Sinatra-style crooner Harry Connick Jr has patented a method for reading music from Macs.

Connick has received United States patent 6,348,648 “for coordinating music display among players in an orchestra.” He said: “It basically eliminates old-fashioned sheet music.”

The idea dawned on him one day when his big band was playing outdoors, and the sheet music was blowing around: “Why not have all 16 band members read their music off computer screens instead?” he asked.

Connick bought enough blue-&-white Power Macs with rotatable screens to allow his orchestra to read from electronic sheet-music.

Advances Neighbour David Pogue – author of the Missing Manuals and a former Broadway conductor – gave him technical advice.

Pogue said: “A lot of the guys I knew from my pit work on Broadway said that it would never work. They said the computer would crash or the screen wouldn’t refresh itself in time for a professional situation.” In fact, the technology had progressed enough that the electronic page could be turned faster and more reliably than a paper page, according to Pogue.

Members of Connick’s band met the idea with scepticism: “They circled it and sniffed it the first day. But by the time they opened the tour, they were really into it.”

Connick arranges his own scores straight onto his Mac with Coda Music’s Finale software, distributed in the UK by Et Cetera.

He hopes that the computers will eventually feature their own operating system and a touch screen to write music with.

Connick claims to have approached Apple with the idea. On the day the patent was issued, Connick said, his wife, Jill Goodacre asked if he was proud of himself: “Not really,” Connick quipped. “It’s not like I invented Velcro or anything.”