Help Using ToneTap Scribe


ToneTap Scribe from ThingTone Software is a music transcription notepad. Use it to take down musical ideas or quickly score a melody, phrase, rhythm, or exercise for a student. Scribe is designed to sit comfortably on your music stand or in the palm of your hand, running on an Android phone or tablet.

What makes ToneTap Scribe special is its ability to convert notes you play into notes on the score. With support for woodwind instruments (and an experimental “other” category for you to play or sing to), a teacher, student, or songwriter can quickly capture and share a musical idea.

For Students

Voice students can use scribe in many ways. First as a pitch pipe to help find pitches and intervals, as well as to work through a melody, or even to sing a harmony part along with a short melody. Just enter a part, set a tempo, and you can play back and sing along with just about any music you are trying to learn.

Woodwind players can use Scribe simply to tune up and check intervals, but for many other things as well. For example, Scribe can help quickly transpose a part into into concert key just by playing it, say on an Soprano Sax, and sharing the transcription. It is often helpful to practice duets and section parts along with the harmony (or melody) part. Scribe can be used to play one part while you play the other.

For Teachers

Melody, scale, interval, and sight reading exercises become simple to create and use in a lesson, and recipients of the scores you create can hear them without having their own copy of Scribe - the shared music is a standard MIDI file, playable on almost every mobile device or computer and easily displayed in most score-editing software.

As a teacher, you might want to jot down an interval exercise, a scale, or arpeggio pattern for a student to work on. Ordinarily you might set this down on paper and photocopy it, or send out for another instruction book. But with Scribe you can much more quickly and easily score your ideas and share them via social media, cloud storage, or email.

Shared files can be played on virtually any mobile device or computer without special software, and these files can be viewed and edited on a score with free editing tools like Finale Notepad, MuseScore, and others.

For Songwriters

As a songwriter, you might want to show a friend or bandmate something you are working on. With Scribe you can quickly note down your idea, play it back for yourself using one of the built-in instrument sounds, then share it instantly for others to play back wherever they may be.

What Scribe Does Best

The focus of Scribe is to help you quickly write down a fairly short musical idea in standard notation, then play it back, export it for use in other notation software, or share it from your device in a standard format that can be reused or played on any platform.

We think Scribe is unparalleled for ease of quickly setting down notes and rhythms on a musical staff. It offers live note transcription right on your music stand and a musical keyboard for fast and accurate note entry. Editing is as easy as touching a note, replacing it with another, with a rest, changing its duration, or deleting it in place like you would backspace in a word processor.

What Scribe Does Not Attempt to Do

While listening to your playing for live transcription, Scribe can only recognize one note at a time. Chords or ensemble playing of any kind are not recognized. Also, note recognition is intended to be done somewhat slower than at a performance tempo. If you are looking for real-time MIDI conversion for solo performance, please see our ToneTap product for Mac OS.

Since working with a full score, and handling the finer points of music engraving are really the domain of a full featured desktop application, we do not attempt to reproduce those features here. Instead, our goal is to give you the ability to jot down musical thoughts in a clear, transferable manner, and in short order.

For now, we have deliberately left out key and time signatures, bar lines, dynamics, and things like repeats, codas, endings, and transposition. How can I do without these, you might ask? Through extensive testing we believe the rapid musical note taking offered by Scribe will make you more productive without the extra clutter.

Getting Started

Below is a brief description of each section of Scribe and how to use it.

Waveform Input Panel

The top panel labeled “ToneTap Scribe” with the orange icon, when activated, will listen for your playing while showing a live audio waveform. It will convert the notes it hears you play into a notes on the score (but not the rhythm). Tap the icon to activate and deactivate this panel.

Before you begin using this feature, there are three important considerations:

1) Your instrument must be properly tuned in order to get an accurate conversion.
2) The “input instrument” must match what you play (see: Settings | Input Instrument).
3) Be sure you are isolated from external noise or talking. A quiet setting works best.

Note Onset and Hold Indicators

To give you an idea of how well Scribe can handle what you play, the “note onset” indicator shows how loudly you played at the onset of a note. A good level is anywhere between two and four bars. Similarly, the “note hold” indicator shows how stable the note is while held. Anything above one bar indicates that a note has been clearly detected.

Octave and Note Name Control

You can use the up / down arrows of this control to shift the notes you play up or down an octave as they appear on the score. Also, the “note name” indicator will always show the concert pitch of each note detected. As you play, strive to perform each note clearly and hold it until you see that Scribe has a “lock” on the note in the “note name” indicator.

When mistakes happen, use the “Delete” button to backspace over an unwanted note or notes in your score. Most unwanted notes tend to occur when you accidentally speak or play with the waveform panel activated. Tap on it to suspend and resume listening whenever you like.

Duration and Pitch Buttons

Located above the score, these buttons are for input and editing. The duration toggle buttons will set the duration for the next note you play (or input on the keyboard), and can also be used to edit a selected note in the score. These buttons are marked: 1/1 for whole note, 1/2 for half note, and so on.

The pitch buttons marked: -1, +1, -12, +12, are used to alter the pitch of a note on the score. For example, with a touch you can select a note then tap +1 to move it one half step higher. Or use +12 to move it one octave higher. The buttons marked with a minus sign move notes lower in respective amounts.

The Score

On the score you will see notes and rests entered either by playing your instrument with the waveform input panel active, by entering notes using the musical keyboard, or by a combination of both.

The score can be manipulated by touch. Scroll left and right with a steady swipe. Select a note or rest by tapping on it (it will appear highlighted and sound its pitch). Position the input cursor at the end of the score by tapping on the empty part of the staff at the right.

Score Control

Top - scroll to the “top” of the score, or the beginning.
Clear - erase the whole score and start over (with a brief undo period for mistakes).
Delete - backspace over the selected note, or the note left of the input cursor.
Play - play back the score using the selected playback instrument.
Rest - insert a rest in the score, or change a note to a rest with selected duration.

Musical Keyboard

On devices with smaller screens, such as most phones, the musical keyboard can be accessed by scrolling down in the app with a swipe from the bottom of the screen upward. On the larger screen of a tablet the keyboard will always be visible.

The musical keyboard can be used at any time to enter notes onto the score within a one octave range. To enter a C, press the C button and so on for each note of the chromatic scale. When you have a note on the score selected, use the keyboard to change it to a different note. Seven octaves of input are possible by using the range control, described next.

Range Control

The seven small buttons located beneath the musical keyboard can be used to set the octave range for editing with the keyboard. The middle button corresponds to standard black notes shown on the staff. Each left bracket (“[“) signifies a lower octave, while each right bracket (“]”) corresponds to a higher octave. Notes on the score are colored according to their place within this range. See: Menu | Show Legend for a visual explanation of this color-coding system.

Device Volume Buttons

Volume for playback can be adjusted the way you would expect, by using the hardware volume up/down buttons on the side of your device.

Menu System

1) Help - displays this help page.

2) Show Legend - shows how to interpret color-coded notes on the score.

3) Check for Updates / Learn about Pro - checks for a new version or product.

4) Settings - brings up custom settings, see the “Settings” section below for details.

5) Share Score (paid feature) - allows you to save or pass along your score.

Score sharing will offer you a chance to send your score (in the form of a standard MIDI file) to another person or device. The options shown here will depend somewhat on the apps you have installed and which of them will accept this type of file for sharing. For example, sharing via Bluetooth, Google Drive, Email, and SoundCloud are all possibilities, as are others.


1) Input Instrument - set the specific instrument you will play

Supported instruments include:
-Soprano and Alto Recorder
-Soprano and Alto Saxophone
-Bb Clarinet
-Experimental: “Other” can be used with piano, voice, and other instruments.

Each instrument setting limits the range of acceptable pitches to the natural range of that instrument. If you use the “other” category of instrument, bear in mind that the acceptable range of pitches does not extend below C3, or bass C on a piano.

2) Playback Instrument - set the instrument you want to hear on playback.

A menu of built-in instrument sounds is shown, including piano, choir, strings, and more.

3) Playback Tempo - set the tempo you want to use on playback.

For ease of use, tempo in Scribe is given as a descriptive term (such as largo, andante, allegro) rather than with a metronome marking.