Musica Touch™ draws material from Ars Nova's desktop programs, Practica Musica®, Counterpointer®, and Songworks.™ Play a tune and see it notated, write a song or a chorale, practice your ear training, music theory, or note reading - it even includes esoteric things like counterpoint exercises. Here is everything you need for music study and basic music notation on the iPad, with nothing to plug in. You purchase only the parts you want, and even if you get every single activity the collection only takes up about 30 megabytes on your iPad, so you've plenty of room for other things.

One of those other things could be our free multimedia music fundamentals textbook, Exploring Theory, which you can download from the iBook store.


Instructions specific to each activity are available to anyone and can be viewed by touching the activity icon. This is intended as a general guide to Musica's features.

Getting started with Musica Touch Working with multiple staves
Earning milestone awards and sharing Using gestures
About the Keyboard Guide to Musica Touch™ icons
Entering and Editing Music (condensed version) Page view controls
Editing basics Getting Help

Getting Started

When you touch the Launch button for an activity the panel will roll back, the keyboard will appear (for most activities), and the rest will be pretty obvious, we hope. To change to a different activity just touch the double-sided arrow at the upper right of the screen. This will take you back to the home screen. Touch the double sided arrow at the top left of the home screen to return to an activity.

Earning Milestones and Sharing

The Scoreboard at the top right of the home screen shows the number of points you've scored for the current activity. Touch "See all points" to see a complete record of points scored for all activities. From here you can send a pdf of your complete scoreboard to your teacher (or anyone else you want to impress). If you're using the program in a music class, your teacher can get a WebStudents account at Ars Nova and view your score report that way. Once you accumulate the required number of points for an activity you'll earn a milestone award. Some activities have several levels of difficulty with separate milestones for each. Touch "See all milestones" to see your complete collection of milestone awards. From here you can select a milestone for sharing with others via Facebook, Twitter or email.

In addition to sharing milestones you can also share your compositions or any music currently displayed. (Some of the generated music examples are so nice that you may wish to save one and share it with a friend.) To send a music file, use the share button pictured at right. Anyone with a free copy of Musica Touch can view and hear the shared file. (Files can also be opened with our desktop software, Songworks.) Alternatively, you can choose to send a pdf (print image) of your music file for printing. If you don't have a way to print from your iPad you'll be able to send the file to yourself and print from your desktop machine.

The Keyboard

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This is a six-octave keyboard able to display two octaves at a time. You can use the sliding octave control (right in the middle of the tools above the keys) to play any two octaves (or any single octave if the 'fat keys' option is on).

Double tap the octave control or touch the keyboard information button (located at its left side) to see these options:

• Show note names
- This is useful as a learning tool, but also helps identify which octaves are being displayed. The octave C's are numbered C2 through C7. C4 corresponds to middle C.
• One-octave keyboard
- Also known as 'fat keys' because each key is spread out, making it easier to use in rhythm tapping activities.
• Temperament
- Any tuning enthusiasts out there? The default tuning is modern Equal Temperament but you can also choose from several historical temperaments. If you're really into this, individual notes can even be detuned specific amounts using the information window for any note in the score (double-tap a note to see its information window). Tuning adjustments are most easily heard when using an instrument like the harpsichord or church organ.
• Change instrument, volume
- You can set the keyboard to use any instrument of the standard midi set. including percussion sounds. Note that each staff also has its own instrument settings. If you have a piece with more than one staff, each can use a different instrument and the volume level of each staff is independently adjustable.

Entering and Editing Music (condensed version):

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More detailed instructions for entering notes and editing are found in the instructions for the Composition and Lead Sheet activities. (The instructions are accessible whether or not you own the activities.) We refer you to those instructions for information on entering text and lyrics, chords, working with multiple notes in a staff and formatting.

In general we recommend touching things to see what they do (what's the worst that could happen?)

Music symbols appear in transparent blue tool palettes that you can drag around as needed. Touch one of the icons above the piano (clefs, keys, notes/rests, beams, etc.) to display the tool palette for that particular group of items. To hide a palette, touch the close box at its upper left corner.

Touch to select a symbol from the palette and it will highlight to show it's the chosen tool, as shown at left. To enter that symbol in the music, touch in the music where you want it to go. You can drag the note up, down, left, or right before lifting your finger. Up or down movement will change the pitch; left or right movement will change the note value and also change the selected note tool. That makes it easier to enter music directly on the staff without having to go back to the tool palette all the time (once a note has been entered and no note tool is chosen, dragging it left or right will just adjust its position if adjustment is wanted).

You can also enter a note symbol by touching a piano key, and it will enter in the active staff at the blinking insertion point (see Multiple Staves below). First select a note symbol and then play the desired pitches on the screen piano. As a convenience, certain tools like notes and rests stay selected so that you can make multiple entries in the score; others that you'd probably use just one at a time will unselect after being entered. The currently selected tool, if any, is also displayed near the upper left corner of the editing area. To deselect a tool simply touch it again, or choose a different tool. Tools will also deselect if you touch a spot (like well outside the staff) that seems to be unintentional. When using a note tool you have to remember to deselect it before touching an item in your score. Otherwise, you'll enter a note without meaning to. If this happens just touch Undo.

To delete any staff symbol touch it to select it, or drag a selection rectangle around a group, and then swipe left. You can also use the Undo button to remove the last item entered. The Undo button is the left-turning arrow on the toolbar at the right side of the screen; underneath it is the Redo button. To copy and paste, touch and hold on the screen to bring up the edit menu. The edit menu also has a delete choice as a substitute for the swipe gesture.

The action tools palette is located above the keyboard on the right side (see key below). Unless you are using the "auto" command for stem direction or beaming, all of the tools here perform actions on a selected note or notes. Select the note or notes first, then apply the action.

1. Stem direction: Change the stem direction of one or multiple selected notes. Auto-stem option applies to entire score.
2. Beam or unbeam notes: The beam tool will beam the selected notes at a default angle. You can change the angle of the beam by dragging up or down the first or last stem in the group. The auto-beam option applies to entire score.
3. & 4.Ties and slurs: Ties can be dragged up or down and will change their curve direction if you drag them to the other side of a note head. Slurs can be selected by touching; selected slurs have visible handles that can be dragged to change the shape of the slur.
5. Triplets: Select the notes you want to make into a triplet group and then touch the triplet button. If the notes are beamed they'll be marked with just a number; otherwise a number and a bracket. If you select the first note of the group, drag handles will appear on the bracket. The number can also be dragged as needed.
6. Tuplets: The tuplet button will allow you to create a tuplet grouping of any number of notes to be played in the space of however many beats you specify. For example: 5 in the time of 4.
7. Pitch arrows: Move a selected note or group of notes up or down one line or space at a time.

Editing basics

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(See the tools key below to locate each referenced tool.)

Select: To select an item, touch it. Or drag a selection rectangle around a group of items. Keep in mind that any currently selected tool must be deselected before you can select an item in the staff. This takes some getting used to- it's easy to forget that you have a note tool selected. If you forget and end up with two notes overlapping just use the Undo button.

Delete: To delete a selected item or items, do a "swipe left" (slide your finger quickly left). Or hold your finger on the selected item until an edit menu pops up.

Copy and Paste: To copy selected items, select one or more items, then touch and hold until you see the edit menu, then choose Copy. To paste copied items, touch and hold where you want them to go, wait for the edit menu, and choose Paste.

Undo: To undo an action, touch the Undo icon. To cancel that undo, touch the Redo icon (see no. 24 and 25 in the tool key).

Pitch arrow tool: An alternative to dragging notes up and down is to use the pitch arrows from the action tools palette shown above. You can quickly move a selected note or notes up or down one step at a time.

Working with multiple staves

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In the Composition activity you'll find "Add (and delete) staff" buttons at the top of your screen. You can write for any number of staves, though given the limited space on your device a large number of staves may be impractical. The main thing to know about working with multiple staves is that one staff is always the active staff. Any notes entered via the keyboard will be entered at the current insertion point in the active staff. If you enter text with the text tool it will be attached to the staff that was active when you created the text; text that is attached to a staff will move if you move that staff and if it's on a "lyric line" it will follow the notes of that staff. Touch the staff you want to be active and its staff handle will turn green, indicating that it is now "active."


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Single touch: Used to select items or enter items in the staff.
Touch and hold: For selected items, touch and hold to bring up an edit menu. When no items are selected, touch and hold will bring up an edit window with different options.
Double-tap: Double-tapping certain items will bring up a window with more information or options for that item. Score options and options for individual notes, chords, text, and tempo changes are all available by double-tapping.
Drag: Many items can be dragged:

• Keyboard
- You can raise and lower the keyboard by dragging or by touching the double-sided arrow control on the right side of the screen.
• Staff and chords
- Drag the staff up or down by its staff handle. Chords have their own handle which drags up or down.
• Bar lines
- Drag bar lines right or left to squeeze or expand a measure.
• Notes
- Notes can drag up or down or a short distance left or right. When you start dragging a note, a short vertical or horizontal line will appear through the note head. If the line that appears when you begin to drag is vertical, then you can only drag the note up or down- not side to side. Notice that if you touch a note and start dragging there's a little bit of delay before it moves. This prevents accidental drags, and also allows you to get your finger out of the way. Tip: Since it can be difficult to place a note on the correct line or space with your finger, we recommend the touch-drag note entry technique. Touch in the staff where you want to place the note symbol and then, without removing your finger from the screen, begin to drag up or down until the note is in the correct position. This is faster than repositioning a note that has already been entered. Another way to move notes up or down is to select one or more by touching them, and then use the Up or Down arrows found in the note action tools (see below).
• Text
- Text can be dragged anywhere. If dragged to a lyric line below the staff, it will space itself to fit the notes. Words can be broken with hyphens or spaces, and the program will assign one syllable to each note, or each group of tied or slurred notes, as needed.
• Note stems
- The length of note stems can be adjusted by dragging them up and down. This also adjusts beam angles if the notes are beamed.
• Slurs
- A slur, when selected, has three positioning handles that can be dragged to make adjustments.
- A tie can be dragged up or down and will "flip" its direction of curve when you move it to the other side of a note.
• Tool palettes
- The transparent tool palettes can be moved anywhere on the screen so that they're not in your way.

Two-finger drag: To scroll music left to right or up and down use two fingers.
Swipe Left: To delete selected items swipe left.
Pinch: Make the music smaller or larger using a pinching motion. Tip: Enlarging the music this way will often make note entry and editing easier.

Guide to Musica Touch™ icons:

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The tools on display will vary depending on the activity. The Composition activity shows probably the largest selection of them. Here is how it looks when in "panorama view," with each item numbered. A few extra items will follow for the "page view."

Play controls
Staff, chord and lyric handles
Tools at right side of the screen
Tools above the keyboard
Page view controls

Play controls:

1. Stop play.

2. Start play. When playing, this changes to a Pause symbol. Unless you're recording input in real time (as with the Tune Notater), you can pause anywhere in a piece and then continue. You can also set a "Play from here" marker so that the play will start somewhere other than the beginning. To set a Play from here marker, touch and hold above the staff where you want the play to begin. The edit menu will pop up and you can choose "Set Play from here" in the edit menu. A speaker symbol will appear above each staff at that point. To return to playing from the beginning bring up the edit menu and select "Cancel 'Play from here'."

3. Single arrows (outside) scroll by increments; double arrows jump to beginning or end of score.

Staff, chord and lyric handles:

4. Margin control. Drag to set left margin. In page view, you can also set the right margin.

5. Chord handle and chord information button. (The chord handle is only visible when a chord has been entered.) Drag the chord handle to move chords up and down. Touch the information button to bring up the chord settings window. Here you can adjust the volume, choose an instrument, select a chord font and notation style for your chords.

6. Staff handle and staff information button. Use this to drag a staff up or down. A solid green staff handle indicates which staff is currently "active." (In order to receive input from the keyboard the staff must be active.) Touch the information button to bring up the staff settings window. Here you can adjust the volume, choose an instrument, and access the lyric options for that staff.

7. Lyric handle. (The lyric handle is only visible when lyric text has been entered on or dragged to a lyric line.) You can enter lyrics for each staff. Drag the lyric handle up and down to adjust the position of text attached to a lyric line. Touch the staff information button for more lyric options.

8. The staff handle and information button for the lower staff of this pair. Touch the handle or anywhere in the staff to make this staff the active one.

Tools at the right of the screen:

9. Return to home screen. Touch this to change to a different activity or if you want to check the Scoreboard. Unless you launch a new activity you can touch the same icon to return to the current activity. You can also just drag the side panel back and forth, but this saves you all that work.

10. Panorama view. Touch this to see the music laid out left to right, like a piano roll. For a long score editing can be quicker in Panorama. Use a two-finger drag to scroll the music left to right or up and down. The scroll button are another way to move left or right.

11. Page view. Touch this to see the music in page view. You can edit in either view, though some kinds of editing are more comfortable in one than the other.

12. Undo. There are several layers of Undo. Touch this to undo the last action. When you run out of Undos the tool will become inactive.

13. Redo. If you just undid something and changed your mind, touch this. It Undoes the Undo.

14. Metronome and tempo setting. You can change the overall tempo, and turn on an optional metronome sound to be heard as music plays (the tempo change symbol can be entered in the music to make changes of tempo within the piece). This window also has an option to tick in a "divided beat" (Like one-and, two-and...). Hearing the divided beat can be helpful when trying to play exactly in time with the metronome. For the Playing Rhythm activities you might also find it useful to turn on the "Show beat markers" option.

15. Share. You can export the current music as a music file readable by any copy of Musica Touch or Songworks, or as a printable PDF page. If you email a music file to a friend with Musica Touch (even if it's just the free version!), it can be opened directly from the mail program. PDF files can easily be printed by any modern computer connected to a printer. If you are exporting the music to be read by a desktop copy of Songworks, be sure to have the music in panorama view when you export - Songworks on the desktop doesn't yet know about page view editing)

Tools above the keyboard

16. Touch here to view the keyboard settings. Here you can adjust the volume, choose an instrument, change temperament (tuning), select the one-octave "fat keys" keyboard, and turn on the option to show note names on the keyboard.

17. Clef tools. Touch this icon to bring up the clef tools palette. You can choose from a wide selection of clefs. To change an existing clef, select the existing clef and choose a new one from the clef palette. To enter a change of clef somewhere in the music, touch one of the clefs and then touch in the music. Notes following the new clef will automatically adjust position as needed.

18. Key signature tools. Work the same way as clefs.

19. Meter signature tools. Work the same way as clefs.

20. Chord symbols. Touch this to see the chord tool palette, which will initially display the most common chords for the key you are using. It also has buttons to change the root, type, and name of any chord - either one of those in the palette, or a selected chord already in the music. (Chords can be further customized by bringing up the customize chord window.) Chord symbols are audible and will play along with the rest of the written music according to whatever "playpattern" you've chosen for the chord. These range from block chords to arpeggios and oompahs, boogie, etc. Audible chord symbols help a lot when figuring out the harmony for a song.

21. Text tool. To enter text or lyrics, first touch the text tool then touch in the music. The text box for entering text will appear. When you touch inside the text editing box, the letter keys keyboard will appear for typing. You can type a title, composer name, a line of lyric - anything you want. Below the text box are options for choosing a font, centering text, and making text attached to a lyric line move freely (see adding lyrics). When you dismiss the edit window by touching outside it you can then drag the text around to adjust its position. To make changes to text that has already been entered in the score, double-tap the text. The text will appear in the text box window for editing.

Green "lyric lines" appear under the active staff when you're dragging text. If you drag text onto a lyric line it will automatically space itself to follow the notes of the related staff. You can separate syllables with dashes or spaces. If you drag the text away from the lyric line it reverts to ordinary "free text. Other lyric options are available in Staff settings since each staff has its own lyric lines. These options include locking the lyrics to their current position and using vocal style notation (lyrics treat beams like slurs).

22. Keyboard octave. Drag the center rectangle to change the octave range of the screen piano. Turn on piano note names (keyboard info button) to see octave numbers.

23. Note and rest tools. These also include the "slash" symbol used in lead sheets. A slash represents one beat of accompaniment.

24. Bar lines and repeat signs. Repeat signs play as written during playback. Autobar option available.

25. Accidentals (sharps and flats that are not part of the key signature.) Here you'll find natural, flat, sharp, double-flat, and double-sharp.

26. Action tools. Use these to alter notes that have already been selected in the following ways: change the stem direction (and set default stem direction), beam selected notes together, tie notes, slur notes, and change a group of selected notes into a triplet or tuplet. Each of these action buttons has a do and undo form: for example, the beam button beams selected notes and the unbeam beam button unbeams selected notes. There are also options for auto beaming and auto stem direction. Use the up and down arrows to move a selected note or notes up or down on the staff.

27. Miscellaneous symbols. These include two that allow you to make tempo changes. After entering a fermata or a tempo-change symbol in the music you can double-tap the symbol to set the time change. A fermata changes the tempo for one beat; a tempo change symbol will change the tempo until the next tempo change.

28. Show/Hide keyboard.

(Not numbered) The buttons at the very top of the screen differ for each activity. They are mostly self explanatory. Here's a look at the buttons for the Composition activity:

File: Use this to open or save a new music file, rename a file, or open a previously saved music file.

Save: Quick save option

Options: Score options will also appear if you double-tap in the music window. Here you can set note spacing, add measure numbers, or transpose the entire score.

Add/Delete staff: These are pretty obvious. They only appear in the Composition activity. The delete staff button will delete whichever staff is "active." The active staff has a solid blue staff handle. See "Working with Multiple Staves".

How to use the controls in page view

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You'll want to use the page view controls to format your score for printing.

1, 2. Draggable left and right margin controls.

3. Page control. Touch to change to the next or previous page.

4. A block of text being used as a title. Free text can go anywhere.

5, 8. Staff system spacing controls. Drag these controls to move everything below them up or down. The upper-most spacing control sets the distance between the top of the page and the first staff system. Once you've set the spacing of your chords, staff and lyrics, you can drag the second spacing control up or down to set the space between the first and second staves. Then you can do the same with the remaining controls. Spacing between staff systems doesn't have to be all the same - you could open up a wider area to put in extra text, etc.

6. The chord handle drags up or down to move chord symbols up or down. It is visible only if chord symbols have been entered. When it's present there is also an info button at its left that offers options for chords.

The staff handle works the same as in panorama view, to drag an individual staff up or down. It also has an info button for options, including a set of options for lyrics associated with that staff.

7. The lyric handle drags a set of lyrics up or down in relation to its staff.

Remember that the score options (double tap anywhere on the page) also include the ability to print on different sizes of paper (U.S. letter or legal, A4) and to change the print scaling. The print scaling adjustment doesn't change the size of the paper - it changes the size of the music. For example, at 80% print size notes will be printed smaller, with more measures per line.

Getting help

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If you have questions about Musica Touch please see our FAQ sheet and feedback form.

Special thanks to Tim Brechbill ( for the small sound font that formed the basis of the one used here, to David Evans for the foundation code that underlies this project, and to all Ars Nova employees and customers who have contributed ideas.

Musica Touch™ © 2014 Ars Nova Software. This page may be freely copied.