As a chorus and opera singer, I frequently download public-domain scores in PDF form. I would like to read them on an Android tablet during rehearsals. I don't have an Android tablet myself yet, but from my experience with an Android phone (small screen) and iPad tablet, I expect the following flaws:

  • Some PDF files containing high-resolution scans of the score take a long time to display. The degree of lag is a function of how the PDF file was made. In some scores it seems like the page starts off blurry and comes into focus. (Observed on iPad)
  • It's difficult to jump to arbitrary points in the score (e.g. director says, "let's skip to page 166", those with books turn easily, I fumble fumble on the device) (Observed on phone and iPad)
  • It's hard to add bookmarks to PDF files to correspond to rehearsal numbers, to speed up jumping to points in the score. (Observed on phone and iPad)
  • There's no way I know of to make annotations on the score during a rehearsal, even an "x" to say "review this later". (Observed on phone and iPad)
  • Other wishes for Android PDF readers, gleaned from about a dozen questions here on Android.SE tagged with

So I'm looking for a good way to read PDF musical scores on Android tablet in rehearsal and performance. I'm looking for characteristics like:

  • Should read ahead in the PDF file, digesting the next couple of pages of the score, so that when I turn to the next page, the page appears instantly -- for all PDF files, even those with high-resolution scanned images.
  • Easy ways to jump to page numbers and rehearsal numbers quickly, while rehearsing.
  • Ways to add bookmarks to scores for rehearsal numbers
  • Some way of annotating the score.
  • Displays each musical staff at least 7mm high
  • Displays the score at least 15cm x 10cm, preferably 20cm x 25cm, and a huge 50cm x 33cm would be even better.
  • I can think of many features which would make the experience even better.

Can any of you recommend a way to use an Android device as a good PDF musical score reader?

Background: I'm dithering about whether to buy an iPad or Android tablet, and music score reading is an important use case for me. Knowing there's a good way to get the job done will influence my choice.

I have found only one other question in Android.SE, Auto scrolling PDF reader?. They ask only about the auto-scrolling feature, which is one I actually don't find so important.

There is a Music.SE site, but they consider questions like this one out of scope.

Update: rephrased into a "How can I do X?" question per Android.SE meta discussion.

  • Unfortunately this question is off-topic as asking for recommendations is forbidden, read the FAQ, thanks! :)
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 19:20
  • 2
    Rephrased into a "How can I do X?" question per Android.SE meta discussion. Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 20:03
  • The brussels orchestra already does this (using Samsung 10.1 tabs), afaik they have custom apps. Maybe ask them? global.samsungtomorrow.com/?p=20238
    – ce4
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 20:49
  • +1 I've thought about this myself (as an amateur handbell ringer) -- but the ability to mark up the score would be a must-have.
    – TomG
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 2:26

3 Answers 3


Agreed, I think MobileSheets or the Fakebook (my favourite) is the way to go. Quick browsing in music and (almost) no delay when swiping between pages. Some of the other features between these two varies, so YMMV. Fakebook is at http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.skrivarna.fakebook.android Hope this helps!


The major problem here is not the app, there's a lot of suitable music readers, but finding a large enough tablet. From my experience, the really large screens tend to be powered by older processors and lack resolution, being manufactured by some of the smaller and lesser known brands. This also means they often run older versions of Android. To put it simply, the main (sole?) selling point is the screen size.

That being said, as recommended by Ulf above, give the Fakebook sheet music reader app a try. It has most of the features mentioned, including pre-loading/pre-parsing for quicker page loading. Still no bookmarking though. As it's only $2 at Google Play. it won't break the bank (and, as the developer, I can offer you a refund if not completely satisfied).

Have fun playing!

  • Samsung makes a 12.2" tablet. :) Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 23:17
  • Correct. But 12.2" is still far from 50cm x 33cm... Actually it is still smaller than the OP preferred 20cm x 25cm or the A4 size often requested by musicians.
    – Bernard
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 19:07

I have been using MobileSheets recently and have used it with big band charts that I scanned in as PDF files. The nice feature I found was the ability to set links (up to 10 per song) back to a D.S, sign and then from the "to coda" sign jump there using a Airturn 105 pedal. Worked great in a performance where I had the set list set up and could just keep hitting the pedal to go to the next song or section of a song without trying to flip multiple pages in the charts.

I was using my Asus tablet a TF101 which is a little smaller than my Freehand Music pad which I have used for a few years. The Freehand its reaching the end soon and I have been looking for a replacement and the MobileSheets supports PDF, and image files much better so I am thinking the Android will be a good change. I am looking for the right size screen the Asus p1801-t (has battery 5 hours) is a possibility or the Viewsonic VSD221 (no battery). Either of those could display (2) pages I think.

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