Episode 4 – Notion Interview (Music Notation App)

On today’s episode we have Chris from PreSonos the maker’s of Notion for iOS, Mac and Windows. Notion is the best app for composing, arranging and creating sheet music on the iPad. Chris is the product manager and a composer himself.

In today’s interview we discuss the process of writing music with Notion, the customer feedback loop for creating new features, the process of working with Apple on having their app featured in an ad, what features you get in the Mac version that haven’t yet made it over to the iPad, tips for utilizing all of the different input methods (which include handwriting recognition, MIDI keyboards and touch to enter) and many more topics to help you understand what Notion is all about and hopefully inspire some of you to start creating your own music.

For those that don’t know I was a music composition major in college and have spend hundreds of hours writing music with Finale Music on the Mac. Notion is an impressive app and am pleased to say that I am once again writing music thanks to this app. Just last weekend my flight was delayed by several hours and was able to create a wonderful piano piece while I was waiting for my plane to arrive. For those interested I’ll be including what is finished of that piece at the very end of this episode.

If you like the show please review it in iTunes. Feedback and topic requests can be sent to iPadProsPodcast@gmail.com.

YouTube Version of the Podcast

Video Extras

Links and Show Notes


PreSonus Notion Music Website
Esa-Pekka on Composing (Video)
Esa-Pekka on Inspiration (Video)
Esa-Pekka on Classical Music (Video)
Esa-Pekka’s Verse (TV Ad)
Create Music with Notion (Hal Leonard Book)
PUC by Jamstik
JamStik (MIDI Guitar)
TriplePlay Wireless MIDI Guitar Controller by Fishman
Xkey Air (Mobile Music Keyboard) by CME


  1. How do you listen to users / plan and prioritise new features
  2. Tell me about the history of Notion, why PreSonus acquired it, your role, involvement in Apple’s campaigns, the Esa-Pekka Salonen TV ad, etc etc
  3. Can you walk me through the process of composing music on the iPad version of the app? What input tools and editing tools should users get familiar with?
  4. What’s your favorite part of the iPad version?
  5. What’s your preferred input method on the iPad?
  6. Can you walk me through the process of polishing up your score? How do you like to go through and add articulations, dynamics and other markings outside of the notes?
  7. What tips do you have for getting the most out of the handwriting recognition?
  8. Your app supports huge orchestral scores, but playback is limited to 14 notes at a time, are there any optimizations that can be made for the iPad Pro that would alleviate this? What limitations on iOS cause this to happen?
  9. Are there any limitations to the number of staves? I tried to break it and couldn’t feels like it’s truly unlimited.
  10. How does the quick access pallet work? Can I customize what goes in there?
  11. What can be done with the selection pallet? It seems like there are a lot of powerful things in more if you tap into that.
  12. What sounds come with the app, and which ones do you need to pay extra for?
  13. What Bluetooth MIDI keyboards do you recommend? I currently have a USB MIDI keyboard that I’m really happy with, but curious what wireless options are out there.
  14. I see some different options for entering lyrics into the score, what do the different modes allow for?
  15. How does your app handle multi-measure rests? Is it automatically applied to parts during a PDF export?
  16. What tips do you have for getting the most out of Notion on the iPad?
  17. What power features do you think most people don’t realize are in your app?
  18. What features are in your Mac and Windows versions that haven’t made it to the iPad yet?

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