We keep our interface clean and simple, so you may not notice just how robust forScore really is until you start exploring. Once you do, you’ll see why we always say “your suggestions are how we make better products.” Many of the app’s key features come directly from our customers, so chances are we’ve got what you’re looking for, and probably a few things you never even considered.
When it comes to annotation, forScore’s flexibility is unparalleled. Create and edit an unlimited number of fully customizable drawing presets. Add text to your page with adjustable font styles, colors, and sizes, and leave clumsy controls behind: forScore’s text boxes adjust their height automatically as you type. Place common musical notation symbols on the page with our unique stamps feature, and even draw or import your own designs with our built-in stamp creator. With features like snapshots, undo/redo support, stamp tinting, and the ability to view embedded PDF annotations, it’s easy to see why forScore’s annotation support is simply the best in its class.
Use setlists to group and arrange scores manually, like playlists in iTunes. View and play through them in their original order or sorted alphabetically, by least-recently played, or on shuffle. Create as many as you like and share or duplicate them as needed.
Links & Rearrange
Handle repeats with style by creating a link between two pages of a score. Tap on a link, and you’ll be taken to the target page where a signal will flash twice, showing you exactly where to begin playing. If you don’t have a free hand or you need to make bigger changes to the overall layout of your score, use the Rearrange tool to reorganize, duplicate, or delete pages of a score and then flip through them in order (perfect if you’re using a page turner).
Don’t worry if you’ve got one long PDF file with multiple songs within it—with forScore you can create a bookmark for each piece and it’ll appear in your library just like any other file. Think of it as a virtual score that has its own metadata, annotations, links, and notes, and can even be added to a setlist independently of the PDF it comes from. If the master file has a table of contents, you can also use that information as a starting point for creating your bookmarks.
If you have an audio track in your music library for a particular score, track binding makes it easy to listen while you follow along, to use a backing track, or to loop a section while you practice. Use the metadata panel to find the right track (or tracks), and forScore’s media playback controls will automatically take care of the rest. Whenever you open that score, the audio track will be queued up and ready to go.
With seventy updates in our first three years, it should be pretty clear that we don’t ever stop thinking about how to make forScore better. It’s not always about adding features or fixing bugs, though, a huge portion of our development time is spent finding smarter, more efficient ways of doing things. There’s no such thing as ‘done’ for us, and since every customer gets free updates for life, you can rest assured that forScore will only get better with age.
Sure, it’s a mouthful, but our caching system is one of the most essential parts of the app. We can’t upgrade your iPad’s hardware, but we can make sure that every second of downtime is used wisely. We always cache the previous and next pages of your score and, if there’s time, up to twenty pages in either direction. If the iPad starts to run low on resources, we step back and make sure the essentials are covered. It’s the best kind of help—there if you need it, but never dragging you down if you don’t.
We know how important it is to be able to take notes quickly, and what might work for an iPhone or iPod Touch app just won’t scale up to the huge number of pixels on a retina iPad. That’s why we’ve taken the time to test all sorts of different approaches for our drawing engine, coming up with a solution that’s measurably better than most alternatives.
If there’s anywhere that performance really matters, it’s with a metronome. Even a few milliseconds of drift can add up, which is why we’ve re-written our metronome engine from scratch four times. Each version was more accurate than the last, but we didn’t stop until we had something that really shines (or ticks, rather).
For us, it’s everything. What the app looks like, how you work with it, how we can keep things simple and clear—user experience is more than just a tagline, it’s the whole point.
From the start, forScore was designed to put your music front and center, without any distractions or clumsy controls. There’s no way around it, though: the iPad’s display is smaller than a typical sheet of paper, which is why we’ve included two tools to help you get rid of margins and take advantage of every inch of screen real estate. If all of your margins are about the same, you can set a zoom level for all pages at once. If any page needs more precise positioning, the crop tool is right for the job—it’ll even scan your page and automatically suggest the optimal crop zoom and offset!
When you turn your iPad sideways, some apps use the extra width to show you menus that you may not always need. With forScore, you get a better view of your score instead: the page expands so that the width fills the longer side of the screen, and the rest of the page extends down beyond the bottom edge. Drag the page up and down as needed, or tap and swipe like you normally would and the software pages up and down automatically.
If you prefer, you can use an optional two-page landscape view instead and get a broader overview of your scores. It’s easy to switch back and forth, too, with a toggle built right into forScore’s main toolbar.
There’s no such thing as a flawless gig, but we’ve seen musicians use forScore in all sorts of places and we know that’ll only become easier as Apple continues to improve the iPad’s hardware. We’re not waiting around until then, though, we’ve done a number of things to earn musicians’ trust:
Whenever possible, we use background threads to do the heavy lifting so the app is always responsive and smooth. From rendering pages to saving setlists, the app handles the legwork without slowing you down.
It’s easy to use up resources on an iPad, but giving them back when necessary can be tricky. That’s why we pay special attention to context and usage patterns, so we can make better judgements about what to keep in memory, what to offload, and why.
It may not be flashy, but data storage is the heart of most apps. Starting with forScore 5, we’re using Apple’s Core Data framework for the best possible combination of integration, efficiency, speed, and reliability.
A music reader is only as good as its content, which is why we’ve made it easy to add your own files, find new ones, and share them with colleagues and friends.
From the start, we decided to build forScore around PDF files instead of a proprietary format. We know that people’s needs change, and that digitizing your library can be a big undertaking, so we want you to be able to use those files for years to come.
The World's Library
Websites like the Mutopia Project and the International Music Score Library Project give you instant access to a huge collection of public domain scores. With forScore, you can use our in-app web browser to find and save new music to your library in seconds, or check out our storefront for even more great content.
Email your scores, send them to other PDF-compatible apps, share them with other nearby forScore users via Airdrop, upload them to Dropbox, or print them out with AirPrint. If you’re working with other forScore users, you can send a special 4SC-format file that contains annotations, metadata, links, notes, and more.
You can store thousands of scores on your iPad, so being able to browse through them or find a particular one in a hurry is essential.
It starts with libraries, the broadest way of categorizing your scores. Create a library for each band you’re in, each instrument you play, or for each musician that uses your iPad. Scores can be part of one or more libraries if needed, and a single, default library lets you work with everything on your iPad at once.
Our metadata panel lets you see and edit all sorts of information about each item in your library. Add an unlimited number of comma-separated composers, keywords, and genres. Set a rating, difficulty level, and key to find a piece that’s just right. Use each score’s duration to gauge the total play time of a setlist. Batch edit multiple files at once, and even import standard PDF metadata like title, author, subject, and keywords.
With forScore, your menus are always up to date because they show attributes instead of locations. Since one file can have many different attributes, it can appear in several different lists simultaneously, and you can focus on what you want instead of where you left it.
Most of forScore’s menus also include a search function, allowing you to quickly narrow down your lists to find a particular piece. You can also use the app’s global search panel to find a score, action, setlist, or category.
No more clipping pages to your stand to keep them from flying away with the breeze. Forget trying to hone ninja-like reflexes just to keep up. Tell the page turner to take a break. With forScore on your iPad, you’re ready to leave it all behind.
Page turns can be more than just distracting or annoying, they can be impossible when you’ve got your hands full. That’s why we’ve worked closely with several companies to bring hands-free page turning to forScore from the start. A Bluetooth page turner makes page turn pauses a thing of the past—set it on the ground next to you, and tap the pedals with your foot to flip between pages. You can even assign specific tasks to auxiliary pedals, giving you instant access to the tools and menus you use most often.
If you’re playing in a group, Cue might be just the thing. A leader handles program changes and page turns, and nearby iPads can follow along automatically.
If you’re using forScore’s built-in metronome, automatic page turns are a great option. Type in the number of beats or measures on each page of your score, start the metronome, and the app handles the rest.
Links are a great way of handling repeats, but you’ll still need to reach up and tap the screen to use them. For a truly hands-free experience, the rearrange function is a much better option. Move, duplicate, and remove pages as needed until you have a PDF you can play by flipping straight through. You can even use the white marker annotation preset to cover up parts of each page that you won’t need on each pass.
Sure, you can use forScore without them, but these gems are easy to love and you might just discover a few new essentials.
See the bottom half of the current page and the top half of the next page at the same time for zero visual interruption.
Add placeholders to your setlists to play a song from memory or to remind yourself when it’s time to take a break.
Set a page number offset for any file to stay in sync with your peers, even if their copies contain extra introductory pages.
Work through tricky measures with our virtual piano keyboard featuring a full 88-key range and optional note labels.
Digitize any score in seconds by snapping a photo of each page with the iPad’s camera (requires an iPad 2 or newer).
If you’ve ended up with separate PDF files for one piece, you can easily combine them right from the score menu.
Start off on the right note every time with this integrated version of our iPhone and iPod Touch app, Pitch, Please!
Limit access to certain functions and set a passcode with in-app restrictions. (Great for teachers!)
Create and switch between up to 24 independent sets of annotations, metadata, and more for each item in your library.
Upload and download scores, setlists, and backups from your Dropbox account, built right into forScore.
Use the notepad and optional banner-style reminders to type in important details about each page.
Use the iPad’s screen mirroring feature (iPad 2+) or our own custom video output to see your score on the big screen.
There’s a lot more to a great app than its feature list, though. We launched forScore in April 2010, alongside the first iPad, and we’ve never stopped trying new things, pushing our limits, and finding creative new ways of solving problems.
It’s easy to copy a great feature, check off a box, and move on (so many of our competitors do). In fact, many of our best features have become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to tell who came up with it in the first place. We love it.
We love the competition, too, but we’re not here to settle for good enough, to fix a symptom instead of truly understanding the perspective behind it, to follow, or to take your money and run. We know that every feature copied is a missed opportunity to innovate and find a better way of overcoming an obstacle. We work for you, and we can’t wait to show you what’s next.