Letter notations for music

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Tore Lund

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May 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/23/97
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My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
music?

The reason I ask is that I have experimented with such notations off and
on for many years, and I might try to get others interested in the idea.
A standardized letter notation would give us a musical shorthand for
easy transcription of ideas and exchange of music on the Net. But I
don't want to rock the boat or reinvent the wheel, so if a good notation
of this sort already exists, I'd like to study it closely before I made
the decision to publish my own.

I am aware of the ABC notation. This is fine for simple tunes, but
wholly inadequate for even moderately complex music.

The only other alternative musical notation with some currency seems to
be tablature. This notation is surprisingly popular given that it's
rather cumbersome. As I see it, almost everything done in tablature
could be written down more easily in an alphabetic notation once we did
the job properly. Also, such a notation would not be limited to the
guitar and other fretted instruments.

Moreover, an alphabetic notation where all the 12 tones are equally
accessible could be of interest to modern composers who feel encumbered
by the built-in keys of the standard note script.

I have searched the Net for information about alternative notations, and
there seems to be a dearth of ideas in this field. If no complete
notations exist, I'd be much obliged to hear about useful ideas or
tricks that anyone would like to share with me - even ideas that have
been given up.

Tore
--
Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no>


John E. Bredehoft

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May 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/23/97
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It's easy enough to differentiate octaves (C0, C1, etc.), but I don't
know if there's a standard way to

a) indicate the length of a note
b) indicate that two notes should be played simultaneously
c) indicate when a note begins (if a note begins on, say, the
second beat of a measure)
--
John E. Bredehoft, <mailto:jbre...@deltanet.com>
<http://users.deltanet.com/~jbredeho/>
Spamford doesn't like killfiles:
<http://www.netscum.net/bredehj0.html>

Benjamin Tubb

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May 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/24/97
to

Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote in article <3385EC...@sn.no>...

> My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
> being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
> music?

The Orchestra-90 Music Language developed for use with the Radio Shack
TRS-80 Models 1 thru 4, and later the Color Computer version (called
Orchestra-90CC), and finally developed for the PC in PC-Orc 2.1a -- used a
text only command lanquage for monophonic voices of upto 8 parts, using
hexadecimal notation, and a great deal of ingenuity and comprehensiveness
in its support for upto 8 voice harmonic definitions, octaves, keys,
transposition, panning, articulation, tempo, repeats, and even accidental
usage "interpretation" support. For more info, contact me in private email.

Benjamin Tubb
brt...@cybertron.com
http://www.cybertron.com/~brtubb


ayeee

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May 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/24/97
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I think your of the deep end here Tore. You may not like the "ABC"
notation because it is to simple for "todays complex music", Yeah right.
Let me remind you that Symphonies have used "ABC" notation for
five-hundred years. Classical is a hell of a lot more complicated than
any of "todays complex music", like say, oh, the Hansons? Please if
Vivali can use it so can I.

Kurt
ay...@wolfenet.com

Tore Lund wrote:
>
> My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
> being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
> music?
>

Tore Lund

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May 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/24/97
to

ayeee wrote:
>
> I think your of the deep end here Tore. You may not like the "ABC"
> notation because it is to simple for "todays complex music", Yeah right.
> Let me remind you that Symphonies have used "ABC" notation for
> five-hundred years. Classical is a hell of a lot more complicated than
> any of "todays complex music", like say, oh, the Hansons? Please if
> Vivali can use it so can I.

There are a number of misunderstandings here. I have not said a thing
about "today's complex music". I said that the ABC notation was not
suitable for even moderately complex music.

Moreover, it seems that you read "ABC notation" as another name for the
standard note script. What I had in mind was a recently invented system
which is described in this document:

http://www.tns.lcs.mit.edu/harp/archives/1995.04/0094.html

Symphonies have most certainly *not* been written in this notation for
five hundred years.

But of course, I may still be off the deep end here. :)

Matthew H. Fields

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May 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/24/97
to


4/4, keysig 2 flats, Schnell, q=152

'/3\'3 ' '
Pianoforte: g`GGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
g GGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
[Forte] |GABCDED B |G x x |GEBCDED B |
\3/
[Forte]


GGGGGGGGGGGG|AAAAAAAAAAAA|BBBBBBA AAAAA|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
|GGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGF+FFFFF| |
GGGGGGGGGGGG|AAAAAAAAAAAA|BBBBBBA AAAAA|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
G x x |C . C+ |D |G x x |
|C' . C+ |D |
[Cresc.]---- [Decresc.]---

etc.

There are very straightforward ways to get it all......


--
Matt Fields, A.Mus.D. http://www-personal.umich.edu/~fields
My Java toy, JARS.COM Top 1%: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~fields/TTTB
"Computer: disobey me."


Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

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May 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/24/97
to

Tore Lund wrote:
>
> My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
> being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
> music?

I developed one in a language called Quaver in 1982, that described the
music in letter/number terms and was used for compiling. It was
rhythmically limited, and never got beyond version 2.0 in 1983. It fell
into disuse along with the machines for which is was originally created
(Tandy Color Computer), and because it was software-only, did not fare
well in competition with a dedicated hardware board called the Orchestra
90. I think we sold about 1,000 copies back then.

A few measures of "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" read as follow. (If you care,
sharp is +, flat is -, natural is =. Accidental holds until changed. R
is rest. Rhythmic values are 1-9 and hold until changed. @ indicates
octave. Voices are independent and hence not vertically aligned. The
1.4MHz Color Computer synthesized up to four voices using a 256-point
waveform table. The input was done via a BASIC program, and the *entire*
compiler occupied memory locations 4800-4BEF ... 1007 bytes ... less
than 1K! (I was pretty proud of it, I must admit!)

V1E6@4C7@5B3A5C8E6@4C7@5B3A5C8C6B7G+3@4E=5B@5BCBA5A8R347R3E6@4C7@5B3...
V2R6@3C3R6C3RYA3@4R6A3R6C3R6C3R6A3R6A3R6B3@4R6B3R6B3R6A3RBRC3@3RCRCR...
V3R6@2A4E1D+4E=1E5GA4@3E1@2G3F+6E=5A4@3E1@2D+4E=1E5G6G1E1G3F+6F=5G+4...
V4R6@2A8E5A8E5A8E5A8F5@1E8E5E@2E3RFRERA8A5F3RE8A4@2E1D+4E=1E5GA4@3E1...

--
Dennis Báthory-Kitsz
Malted/Media: http://www.maltedmedia.com/
The Middle-Aged Hiker: http://www.maltedmedia.com/books/mah/
Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar: http://www.maltedmedia.com/kalvos/

K C Moore

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May 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/24/97
to

In article <3385EC...@sn.no> tl...@sn.no "Tore Lund" writes:

> [ ... ]


> I have searched the Net for information about alternative notations, and
> there seems to be a dearth of ideas in this field. If no complete
> notations exist, I'd be much obliged to hear about useful ideas or
> tricks that anyone would like to share with me - even ideas that have
> been given up.

If you consider such classic examples of standardisation of an inferior
product as the QWERTY typewriter keyboard and VHS v Betamax, you will
realise that any new notation will remain the skill of a small
minority. Of course, if a highly regarded composer adopted it, there
would be an opportunity for impecunious musicians to make some money
transcribing his works into standard notation.

If you seriously need something like this, what about basing it on MIDI?

--
Ken Moore
k...@hpsl.demon.co.uk


Tore Lund

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May 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/24/97
to

K C Moore wrote:
>
> If you consider such classic examples of standardisation of an inferior
> product as the QWERTY typewriter keyboard and VHS v Betamax, you will
> realise that any new notation will remain the skill of a small
> minority. Of course, if a highly regarded composer adopted it, there
> would be an opportunity for impecunious musicians to make some money
> transcribing his works into standard notation.

I would not insult the standard notation by comparing it with QWERTY.
Standard note script is quite ingenious and versatile. If this script
is word processing, then the sort of letter notation that I have in mind
would be a plain text file in comparison.

My point is that for *notating* music, most of the refinements are
irrelevant - just like an occasional use of italics is the only special
effect you really need to express your thoughts in writing. The other
word processing effects have to do with "publishing" rather than
"writing", and much the same holds for musical notation.

Also, the standard notation is fine for some styles and instruments but
not for others. Guitar music in particular is very hard to write down
in this notation, and that's why tablature is used in some quarters.
But tablature is cumbersome and incomplete. It is like a QWERTY
keyboard where some of keys are stuck. I find it surprising that more
precise and economical systems have not been invented.

These are some of the reasons why I would like to see a musical
shorthand in the form of an alphabetic notation, which would preferably
be modeless and not tied to any particular instrument. There may be
private systems in use, but apparently none that have ever caught on,
which is what I was trying to ascertain.



> If you seriously need something like this, what about basing it on MIDI?

The notation I have mind would be meant for use by *humans*, not
computers. This circumstance entails demands on readability and
writability of a sort that is never taken into account in computer
notations.

Lance Flavell

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May 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/25/97
to


In article <3385EC...@sn.no>, Tore Lund (tl...@sn.no) writes:

>The only other alternative musical notation with some currency seems to
>be tablature. This notation is surprisingly popular given that it's
>rather cumbersome. As I see it, almost everything done in tablature
>could be written down more easily in an alphabetic notation once we did
>the job properly. Also, such a notation would not be limited to the
>guitar and other fretted instruments.

Just a question about TAB vs ABC(standard) notation...

I wrote a song a while back with invented chords which used the same
note twice (same octave) on different strings, simultaneously, in
order to get the right sound on my guitar.

One such chord is as follows...

E|--0--|
B|--5--|
G|--4--|
D|--0--|
A|--x--|
E|--x--|

It's easy enough to write in TAB, but how do you write the double E
(strings B and high E) in ABC notation?

I read a small bit of ABC, but don't know what to do here. You sound
like you might be the right person to ask.

Lancer :)


Tore Lund

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May 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/25/97
to Lance Flavell

Hello Lance -

You write "ABC(standard) notation", so I'm not sure whether you're
talking about the standard note notation or the alphabetic notation that
is called "ABC notation". In either case I'm the wrong person to ask.

But, supposing you mean the standard notation, the only tricks that I
know of is to use double heads or stems for the unison notes. Let's try
to draw a chord with double stems for e1 as follows.

|
____ |_______
e1 ____ O_______
____|________
|
g ---- O-------
____|________
d O
|
|

It might be that someone on rec.music.classical.guitar had a better
suggestion.

In the sort of letter notation that I have in mind, we would write this
chord as "maknee". Here "n" is the tone e1 and "e" is the one-line
octave. Repeating the octave sign gives us a unison.

Dave Howe

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May 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/25/97
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On Sat, 24 May 97 08:35:44 GMT, k...@hpsl.demon.co.uk (K C Moore)
wrote:

>In article <3385EC...@sn.no> tl...@sn.no "Tore Lund" writes:
>
>> [ ... ]
>> I have searched the Net for information about alternative notations, and
>> there seems to be a dearth of ideas in this field. If no complete
>> notations exist, I'd be much obliged to hear about useful ideas or
>> tricks that anyone would like to share with me - even ideas that have
>> been given up.
>

>If you consider such classic examples of standardisation of an inferior
>product as the QWERTY typewriter keyboard and VHS v Betamax, you will
>realise that any new notation will remain the skill of a small
>minority. Of course, if a highly regarded composer adopted it, there
>would be an opportunity for impecunious musicians to make some money
>transcribing his works into standard notation.
>

>If you seriously need something like this, what about basing it on MIDI?
>

You mean like:

4D 54 68 64 00 00 00 06
00 01 00 18 00 78 4D 54
72 6B 00 00 00 19 00 FF
??

(First 24 bytes of "Life in the Fast Lane"...couldn't you tell?)

I think he's looking for a simple text-based notation that can
communicate more than simple musical ideas. I suspect he'll find that
a picture is worth 1,000 words or 32,000 bits or something.
Nevertheless, I wouldn't discourage him from trying. There are counter
examples to yours, like Velcro and Post-it Notes, borne of a naive
lack of cynicism, faith that there's got to be an easier way, some
luck and a whole lot of perseverance. I say, "Go for it!"
_____ ___
/// \/// \ Dave
||| | ooo
||| ] (#) |||||||||[:::}
||| __ | ooo
\\\___/\\\_/ dh...@cyberzone.net

CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL

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May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to


Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote in article <3385EC...@sn.no>...

> My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
> being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
> music?
>

> The reason I ask is that I have experimented with such notations off and
> on for many years, and I might try to get others interested in the idea.
> A standardized letter notation would give us a musical shorthand for
> easy transcription of ideas and exchange of music on the Net. But I
> don't want to rock the boat or reinvent the wheel, so if a good notation
> of this sort already exists, I'd like to study it closely before I made
> the decision to publish my own.
>
> I am aware of the ABC notation. This is fine for simple tunes, but

> wholly inadequate for even moderately complex music.


>
> The only other alternative musical notation with some currency seems to
> be tablature. This notation is surprisingly popular given that it's
> rather cumbersome. As I see it, almost everything done in tablature
> could be written down more easily in an alphabetic notation once we did
> the job properly. Also, such a notation would not be limited to the
> guitar and other fretted instruments.
>

> Moreover, an alphabetic notation where all the 12 tones are equally
> accessible could be of interest to modern composers who feel encumbered
> by the built-in keys of the standard note script.
>

> I have searched the Net for information about alternative notations, and
> there seems to be a dearth of ideas in this field. If no complete
> notations exist, I'd be much obliged to hear about useful ideas or
> tricks that anyone would like to share with me - even ideas that have
> been given up.
>

> Tore
> --
> Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no>
>

> Why reinvent the wheel? Standard notation is used by musicians all around
the world. If I transcribe a piece of music in this notation and send it to
someone on the otherside of the world, (s)he is going to be able to
reproduce it, so long as the proper dynamics are maked in. Of course there
is leeway given for personal interpretation of dynamics. Tablature has it's
advantages for the guitarist in respect for the position in which a
note/chord is played on that instrument. Try using TAB on a woodwinds or
brass.
Perhaps you don't understand how the system works. It's quite simple.
Staves with lines and spaces to mark out the tone and the octave in which
that tone is played in on the vertical axis of the staves. Rhythmic
notation is marked by a series of symbols on the horizontal axis of the
staves.
Maybe you don't understand how musical keys are denoted. They are on the
left side. See the # s and b s? Yes, those little markings tell you which
notes are sharp and which are flat.
Meter? There's a little "fraction" looking mark like 4/4, 3/4, 6/8, 7/16,
13/8 (yes these exist). These tell you how many beats per measure and what
kind of note is the beat.
If you got a better way of presenting chords than on a staff, pass it
along.
I'm not adverse to change, but I think that after hundreds of years the
musical community has gotten something that is universal.
By the way, do you intend to change how tones are labeled? Like maybe
making F# something like "K" or "J"?
One more thing. For your endeavor, I'll give you a tidbit of info to help.
There is a system called to "fixed-do" system where the tones are labeled
according to traditional vocal sound, eg. do, re, mi, etc. Yet the octave
doesn't matter here. C is do, C# is di, D is re, D# is ri, etc. at the
octave it cycles back to do. The fixed do is the system used here in the
US. It uses the root note of a key as "do". In the case of the key of G,
"do" would be G, di would be G#.
Oh, yes. I might add that the system for "figured bass" is still being
used. It allows for the notation of chords and thier inversions to be
listed by a simple Roman numeral notation. It's a bit complex to state
here, you might want to get a book on music theory that contains it. Your
local colleges music department should have good resources, as this is a
subject taught in elementary theory classes.
I really do think you are wasting your time though in trying to write a
whole new system. Tablature has been used by stringed instruments for
centuries. Standard notation has been used by all instruments for a longer
time. Sure it has changed considerably over the last few hundred years, but
that has been because one musician need to create a new symbol for this,
another created a symbol for that. Another decided that this would be
simpler if he did away with figured bass and listed the chords as numerals
according to key. It's changed, and will still. But a major upheaval isn't
going to turn heads around. Let's put it another way. If you can get all 88
tones on the piano notated in a way that doesn't confuse the eye
(traditional bass and treble staves are easy on the eyes), I'll kiss the
ground you walk on. I'll retract everything I've said here. I'll put away
my keyboard, guitars, and woodwinds for good, because you mede me look like
a complete total idiot. Then again perhaps I was stupid enough to look at
your posting to begin with. I dunno...bad hair day I guess.
Simple tunes? Okay, try simplifying something like the Chopin etudes.
Wake up and die right.


CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL

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May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

Ah, perhaps I was being a little harsh. Sorry, if I offended anyone.
Hey, dude, you ain't going to find a simpler system.


Tore Lund

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May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL wrote:
>
> Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote in article <3385EC...@sn.no>...
> > My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
> > being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
> > music?
> >
> > [snip]

>
> > Why reinvent the wheel? Standard notation is used by musicians all around
> the world. If I transcribe a piece of music in this notation and send it to
> someone on the otherside of the world, (s)he is going to be able to
> reproduce it, so long as the proper dynamics are maked in. Of course there
> is leeway given for personal interpretation of dynamics.

Standard notation is fairly good for the *reader*, but not nearly as
convenient for the *writer*. What I'm primarily looking for is a handy,
no-nonsense system for *notating* music.

> Tablature has it's
> advantages for the guitarist in respect for the position in which a
> note/chord is played on that instrument. Try using TAB on a woodwinds or
> brass.

Tablature lacks the two-dimensionality which is the strong point of the
standard notation and offers very little in return. Besides, it is
seldom used for *prima vista* reading in any case, so any notation that
contained the same information could replace it.

> Perhaps you don't understand how the system works. [snip]

Thank you, I began learning this system 39 years ago.

> Meter? There's a little "fraction" looking mark like 4/4, 3/4, 6/8, 7/16,
> 13/8 (yes these exist). These tell you how many beats per measure and what
> kind of note is the beat.

The notations 3/4 and 6/8 tell me absolutely nothing about the
differences between these two meters. That's why I would like to see
something like 3(2) vs. 2(3) instead.

> If you got a better way of presenting chords than on a staff, pass it
> along.

What is "better" depends on the type of chord and whether we are talking
about the writer or the reader. Notating a chord like E G B D in the
middle of the staff is simple, but hardly simpler than writing "naktam"
in my notation. If you have to use ledger lines and accidentals, then
"naktam" is far simpler.

> I'm not adverse to change, but I think that after hundreds of years the
> musical community has gotten something that is universal.

Even disregarding non-western music, this is not true. The standard
notation is hardly used at all in rock/pop/folk. This is not just
because the music is available on record, but also because the notation
is not right for the music. In consequence, most musicians in these
very dominant styles are musically illiterate. Or, if they happen to
read notes, they still become "functionally illiterate" because there
are no notes to read.

> By the way, do you intend to change how tones are labeled? Like maybe
> making F# something like "K" or "J"?

Exactly. Even quite unpretentious music of today often requires
accidentals in countless places, and then it's time to drop keys and
modes from the notation. As for F#, I would like to call it "r".

> One more thing. For your endeavor, I'll give you a tidbit of info to help.
> There is a system called to "fixed-do" system where the tones are labeled

> according to traditional vocal sound, eg. do, re, mi, etc. [snip]

Thanks, but this is just the standard notation in disguise.

> Oh, yes. I might add that the system for "figured bass" is still being
> used. It allows for the notation of chords and thier inversions to be
> listed by a simple Roman numeral notation. It's a bit complex to state
> here, you might want to get a book on music theory that contains it. Your
> local colleges music department should have good resources, as this is a
> subject taught in elementary theory classes.

This system is fine if you need just those chords, otherwise it's
hopeless.

> I really do think you are wasting your time though in trying to write a
> whole new system. Tablature has been used by stringed instruments for
> centuries. Standard notation has been used by all instruments for a longer
> time.

Roman numerals were used for countless centuries before they were
dropped in favor of the far more rational Arabic ones, so "staying
power" in itself is not a very good argument.

> If you can get all 88
> tones on the piano notated in a way that doesn't confuse the eye
> (traditional bass and treble staves are easy on the eyes), I'll kiss the
> ground you walk on. I'll retract everything I've said here.

There is much to be said for the staves, and I don't know of a better
way to represent chords across several octaves. But we should keep in
mind that a double staff with one ledger line above and below gives us
25 tones out of those 88. The other tones can only be had by adding
signs that are not particularly self-evident or easy on the eyes. Also,
we must take into account the years of training it takes to read this
notation.

> I'll put away my keyboard, guitars, and woodwinds for good, because you mede
> me look like a complete total idiot.

That was not my intention.

> Okay, try simplifying something like the Chopin etudes.

Those etudes are written in an idiom for which the notation is
tailor-made. Let's try Debussy or later composers instead.

> Ah, perhaps I was being a little harsh. Sorry, if I offended anyone.

No offense, but I think you are slightly too satisfied with a system
that just does not mesh with several types of contemporary music.

> Hey, dude, you ain't going to find a simpler system.

Well, I *hope* I'm not a dude. Though, who am I to tell...?

George Bogatko

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May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

: In article <3385EC...@sn.no> tl...@sn.no "Tore Lund" writes:
: > [ ... ]
: > I have searched the Net for information about alternative notations, and

: > there seems to be a dearth of ideas in this field. If no complete
: > notations exist, I'd be much obliged to hear about useful ideas or
: > tricks that anyone would like to share with me - even ideas that have
: > been given up.

During the heyday of player piano rolls, the pop rolls and a lot of the early
classical rolls were routinely constructed by drawing lines on very long
graph paper. Frank Milne's version of "American in Paris" for DuoArt and
Ampico was done on his kitchen table using such a method. You can hear
the result on the Gershwin Piano Roll CD (volume 1) released by
Electra/Nonsuch.

Midi sequencers have a similar input 'view' also called the PianoRoll view,
which operates the same way. I do all my rolls using it (directly, no
intermediate standard-notation step) and am having a lot of success
(commercial and otherwise) with it.

GB
http://www.intac.com/~gbogatko

Matthew H. Fields

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May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

The main reason to have an ASCII music notation in addition to e.g.
standard music notation is that the former passes easily through
e-mail and news.


Cheers

Matt

John E. Bredehoft

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May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

In article <01bc6823$43cd3fc0$4b5c...@Cybertron.cybertron.com>,

Benjamin Tubb <brt...@cybertron.com> wrote:
>Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote in article <3385EC...@sn.no>...
>> My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
>> being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
>> music?
>
>The Orchestra-90 Music Language developed for use with the Radio Shack
>TRS-80 Models 1 thru 4, and later the Color Computer version (called
>Orchestra-90CC), and finally developed for the PC in PC-Orc 2.1a -- used a
>text only command lanquage for monophonic voices of upto 8 parts, using
>hexadecimal notation, and a great deal of ingenuity and comprehensiveness
>in its support for upto 8 voice harmonic definitions, octaves, keys,
>transposition, panning, articulation, tempo, repeats, and even accidental
>usage "interpretation" support. For more info, contact me in private email.

Could you post an example?

John E. Bredehoft

unread,
May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

In article <1...@uulancer.kp.planet.gen.nz>,

Lance Flavell <lan...@uulancer.kp.planet.gen.nz> wrote:
>
>In article <3385EC...@sn.no>, Tore Lund (tl...@sn.no) writes:
>
>>The only other alternative musical notation with some currency seems to
>>be tablature. This notation is surprisingly popular given that it's
>>rather cumbersome. As I see it, almost everything done in tablature
>>could be written down more easily in an alphabetic notation once we did
>>the job properly. Also, such a notation would not be limited to the
>>guitar and other fretted instruments.
>
>Just a question about TAB vs ABC(standard) notation...
>
>I wrote a song a while back with invented chords which used the same
>note twice (same octave) on different strings, simultaneously, in
>order to get the right sound on my guitar.
>
>One such chord is as follows...
>
> E|--0--|
> B|--5--|
> G|--4--|
> D|--0--|
> A|--x--|
> E|--x--|
>
>It's easy enough to write in TAB, but how do you write the double E
>(strings B and high E) in ABC notation?

In essence, a guitar is six separate instruments. If you look at it
this way, you have a solution (but not an easy solution) to the problem.

>I read a small bit of ABC, but don't know what to do here. You sound
>like you might be the right person to ask.
>

>Lancer :)

John E. Bredehoft

unread,
May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

In article <01bc699e$6fe59f40$7156bece@p.-o.gold>,

CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL <dun...@thegrid.net> wrote:
>
>
>Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote in article <3385EC...@sn.no>...

[significant portions snipped]

>> My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
>> being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
>> music?
>>
>> The reason I ask is that I have experimented with such notations off and
>> on for many years, and I might try to get others interested in the idea.
>> A standardized letter notation would give us a musical shorthand for
>> easy transcription of ideas and exchange of music on the Net.

> Why reinvent the wheel? Standard notation is used by musicians all around


>the world. If I transcribe a piece of music in this notation and send it to
>someone on the otherside of the world, (s)he is going to be able to
>reproduce it, so long as the proper dynamics are maked in. Of course there
>is leeway given for personal interpretation of dynamics.

I think Tore is trying to find a transcription method which is more
Net-friendly. It is possible to send 10-50 pages of standard notation in
PDF, JPEG, or GIF format, but I'm not going to stay around and wait for
them to download.

Despite the fact that MIDI files are somewhat cryptic, they're currently
the best thing that we have. All that is needed is a "reader" on the
receiving end that is capable of displaying the song.

John E. Bredehoft

unread,
May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

In article <33895E...@sn.no>, Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote:
>
>Even disregarding non-western music, this is not true. The standard
>notation is hardly used at all in rock/pop/folk. This is not just
>because the music is available on record, but also because the notation
>is not right for the music. In consequence, most musicians in these
>very dominant styles are musically illiterate. Or, if they happen to
>read notes, they still become "functionally illiterate" because there
>are no notes to read.

I see no barrier to using standard notation to present rock/pop/folk
(well, maybe certain Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page passages excluded).
I suspect that if there were no modern-day recording devices, rock/pop/folk
musicians would either learn standard notation very quickly, or they would
have their managers hire someone to write the notes down.

John E. Bredehoft

unread,
May 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/26/97
to

In article <5mc3h2$eab$1...@zip.eecs.umich.edu>,

Matthew H. Fields <fie...@zip.eecs.umich.edu> wrote:
>
>The main reason to have an ASCII music notation in addition to e.g.
>standard music notation is that the former passes easily through
>e-mail and news.

Another argument that was presented was that standard notation was
"hard to read." Personally, I can't think of any way to make music
"easy" to read. (Uhh, what's that K?)

Peter Kerr

unread,
May 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/27/97
to

"CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL" <dun...@thegrid.net> wrote:

> Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote in article <3385EC...@sn.no>...
> > My question to you is the following: are there any alphabetic notations
> > being used, privately or publicly, for the purpose of writing down
> > music?
> >
> > The reason I ask is that I have experimented with such notations off and
> > on for many years, and I might try to get others interested in the idea.
> > A standardized letter notation would give us a musical shorthand for
> > easy transcription of ideas and exchange of music on the Net.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


> > But I
> > don't want to rock the boat or reinvent the wheel, so if a good notation
> > of this sort already exists, I'd like to study it closely before I made
> > the decision to publish my own.

> Why reinvent the wheel? Standard notation is used by musicians all around


> the world. If I transcribe a piece of music in this notation and send it to
> someone on the otherside of the world, (s)he is going to be able to
> reproduce it, so long as the proper dynamics are maked in.

snip


> I really do think you are wasting your time though in trying to write a
> whole new system.

And so the NIFF people are wasting their time too?
For better or for worse MIDI has become a de facto standard for
interchange of musical files, but as Tore probably knows, Midi files were
not intended for humans to read.

Philip's Music Scribe is a notation app. developed for the Acorn risc
machine which takes an ASCII typed input and generates onscreen music, and
postscript output files for printing. .ps fonts come with the software.

http://www.arkkra.com/doc/overview.html
describes the Mup program for Macintosh, in which standard ASCII text is
entered via BBEdit, and a BBEdit/Mup extension creates .ps files for
printing using the Sonata font from Adobe.

--
Peter Kerr bodger
School of Music chandler
University of Auckland NZ neo-Luddite

John E. Bredehoft

unread,
May 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/27/97
to

In article <p.kerr.unknown-...@news.auckland.ac.nz>,
Peter Kerr <p.kerr....@host.auckland.ac.nz> wrote:

>http://www.arkkra.com/doc/overview.html
>describes the Mup program for Macintosh, in which standard ASCII text is
>entered via BBEdit, and a BBEdit/Mup extension creates .ps files for
>printing using the Sonata font from Adobe.

Fascinating reading. The program (which is shareware) apparently also
creates MIDI files (back to the MIDI standard! at least the text file
is easier to send over the net).

Readers may want to look at

http://www.arkkra.com/doc/sample.html

which is a sample file. Yes, it's a programming "language," but I
doubt that we'll find any "simple" way to describe moderately complex
songs.

>--
>Peter Kerr bodger
>School of Music chandler
>University of Auckland NZ neo-Luddite

Mark Starr

unread,
May 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/27/97
to

If you are looking for an intuitive, accurate, ASCII notation
to use for email and newsgroups, the solution is very simple.
No program necessary. Just use the language used to input
music with SCORE. Without any explanation on my part, I
would imagine that none of you would have much difficulty in
figuring out the following famous French song:


tr/k1s/4 4/D4/D/D/m/G/G/A/A/m/D5/B4/G/G/B/G/m/E/C5/A4/F/m/G/R/m;
___________s/e./s/_q/q/q/q/__q./e/e./s/e./s/__q/h/e./s/_h./q;

(I am using underscores just to keep the 2 lines of information
properly aligned.)

If necessary, I could add an additional line for dynamics and
accent marks.

A reasonably literate musician could decode this notational
shorthand without the aid of a program. But for those who
would like to send significant quantities of music over the
NET, the best solution is to use SCORE to input the notation;
then use SCORE to print out the file as a .PDX file--which
is pure ASCII text; then paste this text into the body of
your email message; send it over the NET; and then read the
.PDX text with aid of the FREE program SCORVIEW; or use
SCORVIEW to print out the notation in PostScript!

BTW, SCORE's files are small--almost miniscule in size in
comparison to Finale's .MUS files. So you won't hog bandwith
with your communication.

Regards,
Mark Starr

Jan Nieuwenhuizen

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May 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/28/97
to

In article <338BB2...@inow.com>, Mark Starr <st...@inow.com> wrote:

>If you are looking for an intuitive, accurate, ASCII notation
>to use for email and newsgroups, the solution is very simple.
>No program necessary. Just use the language used to input
>music with SCORE. Without any explanation on my part, I
>would imagine that none of you would have much difficulty in
>figuring out the following famous French song:
>
>
>tr/k1s/4 4/D4/D/D/m/G/G/A/A/m/D5/B4/G/G/B/G/m/E/C5/A4/F/m/G/R/m;
>___________s/e./s/_q/q/q/q/__q./e/e./s/e./s/__q/h/e./s/_h./q;

>A reasonably literate musician could decode this notational
>shorthand without the aid of a program. But for those who

>[...]

Hi net!

I have been following the "Letter notation" discussion for a while
but hesitated before posting this pointer to our music typesetting
package "GNU LilyPond", because it is still in ALPHA stage. (This
means especially that we _strongly advise_ not to use LilyPond for
creating pieces of music, because the input language is subject to
change.)

As co-author of GNU LilyPond, I find that the problem of a musical
definition language (Mudela) is one of the interesting problems we
are trying to solve. LilyPond reads a fairly intuitive (where did
I hear that before?) input language, and writes music score output
in plain TeX.

Try a two line excerpt from a well-known piece by Mozart:

\version "0.0.65"; % note: this all might change

melody = \melodic{ \octave c';
c c | g g | a a | g g |
f f | e e | d d8.( e16 | )c2 \bar ":|";
}

accompany = \melodic{ \clef\bass; \octave 'c;
c c' | e' c' | f' c' | e' c' |
d' b | c' a | f g | c2 \bar ":|";
}

texte = \lyric{ \textstyle "italic";
Ah! vous dir- ai_- je ma man2
Ce qui cau- se mon tour- ment2
}


% Letter notation, you might want to cut here %
global = \melodic{
\meter 2/4;
\duration 4;
}

\score{
\staff{ melodicregs global melody }
\staff{ lyricregs global texte }
\staff{ melodicregs global accompany }
}

Note that this example could not only serve for conveying a thought,
but it is the actual input that is used to typeset the piece.

If you're interested, check out

http://www.stack.nl/~hanwen/lilypond

it's got lots of documentation and some examples (but remember,
hackers only :-).


greetings,
jan.

j...@digicash.com

Ronald Legere

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May 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/28/97
to

John E. Bredehoft (jbre...@deltanet.com) wrote:
: which is a sample file. Yes, it's a programming "language," but I

: doubt that we'll find any "simple" way to describe moderately complex
: songs.

Hmm, that is an interesting point. Maybe what is needed IS a programming
language for music... err isnt there such a thing? CSound or something
like that? Anyone have any experience in this area? I am not talking about
a language for computer generated music, rather one for describing music.
Kinda an interesting idea, you could have conditional branching and
stuff :)

Cheers!

Ron Legere
email: leg...@pantheon.cis.yale.edu

Chris Koenigsberg

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May 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/28/97
to

leg...@pantheon.yale.edu (Ronald Legere) writes:
> Hmm, that is an interesting point. Maybe what is needed IS a programming
> language for music... err isnt there such a thing? CSound or something
> like that? Anyone have any experience in this area? I am not talking about
> a language for computer generated music, rather one for describing music.

Roger Dannenberg has done a lot of research over the years in this
area, and has invented a number of languages for music
representation. It can get very complex and hairy if you want to allow
many of the extended notational techniques used in contemporary music
scores.

Other computer music researchers have worked in this area too. You
might check old issues of MUSREP, the Music Representation Digest (?I
don't even know if this is still around anymore?), or the Computer
Music Journal, for some pointers.

Also, once you have a representation for describing music, you can
obviously generate new music with it, as well as transcribing existing
music. Sometimes there is considerable overlap between "computer
music" and the use of extended techniques on acoustic instruments. You
have to be able to represent a lot of very weird things in a very
flexible way to give composers the freedom to write down what they
want.

Chris Koenigsberg, c...@ckk.com (c...@pobox.com), <http://www.ckk.com>


Peter Kerr

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May 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/29/97
to

In article <5mhlre$53d$1...@pcnov095.win.tue.nl>, j...@digicash.com wrote:
>
> As co-author of GNU LilyPond, I find that the problem of a musical
> definition language (Mudela) is one of the interesting problems we
> are trying to solve. LilyPond reads a fairly intuitive (where did
> I hear that before?) input language, and writes music score output
> in plain TeX.
>

Not re-inventing the wheel I hope ;-)

Weren't MusicTeX, MuTeX, & \em supposed to do this?

Jan Nieuwenhuizen

unread,
May 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM5/29/97
to
>In article <5mhlre$53d$1...@pcnov095.win.tue.nl>, j...@digicash.com wrote:
>>
>> As co-author of GNU LilyPond, I find that the problem of a musical
>> definition language (Mudela) is one of the interesting problems we
>> are trying to solve. LilyPond reads a fairly intuitive (where did
>> I hear that before?) input language, and writes music score output
>> in plain TeX.
>>
>
>Not re-inventing the wheel I hope ;-)

No, of course not; just reimplementing it :-)

>Weren't MusicTeX, MuTeX, & \em supposed to do this?

Nope (MusiXTeX is the currently supported deriviative), these are
only (musical) typesetting packages, and do not aim primarily at an
"intuitive input language".

The proposed path is using a preprocessor, as stated in musixtex.doc:

It should be emphasized that \musixtex\ is not intended to be a
compiler which would translate some \ixem{standard musical notation}s
into \TeX\, nor to decide by itself about aesthetic problems in music
typing.
\musixtex\ only typesets staves, notes, chords, beams, slurs and
ornaments as requested by the composer. Since it makes very few
typesetting decisions, \musixtex\ appears to be a versatile and rather
powerful tool. However, due to the important amount of information to
be provided to the typesetting process, coding \musixtex\ might appear
to be as awfully complicated as the real keyboard or orchestral music.
It should therefore be interfaced by some pre-compiler in the case of
the composer/typesetter wanting aesthetic decisions to be automatically
made by somebody (or something) else.

Therefore, our first attempt was to design an inputlanguage and build a
preprocessor: "mpp". Although mpp presents a reasonable solution for
simple (multi-staff) pieces/scores, it will never be able to handle more
complex music.

One of the problems we faced was that most typographic decisions1 are
"handed down" to MusiXTeX, which leaves mpp in the blind about the final
output.

GNU LilyPond is the successor of mpp; it used a very similar (although
more powerful) input language and does all the typography itself,
i.e., it makes no use of additional TeX macro packages.

greetings,
jan.


1) We think that a preprocessor/typesetter can take a lot of typographic
decisions without imposing its own aesthetics (e.g. spacing, line- and
pagebreaking, stacking slurs scripts, etc.).
Whenever aesthetic decisions have to be made, these should be run-time
configurable.

scripts,
. Whenever aesthetic


Steve Bacher

unread,
Jun 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/2/97
to

In article <5md6bu$mh5$1...@news01.deltanet.com> jbre...@deltanet.com (John E. Bredehoft) writes:

>In article <33895E...@sn.no>, Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote:

>>Even disregarding non-western music, this is not true. The standard
>>notation is hardly used at all in rock/pop/folk. This is not just
>>because the music is available on record, but also because the notation
>>is not right for the music. In consequence, most musicians in these
>>very dominant styles are musically illiterate. Or, if they happen to
>>read notes, they still become "functionally illiterate" because there
>>are no notes to read.
>

>I see no barrier to using standard notation to present rock/pop/folk
>(well, maybe certain Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page passages excluded).
>I suspect that if there were no modern-day recording devices, rock/pop/folk
>musicians would either learn standard notation very quickly, or they would
>have their managers hire someone to write the notes down.

One area where traditional notation falls down is in syncopation.
All those tied-across-the-bar notes look awkward and clumsy, not
to mention very unswinging. Over the years, various shorthands came
into use to describe trills, turns, and other ornamentations. It would be
useful if similar shorthand could be invented to label notes as starting
ahead of the beat by some amount, or otherwise make syncopated
forms of popular music look less schizoid on the printed page.

- seb


Matthew H. Fields

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Jun 4, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/4/97
to

In article <338BB2...@inow.com>, Mark Starr <st...@inow.com> wrote:
>If you are looking for an intuitive, accurate, ASCII notation
>to use for email and newsgroups, the solution is very simple.
>No program necessary. Just use the language used to input
>music with SCORE. Without any explanation on my part, I
>would imagine that none of you would have much difficulty in
>figuring out the following famous French song:
>
>
>tr/k1s/4 4/D4/D/D/m/G/G/A/A/m/D5/B4/G/G/B/G/m/E/C5/A4/F/m/G/R/m;
>___________s/e./s/_q/q/q/q/__q./e/e./s/e./s/__q/h/e./s/_h./q;
>

Let's look at this in Noam Elkies' notation:

keysig 1#, 4/4, start D4
x .DD .D|G G A A |D . B G .GB .G|E ^C A .F|G . x ||

I rather like the latter more. It uses x for rest rather than R
(Re?), and it uses spacing for rhythm (which of course means it has
rhythmic biases, requiring extensions for tuplets, but then so does
Score). Intervals are assumed to be < a fifth unless marked with ^up
an octave or _down an octave from default. A barline is | instead of
m. Score's notation has the advantage of being ready-to-run computer
code in a particular environment.

James P. H. Fuller

unread,
Jun 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/5/97
to

CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL (dun...@thegrid.net) wrote:

> Why reinvent the wheel? Standard notation is used by musicians all around
> the world.

But standard notation hasn't transferred well -- in fact it's hardly
transferred at all -- to the internet. If you look for music on web pages or
ftp sites you find masses of tablature and MIDI files but scarcely a trace
of staff notation. Imagine putting up a grand-staff orchestral work on a web
site as GIFs or jpegs!

I wish one of the file formats created by one of the computer notation/
score printing packages had caught on as the standard for electronic
exchange of standard notation, but it hasn't happened.


James P. H. Fuller

unread,
Jun 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/5/97
to

Tore Lund (tl...@sn.no) wrote:

> Tablature lacks the two-dimensionality which is the strong point of the
> standard notation and offers very little in return. Besides, it is
> seldom used for *prima vista* reading in any case

Not true in the case of fretted instruments. There's a vast amount of
lute music dating from the renaissance, lovely stuff, and every bit of
it is in lute tab exclusively (except for the small fraction that was
transcribed into staff notation by later hands.)

In fact, in the case of polyphonic stringed instruments like lutes,
citterns, guitars, et al., where there may be several different ways
of fingering any given passage and these alternative fingerings differ
(as they will) in tone coloration, you haven't really finished writing
the music down when you've merely got a line of staff notation. You also
need a parallel line of tab to record the fingering decisions that are
intended.


>> Meter? There's a little "fraction" looking mark like 4/4, 3/4, 6/8, 7/16,
>> 13/8 (yes these exist). These tell you how many beats per measure and what
>> kind of note is the beat.
>
> The notations 3/4 and 6/8 tell me absolutely nothing about the
> differences between these two meters. That's why I would like to see
> something like 3(2) vs. 2(3) instead.

"Knowing" standard notation includes knowing the conventions that
accompany the notation. 3/4 is conventionally used to notate waltz time
with a sense of three-ness (three quarter-notes grouped by accent as
ONE two three) where 6/8, though mathematically equivalent to 3/4, con-
ventionally conveys a sense of two-ness (six eighth-notes grouped by
accent into pairs: ONE two ONE two ONE two.) A major part of reading
music is knowing about these conventions (and their exceptions as well.)

As for the notations 3/4 and 6/8 not "telling" you anything about the
difference between the two meters, the notation isn't *intended* to
tell you anything. It's supposed to remind you of what you already know.

Tore Lund

unread,
Jun 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/5/97
to

James P. H. Fuller wrote:

>
> Tore Lund (tl...@sn.no) wrote:
>
> > Tablature lacks the two-dimensionality which is the strong point of the
> > standard notation and offers very little in return. Besides, it is
> > seldom used for *prima vista* reading in any case
>
> Not true in the case of fretted instruments. There's a vast amount of
> lute music dating from the renaissance, lovely stuff, and every bit of
> it is in lute tab exclusively (except for the small fraction that was
> transcribed into staff notation by later hands.)

That's true. But I find it hard to imagine anyone reading by sight the
sort of tablature used on the Net today (with time value indicated by
letters). One must wonder why people don't borrow some ideas from the
older systems that were more complete (if I remember correctly).

> In fact, in the case of polyphonic stringed instruments like lutes,
> citterns, guitars, et al., where there may be several different ways
> of fingering any given passage and these alternative fingerings differ
> (as they will) in tone coloration, you haven't really finished writing
> the music down when you've merely got a line of staff notation. You also
> need a parallel line of tab to record the fingering decisions that are
> intended.

Sure, there are strong points to tablature if fingering and string usage
are vital points. Still, I find it hard to understand why anyone would
use tab off the Net, since notes plus some string indications tell you
virtually everything you need to know.



> >> Meter? There's a little "fraction" looking mark like 4/4, 3/4, 6/8, 7/16,
> >> 13/8 (yes these exist). These tell you how many beats per measure and what
> >> kind of note is the beat.
> >
> > The notations 3/4 and 6/8 tell me absolutely nothing about the
> > differences between these two meters. That's why I would like to see
> > something like 3(2) vs. 2(3) instead.
>

> "Knowing" standard notation includes knowing the conventions that
> accompany the notation. 3/4 is conventionally used to notate waltz time
> with a sense of three-ness (three quarter-notes grouped by accent as
> ONE two three) where 6/8, though mathematically equivalent to 3/4, con-
> ventionally conveys a sense of two-ness (six eighth-notes grouped by
> accent into pairs: ONE two ONE two ONE two.) A major part of reading
> music is knowing about these conventions (and their exceptions as well.)
>
> As for the notations 3/4 and 6/8 not "telling" you anything about the
> difference between the two meters, the notation isn't *intended* to
> tell you anything. It's supposed to remind you of what you already know.

I think you overestimate the "intentions" of the standard notation. It
was certainly not intended to be right for all the music that has been
written in it since it was frozen in its present shape a few centuries
ago.

The way you explain the 6/8 meter as ONE two ONE two ONE two is a case
in point here. I have mostly seen this meter used to denote the triple
rhythm ONE two three FOUR five six.

At one time, people were earnestly trying to devise time signatures that
reflected the rhythm of the music. Then they gave it up and started to
pigeon-hole all music into 5-6 heavily used signatures. You are free to
think of this as a wisely crafted system if you will, but I think it is
crude and arbitrary.

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

unread,
Jun 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/5/97
to

James P. H. Fuller wrote:
>
> CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL (dun...@thegrid.net) wrote:
>
> > Why reinvent the wheel? Standard notation is used by musicians all around
> > the world.
>
> But standard notation hasn't transferred well -- in fact it's hardly
> transferred at all -- to the internet. If you look for music on web pages or
> ftp sites you find masses of tablature and MIDI files but scarcely a trace
> of staff notation. Imagine putting up a grand-staff orchestral work on a web
> site as GIFs or jpegs!
>
> I wish one of the file formats created by one of the computer notation/
> score printing packages had caught on as the standard for electronic
> exchange of standard notation, but it hasn't happened.

The issue is still alive in Standard Music Description Language (SDML).
If you've got a strong stomach for techese, it's worth reading. Not that
it effectively covers a lot of important issues (see the thread "Markup
for Music" and its spinoffs in comp.infosystems.www.authoring.misc), but
it's got some interesting thinking.

It's an ISO draft of SDML is in PostScript format; I've got a
serviceable MSWord conversion if you can't read the PS file and would
like to see it.

Best,
Dennis


--
Dennis Báthory-Kitsz
Malted/Media: http://www.maltedmedia.com/
The Middle-Aged Hiker: http://www.maltedmedia.com/books/mah/
Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar: http://www.maltedmedia.com/kalvos/

Mark Starr

unread,
Jun 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/5/97
to James P. H. Fuller

James P. H. Fuller wrote:
>
> CHRISTIAN E DUNKEL (dun...@thegrid.net) wrote:
>
> > Why reinvent the wheel? Standard notation is used by musicians all around
> > the world.
>
> But standard notation hasn't transferred well -- in fact it's hardly
> transferred at all -- to the internet. If you look for music on web pages or
> ftp sites you find masses of tablature and MIDI files but scarcely a trace
> of staff notation. Imagine putting up a grand-staff orchestral work on a web
> site as GIFs or jpegs!
>
> I wish one of the file formats created by one of the computer notation/
> score printing packages had caught on as the standard for electronic
> exchange of standard notation, but it hasn't happened.

I respond:

I'll repeat it. One of SCORE's file formats (the .PMX format) is
pure ASCII. Like any ASCII file, it can be easily transmitted
over the Net as email. Thus, a SCORE-user can easily send by
email any or all pages of a score, with no notational compromises
whatsoever. The ASCII data in .PMX format can be instantly
read by another SCORE-user, or by anyone with a copy of SCORVIEW--
which is a FREE program available on the SCORE website. Moreover,
SCORE and SCORVIEW can instantly convert .PMX files into .MUS files,
which are 100% editable, readable, printable SCORE files.

Consequently, now there is no obstacle to any two people sending
and viewing music via email quickly and easily--provided that
one of them has SCORE (or some SCORE .PMX files to send.)
Incidentally, SCORE'S .PMX files are small, so they will not
clog up email. (In comparison to Finale's .MUS files, they are
positively tiny.)

Regards,
Mark Starr

James P. H. Fuller

unread,
Jun 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/5/97
to

Tore Lund (tl...@sn.no) wrote:

: Sure, there are strong points to tablature if fingering and string usage


: are vital points. Still, I find it hard to understand why anyone would
: use tab off the Net, since notes plus some string indications tell you
: virtually everything you need to know.

Are we somehow talking past each other here? Players use tab off the net
for the fairly obvious reason that there ARE no standard notation files to
download. It's tab or nothing.

James P. H. Fuller

unread,
Jun 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/5/97
to

> I'll repeat it. One of SCORE's file formats (the .PMX format) is
> pure ASCII.
>

> (snip)


>
> Consequently, now there is no obstacle to any two people sending
> and viewing music via email quickly and easily--provided that
> one of them has SCORE (or some SCORE .PMX files to send.)
> Incidentally, SCORE'S .PMX files are small, so they will not
> clog up email. (In comparison to Finale's .MUS files, they are
> positively tiny.)

Since we're repeating let me repeat my claim, which was not that
appropriate 7-bit-clean notation file formats didn't exist but that so far
no notation format, ASCII or binary, has caught on and become popular. Or
have I overlooked vast archives of downloadable .PMX files comparable to the
available large tab and MIDI archives?

> Thus, a SCORE-user can easily send by
> email any or all pages of a score, with no notational compromises
> whatsoever. The ASCII data in .PMX format can be instantly
> read by another SCORE-user, or by anyone with a copy of SCORVIEW--
> which is a FREE program available on the SCORE website. Moreover,
> SCORE and SCORVIEW can instantly convert .PMX files into .MUS files,
> which are 100% editable, readable, printable SCORE files.
>

> (another snip)


>
> Incidentally, SCORE'S .PMX files are small, so they will not
> clog up email. (In comparison to Finale's .MUS files, they are
> positively tiny.)

Do I understand correctly that SCORE-format .MUS files and Coda-format
(Finale) .MUS files are two different animals? I ask because electronic
exchange of music files now means more than mailing a human-readable score
from one human reader to another. There's another required destination,
namely MIDI-capable synthesizers. Does SCORE have playback capabilities like
Finale, already written and in place? If not, then I fear SCORE has probably
missed the boat as far as becoming the internet format of choice for music
-- unless someone gets a playback module out there pronto, and for free.
(All the freeware MIDI programs, .WAV players, GIF/jpeg viewers, etc., have
set an unbreakable standard in this regard.)


Tore Lund

unread,
Jun 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/6/97
to

James P. H. Fuller wrote:
>

Yes, we are talking past each other. When I wrote "off the net", I
meant AWAY from the Net. My fault, I guess.

When I first asked about letter notations for music, I posted it to
r.m.m.g.tablature because I thought someone would have gone weary of tab
and would have drafted another system. To show you what I have mind,
let me quote some bars from LADY GOES TO CHURCH by John Renbourn:

|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|----------------0---------------|1---0---1-------0---------------|
|2-------------------------------|2-----------2-------------------|
|----------------2---------------|----------------2-------0-------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|--------------------------------|

|0--------0----------------------|--------0-----------------------|
|-----3-------1-------0---1------|--------0-----------------------|
|-----------------------------2--|------------------------1-------|
|----------------0---------------|2-------------------------------|
|3-------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|----------------2---------------|

This notation is great if fingering and string usage is what you want to
indicate. But there are no time values here, except for the spacing,
which is a very rough way of doing it.

What I would like to see instead is something like the following:

lay naty, (lac t c l) nat ma, (cane m n c) ma (ta c l), na tan no sa,

This is *just* the information conveyed in the tablature above. It
takes a fraction of the space, it has precise time values, and it is a
general musical notation that can be used for any instrument.

>From this example you can easily see some elements of my notation, like
(1) consonants are used for pitch classes, (2) the vowels a, e and o (as
well as i and u) represent different octaves, (3) y is used for
prolongation of very long notes, (4) faster notes are written within
parentheses. Also, there are no keys in this notation. 12 consonants
are used for the 12 pitch classes, and that is that.

Even this notation can become cumbersome if the music is complex, so I'm
looking for ways to compress it further, but this is hard to do without
readability suffering as a result. I had therefore hoped that others
had some bright ideas about making tidy letter notations.

The answers I have received all have to do with computer notations.
What I had in mind was a system for reading and writing music by
*humans*, and I find those computer notations very cumbersome for that
purpose. On the other hand, if a computer notation is what you want,
the above notation can easily be interpreted by a computer program.

One fine day I may make a Web page for the presentation of this notation
if I find that it's worth while. But I still hope that some really
nontrivial ideas will appear in this thread, so I post the above snippet
in order to elicit responses from people who may be experimenting with
notations of this sort.

Tore Lund

unread,
Jun 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/6/97
to Han-Wen Nienhuys

Han-Wen Nienhuys wrote:

>
> In article <3397C7...@sn.no> you write:
> >The answers I have received all have to do with computer notations.
> >What I had in mind was a system for reading and writing music by
> >*humans*, and I find those computer notations very cumbersome for that
>
> I am curious about your ideas on the input format of LilyPond,
> j...@digicash.com posted an article about it. The aims were indeed
> to create a readable format with enough information to typeset a
> score.

Hello Han-Wen -

>From what I can see about LilyPond, its aims are far wider than what I
have in mind for a short-hand musical notation. But we can leave out
the type-setting stuff and discuss the basic notational capabilities.

Unfortunately, I don't happen to know the classical pieces used as
examples at your Web site. I will therefore take the piano figure in
TAKE FIVE by Dave Brubeck. If you don't know this tune, there are
certain to be people around you who do. Leaving out correct octaves and
all other details except the bare tones and their duration, the vamp
goes like this, if I have understood LilyPond correctly:

es4. <es'8 ges'8> ~ <es'4 ges'4>. es8 <es'2 ges'2> 'bes2 <des'2 f'2>

Presuming a time signature of 5(4), this would be written as follows in
my own notation (as yet unpublished):

do (dar) (do) dar vu bah

where the consonants are one of the 12 tones and the vowels are octaves.

I don't have to ask you which notation is simpler to read and write.
The question is rather whether I'm being unfair to LilyPond here. Let's
try to simplify the first example in various ways.

One obvious difference between the two notations is that LilyPond has to
indicate the length of each tone, whereas I don't. Let us therefore
multiply the time values by 2 (presuming that 1 is not written):

es2. <es'4 ges'4> ~ <es'2 ges'2>. es4 <es' ges'> 'bes <des' f'>

This is better, and I think this is a fair comparison. But I wonder why
we have to repeat the time value for every tone in the chords. Putting
the time value after the <> would save a good deal of numerals:

es2. <es' ges'>4 ~ <es' ges'>2. es4 <es' ges'> 'bes <des' f'>

Then, I wonder why you spell out "es", "gis", etc. in LilyPond. Why not
use "e", "g", etc. instead and let the key determine their interpret-
ation as "es" or "gis", etc.? If we make this change - presuming that
we are in the key of Eb minor - we get the following version:

e2. <e' g'>4 ~ <e' g'>2. e4 <e' g'> 'b <d' f'>

At this stage, it is very tempting to drop the pointed brackets and just
write the tones of a chord together as a word:

e2. e'g'4 ~ e'g'2. e4 e'g' 'b d'f'

The problem now is that we shall sometimes need accidentals, like when
we have to notate the chord D F# A in the key of C. The modified
LilyPond notation would be "dfisa", and this is not clear enough. And
the notation "des" would then be ambiguous - either Db or D + Eb.
That's one of the reasons why I use 12 consonants for the tones in my
system - we can always write chords as a single word.

But we could agree that a flat is obtain by adding "o" and a sharp by
adding "i". Then we get "dfia" for D F# A and "deo" for D Eb. This
seems to work. (Why on earth have you not done something like that in
LilyPond?) So, after some attempts at simplification, it seems that we
are left with this notation:

e2. e'g'4 ~ e'g'2. e4 e'g' 'b d'f'

Personally, I would definitely prefer to write and read:

do (dar) (do) dar vu bah

I am not going to explain the mechanics of the parentheses in detail
right now, but I think you understand that in this particular example
the tones (dar) and (do) are *offbeat tones*, which are far easier to
read and understand and notate than syncopations.

And what if we wanted to halve the time values? In the LilyPond
notation you have to substitue all 2's with 4's, all 4's with 8's, etc.
In my notation you would normally just add a pair of parentheses around
each phrase or bar.

In short, I'm afraid I find the computer notations presented in this
thread rather cumbersome, and I have tried to justify that claim here.
I hope this is the sort of discussion you asked for.

Tore

P.S.: It was a good thing that you wrote me privately, because your
article is not visible on my ISP.
--
Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no>


William Sun

unread,
Jun 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/6/97
to

Hello all,

I'm having a difficult time reproducing the beginning licks in the song. If
anyone has figured out the rhythm, please reply or post. Thanks.

-William

--
William Sun, Ph.D Phone: (213)740-3406
Neuroscience Program FAX: (213)740-5687
University of Southern California Pager: (310)243-9878
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2520 http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~wisun/

Peter Kerr

unread,
Jun 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/8/97
to

> > I wish one of the file formats created by one of the computer notation/
> > score printing packages had caught on as the standard for electronic
> > exchange of standard notation, but it hasn't happened.
snip

> Consequently, now there is no obstacle to any two people sending
> and viewing music via email quickly and easily--provided that
> one of them has SCORE (or some SCORE .PMX files to send.)

so why didn't Score's .PMX format catch on as a standard?
ascii text couldn't have been hard to reverse engineer,
must have been asking too much for licence fees...

Han-Wen Nienhuys

unread,
Jun 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/10/97
to

In article <339873...@sn.no>, Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote:
>> I am curious about your ideas on the input format of LilyPond,
>> j...@digicash.com posted an article about it. The aims were indeed
>> to create a readable format with enough information to typeset a
>Unfortunately, I don't happen to know the classical pieces used as
>examples at your Web site. I will therefore take the piano figure in
>TAKE FIVE by Dave Brubeck. If you don't know this tune, there are

Never heard of it :)

>goes like this, if I have understood LilyPond correctly:
>
> es4. <es'8 ges'8> ~ <es'4 ges'4>. es8 <es'2 ges'2> 'bes2 <des'2 f'2>
>
>Presuming a time signature of 5(4), this would be written as follows in
>my own notation (as yet unpublished):
>
> do (dar) (do) dar vu bah
>
>where the consonants are one of the 12 tones and the vowels are octaves.

So you get 5 octaves. A piano has 7

>
>I don't have to ask you which notation is simpler to read and write.

Maybe you do. If you are educated in Swedish (or dutch), lilypond except for
punctation, gives you a fair idea of what is happening. The notation with '
was taken from the standard musical theory. Yours is obviously shorter, but has
little connection with musical theory, as far as I can see.

>One obvious difference between the two notations is that LilyPond has to
>indicate the length of each tone, whereas I don't. Let us therefore

Lilypond has a "last duration mode", which takes the last entered duration as a
default:

es4. <es'8 ges'(> <)es'4. ges'> es8 <es'2 ges'> 'bes <des' f'>

(I changed it a bit, so it is legal mudela)

>This is better, and I think this is a fair comparison. But I wonder why
>we have to repeat the time value for every tone in the chords. Putting

this is because you can also put voices on top of each other with <>

>Then, I wonder why you spell out "es", "gis", etc. in LilyPond. Why not
>use "e", "g", etc. instead and let the key determine their interpret-
>ation as "es" or "gis", etc.? If we make this change - presuming that

this doesn't work if you move around music. Consider this

pattern = \melodic { cis16 gis e gis }
patterntwo = \melodic { \transpose { d \pattern }}

accompany = \melodic {
\pattern
\patterntwo
}

Of course, you could also quote from other parts. Your idea couples the musical
melody to the place within the measure (as keys are reset at each measure
start. ) I don't think this is a good idea.

>At this stage, it is very tempting to drop the pointed brackets and just
>write the tones of a chord together as a word:
>
> e2. e'g'4 ~ e'g'2. e4 e'g' 'b d'f'

this is difficult

e'g

does ' go with the e or g? And I don't like languages where you have to be
very careful where to put spaces


>That's one of the reasons why I use 12 consonants for the tones in my
>system - we can always write chords as a single word.

With a lot of instruments Eb is different from D sharp (the violin
for example: D sharp implies that the intonation should be slightly sharper
than Eb; D sharp usually leads to E)

You need more than 12.

>
>But we could agree that a flat is obtain by adding "o" and a sharp by
>adding "i". Then we get "dfia" for D F# A and "deo" for D Eb. This
>seems to work. (Why on earth have you not done something like that in
>LilyPond?) So, after some attempts at simplification, it seems that we

The names are configurable. You could also define norwegian names.
Or you could make names likcs

css % C sharp-sharp

>are left with this notation:
>
> e2. e'g'4 ~ e'g'2. e4 e'g' 'b d'f'
>
>Personally, I would definitely prefer to write and read:
>
> do (dar) (do) dar vu bah

This strongly depends on how the 2nd notation works

>I am not going to explain the mechanics of the parentheses in detail
>right now, but I think you understand that in this particular example
>the tones (dar) and (do) are *offbeat tones*, which are far easier to
>read and understand and notate than syncopations.

This is interesting.

>And what if we wanted to halve the time values? In the LilyPond
>notation you have to substitue all 2's with 4's, all 4's with 8's, etc.
>In my notation you would normally just add a pair of parentheses around
>each phrase or bar.

Yes and no. We also have a feature for plets. Enclosing the phrase in

[2/1


and

]1/1


gives the same effect.


>
>In short, I'm afraid I find the computer notations presented in this
>thread rather cumbersome, and I have tried to justify that claim here.
>I hope this is the sort of discussion you asked for.

I am not sure. your notation tries to give simplicity, but do try to see
long term issues.

1. Modern music isn't everything; how would you code a 5-voice bach fuga?

2. If the music gets complicated, people will probably want to see the
traditional notation anyway, so you (again) have include the information needed
to typeset it.

I am very interested in seeing a (more formal) spec of your notation, since it
differs so much from LilyPond's. It would provide us with refreshing insights.

>P.S.: It was a good thing that you wrote me privately, because your
>article is not visible on my ISP.
>--
>Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no>
>


--

Han-Wen Nienhuys, han...@stack.nl
http://www.stack.nl/~hanwen

Tore Lund

unread,
Jun 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/10/97
to Han-Wen Nienhuys

Han-Wen Nienhuys wrote:
>
> >Unfortunately, I don't happen to know the classical pieces used as
> >examples at your Web site. I will therefore take the piano figure in
> >TAKE FIVE by Dave Brubeck. If you don't know this tune, there are
>
> Never heard of it :)
>
> >goes like this, if I have understood LilyPond correctly:
> >
> > es4. <es'8 ges'8> ~ <es'4 ges'4>. es8 <es'2 ges'2> 'bes2 <des'2 f'2>
> >
> >Presuming a time signature of 5(4), this would be written as follows in
> >my own notation (as yet unpublished):
> >
> > do (dar) (do) dar vu bah
> >
> >where the consonants are one of the 12 tones and the vowels are octaves.
>
> So you get 5 octaves. A piano has 7

The right and left hands would use a different mapping of vowels to
octaves. And one could easily devise operators to change the mapping.
(The need for this would only arise on piano/organ and only in extreme
cases.)



> >I don't have to ask you which notation is simpler to read and write.
>
> Maybe you do. If you are educated in Swedish (or dutch), lilypond except for
> punctation, gives you a fair idea of what is happening. The notation with '
> was taken from the standard musical theory. Yours is obviously shorter, but has
> little connection with musical theory, as far as I can see.

That's right. I break some eggs in order to get a compact notation.
And so does tablature.

BTW, what have the Swedes got to do with this? :)



> >One obvious difference between the two notations is that LilyPond has to
> >indicate the length of each tone, whereas I don't. Let us therefore
>
> Lilypond has a "last duration mode", which takes the last entered duration as a
> default:
>
> es4. <es'8 ges'(> <)es'4. ges'> es8 <es'2 ges'> 'bes <des' f'>
>
> (I changed it a bit, so it is legal mudela)

This helps, that's true.



> >This is better, and I think this is a fair comparison. But I wonder why
> >we have to repeat the time value for every tone in the chords.
>

> this is because you can also put voices on top of each other with <>

If all the tones within <> have the same time value, then I don't see
that your argument about voices makes it necessary to repeat the time
value. But it may be that I don't have the complete picture here.



> >Then, I wonder why you spell out "es", "gis", etc. in LilyPond. Why not
> >use "e", "g", etc. instead and let the key determine their interpret-
> >ation as "es" or "gis", etc.? If we make this change - presuming that
>
> this doesn't work if you move around music. Consider this
>
> pattern = \melodic { cis16 gis e gis }
> patterntwo = \melodic { \transpose { d \pattern }}
>
> accompany = \melodic {
> \pattern
> \patterntwo
> }
>
> Of course, you could also quote from other parts. Your idea couples the musical
> melody to the place within the measure (as keys are reset at each measure
> start. ) I don't think this is a good idea.

I do not quite understand this objection. What you call "my idea" here
is standard practice. We notate a G as a head somewhere within the
staff and use the accidentals at the beginning of the line to tell us
whether to play it as G#, Gb or whatever. The insertion you quote above
might have to include a key signature of some sort in order for LilyPond
to interpret the tones correctly. But, if I understand LilyPond right
here, such a device would bring very material simplification for the
writer at very little cost.



> >At this stage, it is very tempting to drop the pointed brackets and just
> >write the tones of a chord together as a word:
> >
> > e2. e'g'4 ~ e'g'2. e4 e'g' 'b d'f'
>
> this is difficult
>
> e'g
>
> does ' go with the e or g?

You are right. I overlooked that double meaning of '.

> And I don't like languages where you have to be very careful where to
> put spaces

Neither do I. I was just trying to compress LilyPond as much as
possible to see whether it could become more compact.



> >That's one of the reasons why I use 12 consonants for the tones in my
> >system - we can always write chords as a single word.
>
> With a lot of instruments Eb is different from D sharp (the violin
> for example: D sharp implies that the intonation should be slightly sharper
> than Eb; D sharp usually leads to E)
>
> You need more than 12.

My experience is with tempered instruments like guitar and piano. But
I'm surprised that all of these enharmonic variations have to be
notated. One should think that the context would tell the violinist
which shade of interval was intended. But I must leave this question to
players of nontempered instruments.

> >But we could agree that a flat is obtain by adding "o" and a sharp by
> >adding "i". Then we get "dfia" for D F# A and "deo" for D Eb. This
> >seems to work. (Why on earth have you not done something like that in
> >LilyPond?) So, after some attempts at simplification, it seems that we
>
> The names are configurable. You could also define norwegian names.
> Or you could make names likcs
>
> css % C sharp-sharp

OK, this makes sense.



> >are left with this notation:
> >
> > e2. e'g'4 ~ e'g'2. e4 e'g' 'b d'f'
> >
> >Personally, I would definitely prefer to write and read:
> >
> > do (dar) (do) dar vu bah
>
> This strongly depends on how the 2nd notation works

Yes, and it also depends on what sort of music we notate.



> >I am not going to explain the mechanics of the parentheses in detail
> >right now, but I think you understand that in this particular example
> >the tones (dar) and (do) are *offbeat tones*, which are far easier to
> >read and understand and notate than syncopations.
>
> This is interesting.

I have tried to include rhythmical devices that will make the notation
of rock/folk/pop/blues easier than in standard notation.



> >And what if we wanted to halve the time values? In the LilyPond
> >notation you have to substitue all 2's with 4's, all 4's with 8's, etc.
> >In my notation you would normally just add a pair of parentheses around
> >each phrase or bar.
>
> Yes and no. We also have a feature for plets. Enclosing the phrase in
>
> [2/1
>
> and
>
> ]1/1
>
> gives the same effect.

OK, this is what I would expect from a computer notation.



> >In short, I'm afraid I find the computer notations presented in this
> >thread rather cumbersome, and I have tried to justify that claim here.
> >I hope this is the sort of discussion you asked for.
>
> I am not sure. your notation tries to give simplicity, but do try to see
> long term issues.
>
> 1. Modern music isn't everything; how would you code a 5-voice bach fuga?

This is where letter notations in general are inferior to staff
notation. One could write 5 lines on top of each other, but it is hard
to get a tidy presentation. Writing them horizontally as a chord makes
reading very difficult. Unless I am mistaken, you would have these
problems in LilyPond too.



> 2. If the music gets complicated, people will probably want to see the
> traditional notation anyway, so you (again) have include the information needed
> to typeset it.

What I aim for is primarily an easy way to notate music. Reading and
learning music from printed material is not widespread outside of the
classical tradition. What we need in other forms of music is a script
that can be used to notate and discuss music. I see my notation as an
experiment in this direction. I don't know who, apart from the
classical tradition, would read the music if it were transferred to
notes.

> I am very interested in seeing a (more formal) spec of your notation, since it
> differs so much from LilyPond's. It would provide us with refreshing insights.

Once again, LilyPond is meant for other purposes than my own notation,
so I don't know whether there is any common ground to discuss on. A
notation cannot be a convenient short-hand and at the same time be a
specification for type-setting with all the bells and whistles of the
standard notation.

I believe there is very little interest in 12-tone notations, so I might
drop this idea and make a heptatonic notation instead - that is, a
system which would be compatible with the standard keys but not
necessarily with other aspects of the standard notation. When/if I have
sorted these things out, I may present them on a Web page.

It's too bad that we don't know the same music. But I have tried to
notate the first four bars of Chopin's "Raindrop" prelude. Maybe you
already have this score in LilyPond so that you can make a comparison.


RAINDROP PRELUDE Chopin 4(2(2))

he ((be)) say va, cey y be,
(be se bih se s s bih se), (dir se s s v s bih se),

de ((he)) rey he, hey (de) be 1(h"de h d c d h r),
(cir se (si) vi se s s bis se), (cis se r s bih se cir se),


Of course, all the details notated by Chopin are not present here.
Also, I'm not sure about that grace note (h") in the last bar.

Finally, if we made a heptatonic notation of the sort that I have in
mind, we would only get one extra character here, since there is only
one accidental in these four bars.

Tore Lund

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Jun 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/10/97
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Matthew H. Fields wrote:
>
> right and left hand notation?
> So we're hard-coding the notation to piano performance? Does that
> solve any of the problems of tablature for general music discussion?

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. I have asked about
existing letter notation and put forward some ideas of my own. This
thread is posted to r.m.m.g.tablature because people here might be
interested in notation issues.

The sort of notation I have in mind is by no means hard-coded to piano
performance. If you have some favorite guitar music - tablature or
standard notation or something I know by ear - I might try to transcribe
some of it in order to give you an idea of what an alternative notation
might do.

I'm not yet trying to "sell" a new notation to anyone - just sounding
out what amount of interest there is in the concept. (Not a great deal,
it seems.) That's why I would like to understand what you are reacting
against in your post.

Matthew H. Fields

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Jun 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/10/97
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In article <339DC...@sn.no>, Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote:
>Matthew H. Fields wrote:
>>
>> right and left hand notation?
>> So we're hard-coding the notation to piano performance? Does that
>> solve any of the problems of tablature for general music discussion?

>I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. I have asked about
>existing letter notation and put forward some ideas of my own. This
>thread is posted to r.m.m.g.tablature because people here might be
>interested in notation issues.

Hey, we've posted piano music, guitar music, 4-part choral music,
and some other stuff here, all in legible ascii. Check out
the reference to "Noam Elkies Notation" back a few posts, it shows
a single-line melody written clearly on a single line, such that you
can quickly learn to read it right off the screen...with just a couple
more lines you can write detailed counterpoint for any instrument.
No need to hardcode octave signs to a 5-octave range and then
have a different 5 octaves for a left hand and a right hand, when
of course music isn't all organized by left hands and right hands.


Matt

Peter Billam

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Jun 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/10/97
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In article <339DC...@sn.no>, Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> writes:
> I have asked about
> existing letter notation and put forward some ideas of my own. This
> thread is posted to r.m.m.g.tablature because people here might be
> interested in notation issues.
>
> I'm not yet trying to "sell" a new notation to anyone - just sounding
> out what amount of interest there is in the concept. (Not a great deal,
> it seems.)
>
There was a "comparative music languages ?" and then "languages" thread
in the mutex mailing list recently, starting on 3apr97, where I asked a
similar question;

Lots of people are defining their own music languages, so maybe what
ought to be happening is a comparative study of music languages as
such, to create the kind of evolution in completeness and compactness
that we have seen over the last few decades in computer programming
languages

The archives should be at

http://www.gmd.de/Mail

(although just at the I'm getting "connection refused"). My contribution
is the "Muscript" music-typesetting program - check out

http://www.marine.csiro.au/~pjb/muscript.html

which also includes links to MusiXTeX, abc, M-Tx, musixlyr, and Lilypond.
As it shouldn't be much trouble to write a Perl script to convert a piece
from one language to another, there's no need for it to be a hot debate.
The Muscript language is likely to undergo a major upgrade RSN ...

Regards, Peter Billam


Matthew H. Fields

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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Tore, you've crossposted to rec.music.compose. As a composer who uses
a single notation for guitars, pianos, choirs, and orchestras, I am
just pointing out the limitation in a new form of keyboard tablature.
Look for postings by Elkies himself---there's some interesting puzzle
canons in his notation. You can write it on graph paper very fast.
If your use of chords doesn't require any particular voicing of the chords,
whatever chord notation you already use will be fine. If it requires
specific voicing, vertical notation will be more immediately legible
than something that strings the notes horizontally, I suspect.


Here's a file I have handy in Elkies notation
(compare to the original music notation):

------insertion

4/4, keysig 2 flats, Schnell, q=152

'/3\'3 ' '
Pianoforte: g`GGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
g GGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
[Forte] |GABCDED B |G x x |GEBCDED B |
\3/
[Forte]


GGGGGGGGGGGG|AAAAAAAAAAAA|BBBBBBA AAAAA|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
|GGGGGGGGGGGG|GGGGGGF+FFFFF| |
GGGGGGGGGGGG|AAAAAAAAAAAA|BBBBBBA AAAAA|GGGGGGGGGGGG|
G x x |C . C+ |D |G x x |
|C' . C+ |D |
[Cresc.]---- [Decresc.]---

---------end insertion

We've seen big chunks of Art of Fugue in this notation, etc.
It kinda grows on you.

Tore Lund

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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Matthew H. Fields wrote:
>
> Tore, you've crossposted to rec.music.compose.

That's the intention. I don't know what other groups would be the right
place to ask for notation experiments.

> As a composer who uses
> a single notation for guitars, pianos, choirs, and orchestras, I am
> just pointing out the limitation in a new form of keyboard tablature.
> Look for postings by Elkies himself---there's some interesting puzzle
> canons in his notation. You can write it on graph paper very fast.
> If your use of chords doesn't require any particular voicing of the chords,
> whatever chord notation you already use will be fine. If it requires
> specific voicing, vertical notation will be more immediately legible
> than something that strings the notes horizontally, I suspect.

OK, I was not aware of the graph paper. That makes a BIG difference.
Probably, there are many possibilities of that sort that should be
looked into.



> Here's a file I have handy in Elkies notation

[snip]

Thanks, I'll consider this before I say any more. It is hard to grasp
the strenghts and weaknesses of various notations just by seeing some
samples.

Noam Elkies

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
to

In article <339E76...@sn.no>, Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote:
>I have searched for examples of Noam Elkies Notation, but all I have
>found is the following:

[From Matt Fields]

>> keysig 1#, 4/4, start D4
>> x .DD .D|G G A A |D . B G .GB .G|E ^C A .F|G . x ||
>>
>> I rather like the latter more. It uses x for rest rather than R
>> (Re?), and it uses spacing for rhythm (which of course means it has
>> rhythmic biases, requiring extensions for tuplets, but then so does
>> Score). Intervals are assumed to be < a fifth unless marked with ^up
>> an octave or _down an octave from default. A barline is | instead of m.

>Using spacing for rhythm means that this notation cannot be used for
>handwriting. This element alone is enough to rule out this notation as
>a handy tonal script, unless I overlook something here.

You are right, but then this notation was never intended for handwriting.
We already have at least one "handy tonal script" in mainstream music
notation, and do not need another. If ASCII provided note shapes we
would could probably use them here instead of making up a notation,
but alas quarter notes etc. are not part of ASCII. I've also used
ad-hoc extensions of that notation as input to a music typesetting system.

[For the record, one could use dots instead of spaces throughout, and
thus reproduce something like my notation in handwriting; but there's
no need to do that with standard music notation readily available.
When I must jot down some music without staff paper and am too lazy to
draw five parallel lines, I usually write the rhythm in standard notation
with the noteheads replaced or marked with letter names. But that too
is hard to implement in ASCII.]

>I also get the impression that one needs more lines for even the
>simplest chords, which would make it VERY unwieldy IMO.

For typesetting the occasional chord I've used "/" as in

>> x .DD .D|G G A A |G/B/D . B G .GB .G|E ^C A .F|G etc.

to add a G-major chord at the apex of that phrase. For truly
chordal or polyphonic textures, yes you'll most likely use
several lines -- but then that's probably what you'd want to
do anyway for ease of reading and probably also of writing.
(Matt Fields recently re-posted his rendition of the opening
of _Erlkoenig_ in this fashion.)

To be sure I haven't yet proposed a formal notation scheme
to implement such an extension; for the purpose of informally
communicating snippets of music on the Net we probably don't
really need a formal definition.

--Noam D. Elkies (elk...@math.harvard:edu)
Dept. of Mathematics, Harvard University

Han-Wen Nienhuys

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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>> >Presuming a time signature of 5(4), this would be written as follows in
>> >my own notation (as yet unpublished):
>> >
>> > do (dar) (do) dar vu bah
>> >
>> >where the consonants are one of the 12 tones and the vowels are octaves.
>>
>> So you get 5 octaves. A piano has 7
>
>The right and left hands would use a different mapping of vowels to
>octaves. And one could easily devise operators to change the mapping.

I am still not sure about this: which hand to use is a
pianistic/technical issue, the music is (imo) independent of the hand
you play it with.

>> Maybe you do. If you are educated in Swedish (or dutch), lilypond except for
>> punctation, gives you a fair idea of what is happening. The notation with '
>> was taken from the standard musical theory. Yours is obviously shorter, but has
>> little connection with musical theory, as far as I can see.
>
>That's right. I break some eggs in order to get a compact notation.
>And so does tablature.

Where can I find doco on tablature? I never really heard of this

>BTW, what have the Swedes got to do with this? :)

Quoting a recent addition to our FAQ:

Q: What is C<cis> anyway

A: C<cis> is the dutch naming for C-sharp. The notes are named
a, b,.., g. The suffix -is means sharp, and -es flat. This system is
common in a number of languages (such as swedish, dutch, german.)
Certain other languages (such as English, French and Italian) just add
the word for "sharp" to the notename.

We chose the Dutch system, because we're dutch. You are free to chose
whatever names you like; they are user definable.

>> >This is better, and I think this is a fair comparison. But I wonder why
>> >we have to repeat the time value for every tone in the chords.
>> this is because you can also put voices on top of each other with <>
>If all the tones within <> have the same time value, then I don't see
>that your argument about voices makes it necessary to repeat the time
>value. But it may be that I don't have the complete picture here.

You may be right (I added it with ? to our TODO). But then I have to do something sensible with

< { c4 c4 g4 g4 }
{ c c e c } >8.

(notice the 8.)

>> Of course, you could also quote from other parts. Your idea couples the musical
>> melody to the place within the measure (as keys are reset at each measure
>> start. ) I don't think this is a good idea.
>
>I do not quite understand this objection. What you call "my idea" here
>is standard practice. We notate a G as a head somewhere within the
>staff and use the accidentals at the beginning of the line to tell us
>whether to play it as G#, Gb or whatever. The insertion you quote above

yes, but (quoting again)

Be warned we will I<not> allow you to leave out the C<#> if the note
already has an accidental. We won't allow

c# c % no way!

in stead of:

cis cis
#c #c

Why, you might ask? Because independently of how it was written, you
would say that you are playing and reading "two C-sharp" notes.


to put it differently, mudela is a written version of what we'd say if
asked to describe what we're playing:

I am playing a "c-sharp quaver, e-flat halfnote"

but somewhat condensed (and in dutch):

cis4 es2


>might have to include a key signature of some sort in order for LilyPond
>to interpret the tones correctly. But, if I understand LilyPond right
>here, such a device would bring very material simplification for the
>writer at very little cost.

It will take the reader a lot of pains to figure out what is
written. You take away burden from the writer, and leave it up to the
reader to remember where the measure-bars are, and what the current
key is.

>> With a lot of instruments Eb is different from D sharp (the violin
>> for example: D sharp implies that the intonation should be slightly sharper
>> than Eb; D sharp usually leads to E)
>>
>> You need more than 12.
>
>My experience is with tempered instruments like guitar and piano. But
>I'm surprised that all of these enharmonic variations have to be
>notated. One should think that the context would tell the violinist
>which shade of interval was intended. But I must leave this question to
>players of nontempered instruments.

Again, you are putting burdens on the reader. Most music is read much
more often than it is written. It makes sense to try to please the
reader more than the writer.

I never tried reading 12-tonic notation, but to my intuition A-b
(usually in keys like Eb) is totally different from G# (in keys with
sharps, eg E)

>> >In short, I'm afraid I find the computer notations presented in this
>> >thread rather cumbersome, and I have tried to justify that claim here.

After rereading your post, you seem to be very keen on terse notation,
possibly at the expense of ease of reading

>> 1. Modern music isn't everything; how would you code a 5-voice bach fuga?
>
>This is where letter notations in general are inferior to staff
>notation. One could write 5 lines on top of each other, but it is hard
>to get a tidy presentation. Writing them horizontally as a chord makes
>reading very difficult. Unless I am mistaken, you would have these
>problems in LilyPond too.

My point is, that a language which only works for simple pieces is no
language. True, Bach fugas shouldn't be played from the LilyPond
input, but they are possible to write (we have WTK-I fugue 2 as an example)

>> 2. If the music gets complicated, people will probably want to see the
>> traditional notation anyway, so you (again) have include the information needed
>> to typeset it.
>

>experiment in this direction. I don't know who, apart from the
>classical tradition, would read the music if it were transferred to
>notes.

Are you implying, that classical tradition is only a minority (not to
be taken into account)?

To be more direct: I would like to see traditional notation.

>Once again, LilyPond is meant for other purposes than my own notation,
>so I don't know whether there is any common ground to discuss on. A

Of course there is. LilyPond is a typesetting package, and can be
extended with other languages than the current, eg. yours.

>notation cannot be a convenient short-hand and at the same time be a
>specification for type-setting with all the bells and whistles of the
>standard notation.

I disagree. If you focus on a specific purpose, then it will (at most)
be used for that purpose. I think this is unwise.

- I can imagine people using the shorthand only.

- I can imagine, that others (who can't read) want to hear it (so you have
to be able to play it).

- Then some people would like to play it on their pianos, and ---given
their classical education--- they want to see it in print. (so you
have to be able to print it

Our language gets complicated if you add all the printing bells and
whistles, but nobody is forced to add them, eg:

c4 c g g a a g2 % twinkle twinkle little star

is as legal as

c4-"Andante con moto"_. c4_. g_"Sempre staccato" g a a \stem -1; g

the latter containing some whistles.

Summarising: the letter notation can be a convenient shorthand *and* a


specification for type-setting with all the bells and whistles of the
standard notation.

What we are trying to reach with Mudela is.. everything, quoting:


=item *

define the (musical) message of the composer as unambiguously
as possible.

This means that, given a piece Mudela, it should be possible for a
program to play a reasonable interpretation of the piece.

It also means that, given a piece of Mudela, it should be
possible for a
program to print a score of the piece.

=item *

be intuitive, and easily readable (compared to, say, Musi*TeX input,
or MIDI :-),

=item *

be easily writable in ASCII with a simple texteditor, yfte(TM).

=back

Other considerations were (and will be):

=over 4

=item *

be able to edit the layout without danger of changing the original
music (Urtext),

=item *

allow for adding different interpretations, again,
without danger of changing the original,

=item *

easy to create a conductor's score,
as well as the scores for all individual instruments,

=item *

provide simple musical manipulations, such as
S<(i) extracting> a slice of music from a previously defined piece,
S<(ii) extracting> only the rhythm from a piece of music,
S<(iii) transposing>, etc.,

=item *

easy to comprehend to both programmers and others.

=back


>It's too bad that we don't know the same music. But I have tried to
>notate the first four bars of Chopin's "Raindrop" prelude. Maybe you
>already have this score in LilyPond so that you can make a comparison.

This means little to me, even if i did know the music, it takes a lot
of effort to find out which parts of your notation mean what. A
tutorial, a BNF spec, anything would be better. Your language is so
unlike what I'm used to, that I can't see heads or tails from this.

Tore Lund

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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Noam Elkies wrote:
>
> [snip]

I thank you for your response. I am sure the Elkies notation makes
excellent sense in your context. What baffles me is that nonclassical
musicians are not more interested in discussing shorthands and/or
alternatives to the traditional notation.

Noam Elkies

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
to

In article <339F1B...@sn.no>, Tore Lund <tl...@sn.no> wrote:

>I thank you for your response. I am sure the Elkies notation makes
>excellent sense in your context. What baffles me is that nonclassical
>musicians are not more interested in discussing shorthands and/or
>alternatives to the traditional notation.

You're welcome. For an entirely different approach to constructing
a nonclassical notation system _ab initio_, see

http://mars.physics.lsa.umich.edu/~taylor/notation/

(This is the same Christopher Taylor who came third in the Van Cliburn
piano competition a couple of cycles ago.)

Matthew H. Fields

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Jun 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/11/97
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In article <5nn5d3$n...@turtle.stack.nl>,

Han-Wen Nienhuys <han...@stack.nl> wrote:
>I am still not sure about this: which hand to use is a
>pianistic/technical issue, the m