Now you can scribble on your iPad and turn it into music with StaffPad

StaffPad in use
StaffPad in use (Image credit: StaffPad)

What you need to know

  • StaffPad is now available for iPad.
  • The app allows musicians to draw music using an Apple Pencil.
  • There's a free reader app for displaying music, too.

They say you're better late than never, and that's definitely the feeling I get with the arrival of StaffPad on iPad. The app has been around on the Windows platform for five years at this point, but now it's made the jump to iPadOS. The app, available from the App Store for $89.99, allows musicians to draw notes using an Apple Pencil and then turn them into written music.

But writing music is just part of the story. The version of StaffPad coming to iPad also supports sound libraries that can be added via in-app purchase. They come from Spitfire Audio, Orchestral Tools, and Cinesamples and range from $19.99 through $99.99. In theory, you could go all-out and have a full orchestra play whatever you just created. David William Hearn, co-founder of StaffPad, told The Verge that "would have been so complicated to try and achieve" previously.

If you need to distribute your work to a real orchestra, there's a free Reader app that means they won't need to have the full StaffPad app installed.

I've heard good things about StaffPad over the years and it's great news that it's now available on iPad, too. I can't play an instrument or hold a tune to save my life, but if you're the musical type this could be a great addition to your iPad.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.