Tag Archives: smufl

Update from the new W3C Music Notation Community Group

The co-chairs of the W3C Music Notation Community Group, the new home for the development of SMuFL and MusicXML, have together published an outline of the short- and medium-term goals of the CG’s work, including a call for responses from the community members. You can read that outline here.

If you have not yet joined the W3C Music Notation Community Group, you are strongly encouraged to do so. Information on joining the group can be found here.

SMuFL development moves to new W3C Music Notation Community Group

Steinberg is excited to be a founding member of the new W3C Music Notation Community Group that has been established with the support of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The Community Group will develop and maintain specifications for format and language of notated music as used by web, desktop and mobile applications. The initial task is to maintain and update the MusicXML and SMuFL specifications. The goals are to evolve these 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.

Over the past 15 years, MusicXML has become the standard format for the interchange of music notation data between applications, and is now supported by more than 200 applications across desktop and mobile operating systems, and on the web. Since its 2011 acquisition of Recordare, LLC, MakeMusic has been responsible for the development of the MusicXML standard, under the stewardship of MusicXML’s original creator, Michael Good.

SMuFL is rapidly becoming the standard for digital fonts containing symbols used in conventional Western music notation, and both describes a repertoire of more than 2,400 recommended symbols and sets out guidelines for font makers and software developers to ensure symbols are rendered correctly within applications. Since its introduction by Steinberg in 2013, SMuFL has already been implemented by applications across desktop and mobile operating systems, and on the web, and will also be supported both in Steinberg’s in-development scoring application and an upcoming version of Finale from MakeMusic.

Together, MusicXML and SMuFL represent core technologies that can foster the further development of applications for music notation across a broad range of platforms. By moving future development of MusicXML and SMuFL into the new W3C Music Notation Community Group, MakeMusic and Steinberg are signalling their intent that these standards will continue to be open, free to use and developed according to the needs of the wider world of music.

From left to right: Joe Berkovitz; Michael Good; Daniel Spreadbury.

From left to right: Joe Berkovitz; Michael Good; Daniel Spreadbury.

The new Community Group is co-chaired by Michael Good, the inventor of MusicXML and VP of Research and Development at MakeMusic, Daniel Spreadbury, the inventor of SMuFL and Product Marketing Manager for Steinberg’s in-development scoring application, and Joe Berkovitz, President of Noteflight and co-chair of the W3C Audio Working Group.

You can read press releases from the three companies represented by the three co-chairs of the Community Group here:

How to get involved

The plan is for SMuFL development to move to the new W3C Music Notation Community Group with immediate effect. If you are currently a subscriber to either of the SMuFL-related mailing lists, you are strongly encouraged to join the Community Group as soon as possible. There are no fees associated with joining a Community Group, so it is free for everybody who wants to get involved to become a part of the process. You will need to agree to the terms of the standard W3C Contributor License Agreement as part of the process of joining the Community Group, to give consent for your contributions to the SMuFL and MusicXML specifications to become part of the final report produced by the Community Group.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about these changes, please post them to the SMuFL discussion list, or contact Daniel Spreadbury at Steinberg directly.

SMuFL 0.9 and Bravura 0.9 released

We are pleased to announce the release of SMuFL 0.9, which marks what we anticipate will be the final milestone on the way to a stable 1.0 release. As such, SMuFL 0.9 may be considered a release candidate for the final 1.0 release.

Since SMuFL 0.85, released in March, more than 200 new glyphs have been added, including four new ranges. A comprehensive review of LilyPond’s Emmentaler font has led to the addition of many new glyphs, and survey of important instrumentation handbooks by Ertuğrul Sevsay (Bärenreiter, 2005) and Karl Peinkofer & Fritz Tannigel (Schott, 1976) have led to the addition of a number of new percussion pictograms. New ranges for Kodàly hand signs, Simplified Music Notation and lyrics also provide a good number of new glyphs. As always, a complete list of the changes and new glyphs is available in the version history.

Our hope is that no further glyphs will be added to SMuFL before version 1.0. The deadline to request new glyphs passed at the end of March, and since then the focus has been on completing the work relating to producing guidelines for SMuFL-compliant fonts intended for use with text applications, and the development of a reference font embodying these guidelines.

A set of guidelines for SMuFL text fonts has been completed and can be found in the Notes for implementers section in the SMuFL 0.9 specification. The Bravura 0.9 distribution now includes Bravura Text, a reference font for text-based applications, in addition to the existing Bravura font, a reference font for scoring applications. The distribution also includes a usage guide for Bravura Text, describing how to insert Unicode characters from the font into applications on Windows and OS X, and providing details of specific features of the font, such as the use of ligatures to allow hundreds of symbols (including noteheads, accidentals, articulations, etc.) to be displayed at multiple vertical positions.

Bravura and Bravura Text are now supplied in Embedded OpenType (EOT) format, in addition to OpenType with PostScript outlines, WOFF and SVG.

There have also been significant developments in the richness of the JSON metadata supplied, both at the level of SMuFL itself and in font-specific metadata. The SMuFL metadata distribution now includes a new ranges.json file, which provides information about the glyph ranges as they appear in the SMuFL specification. The glyphnames.json file has been enhanced to include the human-readable description for each glyph in addition to its canonical camel case name.

The specification for font-specific metadata is significantly enriched, with new structures to help expose the repertoire of optional glyphs (in the range U+F400–U+FFFF) of a SMuFL-compliant font to applications, including descriptions of ligatures, stylistic alternates, and stylistic sets. Font-specific metadata may also include a bounding box for each glyph, which could in time help MakeMusic provide automatic Font Annotation (FAN) files for SMuFL-compliant fonts used in Finale.

Full details of all of the improvements in these metadata files is found in the Notes for implementers section within the SMuFL specification.

SMuFL 0.9 can be downloaded here, and Bravura 0.9 can be downloaded here.

With the release of SMuFL 0.9 there are no remaining known work items standing in the way of a stable 1.0 release. If you believe there is something significant that must be considered before SMuFL reaches version 1.0, please raise the issue with the community as soon as possible via the smufl-discuss mailing list.

Towards SMuFL 1.0

I started work on SMuFL almost exactly a year ago, though at the time I didn’t realise it. Steinberg’s in-development scoring application needs music fonts, so I started to build one. Having worked on music fonts for another scoring application for many years and been hamstrung by retaining compatibility with third-party fonts that originated in the 1980s, and hence not being able to properly use Unicode and OpenType features, I quickly decided to make a clean break with the past, and not design our new fonts to be Sonata-like.

As work progressed on designing the look of the font that would eventually come to be called Bravura, it became obvious that a new approach to organising the glyphs in the font would be needed. I shared my early thoughts on the standard with a handful of expert music engravers and editors in the following weeks, and it quickly became clear that more heads were better than one: this should really be a community effort, and it could conceivably provide a real, designed solution to the problem of using different fonts in different music software (rather than the imperfect de facto solution that had been in place since other font designers started copying Cleo Huggins’ mnemonic glyph layout for Sonata).

Progress to date

After announcing SMuFL at the Music Encoding Conference in Mainz in May of last year, it has been exciting to see the community start to take off. A few statistics:

  • There were around 800 recommended glyphs in the first public release (0.4) of SMuFL. The current version (0.7) defines more than 1850 recommended glyphs, and hundreds more recommended ligatures and stylistic alternates.
  • More than a dozen subject area experts around the world have contributed to the selection of glyphs to be included in SMuFL to date.
  • There have been more than 330 messages on the SMuFL mailing list to date, and the list has more than 70 subscribers.

SMuFL has also received support from software developers large and small. For example, the developers of MuseScore have already started work on integrating it, and it is expected to be a part of the forthcoming MuseScore 2.0 release. I have also been contacted by several other developers, who have expressed their intention to support SMuFL in their applications.

Our reference font, Bravura, has also been downloaded from our web site hundreds of times, and is already being used in the current versions of Rising Software’s ear training and music theory applications, Auralia and Musition, on both Windows/Mac and iOS.

If you are working on an implementation of SMuFL or are using Bravura in your software, please let me know, as I am very interested to track the progress of these projects.

SMuFL 0.8

As things stand, version 0.8 of SMuFL (and Bravura) currently includes the following changes since version 0.7:

  • Based on community feedback, added clarification that code points for glyphs may change until SMuFL reaches version 1.0, after which point existing code points will become immutable.
  • Glyphs in SMuFL encoded in the primary range of U+E000–U+F3FF are no longer considered “mandatory”, but rather they are “recommended”: in order to be considered SMuFL-compliant, a font need not implement every recommended glyph, just as a text font need not implement every Unicode code point in order to be considered Unicode-compliant. Fonts need only implement those glyphs that are appropriate for their intended use at the correct SMuFL code points in order to be considered SMuFL-compliant.
  • Changed guidelines for metrics of text-like glyphs (e.g. dynamics, D.C./D.S. markings in repeats) in fonts intended for use in scoring applications, such that it is recommended that the x-height of such glyphs is around 1 staff space (0.25 em).
  • Added Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s system of 72-EDO accidentals.
  • Added Britten’s curlew sign for a pause of an indeterminate length.
  • Added push/pull signs for accordion.
  • Added slashed sharp/flat accidentals used by John Tavener in his Byzantine-inspired choral works.
  • Added separate noteheads for white mensural notation.
  • Added quasi-random wiggly lines (wiggleRandom1wiggleRandom2wiggleRandom3wiggleRandom4) to multi-segment lines range.
  • Added flipped and large versions of constant circular motion (wiggleCircularConstantFlippedwiggleCircularConstantLargewiggleCircularConstantFlippedLarge) to multi-segment lines range.
  • Added combining top/middle/bottom segments for black and white rectangular note clusters.
  • Added 2, 3, 4 and 6-dot divisi indicators for measured tremolos (tremoloDivisiDots2tremoloDivisiDots3, etc.) to tremolos range.
  • Added clavichord bebung glyphs for 2, 3, and 4 finger movements (keyboardBebung2DotsAbovekeyboardBebung3DotsBelow, etc.) to the keyboard techniques range.
  • Added double-height parentheses and brackets (csymParensLeftTallcsymParensRightTallcsymBracketLeftTallcsymBracketRightTall) to the chord symbols range.
  • Added recommendation for stylistic alternates for time signature digits 0–9 suitable for use as large time signatures shown above/between staves (timeSig0Large through timeSig9Large).

Due to the nature of the additions, there are a substantial number of code point changes between SMuFL 0.7 and 0.8.

Next steps

The goal, then, is to release version 0.8, and then to reach version 1.0 as soon as possible, so that the code points can be stabilised and developers can implement support for SMuFL with confidence. Per recent discussion in the community, once SMuFL reaches version 1.0, neither code points nor canonical glyph names for recommended glyphs will change.

This means that if more glyphs remain to be added to a given range in future than unused code points remaining in that range, new non-contiguous ranges will have to be created elsewhere in the Private Use Area to accommodate these glyphs. (This is not really a problem, since ultimately the actual code point used for a given glyph is arbitrary, but for the sake of tidiness, if nothing else, it is appealing to group all generically similar glyphs together if possible.)

In my view, the two things that stand in the way of reaching version 1.0 are the following:

  • Implementing outstanding requests for glyphs to be included. To my knowledge, the only specific requests outstanding at present are from Mark Adler and Michael Good at MakeMusic, and SMuFL 0.8 will resolve those requests. There are a couple of non-specific outstanding issues (e.g. Maurizio Gavioli has expressed that perhaps there is more to be done in the area of Medieval and Renaissance notation, and Steven Horn has suggested that there may be more glyphs to add relating to lute notation and tablature), but otherwise at present there are no significant known omissions.
  • Creating glyph registration and metrics guidelines for fonts intended for use in text-based applications. To date I have focused on fonts intended for use in scoring applications, but I believe defining the guidelines for fonts intended for use in text-based applications should be completed (and a reference font produced) before SMuFL reaches version 1.0.

I am interested to hear from the community whether anything else should be added to this list.

Likewise, if anybody in the community is harbouring any requests for new glyphs or ranges of glyphs to be added, please do not delay in making those requests as soon as possible.

And, of course, if anybody in the community would like to volunteer to assist with the definition of the design guidelines for fonts intended for use in text-based applications, that help would be greatly appreciated by me.

My proposal is that I set a deadline (perhaps the end of March 2014, if that is not too soon) for the community to submit proposals for consideration for SMuFL 1.0, and then finalise the 1.0 release as soon as possible after that, though at the present time it’s difficult to estimate how long that might take without knowledge of what proposals I might receive.

Thanks once more to everybody in the community for their contributions to date. I am looking forward to reaching the milestone of a version 1.0 release.

SMuFL launched at the 2013 Music Encoding Conference

Daniel Spreadbury of Steinberg, who initiated the SMuFL initiative, today presented his work to date on the proposed standard to the delegates at the 2013 Music Encoding Conference at the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, Germany.

For an introduction to SMuFL, please read this page.

Daniel’s presentation from the conference will be available on this site soon.

Introducing Bravura, the first SMuFL-compliant font

In addition to launching SMuFL at the Music Encoding Conference in Mainz today, Steinberg has also today made available a pre-release version of the first SMuFL-compliant music font, called Bravura.

Bravura is a music font that draws on the heritage of the finest European music engraving of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with a bolder and more substantial look than most other music fonts: thin strokes are slightly thicker than in other fonts, improving the overall “blackness” of the font and its legibility when read at a distance.

Bravura is licensed under the SIL Open Font License (OFL), which means that it is free to download with very few restrictions on its use: it can be bundled with free and commercial software, embedded in documents, and even used as the basis for new fonts. The only restrictions of note are that the font cannot be sold on its own; any derivative font (i.e. any font that uses even a single glyph from Bravura) cannot use the name “Bravura”; and that any derivative font must also be released under the same Open Font License.

You can read more about the design process of Bravura on the Steinberg blog, and you can download the pre-release version of Bravura from this page.