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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.

MusicXML at W3C and SF MusicTech

In the next month I will be attending two events local to me here in the San Francisco Bay area, and hope to see some of you there!

W3C 20th Anniversary logoThe first event will be the World Wide Web Consortium’s TPAC 2014: the Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee meetings week. Over the years we have investigated how and when MusicXML might be transferred from Recordare / MakeMusic to an industry standards organization. Some possible candidates proposed over the years have been the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA), OASIS, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Recently, MusicXML community member Joe Berkovitz started serving as co-chair of the W3C Audio Working Group. Given Joe’s more active W3C involvement and the TPAC meeting being local in Santa Clara, this seemed like a good opportunity to start exploring the W3C’s interest in possibly providing a home for the MusicXML format in the future.

We will be having two events at the TPAC. On Tuesday, October 28 we will have a MusicXML introduction during the W3C Audio Working Group meeting. This meeting is open to working group members only with observers approved by one of the co-chairs.

The more general meeting will be a 1-hour breakout session on Wednesday, October 29 during the “unconference” part of the plenary. The topic will be Music Notation Markup and MusicXML with Joe and myself as speakers. If you’re attending the W3C TPAC and are interested in this session, please let the W3C know by editing the Wiki page to add yourself as a possible attendee.

Those two meetings are only open to W3C members. However, Wednesday also includes the W3C20 Symposium on the Future of the Web, followed by a gala dinner. I plan to attend both the symposium and the dinner, and hope to meet more people at both events.

SF MusicTech logoTwo weeks later, I will be attending the 16th SF MusicTech Summit at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco on November 11. SF MusicTech is a great way to get a snapshot of the current state of the music technology industry. It brings together musicians, developers, executives, lawyers, and deal-makers of all types into one cost-effective, single-day networking and education event.

At this Summit I will be joined by Peaksware CEO Gear Fisher and Chief Evangelist Dirk Friel. As we announced in August, MakeMusic is joining Peaksware. SF MusicTech is one of the music industry events that Peaksware leadership will be attending over the next few months. We have begun hiring for new positions in Boulder, Colorado in addition to the employees who will be moving to Boulder from Eden Prairie. I will continue to work for MakeMusic/Peaksware here in Silicon Valley.

I hope to meet many MusicXML community members at these events! Feel free to contact me via the MusicXML forum, Facebook, or Twitter if you would like to set up a time to meet.

Dolet 6.4 for Sibelius plugin now available

Today we released an updated version of our Dolet® 6 for Sibelius plugin. This plugin exports MusicXML 3.0 files from Sibelius 5.1 and later. The MusicXML  format is the easiest and most accurate way to transfer files from Sibelius, either to Finale or any other notation program that imports MusicXML files. You can access all of our Dolet plugin downloads from:

http://www.musicxml.com/dolet-plugin/

Version 6.4 adds support for Sibelius 7.5. Earlier versions of the plugin worked with Sibelius 7.5, but the installers did not support this release. This was particularly a problem for people using Windows systems that only had Sibelius 7.5 installed.

Our Dolet plugin is as complete a MusicXML export plugin as the Sibelius plugin interface allows. Version 6.4 maintains this comprehensiveness for Sibelius 7.5 by adding the ability to export Sibelius’s gap before a measure.

The Dolet 6 for Sibelius plugin provides the only way to export MusicXML files from Sibelius 5 and Sibelius 6. Many people have also told us they prefer the Dolet plugin’s export to the built-in MusicXML export provided in Sibelius 7 or 7.5. This probably depends on the type of music you are exporting and the application that you are exporting to. If you are exporting MusicXML files from Sibelius 7, try our free Dolet plugin as well as Sibelius’s built-in export, and see which works best for you.

MakeMusic Joins Peaksware

Today we have announced that MakeMusic is joining Peaksware. Peaksware is the umbrella company owned by LaunchEquity Partners, the investment company that took MakeMusic private last year. The common thread at Peaksware is the focus on products that, like SmartMusic, help people develop skills and self-expression through deliberate practice.

For MusicXML, nothing will be changing. I will be staying with MakeMusic and continuing to guide MusicXML development and developer support. Both MusicXML and Finale are essential to creating our SmartMusic repertoire  and fit with the Peaksware strategic vision.

MusicXML remains the standard open format for digital sheet music interchange, with support from over 180 applications. We will continue to invest in both the MusicXML format and our own MusicXML software implementations. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the MusicXML forum.

 

MusicXML Support Tops 180 Applications

Over the past few months, many new applications have added support for the MusicXML format. There are now more than 180 applications supporting MusicXML. The range of applications is widening as well as the number.

Here’s a quick overview of what we have added to the MusicXML software page in the past few days. Some of these are new products or releases. Others may have had MusicXML support earlier, but we just discovered that recently. The software page includes more information and links.

Both reading and writing MusicXML files:

  • Braille Music Markup Language (BMML) converters

Writing MusicXML files:

  • LiveScore music notation editing for Ableton Live (via MaxScore and Max for Live)
  • Melomics automatic composition software
  • MyScript Music SDK for handwritten music recognition
  • Opusmodus for script-based music composition

Reading MusicXML files:

  • Antescofo score-following software
  • Musicista software for computational musicology
  • PhonicScore digital sheet music display and score following software
  • Soundslice Player for web-based notation and guitar tablature

We have also added another site for MusicXML scores to our music page. Visaudio Designs provides designs for marching bands and percussion ensembles, including editable scores.

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.

MusicXML at SF MusicTech and WWDC

sfmusictech15_siteheaderOver the next few weeks we will be attending two trade shows of interest to MusicXML developers. The first is the 15th SF MusicTech conference on May 20 at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. Twice a year, Brian and Shosana Zisk do a great job gathering together a lively mix of musicians, music technologists, label and publisher representatives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and business folks. I always learn new things and get an informative update on the current state of the music technology industry.

The attendee list for this month’s meeting so far includes people from MakeMusic, Sheet Music Plus, Alfred, Avid, Flowkey, Smule, Pono, and many other music technology innovators. Each time I go I try to organize a “music notation lunch” during the lunch break. We meet at the top of the stairs in the Hotel Kabuki lobby and then head out to one of the Asian restaurants (usually either Japanese or Korean-style Chinese) in the conference’s Japantown neighborhood.

Tickets are still available for the conference, but prices increase as the event draws closer. If you’re going, it would be great to meet you, whether at the notation lunch or some other time during the show. Feel free to message us on Twitter or Facebook so we can arrange something.

The second show we’ll be attending is WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference being held June 2 – 6 at Moscone Center West in San Francisco. We’ll be there seeing what’s new for the Mac OS X and iOS platforms. With five days there should be plenty of time to get together. If you’re attending and would like to meet, please let us know so we can try to set something up.

The 2014 MusicXML Community Meeting at Musikmesse

MusicXML-meeting-2014Thank you to everybody who attended our second annual MusicXML community meeting at Musikmesse! We had at least 52 people present who signed in, 10 more than last year. You can see the full table and the people sitting against the wall in the photo taken by neoScores during the meeting.

Last year we collected wish lists for strengthening MusicXML and the MusicXML community. Replacing the MusicXML mailing list with a forum was a big request from last year’s meetings, and we launched the MusicXML forum the week before Musikmesse. This year we had more focused discussions on three topics:

  • MusicXML and the Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL) project
  • A proposed open-source MusicXML sanitizer tool
  • MusicXML potentially moving to a standards organization like MMA and AMEI in the future.

We started with a brief introduction to MusicXML for newcomers and an overview of the MusicXML community year in review. Our hosts neoScores provided a reception afterwards where people stayed for an hour after the meeting talking to MusicXML colleagues one-on-one. Once again, Musikmesse and our host company did a fantastic job behind the scenes.

The MusicXML presentation material is available at:

The 2014 MusicXML Meeting

This includes presentation material from Daniel Spreadbury of Steinberg (SMuFL), Bob Hamblok of neoScores (Sanitizer tool), and me. Daniel was unfortunately not able to join us due to travel snafus involving two canceled flights, so I presented the SMuFL material in his absence.

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

Report from the 2014 MusicXML Community Meeting

As long as Musikmesse makes this MusicBiz Lounge and Congress venue available to us, we plan to keep this as an annual event. Next year’s Musikmesse is from April 15 to 18. The Friday date seems to work well, so we’ll tentatively plan for the third annual MusicXML meeting on Friday, April 17, 2015.

MusicXML at Musikmesse and SXSW Interactive

Musikmesse logoWe will once again have a MusicXML community meeting at Musikmesse in Frankfurt as part of the MusicBiz Lounge and Congress. The meeting will be on Friday, March 14 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Harmonie Room located off of Hall 5.1.

The MusicXML community meeting will be hosted by neoScores and refreshments will be served afterwards. Please contact Jonas Coomans at neoScores if you will be attending so they can plan accordingly. They can also provide you with a free 1-day pass for Musikmesse if you need one. Jonas’s email is jonas@neoscores.com.

This year we plan to have some focused discussions on several MusicXML topics:

  • Progress in the MusicXML community since last year’s meeting.
  • MusicXML 4.0 and SMuFL 1.0. SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout) is a project led by Daniel Spreadbury at Steinberg to standardize musical font encodings in the Unicode private area. Daniel will be present to introduce SMuFL. SMuFL addresses many of the requests we have received for MusicXML standardization over the years. We will discuss community interest in adding SMuFL support to MusicXML 4.0, and what exactly SMuFL support may mean for the MusicXML format.
  • NeoScores will discuss a tool that cleans existing MusicXML files from older applications. This is a common problem for applications that want to support older notation files created with only printed music in mind.
  • MusicXML and the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) and Association of Musical Electronics Industry (AMEI). The MMA and Japanese counterparts AMEI maintain the MIDI standard for musical instrument interoperability. Recently MMA and AMEI have started discussing the possibility of an electronic score standard. We would like the MusicXML community’s feedback on the possibility of MMA and AMEI serving as a long-term standards body home for the MusicXML format.

sxsw 2014This year I will also be attending the SXSW Interactive conference for the first time. I will be at SXSW in Austin, Texas from March 7 to 10, then at Musikmesse from March 12 to 15. Please contact us if you would like to arrange a meeting at either of these events. You can contact us via messages on the MusicXML Twitter or Facebook accounts. I look forward to meeting with many of you at these events!

January Events: NAMM and ASMAC

NAMM 2013It’s January, so that means it’s time for the annual NAMM  show in Anaheim, California. NAMM is the biggest show in the USA for the musical instrument market, including music software like MusicXML. The show runs from Thursday, January 23 through Sunday, January 26.

This will be my 15th year attending NAMM and meeting with  MusicXML developers. My meeting schedule is pretty full at this point though there are still some openings available, especially on Saturday. MakeMusic will be at Booth 6210 in Hall A.

If you want to meet but we haven’t arranged a meeting, stop by the booth. If I’m not there, somebody will be able to get your information to me to see if we can set something up. We won’t be having a separate MusicXML community meeting at NAMM this year.

On Wednesday the 22nd I will be attending The Hollywood Arrangers, an event organized by ASMAC, the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers. This will be at Catalina’s in Hollywood from 10:30 am to 2:15 pm. I’ll be there at least through lunch and hopefully for the whole event. If you’ll be there, please come by and say hello.

I look forward to seeing many of you at these two events, and learning how you would like to see the MusicXML format and MusicXML software evolve and improve in the future.

The MusicXML Year in Review for 2013

This past year has been another busy one for the MusicXML community. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We had our first face-to-face MusicXML community meetings at the NAMM and Musikmesse shows. The NAMM meeting had 16 people attending and the Musikmesse meeting had over 40 people present. MakeMusic hosted the meeting at NAMM and Scorio hosted the meeting at Musikmesse. I know of at least one application that launched successfully this year thanks in part to MusicXML connections made at the Musikmesse meeting.
  • One of the main suggestions from these meetings was to move the MusicXML mailing list to a forum. MakeMusic has now started work on this transition which we hope to see next year. A public MusicXML issue tracker is also a top priority from the meetings for our future development.
  • MakeMusic launched its new web sites in February, including a dedicated MusicXML site and blog. This has made it much easier to keep MusicXML information up-to-date, including the list of MusicXML software applications. On that note…
  • MusicXML is now supported by over 170 applications! Apple’s Logic Pro X DAW and Neuratron’s NotateMe mobile app probably got the most attention of the new additions. But there were several other programs whose MusicXML support was either added or first brought to our attention in 2013. These include Avid Scorch, Cadencii, Calligra Suite, EarMaster, Frescobaldi, Harmonia, JellyNote, Mobile Music Trainer, OveScore, and Singer’s Mate – at least a dozen in all. You can read more and find links to software that supports the MusicXML format at our MusicXML software page.
  • MakeMusic updated the free Dolet MusicXML plugins to Dolet 6.4 for Finale and Dolet 6.3 for Sibelius as part of our launch of Finale 2014. The major change was support for Finale 2014’s keyless score features, along with several other updates requested by plug-in users. Finale 2014 also makes it easier to work with MusicXML files on both Windows and Mac systems.
  • On the standardization side, Steinberg launched a new Standard Music Font Layout (SMuFL) project this year. This project is working to map musical symbols into the Private Use Area in Unicode’s Basic Multilingual Plane. This type of music font standardization addresses many long-standing notation interchange issues that have been difficult, if not impossible, to address solely from MusicXML. SMuFL has made a lot of progress since Daniel Spreadbury first shared it with us at Musikmesse, and is now up to version 0.7. We are tracking its progress closely here at MakeMusic. I see SMuFL support – both for the larger set of symbols and for the details of typography – as a promising direction for the next MusicXML update.

Thank you all for your continued support of the world’s premier open format for the exchange of digital sheet music and music notation files. It is gratifying to see both the improvements to customer workflow when a product like Logic adds MusicXML support, as well as the creative new applications like NotateMe that are enabled by the MusicXML format. Here’s to a happy 2014!