SmartMusic Finale Garritan MusicXML

Category: News

Dolet Plug-ins Update

Coinciding with the release of Finale 2014.5 are updates to our Dolet MusicXML plug-ins. The Dolet 6.6 for Finale plug-in adds support for Finale 2014.5, while the Dolet 6.5 for Sibelius plug-in adds support for Sibelius 8. As always, downloads are available from our Dolet plug-in downloads page.

You can read more about what’s new with the plug-ins in the Dolet for Finale and Dolet for Sibelius release notes. One notable addition to the Dolet 6.6 for Finale plug-in is that file exports now include XML processing instructions for features that the plug-in knows it cannot export correctly. This feature has been in the Dolet for Sibelius plug-in for many years and we are happy to now bring it over to the Finale plug-in as well.

Meanwhile, the W3C Music Notation Community Group has had a lot of thoughtful discussion on the future direction for MusicXML and notation formats. Joining the group is the best way to make your voice heard on how MusicXML will evolve in the future. Community group membership is free and does not require W3C membership.

Setting an Agenda for W3C Music Notation

With northern summer vacations over, we are now ready to start setting an agenda for the W3C Music Notation Community Group. See our latest blog post at:

This describes the short-term and long-term projects that the co-chairs Joe Berkovitz, Daniel Spreadbury, and myself think would be good for the group to work on, and why we think they are important. The initial proposed short-term projects are:

  • Build an initial MusicXML specification
  • Add support for use of SMuFL glyphs within MusicXML
  • Identify and fix any remaining gaps or adoption barriers in SMuFL
  • Document music notation use cases

The initial proposed long-term projects are:

  • Improve formatting support in MusicXML
  • Build a complete MusicXML specification document
  • Add Document Object Model (DOM) manipulation and interactivity to MusicXML

Now we need to hear from the group. Do these seem like the right things to work on? Are there other things you think we should work on instead? What would you most like to see done with MusicXML and SMuFL right away?

If you have not yet joined the group, visit our home page and click the JOIN THIS GROUP button to start the signup process. If you work on music notation for an organization, please join as an organizational representative by following the instructions on the left-hand side of the signup page.

Our discussion will be help on the community group contributor mailing list [email protected] Anybody can read the archives of this mailing list, but only Community Group participants can post there.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts as to how you would like the group to proceed.

MakeMusic Transfers MusicXML Development to W3C

Today is a momentous day for MusicXML development and open standards in music notation. MakeMusic and Steinberg are transferring development of the MusicXML format and SMuFL specification to a new Music Notation Community Group at the W3C.

Here is the text of MakeMusic’s press release. You can download the full PDF version from our web site.

Popular music notation standard moves to open community group

BOULDER, Colorado – July 28, 2015 – MakeMusic, Inc. announced today that it is transferring development of its industry-standard MusicXML format to the new Music Notation Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Michael Good, MakeMusic vice president of R&D, invented the MusicXML format in 2000 to create a standard interchange format for music notation applications. It has been adopted by well over 200 applications, including nearly all the major web, desktop, and mobile notation programs.

The MusicXML format was developed at Michael’s former company Recordare with the participation of a large and active developer and musician community. MakeMusic’s 2011 acquisition of Recordare’s assets changed the community dynamics, since the owner of the format was now a competitor of many developers. This increased the community’s desire to move MusicXML development to a more neutral forum. W3C Community Groups provide a way to move MusicXML development forward in a more open process, without the overhead of producing formal W3C Recommendations.

Simultaneously, Steinberg has announced that it is transferring development of its Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL) specification to the same W3C Music Notation Community Group. Michael Good from MakeMusic, Daniel Spreadbury from Steinberg, and Joe Berkovitz from Hal Leonard/Noteflight will serve as co-chairs of the Music Notation Community Group.

“We are excited that the MusicXML and SMuFL communities are coming together as a W3C Community Group,” said Doug Schepers, W3C Web Standards Specialist. “Music notation is an essential cultural artifact, and worthy of having its own expression on the Web. W3C is pleased that our Community Groups framework will help move these important technologies forward.”

“I am delighted that MakeMusic has decided to transfer MusicXML development to the W3C,” said MusicXML inventor Michael Good. “Finale was the first widely used music notation application to support the MusicXML format. Today’s announcement continues MakeMusic’s leadership in open standards for the sheet music community.”

MakeMusic, Steinberg, and Hal Leonard invite developers, publishers, musicians, and other interested parties to join the W3C Music Notation Community Group. Membership is free of charge. More details are available at

You can read more about the story behind the formation of the W3C Music Notation Community Group on the group’s blog at:

Photo of Community Group co-chairs Joe Berkovitz, Michael Good, and Daniel Spreadbury

Music Notation Community Group Co-Chairs Joe Berkovitz, Michael Good, and Daniel Spreadbury at MusicXML Community Meeting, Musikmesse 2015

Our co-founders of the Music Notation Community Group, Steinberg and Hal Leonard/Noteflight, have also issued press releases and blog posts:

We look forward to having many people join us in the community group to continue the development of the MusicXML format to version 4.0 and beyond.

More Apps: Digital Performer 9, Soundslice Viewer

MusicXML application support keeps growing! At Musikmesse we had just under 200 applications supporting the MusicXML format. Today we are up to 212 applications. Many of these new additions are small, specialized apps done by individual developers for Android, iOS, or Web platforms.

This week though we have seen two more significant releases for the larger MusicXML community: Digital Performer 9 and the Soundslice MusicXML Viewer.

DP9MOTU’s Digital Performer is one of the leading digital audio workstation applications for Mac and Windows. It is particularly popular for film and TV scoring. People have been asking me for at least a decade when Digital Performer might add MusicXML support, particularly to export from QuickScribe notation to dedicated notation editors like Finale and Sibelius. This is finally here with Digital Performer 9.

Peter Kirn at Create Digital Music says that “I think what could prove to be the biggest feature in DP9 is MusicXML export.” MOTU has posted a video where Frank Macchia calls MusicXML export from DP9 a “dream come true.” When this feature was first previewed at NAMM, I heard Marc Mann whoop for joy. Customers who use both Digital Performer and a dedicated notation program can see their lives getting a lot easier with this release.

Digital audio workstations were naturally slower to adopt MusicXML than music notation specialist programs. With the release of DP9, it seems safe to say that the majority of DAW applications with notation functionality now support MusicXML export.

  • October 2007: Cubase 4.1 adds MusicXML export and import
  • September 2011: SONAR X1 Producer Expanded adds MusicXML export
  • July 2013: Logic Pro X adds MusicXML export
  • June 2015: Digital Performer 9 adds MusicXML export

MusicXML export is usually offered first since it tends to be the more valuable workflow for DAW customers that use notation. MusicXML import is also useful for a different set of workflows. We hope that will become more popular in future DAW application releases.

Meanwhile, Soundslice has released a significant new MusicXML player that is both free and web-based. The Soundslice developers couldn’t find any free, high-quality, web-based MusicXML viewers that could display, play, and transpose MusicXML files. So they took their MusicXML rendering from the Soundslice Player and made it a separate, limited service.

The viewer also shows off Soundslice’s responsive notation. Resize the web browser window after you upload a score and see how Soundslice reflows the music to match the available space. You can do this in other applications and web sites, of course, but not in a free web site with no subscription or signup required. This should make a great complement to other MusicXML readers, both for musicians who have downloaded MusicXML files and for developers testing their MusicXML export and overall understanding of MusicXML notation.

Congratulations to MOTU and Soundslice on these new software releases! Do you have MusicXML software or a source of MusicXML scores that we don’t have listed on our site? Please let us know so we can add you to our lists and round out our picture of the MusicXML community. Feel free to post on the MusicXML forum, or contact us via Twitter or Facebook.

W3C Community Group Update

W3C Community Group and Business Group LogoDuring our April meeting at Musikmesse, we discussed moving further development of MusicXML and SMuFL to a Music Notation Community Group at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Joe Berkovitz from Noteflight summarized the advantages in his presentation:

  • Consortium-based governance is the best way forward
  • Standards-track process will force clear specification
  • Consortium ownership assures openness and fairness
  • Membership supplies diverse, fresh viewpoints
  • Leadership supplies continuity, domain expertise
  • Consortium supplies adjacent expertise, technical/legal/process support.

The overall sense of the meeting was that moving to a W3C Community Group was a good idea. Even some who had reservations based on past standards experiences concluded that if Joe, Daniel, and me all thought that the W3C was the best way forward, that was good enough for them.

Since that time, Daniel and I have been working with senior management at our respective companies to get approval to move development of these music notation software standards to a W3C Community Group. We have made good progress so far. We are optimistic (but not certain!) that we will have something to announce relatively soon.

In the meantime, I would like to reopen the discussion to address any questions and concerns that MusicXML community members may have about this potential change. I have started a new topic on the MusicXML forum at:

Please note that W3C Community Groups are a much lighter-weight organization than a W3C Working Group. Community Groups produce reports rather than recommendations as their specifications. W3C membership is not required to participate, and there are no membership fees or travel requirements. Companies may of course join the W3C to access the full benefits of the consortium’s web standards resources, but this is in not required.

You can learn more about W3C Community Groups at:

Members of the Community Group do need to sign a Contributor License Agreement to belong to the group and contribute to report and specification development. That agreement is available at:

Final specifications (for instance, a potential MusicXML 4.0 developed at the W3C) are released under a Final Specification Agreement, available at:

You may want to have your legal team review these agreements in advance to address any questions about signing up to participate in the community group.

Daniel, Joe, and I are excited about the potential of this move to build on the successes of MusicXML and SMuFL, and make them even more powerful tools for representing music notation on the Web, in print, and in new interactive media yet to be invented.

The 2015 MusicXML Community Meeting at Musikmesse

Thank you to all who attended our third annual MusicXML community meeting at Musikmesse! We had 42 attendees who signed in. This year’s meeting focused on framing the future for MusicXML development. Our agenda proceeded as follows:

  • A brief introduction to MusicXML. Nearly everyone attending was already familiar with MusicXML, so we covered this quickly.
  • MusicXML community progress over the past year since our last meeting, focusing on the 25 new applications that have added MusicXML support in that time.
  • An update on the Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL) project, presented by Daniel Spreadbury from Steinberg.
  • Future directions for MusicXML: content and governance, presented by Joe Berkovitz from Noteflight.

The presentations took 90 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of focused discussion on the future directions for MusicXML. This was followed by an hour-long reception sponsored by Hal Leonard / Noteflight.

The MusicXML presentation material from all three presenters is available at:

The 2015 MusicXML Meeting

The attendee list and a summary of the meeting discussion is available at:

Report from the 2015 MusicXML Community Meeting

Nicolas Froment from MuseScore made a video recording of the meeting, including the presentation and the discussions. If you have not attended one of these meetings before, here is a great opportunity to see and hear the faces and voices behind the names.

To summarize the discussion, most people who spoke at the meeting were favorably inclined towards Joe’s proposal to move MusicXML to a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Community Group. There was support for adding more notational semantics to MusicXML – not just the what, but also the how and why behind notation layout. Joe showed an example of how MusicXML could evolve to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) technology that intrigued many people.

The meeting met my goals for getting a better sense of the MusicXML community’s reaction to a possible change of governance to the W3C, as well as some of the general directions for future MusicXML evolution. We will continue discussion of these topics online in the MusicXML forum.

Change of governance is not a simple matter for the companies involved. It seems it would be best for MusicXML and SMuFL to both be transferred together to a standards organization rather than proceeding separately. So there are discussions that will need to happen at MakeMusic, Steinberg, the W3C, and elsewhere. Given the strategic nature of the technologies there is no guarantee that this transfer will happen, but gauging the community’s interest was a key step in this potential evolution.

I would like to once again thank:

  • Hal Leonard and Noteflight for sponsoring the reception.
  • Joe Berkovitz and Daniel Spreadbury for their excellent presentations.
  • The Musicbiz Lounge & Congress and Musikmesse staff for their top-flight support.
  • Nicolas Froment for the video recording.
  • All the meeting attendees for the lively and informative discussion.

As long as Musikmesse makes this Musicbiz Lounge & Congress venue available to us, we plan to keep this as an annual event. Next year’s Musikmesse is from April 7 to 10, with many changes in store. The Friday date seems to work well, so we’ll tentatively plan for the fourth annual MusicXML meeting on Friday, April 8, 2016.

Coming Up: MusicXML at Musikmesse 2015


I am happy to announce that we now have our MusicXML Community Meeting confirmed at the Musicbiz Lounge & Congress during Musikmesse 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. We will meet at the same time as last year: Friday, April 17 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, with a reception afterwards sponsored by Hal Leonard / Noteflight. The meeting will be in the Workshop room in the Congress area adjacent to Hall 5.1.

Here is the abstract for this year’s meeting:

MusicXML has become the standard interchange format for music notation and digital sheet music over the past 15 years. Since 2013 the community of music notation developers, publishers, and musicians has met each year at Musikmesse to discuss new developments and possibilities for the future.

One topic for this year’s meeting will be future directions for the MusicXML format. Might MusicXML evolve in the future from a document interchange format into a more complete platform for interactive digital sheet music? What might this evolution look like? How could we support interactivity better in the future without disrupting the successful document interchange of the present? How might such an evolution fare under the umbrella of a standards organization, for example the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)?

Other topics to be discussed are future integration of MusicXML and SMuFL, and status updates on new applications supporting MusicXML since last year’s Musikmesse.

Moderated by: Michael Good (MakeMusic, inventor of MusicXML) and Joe Berkovitz (Noteflight)

If you registered with the Musicbiz Lounge & Congress last year, you will be receiving an email soon to reactivate your account for 2015. If you have not registered with the venue before, please do using this URL. Registering helps the Congress with their planning, and helps keep this venue available to us for our meetings:

Please also email me or send me a private message on the MusicXML Forum if you plan to attend, so we know how many people to expect for the meeting and the reception.

I look forward to seeing many of you there!

NAMM 2015: eScore Standardization Efforts in W3C and IEC

Each January, the NAMM show in Anaheim brings people together from throughout the music products industry. The MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) holds its annual general meeting on the last day of NAMM. This year, the MMA hosted a session on “An Introduction to eScore Standardization Efforts in W3C and IEC.” I presented on the W3C work. Taro Tokuhiro from Yamaha presented on the IEC work led by the Association of Musical Electronics Industry (AMEI). We had about 20 people attending. You can see our presentations at:

My presentation reviewed our discussions on music notation markup at the W3C from the W3C’s October TPAC meeting. At that meeting we explored a proposal for forming a music notation W3C Community Group and transferring relevant standards like MakeMusic’s MusicXML and Steinberg’s Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL) to that organization. The governing documents could then become W3C Community Group Reports, perhaps co-published with the MMA.

Understanding the potential and pitfalls for current standardization work benefits from looking at past experience. Over the past 20 years, organizations like IEC, MPEG, and IEEE have produced eScore standards that have all failed to be adopted. These organizations tend to be too expensive in both time and money for an industry as small as sheet music and music notation software. Standards produced without the participation of industry experts have little chance of success. In contrast, MusicXML was designed and developed within the industry to work with existing music notation programs, and has been adopted by over 180 applications.

With its free membership and more flexible process, a W3C Community Group might provide a venue that could avoid some of the past pitfalls of previous standards organization efforts. I examined the pros and cons of moving MusicXML into a standards group like the W3C, or maintaining the status quo of MakeMusic ownership for the time being.

Taro Tokuhiro reviewed the work on music notation at IEC TC 100 TA 10 from the past two years. IEC, the International Electrotechnical Commission, is one of the three global organizations (IEC, ISO, ITU) that develops official International Standards. TC 100 is the IEC technical committee on audio, video, and multimedia. TA 10 is TC 100’s technical area for multimedia e-publishing and e-book technology. Japan has extensive representation and involvement in TA 10. AMEI, the MMA’s Japanese counterpart organization, has been working within TA 10 over the past few years to publish MIDI 1.0 as an official IEC international standard.

Mr. Tokuhiro took over the role of leading AMEI’s work with TA 10 last year. AMEI presented on eScore technology at the IEC’s general meetings in Shenzen in September 2013 and in Tokyo in November 2014. Work is now underway on a technical report describing eScore technologies like MusicXML that are currently available on the market. The report draft is due this month and will be published after a voting process.

This technical report is the outcome of a research phase, and a prerequisite for recruiting expert involvement in a standards project. After publication, IEC will address questions such as if international de jure standardization is needed, if IEC is the right place for such standardization, or if the current de facto standardization on MusicXML is sufficient. As a result, digital sheet music may be proposed as a project within TA 10, or it may not – there is no hard commitment yet either way.

I very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet with Mr. Tokuhiro for lunch before the session. We had a detailed discussion of the contexts of the current eScore standardization work within both IEC and W3C which I found very helpful. There was not much discussion during the question and answer session after the presentations. Tom White from the MMA provided some clarifications on the work within both W3C and IEC.

I expect that we will be discussing the potential for MusicXML moving to the W3C or other standards organizations in more depth at our next MusicXML community meeting. Assuming that Musikmesse 2015 provides the same venue for this meeting as before, we tentatively plan to meet in Frankfurt on Friday afternoon, April 17. I will post more details here as we know more about the scheduling and planning.

Dolet 6.5 for Finale Plugin Now Available

Today we released an updated version of our Dolet® 6 for Finale plugin. The Dolet plugin adds some features to the MusicXML support built into Finale 2014, such as batch import and export. It also makes the improvements to MusicXML support for Finale 2014 available to people using older versions of Finale.  You can download this new version as well as our other Dolet plugins from:


Version 6.5 runs faster on Macs. It also adds support for exporting scores  whose default music fonts follow the Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL). SMuFL font support works in Finale 2012 and 2014, with Finale 2014 providing the better experience. The benefit of faster performance should be obvious, but what exactly is this SMuFL support?

Current music fonts in products like Finale and Sibelius use font mapping conventions that date back to the 1980s. These mappings use older, pre-Unicode technology that limits individual fonts to about 200 symbols. Western music notation requires many more symbols than that, so most programs have families of fonts to cover a wider range of musical symbols. Each font tends to use a somewhat different set of symbols, mapped in a somewhat different way. This causes problems when switching fonts in a musical score, or switching fonts when moving between notation and digital sheet music applications.

This diversity in font mappings also creates problems when writing software to export or import MusicXML files. The MusicXML software developer is usually never quite sure what a particular font character means. To accurately interpret what a character number means, you need to be able to tell which font is being used with that character, and you need to have seen that font before to know how it maps that number to a musical symbol.

SMuFL aims to fix these problems. To quote the SMuFL site, “SMuFL is a specification that provides a standard way of mapping the thousands of musical symbols required by conventional music notation into the Private Use Area in Unicode’s Basic Multilingual Plane for a single (format-independent) font.” Using the Unicode Private Use Area allows SMuFL to map thousands of symbols. SMuFL 1.0 currently maps nearly 2400 glyphs.

The SMuFL project was initiated and developed by Daniel Spreadbury at Steinberg. Like MusicXML, SMuFL was opened to community involvement at an early stage. At MakeMusic, Mark Adler and I have been involved with SMuFL even before it was publicly announced 18 months ago. Mark has focused on an updated OpenType version of our Maestro font family that will be SMuFL compliant. I have focused on how MusicXML and SMuFL might work together better in the future. Dolet 6.5 for Finale’s support for exporting files created with a default SMuFL music font is another step towards bringing SMuFL technology to MakeMusic’s products.

We are happy to release the Dolet 6.5 for Finale plug-in together with our Finale 2014d maintenance update. MakeMusic’s new CEO Gear Fisher has posted more information about MakeMusic’s future direction on the Finale and SmartMusic blogs. MusicXML is a key part of MakeMusic’s vision: it is essential for bringing more repertoire into our SmartMusic product, and for people creating music in Finale to share that music with the widest variety of applications in the rapidly changing world of digital sheet music.

In Gear’s update, he mentions how MakeMusic needs to make it easier to publish content into SmartMusic. Many of the challenges that we face in doing that are similar if not identical to the challenges the entire music notation industry faces in moving from printed to digital sheet music. That is what has driven my work with MusicXML, and I came to MakeMusic for the chance to work on these issues on a larger scale.

We made some important foundational steps forward for digital sheet music production with Finale 2014. Having MusicXML as a common exchange format is another part of the puzzle, as is having SMuFL as a common music font layout. There is still much more to do. I am looking forward to what we can accomplish as MakeMusic enters the next step in its evolution.

Music Notation Markup at the W3C

tpac-250 Each year the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a week of combined Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee meetings (TPAC). The plenary day is conducted in “unconference” style with breakout sessions. For this year’s meeting in Silicon Valley, Joe Berkovitz from Hal Leonard / Noteflight proposed a music notation markup session. Joe Berkovitz and Michael Good presented at the start of the session, followed by a discussion with the 25 or so attendees present. The presentations and discussion summary are available online:

It has always been my plan that MusicXML move from company ownership to standards organization ownership once it achieved enough maturity, following the model of the PDF format. The questions have been which organization and at what time. Ten years ago we explored moving MusicXML 1.0 to OASIS, and decided not to proceed, largely because it wasn’t the right time. This was a fortunate decision. Shortly thereafter we embarked on the MusicXML 1.1 project, a large and rapid expansion of the MusicXML format that ensured the commercial success of both MusicXML as a format and Recordare as a company.

MusicXML 3.0 on the other hand is quite mature. We may need one more major update to a MusicXML 4.0 to incorporate changes in the past 3 years, most notably with the SMuFL Standard Music Font Layout project. But at some point in the not-too-distant future, it seems like a good time to once again explore moving MusicXML into a standards organization. Such a move would be contingent on decisions by MakeMusic and Peaksware leadership, as well as decisions by the target standards organization.

The two leading organizational candidates now are the W3C and the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA). W3C is the home of many web standards, including the fundamental XML technologies that MusicXML is built on. MMA is the home of related MIDI standards for the music instrument and software industries that MusicXML is also built on.

Though both organizations are home to related technologies, neither W3C nor MMA has a critical mass of notation company members. Hal Leonard is a W3C member, and MakeMusic is an MMA member. Yamaha is also an MMA member and contributes to AMEI‘s membership in the W3C.

In the past, standards organizations have had a dismal record of failure in music notation by being disconnected from the music notation development, publishing, and musician communities. ISO / IEC, MPEG, and IEEE have all developed music notation standards that nobody uses in practice. The industry is so small that the overhead of the typical standards organization is cost-prohibitive for most who might wish to participate.

This issue is not unique to music notation. To address it, the W3C has recently added Community and Business Groups to provide lighter weight, lower cost alternatives to full W3C membership. Community and business groups produce Community and Business Group Reports, rather than W3C Recommendations. A W3C community or business group on music notation, with MMA as a member and possible co-publisher, might provide a good choice for a future home within the current standards organization landscape.

Our goal for meeting at the W3C TPAC was to start discussions of this proposal and gauge interest within the W3C community. We had about 25 people at the meeting, which far exceeded both Joe’s and my expectations. It was great to see representatives from the W3C’s digital publishing and open annotations projects attending. These are two areas where there is good potential for future two-way interaction between MusicXML and emerging web standards.

A key element for MakeMusic is that work within the W3C to evolve MusicXML will not stray from the compatibility that has marked MusicXML’s evolution from MusicXML 1.0 to 3.0, where all valid MusicXML 1.0 files remain valid MusicXML 3.0 files. This 100% strict compatibility might need to be adjusted in the future to ensure future progress. If so, it needs to happen in a way that neither breaks MusicXML’s use as an archival format, nor emperils the vast library of MusicXML software that has been developed in more than 180 applications that currently support the format.

Whether at MakeMusic or in a standards organization, MusicXML still needs to be maintained on an ongoing basis as the technologies around it evolve. We don’t want to get into a deferred maintenance situation similar to the HTML4 to HTML5 and MIDI 1.0 to HD Protocol transitions.

Our meeting at TPAC, as well as our previous day’s discussions within the W3C Audio Working Group, were a nice start to the process of considering next steps for MusicXML and possibly other related music notation standards. Joe and I look forward to further discussions within the MusicXML, music notation, and web communities as we figure out the next steps. Thanks to Doug Schepers at the W3C for all his work in facilitating these discussions.