Saturday, July 2, 2011

Introducing IMSLP "Padrucci" for iPad

I remember the day that I first discovered the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)–about a month after it was established and launched online–sometime in early 2006. I knew at the time that it was the beginning of something huge.

The mission of IMSLP is "to create a virtual library containing all public domain music, as well as music from composers who are willing to share their work with the world without charge." What began with a music student in Canada scanning and digitizing public domain scores in his dorm room has grown in five years to a library downloadable sheet music that now includes 39,875 works, 98,278 scores, and 5,748 composers.

While IMSLP's "Petrucci Music Library" has been an immensely useful tool for research and performance, the mechanics of downloading and printing files remains cumbersome. The traditional method of purchasing clean and durable musical scores and books remains advantageous for a number of reasons.

This is beginning to change though. IMSLP has just recently launched the all-new "Padrucci" app for the iPad. It is currently available for purchase in the App Store for $5.99. Padrucci offers the entire Petrucci Music Library in a single, tablet-based solution. The benefit is obvious: The library of music is no longer a source for printing scores on paper, but is an entire library that is available at your finger tips, ready to be played or sung right from the iPad.

After I discovered this app this afternoon I downloaded it immediately and began to assess the interface and downloaded a few scores. The interface is very tasteful and rather attractive. The primary window lists tabs across the top which list the scores according to historical period, and in each case all of the composers from that period are listed in the main window. Upon selecting a composer you are able to view and download all of the available scores from that composer. Downloading is very quick and painless and the score is automatically added to your personal library on your iPad.

After downloading a few scores I immediately ran to the organ and put the iPad right on the console and began to play through a few pieces of Renaissance organ music. It was such a delight to navigate the score via the iPad, and turning pages is a breeze: a single swipe of the finger. My only real complaint is that the screen on the current iPad is really too small for many of these scores, many of which were notated for sheets of paper much larger than is available on the screen. I didn't entirely mind it however, and lighting is never an issue since the screen is back-lit and the brightness is controlled by the viewer. I think that this application will be infinitely more useful when the iPad or something like it is eventually released with larger screen sizes.

The application is only a month old, and it is clearly in an early stage of development. There is a tagging feature that does not yet seem to work, and a bookmarking feature which only cause the application to crash the few times I used it. There is important data missing from the interface still. I'm sure that all of this will be implemented/corrected in future releases. I am fine with this though because of my excitement about the potential for this app.

For the price, I would say that this is an essential iPad app for any practitioner of sacred music. It is only going to get better, and purchasing the app may also be support the development effort as it proceeds. Considering the mission of IMSLP, this is an inestimable gift to the Church and to the world. Please consider supporting the IMSLP Petrucci Music Library and all of the fantastic work that they are doing for the good of humanity.