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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.