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Community & Business Groups

Music Notation Community Group

The Music Notation Community Group develops and maintains format and language specifications for notated music used by web, desktop, and mobile applications. The group aims to serve a broad range of users engaging in music-related activities involving notation, and will document these use cases.

The initial task of the Community Group is to maintain and update the MusicXML and SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout) specifications. The goals are to evolve the specifications to handle new use cases and technologies, including greater use of music notation on the web, while maximizing the existing investment in implementations of the existing MusicXML 3.0 and SMuFL specifications.

w3c/musicxml w3c/mnx w3c/smufl

Group's public email, repo and wiki activity over time

Note: Community Groups are proposed and run by the community. Although W3C hosts these conversations, the groups do not necessarily represent the views of the W3C Membership or staff.

final reports / licensing info

date name commitments
MusicXML Version 3.1 Licensing commitments
SMuFL 1.3 Licensing commitments
SMuFL 1.4 Licensing commitments
MusicXML 4.0 Licensing commitments

Chairs, when logged in, may publish draft and final reports. Please see report requirements.

Publish Reports

Registering for TPAC 2021

This years’s Music Notation Community Group meeting is being held as an online session at TPAC 2021, the W3C’s Annual Conference. This means that all attendees will need to register for TPAC 2021, which is free of charge.

Registration allows the W3C to track the participation in different meetings, and assures that all attendees agree to abide by the code of conduct. It also gives Community Group members the ability to attend other group meetings being held at TPAC.

Registration is available online at After reading and watching the information about TPAC, you will want to scroll down and click on the button to “Register for full TPAC event as a W3C participant”. If you are a member of this Community Group, you already have a W3C account, so use that account during the registration process.

Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email that gives you access to the TPAC Attendee Hub. When you access the hub, it will require you to enter a verification code that is sent to your email address. The code is good for 24 hours. The first time you access the hub, go to our Music Notation CG Meeting and click the “Add Session” button to add it to your calendar.

Our meeting will be held on Thursday, October 28 at 1400 UTC (7:00 am in California, 10:00 am in New York, 3:00 pm in London, 4:00 pm in Frankfurt, 10:00 pm in Beijing, and 11:00 pm in Tokyo). On the day of the meeting, log into the TPAC Attendee Hub ahead of time, allowing time to receive the verification code. Five minutes before the meeting, a “Join the session” button will appear on our meeting page. Click on that button to join the meeting.

The meeting will be video and audio recorded and we will transcribe it afterwards for close captioning. The chat discussion will also be saved.

It can take some time to receive your TPAC 2021 registration and go through these different steps. We recommend that you register for TPAC as soon as you can, rather than waiting until next week. If you have any issues with registration, please email Michael Good who can either help directly or forward the issue on to the W3C event team.

Thank you for your interest in the Music Notation Community Group. We look forward to seeing many of you online next week!

Co-chair meeting: October 12, 2021

MNX Community Group meeting, October 28, 2021

We are in touch with the organisers of the W3C TPAC conference concerning how best to circulate the details of the meeting, and as soon as this is decided we will post the details here on the community group’s blog, and somewhere on the TPAC site and programme.

The co-chairs invite community group members to propose further agenda items that they would like to be added to the meeting by sending their suggestions via the public-music-notation CG mailing list. There is still time to propose an agenda item, but please do so by Friday 15 October 2021.


There was a good discussion on pull request #245 (for issue #57) concerning the proposals for system layout, with excellent suggestions from several community members. The proposal has been tweaked to take these suggestions into account, and the pull request is now ready to merge, subject to any last-minute feedback from the community.

Christina Noel also made a proposal for how arpeggios should be encoded in MNX (issue #118), and the co-chairs discussed Adrian’s proposal based on the MEI arpeg element, so Adrian will follow up with a modified proposal shortly.

Adrian plans to create issues to fill out the V1 Milestone so that we can estimate the total work remaining to bring the MNX specification to version 1.0. We plan to talk about the version 1.0 milestone as part of the forthcoming Community Group meeting at TPAC 2021.

Next meeting

The next co-chairs’ meeting will be in two weeks time on Tuesday 26 October 2021.

Co-chair meeting: September 28, 2021

Community Group meeting at W3C TPAC 2021

The proposed agenda for the Music Notation Community Group meeting on Thursday 28 October 2021 happening as part of W3C TPAC 2021, is as follows:

  • Introduction to the Music Notation CG
  • Progress update since last meeting
    • MusicXML 4.0
    • SMuFL 1.4
    • Documentation system for MusicXML and MNX
  • Ongoing work
    • MNX specification update
  • New possibilities for community group work
    • Instrument data
    • Non-Western music notation
  • Planning for In-person meetings
    • Musikmesse, Frankfurt, Germany (29 April-1 May 2022)
    • The NAMM Show, Anaheim, CA (3-5 June 2022)
    • TENOR Conference, Marseille, France (9-11 May 2022)
    • Music Encoding Conference, Halifax, Canada (19-22 May 2022)
  • Q&A

The co-chairs invite community group members to propose further agenda items that they would like to be added to the meeting by sending their suggestions via the public-music-notation CG mailing list.

The meeting will take place via Zoom and the link for the meeting will be published in due course. If you are planning to attend the CG meeting, you will need to register for TPAC 2021, which will also allow you to attend other sessions in the conference if you are interested in doing so. To register for TPAC 2021, click here.


Further work on pull request #245 (for issue #57) has been ongoing since last week’s meeting. A tweak to the pull request making it possible to address a specific staff in a multi-staff instrument in the proposed system-layout element by index has been proposed. Adrian welcomes any further feedback from the community on this pull request by Friday 1 October so that this can be completed ahead of the next co-chair meeting.

Next meeting

The next co-chairs’ meeting will be on Tuesday 12 October 2021.

[Edited on 22 October 2021 with updated meeting agenda and registration information.]

Co-chair meeting: September 21, 2021

Community Group meeting

We have heard from the organisers of the W3C TPAC 2021 conference that we have been given our first-choice slot, so our Community Group meeting is scheduled for Thursday 28 October at 1400 UTC (1500 London, 1600 Berlin, 0700 Los Angeles, 1000 New York City, 2200 Beijing, 2300 Tokyo). Please save the date: we will share details of the video conference/online meeting and the proposed agenda next week.


Adrian has created a pull request (#245) for issue #57 that provides the specification for the new system-layout related elements that allow MNX documents to encode multiple sets of formatting information so that multiple layouts (e.g. full score, instrumental parts) within a single document. The co-chairs welcome review and feedback from the community: please visit the pull request for links to see these new elements in action, both in the specification and in the MNX by Example page. Adrian will shortly post a synopsis summarising the changes from the previous proposal in a comment to issue #57.

Up next, Adrian will turn his attention to issue #34, to describe the spelling differences between different layouts.

Next meeting

The next co-chairs’ meeting will be in one week on Tuesday 28 September 2021.

Co-chair meeting: August 31, 2021


There has been some healthy discussion of issue #57 and there seems to be good consensus from the community concerning the proposal. Adrian will take some of the feedback into account and will make some minor adjustments to the proposal in the process of creating a pull request to add this to the specification, and to add some examples to show these elements in action.

The other issue in active review is #34, concerning the handling of the differences between concert and transposed pitch. The co-chairs discussed this issue a little in the meeting and identified that there may be reason to consider the relationship between sequences and parts in such a way that the same music can be assigned to different parts, in which case the specification of alternate spellings for different transpositions might take this concept into account. Adrian will start work on a proposal for this following the preparation of the pull request for issue #57.

Next meeting

The date of the next meeting will be in three weeks on Tuesday 21 September 2021.

Co-chair meeting: August 3, 2021

Community group meeting

We have submitted a proposal to the TPAC 2021 organising committee for a community group meeting at the virtual conference in October. We expect to hear back from the organisers in mid-September, at which point we will confirm the details of the meeting.


In the MNX documentation, Adrian has added an example for grace notes, and has implemented syntax highlighting for the XML elements and attributes (#229).

Adrian has closed issues #206 (grace notes), #198 (beaming), and #174 (repeats and alternate endings) which were still under Active Review but completed some time ago.

The remaining issues under Active Review concern system and page formatting and the differences between full scores and instrumental parts, and Adrian has diligently read through all of the existing discussion to create a proposal that synthesises a number of suggestions made by community members, in particular Christina Noel and James Ingram, and this can be read in issue #57.

We welcome community feedback on this proposal and look forward to some lively discussion on its finer points.

Next meeting

The next co-chair meeting will be in four weeks on Tuesday 31 August 2021.

Co-chair meeting: July 20, 2021

Community Group virtual meeting at TPAC 2021

The co-chairs are beginning the process of organising a virtual meeting, which we propose will be part of the Technical Plenary/Advisory Committee (TPAC) 2021 meeting, which will be running as a virtual conference between 18 October and 29 October. During the second week of the conference, Working Groups and Community Groups can schedule meetings, and the co-chairs propose that our next CG meeting should take place under the umbrealla of the conference’s group meetings. We hope that this will promote awareness of the CG within and around the W3C. It will also allow members of the Music Notation Community Group to attend meetings for other CGs and WGs if they wish.

At the moment, we favour 1400 UTC on Thursday 28 October 2021, with 1400 UTC on Wednesday 27 October 2021 as our second choice. Please save the date in your diaries, and we will provide further information in due course after we have heard from the organisers of TPAC.


Adrian has changed the main page to point to the new documentation generated by the docgenerator tool and has also folded the introduction to MNX into the documentation. The co-chairs now consider the previous version of the specification effectively retired; there are a few small sections (for example, the pseudo-code for parsing the micro-syntaxes for MNX types) that are not currently accommodated in the new documentation, but we now recommend that anybody who wants to learn about MNX should use the new documentation and can ignore the existing specification.

Now that the old specification is effectively retired, focus can return to working on expanding the specification. Adrian is going to return to the issues that are currently under Active Review. Some of the current set are almost complete, so the first step will be to close some of them. The next major area that the co-chairs propose to tackle concerns the handling of issues like part formatting, and the differences between different presentations of the same material (issues #57 and #34).

Next meeting

The next co-chair meeting will be on Tuesday 3 August 2021.

Co-chair meeting: June 22, 2021


Adrian has continued the migration of the old Bikeshed specification to the new docgenerator-based specification. He expects that this will be complete by the time of the next co-chair meeting in two weeks. The existing material is not being updated as part of the migration. Elements that the existing specification suggests could be migrated from MusicXML but providing no further details will be removed from the new specification and GitHub issues will be raised to capture these points for future discussion and specification.

Community group online meeting

The co-chairs would like to arrange an online meeting for the community group, tentatively expected to take place in September via Zoom. The co-chairs will provide a report on the group’s activity over the last year and we will have time for discussion about how the group’s work can proceed from here. We will circulate a poll to find an appropriate date and time for the meeting in due course.

Next meeting

Due to upcoming holidays, the next co-chair meeting will be Tuesday 20 July 2021.

Co-chair meeting: June 8, 2021

MusicXML 4.0

MusicXML 4.0 was released last week and the final community group report has been published on the W3C web site. The web site has now been updated such that the links to the documentation, tutorial, and other similar resources are now redirecting to the final community group report.

If you participated in any of the discussions around MusicXML 4.0 features or documentation, or otherwise made any contributions to the development of this version of the specification, please take a moment to make your licensing commitment.

Michael wants to thank everybody who played a part in building this new version of MusicXML 4.0.


In the process of finalising the MusicXML 4.0 community group report, there were a few remaining small improvements to the docgenerator tool that were merged by Adrian.

Now that the MusicXML 4.0 community group report has been published, Adrian’s attention will return to completing the migration of the existing MNX Bikeshed specification into the docgenerator tool. Once this remaining work is completed, the group as a whole will be able to return its attention to the further development of the MNX specification.

Next meeting

The next co-chair meeting will be on Tuesday 22 June 2021.

MusicXML 4.0 Report Published

The MusicXML 4.0 Final Community Group Report has now been published at

If you have made a contribution to the report, whether through a pull request or contributing ideas to an issue, please make your licensing commitment by following the steps at

Thanks once again to everyone in the Music Notation Community Group who has contributed to MusicXML 4.0 development. This release addresses many long-standing issues with the format, and allows MusicXML to better support new types of applications.

Special thanks go out to Adrian Holovaty, who developed the documentation system that we used to produce the new report. His work allowed us to update, simplify, and expand the MusicXML 3.0 documentation that Mark Johnson originally developed at MakeMusic in 2012. The move from Flare to open source tools will make the documentation more maintainable for future versions.