W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-xg-audio@w3.org > December 2010

RE: Music Notation on the Web

From: Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler) <RogerCutler@chevron.com>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2010 11:11:27 -0600
Message-ID: <74D099405487FD48AEBE947AC287EB725C8B73@HOU150NTXC16M.hou150.chevrontexaco.net>
To: "Michael Good" <musicxml@gmail.com>, <public-xg-audio@w3.org>
The problems using MusicXML as an interchange format between Finale and
Sibelius are interesting and important (and it's quite likely my bad
experience was using non-current versions), but the real driver - at
least for me - is the issue of publishing music on the Web in a usable
format - and by usable I mean that it can not only be displayed and
printed in a format that is performable if perhaps not entirely perfect,
but it can also be easily imported into software that can be used to
transpose or otherwise modify or prettify the music.  I want to do that
ten or twenty times for every time I want to communicate between Finale
and Sibelius.  Here's the site I use most often to get music:
http://www2.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page -- I have yet to get
anything from this site that satisfies those desires.  I am aware that
there are (many?) other sites from which musicians get "real" music -
for example, I brought a printed version of the continuo part for a
vocal duet to some professional musicians - they didn't like my version
and while one was tuning his theorbo (a heck of a cool instrument) the
other one went to some standard site for instrumentalists of that sort
and had a score printed out that they liked before the other guy
finished his tuning.  But they were lucky that we were singing the thing
in the original key - if we'd been up or down a third they would have
been stumped, as far as I know.


I cannot argue the technicalities of MusicXML capabilities - all I know
is that in practice it's not doing the job.  So why not?  What is needed
to get that job done?  I suspect - and I know that this may be
controversial and possibly really wrong - that the 80-20 of that job
could be done by something a lot simpler and easier to use, and that
this would work for literally millions of scores.  Is simplicity and
ease of use a central issue in why the job is, in practice, not getting


From: public-xg-audio-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-xg-audio-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Michael Good
Sent: Sunday, December 12, 2010 8:03 PM
To: public-xg-audio@w3.org
Subject: Re: Music Notation on the Web


Hi Tom,


MIDI is too lossy even for pitches and rhythms in notation applications.
This is true for nearly any notation use case today. MIDI was never
designed for notation interchange, so it's a tribute to MIDIs usability
and extensibility that it was able to play that role for so long in the
absence of other alternatives.


Roger's experience is probably related to some problems in Sibelius's
MusicXML import where Sibelius interprets some of MusicXML's formatting
data correctly but omits or misinterprets other data. This can lead to
ugly-looking artifacts like overlapping systems. There are workarounds
for these issues, and they are less frequent now than in the past.
However, if it happens the first time you try to do Finale to Sibelius
file exchange, you could understandably be disappointed. The solution
isn't to eliminate formatting from MusicXML itself - customers long ago
told us they want more formatting, not less - but to fix the problems
with reading the formatting information in MusicXML files.


There are some situations where keep MusicXML's formatting is not
desired, such as importing MusicXML files into LilyPond. People usually
do this because they prefer the way LilyPond does its automatic
formatting compared to automatic formatting in other programs. In that
case, keeping the formatting is counterproductive, so LilyPond simply
ignores it during import. Finale/Sibelius exchange is usually not a
similar situation, but even there, Sibelius provides some options during
import about supporting or ignoring formatting attributes like page


If enough people think it is worthwhile, we could include a standard
"strip formatting and performance" XSLT stylesheet for MusicXML 3.0,
similar to the XSLT stylesheets that strip out MusicXML 2.0 and 1.1
features for backwards compatibility.


MIDI has an important role to play in the browser both for input and
playback, and those are good topics for the working group to address in
separate discussions.


Best regards,


Michael Good

Recordare LLC

www.recordare.com <http://www.recordare.com/> 
Received on Monday, 13 December 2010 17:12:01 UTC

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