Gig Book iPad app

A few months ago I finally broke down and bought an iPad. I must admit that I was drawn in by apps like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies, but the thing has really turned out to be really useful as a PDF score reader for gigs. I used to have to print out copies of charts before every gig, which ate up printer toner like crazy. Now on a duo gig all I do is make bookmarks and set lists on my score reading app. The first app I used was Unreal book, which did almost everything I needed it to do. I was able to load every fake book PDF I would ever need onto the iPad, therefore having thousands of tunes at my fingertips on the bandstand. Now I no longer need a stand light in a dark club!

Recently a new app was released called GigBook that has the best organization system of any music score reader on the market. There are still a few features that GigBook is still lacking (like the ability to zoom), but overall the superior ability to categorize scores into books, volumes, collections, and set lists tromps the competition (Unrealbook, forScore, Notation Pad, ect). I spoke with the developers of GigBook and plans are underway to release updates that will give GigBook the edge  in every way over the other score apps.

The issue that I began to run into when I was using unreal Book was that there was no good way to organize my library. I had one huge list that contained all of my fake books AND all of my bookmarked tunes. It was hell trying to quickly find the tune I was looking for and the longer I used unreal Book the more disorganized it got. GigBook's architecture allows the user much more ability to organize and categorize charts and the interface is much more appealing than other score reader apps. First put all your fake books into Collections to take the clutter out of your main library.  GigBook's Super Bookmarks feature allows you to bookmark a several page tune in a PDF fake book.  It then extracts that score (while leaving original PDF book intact) and  allows you to move it into it's powerful Binders and Set List features.  This is a feature which is noticeably lacking in the competition.

For a short time only GigBook is 50% off!

Here's a description of GigBook's features from the developer's website:

The Beginning
Even back when the iPad was a mere rumor, we began imagining an app that could be used to house our extensive musical libraries and be used seamlessly at our rehearsals, on stage, in our classroom and in our private lessons. GigBook is not the first out of the gates, but we believe it’s the most mature, elegant and intuitive sheet music reader in the App Store. GigBook is simply the best way to organize, store and use your musical scores, chord charts, and lyric sheets in a live setting on the iPad.
 Quick Navigation
We’ve designed GigBook to be a powerful app that is simple to use in any musical situation. As soon as you launch GigBook you’ll see that it’s not like others out there. The Navigation drawer allows you to quickly get to where you want to go. And GigBook has been designed to grow with you. Collections of over 1000 scores will be just as easily accessible as collections of a 100.
Built In Filters and Metadata
Access your complete musical library or filter by composer, genre or simply see recently added scores. Add metadata that is always in plain sight. You can add composer, genre, tempo, key and time signatures, along with extensive notes to each score.
A Place to House Your Books, Volumes, and Collections,
Have a large PDF containing multiple scores? Store them in “Collections” to access them quickly. Or use Super Bookmarks to mark and extract a score on page 250 of a 500 page collection to use in a set list or binder with the greatest of ease. No more running down to the copier with books in hand before a show.
Binders Keep You Organized
If you play in multiple groups or have a heavy teaching load sort your groups’ repertoires into binders. Binders can hold an unlimited number of scores; and the same score can be associated with multiple binders. Make as many binders as you need. GigBook finally helps you to be more organized.
 Advanced Set Lists
GigBook is a very flexible and powerful set list creator. Add and arrange scores in any order. Add detailed notes for each score. Playing a tune that doesn’t have a score in GigBook? No problem. Create a new item for that set list. Write out your notes, chord chart or lyrics for that piece and arrange it like any other score.  You can view all your titles and notes just like a handwritten set list. And with a single touch you can flip the set list over to see all scores moving through them in set list order.

 GigBook web site


Anonymous said...

this might be the very first and the only logical reason one might have to buy an ipad.

ericdano said...

Interesting App.....I've had an iPad since day two, and it has prompted me to scan many of the books I have into PDF so I have access to them. It's an invaluable tool.

Did you also know that the Real Book app now plays the changes to the songs it has in it? That is pretty sweet too....albeit cheezy midi 90s Band in a Box type sounds....but it is a start!

ericdano said...

Looking at this, it's too bad it doesn't seem to directly sync with PDFs already in iTunes.....that sorta sucks.....

David Carlos Valdez said...

The new band in a Real book feature is pretty cool.

I've probably gotten the most use out of the Peterson virtual strobe tuner app. It's much better than the $150 Peterson tuner that I bought a few years ago and it only costs $10. I just leave it on my stand during lessons or even recording sessions.

formersjsu said...

I am glad you found something that worked for you. I am improving the organization of unrealBook for myself and for my users. There is an export page function in unrealBook that will extract pages out of a realBook. So you can do this now.

David Carlos Valdez said...

I still use unreal Book in some situations. It still has some features that I really like.

Nice work on unreal Book.

Alexa Weber Morales said...

This is exciting! I remember seeing ads in music mags a few years ago for big screens for reading virtual scores. 2 questions:

1. Isn't the iPad too small? I'd like to see a pic of you using it in context. Do you have to scroll while playing and is that easy?

2. How do you use the tuner? So you mean you can sing or play and use it for extended periods, not just to tune before playing? The built-in mic takes care of it?

A few months ago my laptop was dying and I bought an iMac, which I love. I have been torn between the idea of an iPod Touch or an iPad. I have the wireless keyboard now, which works with either. You've just made a convincing case for the iPad.

ericdano said...

The Peterson Strobe tuner is my favorite tuner as well. It is amazingly accurate, and it seems faster than the hardware VS1 I have.....and it responds pretty much instantly which is great for check to see how that flute run ending note sounded or whatever.

Honestly, I have been using either iBooks or Goodreader for my PDF viewing. Until Gigbook supports easy transferring of files and PDF Bookmarks....then maybe I'd switch.

The iPad is the perfect size for reading music. I have all the Ferling etudes done on Finale that are available if you are part of the IDRS. No problem reading them. Scanned books like the Omnibook are totally legible as well. I and having it between gigs or shows is great cause you can read or play some games or surf the net.....

David Carlos Valdez said...

The iPad is just big enough to read from a few feet away. Get too far though and you won't see it clearly.

It has worked well for duo gigs with two players reading off of it, a trio is a stretch but possible. I have noticed that music made with some music notation apps is better than others. Encore charts seem to be easier to read than Finale or Sibelius charts.

When reading hand written manuscript it helps to be able to zoom in so that the notes are right at the edge of the iPad with no margin around the outside of the chart. Unreal Book does this but it's quite difficult not to change pages in the process.

Apps really need to have a contrast control (which none of them do), this would be a big help with hand written charts.

Right now turning pages is something that is unworkable on the iPad. There is a blue-tooth driven page turning control foot pedal that is slated to be released in a few months. This pedal will be a big step forward in making the iPad a fully functional digital score reader. I don't even call tunes that are two pages long when I'm using my iPad on a gig. It is possible to use landscape mode to see two pages at once, but this of course makes the notes even smaller.
What if you have a three page chart?! You're screwed without a foot pedal or and extra hand. As a singer page turning wouldn't be so rough.

The iPad's batteries will last for around six hours, so you can leave the tuner on your stand (when you're not using it as a score reader) and the mic will pick up whatever is nearest to it. I will even leave it on and put sheet music on top of it if I need the stand space. The light is bright enough to see the strobe through the paper.

Alexa Weber Morales said...

As an artistic rule I do not play charts less than 6 pages long. Haha just kidding it's just coincidence that my charts are so long. No, seriously, I do have some short ones too.

I kind of have a thing about not walking around with electronic devices but on the other hand I admit the iPad is not only cool, it's useful. And this is definitely one of those instances where you *wouldn't* want a laptop clamshell in your way.

Thanks for all the info as always, David!

Anonymous said...

There is an app available called iGigBook that I thought this review was about. This app indexes popular fake books like the real book and new real book, which makes finding tunes a snap and allows you to easily build a set list consisting of tunes from many different books. You begin typing the name of the tune and the search narrows. Once you've found it and view it you just add it to whatever set list you want. There's a video of it here being demoed with a page tuner app.


ericdano said...

I really don't know why someone just doesn't mod a Bluetooth keyboard to be a page turner.....like take it apart and merge it with a pedal.

Or better yet, I use the USB page pedal thing. Isn't there an adapter that one could plug in to Bluetooth enable a USB device? There must be....

This pedal thing I use, and being 1:30 in the morning I don't remember it's name, work perfectly for turning pages in final and expanding the page to fit the screen (using keys).

I'll have to look into this.....

ericdano said...

Ok, what I use is called an x-key USB foot peddle. I'd bet anything that if you had the camera adapter thing for the iPad, that this peddle would show up and work and could be used by something like gig book or goodreader.....

I'll have to email the authors about this...

David Carlos Valdez said...

There will be a Bluetooth foot pedal out very soon and I'll let you know how it is.

Joe said...

GigBook has just been approved to utilize the new footpedal. We are implementing it into our OS as we speak. Look for it's incorporation in our next update.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Klemen said...

Speaking of using it in context - I'd love to use it on the few shows that I'm playing (TV and theatre gigs).

- compared to A4 or letter sized paper - do you get the same amount of info from an iPad without notes being really tiny?

- can you turn pages quickly enough?

btw, ik multimedia's got an interesting iPad holder.


David Carlos Valdez said...

The iPad is smaller than a printed sheet of music, but for me at least it is big enough to read everything on it. Having it lit up makes a big difference, so things are clearer than they would be on a similar sized printed sheet.

Here is a link to Air Turn a Blue-tooth page turner that will be out on the 16th of this month: