After the much anticipated announcement of the release of the Apple tablet, the "iPad", yesterday - it got me thinking - will this finally be the step that makes digital music stands a reality? Perhaps with the price tag starting at $499 per iPad (likely much more in Canada), maybe not just yet. However, I can't help but to think of the future application as it applies to our industry.
The most obvious use will be the practical application. A musician could scan in their scores, carry the iPad to their gig, set it on a music stand and just go - no need for stand lights, no losing music, quick clicking through repeat sings, da capos, digitally mark up scores the way you like, with as many colors as you like, and delete old markings with ease. Turn pages with the touch of a finger, or even by a foot pedal if your fingers are in use. These programs already do exist (see this youtube video), but the hardware is bulky, requires cables, and you need to find a way strap your laptop sideways on the stand, or own the old generation bulky tablets that have not succeeded. Not to mention, the cost!
The iPad is smaller, thinner, and lighter. The iPad boasts a 10 hour battery life (that's four union services) plus wireless and bluetooth networking. The screen is slighter smaller than letter sized paper, 1 inch thick, and 1 1/2 pounds (perhaps a bit heavy to hold for a long time in a black folder) and full of all the toys that many of us know and love in our iPod Touch's or iPhones - including an intuitive operating system based on simple icons and touches. It also has the capacity of 64 gigabytes of flash storage. That's a lot of scores - my rough calculation - nearly 15,000 pages of music at high quality resolution (10 mega pixels) - perhaps up to ten times that at a lower resolution. One could conceivably hold the entire printed works of Bach with room to spare.
If the iPad takes off, as Apple anticipates it will, and why wouldn't they - they designed it after all, I feel the real potential is in the field of music publication. Many iPod users are already quick to depart with $0.99 to buy a track of music they desire, I know I'm guilty. Wouldn't it be grand if major publishers like Carus and Barenreiter offered a similar service to download their scores into your iPad for small "paperless" fees? Downloading music is nothing new - we have CPDL, Handlo and Sheet Music Plus to name a few, However they are often unreliable, and full of errors. If Apple can get big name music publishers on board, the way we read music (and I mean that in a literal sense) could change. I feel it is inevitable.
When will this happen?
"Choir, please load up the Haydn, click to Rehearsal C and touch in these markings ... or, better yet - import MY markings"