I know on the Guitars site (soon to be merged with this one), JTab was used for rendering tablature notation (see). For those not familiar with it, tab (tablature) is a simplifed music notation specifically for guitar playing.

Question 1: Will JTab be implemented here? It has been!
Question 2: What other music notation will be implemented?

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JTab could be useful in some cases -- especially if the Guitars site is merged, which I hope it will be -- but we definitely need a good way of representing sheet music and individual notes. –  Matthew Read Apr 26 '11 at 20:11
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vexflow.com seems promising as it's open source and supports html5, canvas and SVG. The image you see is actually rendered in your browser ;) –  Stormenet Apr 26 '11 at 20:48
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@Stormenet, the VexFlow page says it is pre-pre-pre-alpha. That would make me a bit nervous. –  Rebecca Chernoff Apr 26 '11 at 21:05
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@Rebecca, good point. Some further searching lead me to drawthedots.com/abcjs which seems more mature and I like how the editor colors the current note where your cursor is at red. –  Stormenet Apr 26 '11 at 21:11
    
@Stormenet that's so awesome. I hope they polish it up soon so we can use it. –  Rei Miyasaka May 5 '11 at 1:41
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Good question. I'd certainly like to see the standard notation supported here; it's almost as important as LaTeX is to mathematicians/physicists in discussions! –  Noldorin May 6 '11 at 12:36
    
Suggestion to developers: As some of the images below seem to be too width, it could be handy to use Lightbox to show the music in it's full resolution. Or perhaps, implement this cross-site as I believe there are more screenshots that could benefit from being clicked on... :) –  Tom Wijsman May 9 '11 at 13:40
    
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7 Answers 7

I know about Lilypond, which is a kind of LaTeX for music notation, but I don't think it exists in markup version for use on webpages.

Also of interest. Now, if they don't have one, I don't see where we are gonna find such a markup language.

Here are some Lilypond examples:

Jesu, meine Freunde

Goyescas

code example 1a

code example 1b

Other examples to be found here and here for how the code looks like. Also see the Template section of the online manual for more complex examples.

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Just invoking lilypond --jail -fpng some_source.ly would produce a PNG output. –  Benoit Apr 29 '11 at 7:00
    
True, it would be no problem to include images this way. –  Raskolnikov Apr 29 '11 at 8:26
    
@Raskolnikov: How do you include an image on the stack exchange question? –  iddober May 2 '11 at 14:23
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@idober: Use the markup ![image description](image URI). There's a handy button in the editor to automatically do this and handle file uploads, as well. –  Matthew Read May 2 '11 at 15:48
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Of course, we shouldn't ask users to upload their own images - what kind of professional musician site would this be? I like this idea best, as Lilypond is far more powerful than anything else available, and it has a nice syntax - the fact that it looks like TeX means we could have a consistent-looking syntax across sites. The only problem is, will StackExchange allow the notation to be parsed and the image generated server-side? I guess it depends on the resources Lilypond requires... –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft May 4 '11 at 16:31
    
LilyPond is probably much more well known than ABCjs, although it is not for editing music but more for high quality sheet music that will not change much. But either way, I think a most basic WYSIWYG is going to the primary deciding factor. –  musicwithoutpaper May 6 '11 at 18:49
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@Raskolnikov: Could you include the most relevant Lilypond examples pictures in your post? Alongside an example to make one of them, it could give a better impression. :) –  Tom Wijsman May 8 '11 at 19:47
    
I'm not sure how easy it would be to implement the engraver in JAX. My (limited) understanding of Lilypond is that the optimization of placement of note heads etc can be quite involved. Maybe it is something we (or StackExchange) can contact the Lilypond developers about? –  Willie Wong May 9 '11 at 14:21
    
That's a great idea @Willie! –  Raskolnikov May 9 '11 at 15:51
    
To make this similar to the ABC post, can you post up the source you used to get those images. ABC seems easy to understand, but I don't know what I would have to learn in order to produce lilypond output –  Dr Mayhem May 10 '11 at 9:49
    
You mean the source code? I don't think it's on the site for the images I gave. But there's another page with examples of code. –  Raskolnikov May 10 '11 at 11:33
    
I also added a link to the online introductory manual containing a template section. –  Raskolnikov May 10 '11 at 12:24
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Check out Bopland.org for an implementation of lilypond rendering which allows for transposition, playback, (via midi) and copying of the notes for every music example. The syntax is quite simple and it would require zero development, since the Bopland service is free and can be called and will render the music, generate the midi and supply play back controls via Javascript. It would only require the addition of a very small javascript on the stack exchange pages. You can see examples of how it works here: my.bopland.org/licks –  Basso Ridiculoso Aug 10 '11 at 2:10
    
Not sure why this answer has so many upvotes; it doesn't really answer Matthew's question (I'm pretty sure he was requesting [hence the "feature-request" tag] that std. notation be implemented on the SE site). –  AsianSquirrel Aug 31 '13 at 20:15
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The best I can find is ABCjs, which uses ABC notation as its input. It's licensed under GPL - I don't know if that will be a problem for you.

Here is an example page utilizing ABCjs, and here are some general examples of ABC notation. It appears that ABCjs can correctly render all the examples

O:I
R:J
X:1
M: 6/8
T:Paddy O'Rafferty
C:Trad.
K:D
dff cee|def gfe|dff ce|dfe dBA|dff cee|def gfe|faf gfe|1 dfe dBA:|2 dfe dcB|]
~A3 B3|gfe fdB|AFA B2c|dfe dcB|~A3 ~B3|efe efg|faf gfe|1 dfe dcB:|2 dfe dBA|]
fAA eAA|def gfe|fAA eAA|dfe dBA|fAA eAA|def gfe|faf gfe|dfe dBA:|

Example output

I should note (hehe) that knowledge of ABC-notation among musicians isn't as widespread as, say, knowledge of TEX among mathematicians. It would be extremely helpful to have an in-browser WYSIWYG editor to go along with this - there's got to be a free one in javascript or java available somewhere...


[Edit] Seeing how many upvotes this has gotten, I'd like to reiterate that Lilypond suggested by Raskolnikov is definitely a better solution... but it will have to be rendered serverside into a png image, not rendered clientside using javascript.

It won't be used nearly as often as the serverside TeX rendering on the math sites was, though - there it is not uncommon to see TeX notation used 10 or more times in one post, while here I would guess the average will be < 1 per post. So, I can't imagine it causing too much stress on the server.

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I tested it a bit. It looks quite simple of use. –  Raskolnikov May 4 '11 at 17:22
    
I played around with ABC a long time ago. It's definitely one of the easier notations to learn. I think it's quite severely limited in its ability to notate instrument-specific annotations though, and a lot of the questions here probably involve instrument-specific techniques. –  Rei Miyasaka May 5 '11 at 1:47
    
@BlueRaja : just to be sure: your source text does not match the result image. The time signature is different. –  ogerard May 5 '11 at 9:10
    
@ogerard: You're right; fixed. I don't know if my ABC was incorrect or this is an ABCjs bug, but I guess the measure needs to go after the "X" –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft May 5 '11 at 15:42
    
This looks pretty cool. I would certainly like to see musical markup implemented here. –  Noldorin May 6 '11 at 12:34
    
Indeed nice, scaled to the post width this should be the clear enough to read. :) –  Tom Wijsman May 8 '11 at 19:45
    
Looks really nice. The "demo" tune at drawthedots.com really showcases the versatility of this suite. It seems pretty fast, too. I don't really see the reason to prefer server-side scripting, and the code looks easier to grok than lilypond (and I use LaTeX!). –  naught101 Sep 27 '12 at 5:56
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One of the notational service available via the SongTrellis site is a Tunetext service, which accepts properly encoded markup and produces a MIDI performance and matching score expressed as a JPG image.

A Tunetext page, which the service returns in response to a request, performs the generated MIDI sequence, displays the score on the page, and provides links which package that music in a number of ways so that it can be posted on other websites. Think of this page as a factory for producing music examples.

When a musical example is packaged as a tunetext button, the score image is displayed within a frame with the instruction "Click on music to play" located below the bottom edge of the frame. The tunetext URL that generated that music is attached as a link to the score image. When the score image is clicked, the music plays and is displayed in entirety within its response page.

By pressing the "Edit Tunetext Parameters" button that appears on a Tunetext response page, a visitor can customize the example for their own purposes (change the tempo, alter the instrumentation, generate color coded scores to label the harmonic or melodic intervals formed by notes and chords in the score).

Such buttons cannot be posted to StackExchange at this moment because usage of the Embed HTML tag is not currently allowed, but it might be reasonable to ask Stack Exchange developers for a way to submit such buttons to the site, if members believe they would be valuable to post.

The notation of the music is available for a viewer to manipulate for their own purposes. The music they produce by their alterations they can save for themselves and can post elsewhere.

Tunetext is especially suited for generating example harmony extremely quickly. When chords are specified in the markup using only chord names like this:

Cmi7(b5),F7Alt,Bmi(MA7)

the Tunetext interpreter will automatically generate voicing for that chord list.

Click here to perform those chords

Here's the score image harvested from that Tunetext page:

If you issued the URL

http://www.songtrellis.com/tunetext

with no following parameters, a form would launch where you could type these or other chord symbols. When you press the "Submit Score" button in this form, the specified music will be performed and the score for that music will be displayed

If it's necessary to precisely specify the voicing for a chord, a list of pitch specifications enclosed in square brackets is written after the chord name, like this:

DMA7[3,d,4,d,f#,a,5,d] Click here to perform

The integers in the list specify the octave ranges where the immediately placed pitches will be placed on the staff.

The tunetext interpreter treats durations as a property of the notes, chords and rests that are being added to a score. Once a duration has been set for a note, chord or rest, it's not necessary to respecify the duration for following elements that have the same duration. The default duration assumed at the beginning of a specification is whole note duration.

When a change of duration must be made for a following chord (or note or rest), a scaling factor is applied to transform the previously used duration value into the duration required of the new note. For example, a /2 operator means to divide the previously by 2. The *3 operator means to multiply the previously used duration by 3.

This specification

Cmi7(b5),F7Alt,*2,Bmi(MA7) Click here to perform

would play Cmi7(b5) then F7Alt as whole note chords and then would double the duration of the Bmi(MA7) chord.

Here's a four chord sequence expressed as a Tunetext URL:

http://www.songtrellis.com/tunetext?text=show:0,sys:0,chords:%28inst:1,C7,D7,E7,F%237%28%2311%29%29

Here's a melody improvised above these chords using pitch rules that are part of the Tunetext language.

Here's the score image harvested from the Tunetext page for that melody:

I should mention that I'm the developer of the SongTrellis site and its Tunetext service. When people see specification omissions in the Tunetext language, improvements that should be made to the notation produced or in interfaces that the website provides, I'm anxious to fix such things quickly. I appreciate any feedback provided and am at your service.

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Here's an example of scores generated by Tunetext pages used to annotate a reply on the Music site –  David Luebbert May 13 '11 at 10:55
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muscript (requires perl) offers a simple syntax and multiple output options. eps2jpg (same site) (requires ghostscript) can postprocess to jpg.

It uses "English" names for the note shapes: breve, semibreve, crochet, quaver, semiquaver, demisemiquaver, hemidemisemiquaver.

#title Caprice No. 6 in G Minor
boundingbox 600 400
2 systems 40 / 20 / 20 / 20 / 20 / 20 / 20 / 20 / 20 / 20 40 /
/

1 bar | 2b 3/4 5 5 5 5 5 5 |
|
=1' treble 2b 3/4 cro. d qua [g f# e]
=1, 2b 3/4 hds3 [G B G B G B G B G B G B] \
[G B G B G B G B G B G B] \
[G B G B G B G B G B G B] \
[G e G e G e G e G e G e] \
[G d G d G d G d G d G d] \
[G c G c G c G c G c G c]
|

3 bars | 15 | 15 | 15 |
|
=1' cro. d qua [d c B]
=1, smq. [G B] [G B] [G B] [F A] [E G] [D F]
|
=1' cro. A qua [c A G]
=1, smq. [C E] [C E] [C E] [C E] [C# En] [C E]
|
=1' smq. [G B] [G B] [F# A] [Eb A] [D G] [D F#]
=1, cro. D qua [Cn B_ A_]
|

$muscript cap6a.mu >cap6a.mu.eps

$eps2jpg cap6a.mu.eps > cap6a.mu.jpg

theme from Paganini Caprice no 6

I'm still learning how to do fancy barring, phrasing and tremolos.

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It'd probably be prettier as a PNG :( –  luser droog May 20 '12 at 6:53
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I've recently found MuseScore to be quite easy to use for quick examples.

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I've used MuseScore before (I consider it to be the best free, open-source notation program out there!) and I don't remember it having anything that could be used to embed notation into SE posts... A little more information maybe? –  AsianSquirrel Aug 31 '13 at 20:17
    
The two linked posts use PNG images which were exported from MuseScore. For these, I set the page size to A6 or A7 to make a "small" page. For other purposes, it's much easier to use a snapshot tool and cut the image straight out of the window. But it's just images. –  luser droog Aug 31 '13 at 20:32
    
Oh, okay. It's just that I'm pretty sure Matthew was asking about embedding notation in SE posts...but I could be wrong. –  AsianSquirrel Aug 31 '13 at 20:33
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@AsianSquirrel: This is just a workaround until/if embedding notation is implemented on the site. –  awe Oct 28 '13 at 11:50
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Very limited use I'm sure.

G           ♪               ♩               ♩   X
F         ♪   ♪     
E       ♪       ♪       ♩       ♩           ♩   X
D     ♪           ♪     
C   ♪               ♩               ♩   X   ♩   X
                                        ^       ^
    1       2       3       4       5   |   6   |
                                        |       |
                                        Rest    Rest
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Why wouldn't you just use normal ASCII guitar tabs, if you're going to do that? –  naught101 Sep 27 '12 at 5:58
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Well, yes, that block of novelty notation is quite limited in readability (but not in notation capability; new syntax rules can be created to notate just about anything, probably). That said, it's nothing even close to standard music notation, in which spacing doesn't affect rhythmic value at all, and there are different rest symbols for different length rests. Using a pathetic parody of standard notation doesn't help prove your point. @naught101 is right, it bears more resemblance to guitar tablature... However, if you actually read the question, Matthew isn't asking for TAB notation at all! –  AsianSquirrel Aug 31 '13 at 20:13
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Also when it comes to guitar notation, we already have jTab implemented, so for guitar notation, we already have a powerful tool to use. –  awe Oct 28 '13 at 11:44
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Implementing a markup language for music notation for use on Music.SE is a bad idea. I say no way. Markup for music notation is way too esoteric because sheet music is much more complex than written languages. Any kind of markup notation would be useful to only a tiny fraction of the participants who spend a great deal of time learning to use it. Implementing something in SE to display music notation from a markup language would be a huge waste of time for the developers because it would practically never be used.

Those of us conversant in notation are better served by making examples in the software of our choice and then taking a screen shot and posting a .PNG.

And by the way, the undisputed king of markup for music is MusicXML, which is now owned and developed by MakeMusic (the company that makes Finale) but is made available free with an open specification.

MusicXML can be output by Sibelius, Finale, and several other professional music notation systems, and MusicXML can be used as a file-exchange format between those programs. Lilypond does not speak MusicXML, which is why I do not use LilyPond.

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I wonder why this is downvoted? I hate XML as much as the next guy, but sheesh... :) –  luser droog May 20 '12 at 6:50
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This is simply not true! Music notation is guided by rules and strictures that aren't especially more complex than say, mathematical formulas. Similarly to the limited LaTeX support on the Math websites, it would also make sense to have some limited LilyPond support. –  Hannele Aug 2 '12 at 18:36
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@luserdroog: It is not downdvoted because he suggests MusicXML. It is downvoted because he say that "Implementing a markup language for music notation for use on Music.SE is a bad idea.". If he edits his answer and removes the first part, leaving only the part about MusicXML, I will gladly remove my down-vote! –  awe Aug 28 '12 at 8:13
    
I agree with @awe --even the tone of voice in the answer ("And by the way, the undisputed king of markup...") gives the asker more than enough sass to deserve a downvote. And it's already been stated that the first sentence is a classic put-down and not appropriate for a StackExchange site. –  AsianSquirrel Aug 31 '13 at 20:05
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