I heard a segment on NPR the other day about the George Gershwin classic “Summertime,” in which the cultural reporter Sara Fishko noted that the song has been performed in many different summer settings, from the Carolina coast where Gershwin wrote it in the 1930s, to the Woodstock festival in upstate New York where Janis Joplin screeched it out in 1969.
But Ms. Fishko really grabbed my attention when she mentioned the somewhat remarkable fact that the song’s melody consists of only six notes. (Bonus: It’s written in the key of A minor, which means no sharps or flats.) As a not-so-talented pianist, this was too tempting to pass up. So in the spirit of summertime, I purchased the sheet music from Musicnotes.com and printed it on my laser printer. When downloading the sheet music, I noticed a tag that said, “iPad compatible.”
I grabbed my iPad and downloaded the free Musicnotes app. When I opened the app and signed in to my account, the app automatically downloaded my iPad-compatible purchases to the device.
Now the test: I had thought the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen would be too small for displaying pages of music. But I was wrong. The brightness of the screen made it easier to read the notes and there was no need for a lamp. A finger swipe lets you quickly turn pages without fumbling or having to weigh down fly-away pages. And no more chasing loose pages around the room when they fall from the piano.
This is a great use for the iPad I hadn’t yet considered, so I checked the Apple App store for similar applications. I found a few.
A Muzibook app provides one piece per download at $3.99 each. There are currently only 10 pieces available for the iPad, all classical. Another, a $4.99 app called ForScore, enables you to create PDFs of your own music and transfer the pieces via iTunes to the iPad.
MusicReader for iPad is free, but you must have the MusicReader Solo Basic ($59) or MusicReader Solo Pro ($99) installed on your computer (preferably a tablet device, although you can’t install the app directly on an iPad). MusicReader for iPad lets you transfer and view the music on your iPad.
Now, back to those six notes.