How To Convert Sheet Music Into MIDI: The Simple Way!

In this article, we’ll go over the easy steps you need to follow to convert sheet music into MIDI using our software, ScanScore. 

Do you have a huge library of sheet music you need digitized? 

Would you like to convert the sheet music into MIDI for optimum playback? 

Converting sheet music into MIDI can be a long and painful process if you don’t have the right tools, but this is where ScanScore comes in. 

With ScanScore, converting to MIDI isn’t difficult at all once you’ve learned the process. 

Read on for more details on how to convert sheet music into MIDI. 

What Is MIDI? 

Before we delve into the process, it’s essential you understand what MIDI is. 

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It’s a protocol or order designed for recording and playing back music with digital instruments. 

It’s supported by most of the makers of computer sound cards. 

At its inception, it was meant to control one keyboard from another, but it adapted to use with the personal computer. 

MIDI records music as “events.” Each event consists of the following information: 

  • Key ON and OFF: when the key is pressed/released
  • Pitches
  • Velocity: how fast and hard the key is pressed
  • Aftertouch: how long the key is held down
  • Tempo (or BPM)
  • Panning
  • Modulations
  • Volume

According to MIDI.org, there are many benefits to converting files into MIDI, and most of them involve getting that perfect playback in the digital format of your choice. 

Here are a few of the benefits they suggest: 

  • Play with a band
  • Correct your performance
  • Play/Sound any instrument (you can easily change the sound which plays)
  • Arrange and orchestrate (most notation programs handle MIDI as well as musicXML)
  • Print sheet music
  • Compose music

Steps For Converting Sheet Music To MIDI

In this section, we’ll give you the steps you need to convert sheet music into MIDI. 

You’ll need the following things: 

  1. ScanScore
  2. Sheet music or PDF
  3. Your favorite notation program (such as MuseScore, Finale, Sibelius, etc)

#1 Download/Update Programs

The first thing you need to do is to make sure your programs are downloaded correctly and up to date. 

ScanScore is compatible with Windows only at this time. There also app versions available on the Google Play Store and at the App Store for Apple devices.

Note: The app is free to download, but it requires a QR code scan in order to use it. This QR code comes from your desktop version of ScanScore. This is a safety measure to prevent stealing and keep the price of ScanScore down for actual users. 

You also need to make sure your notation program software is current. There are hundreds out there to choose from including: 

  • Finale
  • Sibelius
  • Dorico
  • MuseScore
  • Notion

IMAGE ScanScore how to scan

#2 Scan Sheet Music Or PDF

Next, we need to scan the sheet music or PDF into ScanScore. 

Either way works perfectly fine with ScanScore, it depends on where you have the music from. 

PDF will often be read a little more accurately, but if you use a scanner or get a clear picture, ScanScore does extremely well with physical sheet music too. 

Once the program is opened, you see four buttons helping you decide what to do. There are three involving new files: 

  • Import from scanner
  • Import from image/ PDF file
  • Import from app

Select the option you want to use. ScanScore will then start digitizing the file or image into a notation file. 

Image ScanScore editing the sheet music

#3 Correct Scanning Mistakes

No Optical Music Recognition Software can read everything perfectly. There’s just too much involved. 

But ScanScore uses the best and most modern programming to get as close a read as you can currently get. 

What is music optical music recognition software? Click the link to find out more. 

Once the program reads the sheet music, it opens up a side by side view of the original and the new version. 

You will notice some mistakes which need to be corrected at this point. 

ScanScore helps with this by predicting potential errors and highlighting them with purple and blue lines. This can help you find the problems quicker. 

After you’ve found a mistake, you may find it helpful to zoom in to see it better. This highlights one of my favorite features of ScanScore. 

When you zoom in on one side, the other automatically does as well. This gives you a great comparison view for guaranteeing no mistakes in the editing process. 

Now that you’re zoomed, all you need to do is drag a box over the area and use the toolbar to correct the error.

Do this through the entire piece and then check your work with the simple but effective playback system to listen for things you missed. 

As it plays, you will also see the music go by. This is really useful as a final check. 

Note: This step may seem to take a long time, but once you’ve had practice with this step a couple of times, it flies by. 

Image ScanScore export to musicXML

#4 Export To MusicXML

Once you’re sure your new version matches the original, it’s time to export the file into MusicXML. 

This file type contains all the information needed for high-level sheet music editing programs do. 

ScanScore makes this step a breeze. All you need is to go to the left side of the ScanScore screen and click on the export button. 

Next, choose a name and location to save the file, and you’re set. 

Pro-tip: It’s always a good idea to save the file under a name that helps describe it. I recommend using the format “piece_composer_part.” Here’s an example: “FugueGminor_JSBach_organ.”

Note: There are two routes you can take to finish this task. 

  1. #5A -> #6 – using a notation program and then exporting again to MIDI
  2. #5B – Using a converter. 

I recommend using #5A because the program are guaranteed to work accurately and fast. Sometimes the converters don’t work well and give you a poor or glitchy product. 

Believe it or not, I find it much faster to use a notation program even though it seems like it adds an extra step. 

#5A Import To Notation Program

Open up your favorite notation program and find the option that says “Open.” Click on it and find your clearly labeled file. 

After selecting it, your new music will open up usually in under a minute. 

That’s it! On to the next step! 

#6 Export To MIDI File 

Now, go to the “File” menu and look for the program’s “Export” option. 

Click it and you’ll be directed to a screen which most likely includes your computer where you keep your files. (It may slightly different from program to program). 

At the bottom of this window, you’ll see “Save as type.” It’s a drop-down menu. 

Click on the arrow, and you’ll be given a variety of options the program supports. Look for “Standard MIDI file” or .mid. 

Click on “Export” again, and now you’re completely done! 

Congrats! You now converted sheet music to MIDI! 

Note: If you wanted to use a converter, go to step #5B which is next. 

OR #5B Use A File Converter

If you don’t want to use a notation program as a go-between and try to use a converter, you can totally do this. It’s completely up to you. 

There are a number of free and paid converters that are available to do this with (these ones by Xenoage work OK), but the quality just may not be what you want. 

If you still want to use a converter, fire up the program or go to the website and upload your MusicXML file. Depending on the service, you can then download or receive an email containing the file. 

Again, some of the sites you may find can be stuffed with bad cookies or poor quality services. I recommend using a proven notation to handle it. 

Conclusion

Now you know how to convert sheet music to MIDI in a simple way using ScanScore. After a few practices, you’ll be doing this faster than you thought you could. 

Just remember the 6 main steps: 

  1. Download/Update Programs
  2. Scan Sheet Music Or PDF
  3. Correct Mistakes
  4. Export To MusicXML
  5. Import Into Notation Program
  6. Export To MIDI

Have fun making music!

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