I was recently arranging Moonlight Sonata for two guitars with MuseScore. I had a PDF of the original score for piano but wasn’t able to open PDF in MuseScore. This is because a PDF or photo of sheet music is an image, and you can’t import PDF in MuseScore directly. I decided to use PlayScore 2, an ‘optical music recognition’ app.

OMR works by reading music notation in documents, which can take a PDF or photo image and produce a machine-readable version of written scores. This is also referred to as ‘optical character recognition’ or OCR. PlayScore 2 is a great way to convert PDF into MuseScore compatible XML. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a computer language for data and you can open XML in MuseScore quickly and easily. In order to scan sheet music into MuseScore I decided to use PlayScore 2 to scan my Moonlight Sonata PDF and then saved it as XML.

I now wanted to open XML in MuseScore. I opened the programme on my computer and chose the option “load score from file” which was the 2nd icon in the top left. I selected my saved XML file and this brought the piece up, which meant I could edit in MuseScore and start working on my arrangement straight

Scan Music into MuseScore

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PlayScore for Windows

The App That Sight Reads Sheet Music.

For the job I was doing arranging for guitars I had to edit instruments in MuseScore and ensure these were now in the correct treble clef with an octave below. To change the instruments I had to right click on each stave, and then select ‘Stave/Part Properties’.

Scan Music into MuseScore

This meant I could now change the right hand of the piano into a guitar. I repeated the process by right clicking the left hand stave, and I was now well on my way to turning a solo piano piece into a guitar duet.

Next I headed to the Palette controls to the left of the score. Here, I slowed down my tempo to Adagio, and checked that my clefs were correct.

Scan Music into MuseScore
Scan Music into MuseScore

I wanted to put the music in the more guitar-friendly key of A minor. It’s easy to transpose music in MuseScore, just click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Transpose’ and you are given the option of choosing a key, or moving by degrees. I could playback the music after each change to hear how it sounded in different octaves, and experiment with moving it up or down to find where I wanted it to sit. The piece was already coming together and I was able to get notes into MuseScore and start arranging straight away.

Scan Music into MuseScore

It’s simpler than ever to scan scores into MuseScore – if you want to convert PDF to MuseScore quickly and accurately, PlayScore 2 can do the job. I found the process of using PlayScore 2 to scan sheet music into XML meant that my piece was ready for me to edit in MuseScore incredibly fast. Compared to the ‘old school’ way I had to laboriously add a note to MuseScore in order to transcribe entire pieces, being able to scan music with PlayScore 2 has been a complete game-changer: I can now begin the creative aspects of my music arrangement in a matter of minutes. With PlayScore 2, transferring printed scores into MuseScore costs just a few dollars and you can download the app for free.