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Community & Business Groups

Musikmesse 2018 Meeting Minutes

The W3C Music Notation Community Group met in the Symmetrie 3 room (Hall 8.1) at Messe Frankfurt during the 2018 Musikmesse trade show, on Thursday 12 April 2018 between 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm.

CG co-chairs Joe Berkovitz, Daniel Spreadbury, and Michael Good chaired the meeting, and over 30 members of the CG and interested guests attended. A complete list of the attendees is included at the end of this report. The presentations from the meeting are posted at

W3C MNCG Musikmesse 2018 Presentations

Peter Jonas from MuseScore recorded the meeting and has posted the video on YouTube. The video starting times for each part of the meeting are included in the headings below.

The noise in the background is from the Musikmesse. The audio improves significantly after 5:20 when the microphone is moved closer to the speakers.

MuseScore Sponsor Introduction (1:27)

MuseScore sponsored this year’s meeting reception. Daniel Ray describe how MuseScore was recently acquired by Ultimate Guitar. MuseScore will remain open source and free, but more resources are now available. MuseScore also wants to get more involved in standards activities and the community group.

Review Working Process to Date (2:40)

Daniel Spreadbury led a discussion of the current community group working process. Most of the discussion involved questions about using GitHub. Daniel Ray suggested that it would be good to share links for how to use GitHub. Joe Berkovitz suggested we should also do the same for Bikeshed, the tool that is used to maintain the MNX specification.

We also discussed the possibility of having more in-person meetings, either online or face-to-face. One way to do this might be to have meetings with specific themes. Daniel Ray suggested that in addition to themes based on portions of the spec, we could have themes based on specific use cases. This could tie in with other events – for instance, a meeting focus on music education and performing ensemble use cases at The Midwest Clinic. A conference like Midwest could get participation from composers, teachers, and performers in a way that the NAMM and Musikmesse conferences do not.

We also had a brief discussion of issues to suggest for active review in the near future. Alexander Plötz suggested addressing issues of transpositions and scores in concert or notated pitch. Daniel Ray asked about a timeline for the specification. Our goal is to have a draft version of the specification in early 2019, which is aggressive.

MNX-Generic (32:39)

Joe Berkovitz led a discussion and demonstration of the MNX-Generic, a notation format for generic music notation that coordinates SVG graphics with one or more performances. The demonstration begins at 39:22 in the video.

Discussion centered around synchronization and linking. These topics included synchronizing video as well as audio; synchronizing audio in music with repeat structures; and linking from MNX-Generic to a semantic format like MNX-Common.

Towards an MNX-Common Layout Model (1:14:39)

Joe Berkovitz led a discussion about whether is a possible or practical to standardize the layout of common Western music notation in a way that provides for better exchange between applications. This was one of the major requests to come from publishers during our NAMM meeting last January.

The presentation introduced some layout terminology and outline 5 different levels that we might take to standardizing layout:

  1. The wild west
  2. Explicit positioning
  3. Explicit space requirements
  4. Algorithmic space requirements
  5. Algorithmic layout

The main point for discussion, besides clarifications of what was being proposed, was the reactions by group members to these proposals. Members of the group expressed several concerns.

Christof Schardt said “I think this is totally crazy!” because different applications have such different approaches to layout that bridging between individual applications and a standard layout algorithm would be very difficult. We could get a huge gain simply by making things more rigorous at the current level 2 (explicit positioning) and combining these improvements with MNX-Common’s improved musical data structures.

Reinhold Hoffmann mentioned that the publisher’s use case, where greater portability between applications is so important, is very different than the use case for his company’s everyday musician customers. It seems essential to have this available as an option for applications, not a requirement.

Adrian Holovaty mentioned the differences between capturing tweaks that an engraver has made, and the end results of a particular notation program’s algorithm. The former could be useful for his application when doing reflow, but the latter is something his application really doesn’t care about. Distinguishing these can be tricky though, especially for applications that might have sub-par rendering by default and require more manual adjustments than other applications.

Martin Marris mentioned that the tighter the spacing gets, the more that rules are violated and the more that discussions are overridden. When working for Henle and other classical publishers that prefer tight spacing, Martin is overriding the application’s defaults all the time. How can this type of constant adjustment be better preserved across applications?

Peter Jonas also asked about how to capture the differences between changes that are made for semantic vs aesthetic reasons.

Joe Berkovitz also related the history of CSS styling, which started with a smaller subset of styling features and grew more comprehensive over time. We do not need to take an all-or-nothing approach, but similarly start small and improve layout specification over time.


  • Dominique Vandenneucker, Arpege / MakeMusic
  • James Sutton, Dolphin Computing
  • Cyril Coutelier,
  • Bob Hamblok, self
  • Christian Pörksen,
  • James Ingram, self
  • Robert Piéchaud, IRCAM
  • Mogens Lundholm, self
  • Michael Good, MakeMusic
  • Thomas Bonte, MuseScore
  • Daniel Ray, MuseScore
  • Peter Jonas, MuseScore / OpenScore
  • Eugeny Naidenov, MuseScore / Ultimate Guitar
  • Mikhail Trutnev, MuseScore / Ultimate Guitar
  • Paul Leverger, Newzik
  • Raphaël Schumann, Newzik
  • Reinhold Hoffmann, Notation Software
  • Martin Marris, Notecraft
  • Hiroyuki Koike, Piascore
  • Alexander Plötz, self
  • Christof Schardt, PriMus
  • Joe Berkovitz, Risible
  • Jan Rosseel, Scora
  • Dietmar Schneider, self
  • Dominik Svoboda, self
  • Martin Beinicke, SoundNotation
  • Simone Erli, SoundNotation
  • Adrian Holovaty, Soundslice
  • Frank Heckel, Steinberg
  • Daniel Spreadbury, Steinberg
  • Jonathan Kehl, Ultimate Guitar / MuseScore
  • Wido Weber, self

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