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Magic Stave & Stave Free iPhone Apps Manual Bookmark and Share


NEWSFLASH: A new version of Magic Stave is now available: Automatic Key Signature Detection! Sing to Magic Stave and not only will it show you the notes you're singing but tell you the key as well! This feature joins other recent updates such as Note Letters View, Note History, Cent Tuning Meter and easy Wifi access to midi recordings changes. Details in the blog. All new features are free upgrades to existing owners of Magic Stave. See YouTube demo below:

Welcome to the Magic Stave website. This iPhone app is designed to provide insights into musical notation for everyone. If you're learning to read music on any instrument then Magic Stave will provide invaluable assistance and accelerate your ability to read music. Magic Stave displays the notes that you're actually playing or singing and you can then compare this with the music you're attempting to learn/play. The notes are displayed either as note symbols OR as the letter names of the notes on the stave. This is really great for learning the names and positions of notes on the staves. You can use Magic Stave to 'cross check' that you're playing the right note. Magic Stave lets singers learn music without keyboard accompaniment - it shows you the notes you're currently singing. Also useful for pitch training. There are a host of configuration options to enable Magic Stave to be used in many musical learning/educational situations.

The latest version of Magic Stave incorporates recording of detected notes in MIDI format (not in the free version). So play/sing your song ideas into Magic Stave then import them into any sequencer that can import MIDI files. It's been tested with Logic Pro and Sibelius sequencers. Additional insights can be found in the blog


The app continually listens to audio from either the built-in microphone (or plugged-in microphone for iPod Touches) and attempts to detect frequencies that match musical tones in the range C2 to C6. It displays detected tones as notes or note letters on a stave of your choice (and piano keyboard or guitar fretboard (for Magic Stave only - not Magic Stave Free) according to the configuration settings. Notes are displayed according to the configured key signature. This means that superfluous accidentals are avoided and the display will match any music score that may be being used. Any monophonic sound source can be used – voice, piano, guitar, violin etc.  If the detected frequency is out of note range then the displayed note will turn red to indicate that it does not represent the detected frequency. The notes history is displayed as well (not in the free version)

Switch between settings amd music display easily by rotating the iPhone between landscape and portrait positions - just like the built-in Calculator App switches between 'normal' and 'scientific' modes.

Music Display Screen


In general tapping any information on the screen will either cycle the display element through its valid values or show/hide it. This ability is only active while the screen is unlocked (by tapping the padlock icon). Tapping a blank area where information was displayed previously will redisplay it. Specifically:


      Staves – tap this area and the stave will cycle through the various types – Grand, Treble & Bass.

      Key Signature – tap this area to cycle through the key signatures (in circle of 5ths order).

      Lower Panel – tap this area to cycle through piano, guitar and MIDI recording controls (just keyboard in Magic Stave free) switch the keyboard display on or off .

      Octave Number – tap this number to switch the display on or off.

      Note Frequency & Cent Tuning– tap this to switch the display on or off.

      Transpose – this is only displayed if there is a non zero transpose value set. It cannot be hidden.

      Info Icon – tap this to be taken to the app Settings pages.

      Padlock Icon – The screen can only be configured if the padlock is green (unlocked).



Midi Recording


The MIDI recording controls panel can be seen above. The recording control icons and behaviour have been modelled on the Apple Voice Memos ones for a consistent user experience. Tap the record button to start/pause recording (red centre to the left of the red recording status panel). When recording is active tap the black square to stop recording (to the right of the red recording status panel). If paused/stopped then the black square icon will switch to 3 black lines. Tapping this icon will display the MIDI files list


Tap a recording to display its details. From the details screen you can email the recording or delete it. Tap the details panel to give the recording a preset label or custom name.



Key Signature

The picker allows the selection of any major or minor key. The notes detected will be displayed according to the selected key. This will dictate the position and accidentals displayed. The staves will also display the correct key signature accidentals.


There are three staves to choose from – Grand, Treble & Bass. Select the one that suits your situation best.

Frequency for A

The picker allows the selection of the frequency for the note A4. All other notes frequencies are calculated from this reference frequency. Standard instrument tunings use the default of 440.0Hz but you may adjust this if required. Common alternate tunings are displayed on the picker wheel where relevant.


The detected notes can be automatically transposed up or down by up to 12 semitones. This allows instruments that sound in one key, but whos written music is in a different key to use the app. For example when a B flat Trumpet plays in the key of C major and plays a C then the actual note frequency emitted from the instrument is B flat. Thus setting the Transpose picker to +2 will transpose detected notes up by 2 semitones causing the note to be displayed on the stave as a C.  If the transposed note requires display outside of the note range C2 to C6 then the displayed note will turn green to indicate this and will be displayed using 8ve or 8vb notation.

Lower Panel

Select the panel that you want to display in the lower region of the main display here (Magic Stave only). Alternatively just tap the main music display in the keyboard/guitar area to cycle through the panels.

Guitar Transpose

You can have the stave show notes an octave higher than their actual concert pitch - as is the case for guitar music.

Note Frequency

Switch for display/hiding detected note frequencies. Can also be done by tapping the frequency area on the main display.

Note Names

Switch for swapping between the two different Note naming conventions. When the switch is ON the note names are displayed consistent with the key signature. This means that if the detected note was F sharp for example then in the key of E major the name would be displayed simply as F. Similarly, if the detected note was an F natural then it would be displayed as an F natural. When this switch is OFF then notes are named as if the current key was C Major regardless of the actual configured key signature. So an F sharp would be displayed as an F sharp if the current key signature was E Major and an F natural (again in the key of E Major) would be displayed simply as an F.

Octave Number

Switch for display/hiding note octave numbers. Can also be done by tapping the octave note number area on the main display.

Screen Lock

Switch for controlling the screen lock. When ON the screen cannot be tapped to configure the fields. Set to OFF to enable this ability. This action can also be performed directly on the main Music Display.

About, Version & Support

App version information is displayed here.

Email Support

If you find a bug or have an idea for improving the app then please email us using the link on the previous About screen.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, problems or feature enhancement requests please let us know by email.


Other Great Apps

We've developed other great apps:

  • Dr Rhythm Fantastic tool for learning music rhythm notation. Tap in a rhythm and see and hear it played correctly
  • mi mic A sophisticated but incredibly easy to use audio recorder with features that far exceed the apple 'built in' app.
  • music match is a fun way to learn music notation for young and old.
  • tables match is a companion game to music match. Get your kids to learn times tables the easy way!
  • bank card checker is a useful way to check the validity of credit/debit cards.



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