScore is a music OCR program with rudimentary notation capabilities. I realize that such an absolute statement isn't true. If either program will do all that you want, you can stop there. But, you will get best results by using both programs to their strengths. I use SS to get the correct notes and rests. Then, I take the XML into Finale, where I add text, articulations, lyrics, and so forth. This is where MuseScore can come into play, as well. The downside of SS is the cost, of course. Those of us who have paid for Finale for all these years may not balk at spending more for SmartScore (which offers a discount for Finale owners.) But since MuseScore Studio users pay nothing, they may not want to go for the big bucks.

Best suggestion would be to download a demo of SmartScore, and see how it goes for you. It is a fairly easy program to learn, but there is certainly a learning curve. I'm happy to help out anyone who wants a few tips to get started. And no, I don't work for them!

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