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Old 08-26-2011, 07:55 AM
Wheat Williams Wheat Williams is offline
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 19
Default Re: What is wrong with Avid Scorch.

First, thank you both, Tom and Joe, for your lengthy and thoughtful replies. Please understand that I'm writing to you about this because I think Avid Scorch is an amazing product and I want it to succeed!

I have to apologize for my gruff, curmudgeonly manner of delivery. When I wrote the initial post, I had just gotten off the phone with a rather frustrated amateur musician friend of mine who is also a professional iPad and iOS developer of business software, something to do with PDF files.

He called me to ask me to explain Avid Scorch to him; he had owned a copy for a month.

I explained the Mixer function to him. He swore to me up and down that his copy of Avid Scorch for iPad had no Mixer, and had no owners manual! I explained to him about the "concealed" owners manual masquerading as a sample score, and finally described to him over the telephone how to pull the mixer up. He said, "This is an amazingly powerful program with an inscrutable user interface". Remember, he's an iOS developer.

(The other problem with the concealed owners manual, if I'm not mistaken, is that a user could inadvertently delete it, thinking that it's a sample score that he doesn't need in his bookshelf.)

The reason that I'm going on and on about the mixer is this: My friend, and the one or two others I've recommended Avid Scorch to, have purchased it specifically because I recommended it as an excellent tool for an amateur musican to practice and learn a new piece of music by using the live playback function. I have shown this mostly to choral singers in this regard. A student will want to solo the audio on just the stave of the part he is learning to sing, or better yet he will want to lower the volume of all the other parts and make his part more prominent, or perhaps pan all the other parts hard left and pan his part hard right, for instance.

Now this is important because a choral score is usually six staves: soprano, alto, tenor, bass and piano. On playback, an alto is going to want to focus on her alto part audibly while looking at all the parts on all staves. That's how choral singers read sheet music.

The other thing that has produced bafflement in some people I've talked to is this: They can see how to do a "part extraction" and only see the alto part, but when they hit the Play button, they see only the alto part but they hear all five parts. The immediate reaction is 1) "Why are all the parts playing when only one part is displayed?" and 2) "I would like to turn off the audio for all the other parts except mine, but from everything I can see, there is no way to get Avid Scorch to do that. I conclude that this is a limitation of the program."

It is obvious to the customer that Avid Scorch for iPad displays beautiful pages of music for use as if it were simply a paper score.

But I believe that the way it is now, it is not at all obvious to the customer that Avid Scorch also has a powerful capability to play the score back live for learning and rehearsal, and that the audio can be manipulated to the user's taste.

Since there are several other music score products on the market that merely display PDF files and help you organize them, it's the live playback that sets Avid Scorch for iPad apart. Yet from where I sit, this is not obvious to the customer at all, due to the design of the user interface first and foremost, and secondly because of the inadequate approach to the built-in help files and the marketing tack you have taken.

You developers may think that you've made a good decision about hiding things to conserve limited screen real estate, but please accept my humble opinion that the average amateur musician who might be interested in purchasing Avid Scorch for iPad does not see it from your perspective. It's my experience that your customers don't understand about playback or the Mixer and how useful and powerful it is, and the features that are not prominently obvious in the user interface are in fact inscrutable and at least some customers are totally ignorant of their existence as a result.

Therefore, I fear that customers will not be suitably impressed with Avid Scorch. When they see it in the App store they tend to think that it's basically little more than something for displaying static pages as if they were paper scores. They aren't interested in playback and the Mixer because they don't know what they are missing. In that regard, they can look to other products like forScore and say, "This product is better than Avid Scorch, because it displays pages of music just as well, it provides for me to make annotations, which Avid Scorch doesn't support, and third, there are so many music score PDF files out there that I can use in forScore, whereas today there are practically no Sibelius files for me to find, purchase or play in Avid Scorch."

[Another great thing about forScore and other similar products is that they let a gigging musician assemble playlists and set lists of scores so they can easily be strung together in a specific order for rapid retrieval and access in a concert.]

To most consumers, as it is now, I fear that they don't understand what distinguishes Avid Scorch from forScore, and forScore looks much more useful and practical to them. I certainly want to change this perception.

Then there's a comment I've seen around online where customers are surprised that Avid Scorch cannot display PDF files. To many customers, sheet music on the iPad is synonymous with displaying PDF files. You've got a tough job ahead of you in convincing the public that Sibelius scores on the iPad are a far superior thing to PDF scores on the iPad. That's another reason that I believe you should be trumpeting the Mixer and the audio functions above all else. It's what distinguishes your approach.
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