The next Web standard could be music notation

The next Web standard could be music notation by Peter Kirn.

From the post:

The role of the music score is an important one, as a lingua franca – it puts musical information in a format a lot of people can read. And it does that by adhering to standards.

Now with computers, phones, and tablets all over the planet, can music notation adapt?

A new group is working on bringing digital notation as a standard to the Web. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – yes, the folks who bring you other Web standards – formed what they’re describing as a “community group” to work on notation.

That doesn’t mean your next Chrome build will give you lead sheets. W3C are hosting, not endorsing the project – not yet. And there’s a lot of work to be done. But many of the necessary players are onboard, which could mean some musically useful progress.

The news arrived in my inbox by way of Hamburg-based Steinberg. That’s no surprise; we knew back in 2013 that the core team behind Sibelius had arrived at Steinberg after a reorganization at Avid pushed them out of the company they original started.

The other big player in the group is MakeMusic, developers of Finale. And they’re not mincing words: they’re transferring the ownership of the MusicXML interchange format to the new, open group:
MakeMusic Transfers MusicXML Development to W3C []

The next step: make notation work on the Web. Sibelius were, while not the first to put notation on the Web, the first to popularize online sharing as a headline feature in a mainstream notation tool. Sibelius even had a platform for sharing and selling scores, complete with music playback. But that was dependent on a proprietary plug-in – now, the browser is finally catching up, and we can do all of the things Scorch does right in browser.

So, it’s time for an open standard. And the basic foundation already exists. The new W3C Music Notation Community Group promises to “maintain and update” two existing standards – MusicXML and the awkwardly-acronym’ed SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout). Smuffle sounds like a Muppet from Sesame Street, but okay.

For the W3C group:

Music notation has a long history across cultures. It will be interesting to see what subset of music notation is captured by this effort.

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