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StaffPad is a groundbreaking music writing tool for Windows 8.1 pen and touch devices

Microsoft has often showcased the versatility of the Surface through creative industries, perhaps most famously with Adobe Creative Cloud.

A few days ago, StaffPad introduced their revolutionary music notation app, available exclusively from the Windows Store.

Utilizing the Surface Pro pen, you can write notes directly onto a virtualized traditional manuscript. The app then interprets your handwriting and transforms it into professional musical notation. The sophisticated app supports musical playback as well as MIDI, MP3, WAV and MusicXML export for previewing. StaffPad also features OneDrive integration, keeping your musical scores in sync regardless of where and when you may be rockin' out.

There are, however, some limitations. Right now, it only works on devices with both pen and touch support, and it carries a hefty price tag of £50 ($69.99 USD). It's clearly very targeted at professional composers, music faculty and students, but even the dedicated amateur might find it worth the price.

For a detailed review, head on over here to the Sibelius Blog.

Download StaffPad for Windows 8.1 (opens in new tab)

Are you a Surface Pro wielding musician? What do you make of StaffPad? Hit the comments.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

47 Comments
  • Can it write tablature as well? That would be nice
  • I've sent them an email to inquire about this. This is how I'm currently writing my tabs.
  • I love the guy on the bottom right. Awesome.
  • that's me failing @ guitar, haha
  • Saying the app is expensive in the article is incorrect in my opinion, when simliar music notation applications like Sibelius cost $600. I think that's a great price for what it does. To notch applications like this should cost more, it shouldn't be priced $5.99 or whatever you consider resonable.
  • That would make it an instant purchase. Using that on my SP3 would be incredible.
  • Saw this in the Surface 3 adverts, looks incredible! Too bad I'm not musically inclined... And I lost my Pro Pen. :-o
  • If this had been a thing 15 years ago I would have thrown money at it. Alas my musical ability ended in my teens.
  • Sweet. I will play a little piano. Could be handy.:-)
  • This is the kind of thing they need to highlight to steer the creative pro market away from Apple. Basically all of my music major friends have Macs and a few of them have said they've gotten bored with them. Now is the time to make this kind of push.
  • Absolutely. I went to Berklee and it was entirely Apple. I'm sure its the same elsewhere. Things like this staffpad could really get people thinking.
  • I have been using Finale but this is a much cheaper and touch friendly option.
  • Now *this* might be a reason for me to finally get a tablet...
  • Thinking precisely the same thing.
  • Oh wow this is amazing! As a musician, this is gonna be something I love. And $69 is a fair price for a good piece of software. I don't get why people bitch so much about paying $1 for an app.
  • Absolutely. Good complex or specialised software is worth it.
  • This is just incredible! I'm a musician and teacher and have been using Sibelius for years, but since getting SP2 i was really looking forward to someone creating an app like this that uses the pen for input. It's incredibly well made with tons of features and is a bargain at £50 (Sib 7.5 currently sells for something like £450). So damn excited bout this!!!
  • Thanks for the info. Quite alot of people asking this apps on YouTube (surface pro 3 commercial video)
  • Isn't there something similar in MS Journal?
  • Thank god, I've been hoping for Microsoft to include such a feature in OneNote by having a music sheet view or something out of the box for a while now, but this seems great
  • Wonder how/if it works on my Dell Venue 8 Pro. Finale with touch is extremely frustrating. I'll check it out.
  • This is awesome! I think this may have tipped the scales - time to reformat my digital sheet music collections with a searchable table of contents, offload my iPad, and get rid of Finale. $70 is a steal compared to even the renewal price for Finale! Arguably, I have not fired up my copy of Finale 2007 in quite some time...  Hello, Surface 3 + Surface Pen...
  • Hell no! I am an engraver, composer, and publisher, so I will use this in tandem with Finale. Staffpad for quick and easy input, the dump into Finale to prepare the final product. I'm buying today!
  • Love to see these type of apps..
    Can't the old desktop apps directly submitted to the windows store..
    I really wanna know....
  • Any musician interested in this sort of software won't even blink at the $70 price tag. That's a pittance compared to what Finale costs.
  • need a review with the new surface 3 stat !  
  • Oh. My. God. I've been waiting so long for this. That's it, I'm throwing away this old MacBook Pro. HELLO SURFACE!
  • This looks great, but I wouldn't call it groundbreaking or revolutionary. The same basic idea was put out 13 years ago for the original Windows XP Tablet Edition PCs: http://graphics.cs.brown.edu/research/music/tpc.html
  • That's what I would like a see... More music production apps... It would be especially nice to get some support from companies like Boss, Yamaha, Korg, Ableton, and especially Akai Pro.
    .....
    Sick of Mac, and iOS, getting all the attention in this area..
  • To be fair. that's because Apple put a tonne of effort into making realtime audio-processing a key part of the operating system (CoreAudio/AudioUnit) in much the same way that Microsoft made gaming a key part of the OS with Direct-X. If you're a developer, that means you get to work on top of all that well-supported code, rather than developing it yourself. These days, competiton is closing the feature-gap between operating systems. Hence this - which shows what Windows can do if you're not worried about XP and Windows 7 compatibility.  
  • Makes a lot of sense.
  • I just pulled it up in the store, and it's on sale for $49.99 for four more days.
  • While someone else asked about being able to write tabs, I'm wondering if I can use it to write in neums (I would like to be able to have a copy of some of my work in Catholic sacred music written in both modern notation and in neums). Either way, it looks like a solid product and will probably buy it when I find some free time.
  • This is the app I was absolutely looking for. As a professional musician, and teacher, righting notes and parts is just a better way to remember and imrpove yourself. I stared at the price for one second, but thinking about it, it definitely worths the price. A pc software (like sybelius) or an in between (guitar pro) are at least as much as expensive, and don't do that as well. I juste bought it, hope this will help Staffpad to continue the great work they done, and help my students to becomce better musicians! :) A real way to write fast and share in a blink of an eye. Thanks windows Central!
  • Seemed interesting until the price. At that kind of money I would just continue to use Sibelius
  • Sibelius costs 10 times that price. It's a bit like complaining about a 10k car and saying 'at that price, I'll continue to use my Ferrari'. It's going to cause a lot of consternation for technology-based music teaching, because for the first time you have a serious reason to consider a tablet other than an iPad. (Sorry Android-fans, the hardware may be cheap / good, but the software ecosystem is not there).
  • Oh how I wish I had a modicum of musical ability. THAT may be the FIRST killer app for the Surface Pro, not written by Microsoft.
  • Music Teacher here! I'll definitely be checking out how to use this in my classroom with my students.
  • Kudos to Sibelius for putting out a quality pen & touch app, and in the Windows Store. According to the single Store review it can only do simple musical things right now but hopefully with use and feedback that can change. As a devoted Finale user I'd have probably purchased theirs and stuck with it if they had one. I'm not thrilled that the Sibelius website requires Java but that's another thing.
  • This wasn't put out by Sibelius. The Sibelius blog talked about it because their audience cares about the world of music notation software, but it was an independent company that produced it.
  • Thanks for the clarification! I should've just read the blog entry. ;)
  • This is by far the best app I have ever seen. AMAZING stuff. KUDOS!
  •     This is pretty cool. Microsoft needs to shorten this and air these commercials on tv.
  • I'd like to buy it to my father who is a composer and writes to symphonic orchestras. Does anyone know if staffpad can do it?
  • I'm seriously interested in this, (already use Sibelius on a Mac Pro professionally, and have Finale 2014 for when needed), but as I understand it, this app can not yet enter text (lyrics).  As a composer of vocal and choral music, I suppose I can just enter notes, then transfer the file to Sibelius, but it's apparently not yet totally useful. This feature is supposed to be available in a few months. Anyone know more about this?
  • Hi-Anyone know suitable pen for Staffpad on tablet Toshiba Encore 2WT8-B-102? thanx!
  • Is it made with jazz musicians in mind too or only classical? For example it is useful to me only if it includes jazz "lead sheet" templates for 32-bar tunes or 12 bar tunes. Currently I am using Sibelius on a Mac. And don't tell me I can create them because I can do that with Finale and Sibelius too but it takes me time...How about "jazz" real book style fonts?