Importing Music notation into Vectornator

hello all

I’m new to using Vectornator. I am interested in importing PDFs of music notation into the software. I’m curious if anybody has any experience with this.

My first attempt didn’t work very well and I imported some fonts into the software as suggested and then that broke my music notation software (Dorico for iPad). The notation still didn’t look right in Vectornator as well.

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What a coincidence! I’ve been drafting a lengthy feedback post about embedded font support in Vectornator and was using music notation as a specific example…

Unfortunately, you can’t “just import” notation into Vectornator, as you’ve already discovered. This is because the notation symbols (flat, sharp, clefs, noteheads, etc) as stored as a font.

I’ve also tried importing the fonts into iOS, but that doesn’t work either; probably because the PDF generator “subsets” the fonts - stripping out the unused symbols to make the PDF size smaller. A unique font is generated each time based on the symbols used in the score.

The only option I’ve found that works at all is importing the PDF into other graphics software which outlines all the symbols. This “works”, but has a few downsides:

  • You can’t edit any text - it’s all converted symbols, not just the notation.
  • Readers of the sheet music will be unable to select any text either (as it’s no longer text).
  • The PDF size is greatly increased. A simple page of music in MuseScore went from 73kB to 1.2MB. This is compounded with large books, which often exceed 50 megs if used with this method.
  • You generally have to convert one page at a time, so it’s very time-consumng.

I’ve had good experiences with:

The only way I’ve found to preserve the text is to use Acrobat, which does have an iPad app. Unfortunately this is a very costly solution.

Hope this helps!

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Thanks for your very thorough answer. So it seems the same for Musescore as well as for Dorico. I hadn’t tried an export from the desktop version of Dorico into Vectornator to see if it was different, but the method of creating an ad hoc font in PDFs is probably common to all notation packages I’m guessing.

So Vectornator could support this ad hoc font within the file or the music notation packages could export the whole font with the PDFs potentially? Why does it work ok in Inkscape/Illustrator fine?

If you’re wanting to use the music as a graphic element rather than as editable music, SVG might be a worth a try (although there will definitely be font issues to consider for that)

I suspect PDF is good as an output format, but not so great as an input format in any app (Adobe excepted).

I’ve had reasonable success with installing system-wide fonts in iPad (yes, you have to go through all the configuration profile rigmarole, but it seems to be fairly stable), although I’ll readily admit I’ve only used OTF fonts, and no music-related fonts.
I’d prefer installing as a system font on iPad rather than as an in-app font (in any app).

Personally, I’ve used AnyFont to get the font install started, but I’ve also heard good things about iFont and Fontinator (from the Vectornator team) - and yes, in the last couple of iOS/iPadOS versions you still have to go through the configuration profile process after using one of these apps (earlier versions had a simpler install process).

@VinylDinosaur It works with Inkscape because it converts the music symbols into paths. Illustrator isn’t working for me at the moment, but I imagine it does the same thing. The downsides of this approach mean that other text (e.g lyrics) are also converted to paths, and the file size is much larger. Exporting to SVG is just a shorter way of getting to this point.

The problem is that Vectornator doesn’t support fonts embedded within the PDF file. This is probably because the experience would be quite confusing for the user. (imagine if you tried to edit text in a document you’d imported, but some characters don’t show up!) I’ll be making a post in the feedback category shortly about this - here’s a quick mockup I made of how the process could work:

@ButlerToCats The problem isn’t so much the installing of fonts, but that a different font is created for each PDF depending on which musical symbols you’ve used, making this practically infeasible.

Here are two screenshots of the character mapping in FontForge from two PDFs in my library, both using the same music font (Bravura):

And a few more, this time with some PDFs from Sibelius (Opus):

I was still thinking of using the SVG as a static graphic, not editing the music.

SVG can contain text, and according to the Dorico documentation, SVG export retains a fair bit of text (it doesn’t specifically mention lyrics, but that seems to be the sort of thing that might remain editable text).

I was thinking you could choose font you wanted for the alphabetic text elements in the SVG, and use the exported paths for the musical symbols (which would, as you state, no longer be editable as notes, although they would be editable as vector shapes for colouring, outlining, Boolean effects, etc), but if you want to use a font for the musical note symbols, no, I agree that would not work.

I suspect using a general vector editing app might not be the best path if you want to retain editable musical note symbols.

The full Bravura font is available.
However, because this font (and similar implementations) is using Unicode’s Private Use Area to encode the musical symbols, rather than being part of the standard Unicode character range, I’m not sure how many apps (if any) will support the musical symbols in such fonts, unless the app is written specifically to be compatible for music editing.