Date: 2006-Nov-27 14:59
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Interesting. IMO the best music engraver currently is
LilyPond (http://www.lilypond.org). It certainly supports
majority of features you mentioned below and you can easily
add new macros for the missing ones.
Date: 2006-Oct-18 14:03
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I don't know if anyone of you is present at the MusixTeX
mailing list, but I wrote an e-mail a few months ago, and I
had a summary on some features that aren't present yet in
MusixTeX, but could be needed when creating contemporary
scores (well, actually some of them can be done, but some of
them not). Anyway, I think maybe it could be useful for you
a copy of this e-mail, to avoid the lack of the mentioned
things. So, here you are:
I'm a hungarian composer student and I'm looking for a
professional score editor software instead of the one I'm
using at this moment, and I would be very glad if someone on
this list could help me in my decision.
The two most frequently used score typesetters are Sibelius
and Finale, but as a LaTeX-user (I wouldn't say I'm a
TeXpert, but I use simple LaTeX for 3 years for typeset
normal text documents), I don't like very much the WYSWYG
editors, so I would really like to use MusiXTeX, if it can
deal with the problems that contemporary music typesetting
holds. But after reading the documentation of T.113 (July
30, 2005), I got a bit disappointed. My first impression was
that it would be almost impossible to typeset not only
contemporary scores, but classical ones written after 1900
too (like for example Stravinsky's Threni, or the Cello
concerto of the recently died Ligeti). But because I REALLY
want to use something related to TeX for typesetting my own
scores, I thought I'll write some questions to this list, to
see clearly if I misunderstood things while reading the
documentation or not. Of course I don't need at this moment
a "correct" answer (that means, a long answer saying how to
solve the given problem), only something like "yes, this can
be solved" or "no, forget to use MusiXTeX if you want to do
such things". Thank you.
My first and maybe most important question is: how many
staffs can I use in a score? In the documentation there was
a limit of 9 instruments, which is a very hard limitation.
This limit has been reached centuries ago (for example, in
the motet "Spem In Allium" by Tallis there are 40 voices),
and my biggest orchestral piece up to now was written for 22
instruments (some of them with more than one staff), so I
would be in a deep trouble if I couldn't use more than 9
instruments. The question is related to the instrument
groups, too. I saw that there's a restriction of 3
instrument groups at the same time, which is extremely
slight. This number could be easily exceeded already in a
baroque score (for example, in Bach's cantatas or passions)...
The other thing that was not clear for me, if I could insert
graphical elements in the score. Specially, I don't know if
I can draw a free line within the staff (what normally is
used to indicate that the player should play free notes), or
if I can put some notes from several staffs (staffs that are
close to each other, of course) in a squared or circled box
(this is normally used when some instruments have notes that
should be repeated undefined times while the rest of the
orchestra is playing), or things like these.
The next question is: what happens, if I need to use a
musical symbol that is not included in the MusiXTeX fonts?
(For example, I hadn't find the 1/4 note flat and 1/4 note
sharp symbols, nor the symbol indicating a cluster to be
It is not clear, that how could I typeset music with
non-diatonic scales, because of the signature setting method
of MusiXTeX (\setsign and \generalsignature commands). This
is not a real problem for typeset contemporary music
(because signatures are no longer used, since they lost
their meaning), but if I want for some reason (let say,
because I must write an analysis or anything) typeset scores
from classical composers like Bartók, I can have problems
with this system because there are scores where I must put a
sharp and a flat signature in the same staff (for example,
when you use the spectral scale based on C, you usually
write F sharp and B flat as signature, so you have a sharp
and a flat in the same staff at the same time). Or sometimes
composers used signatures like one flat, but instead of
putting it to B, they put it on A.
There is an other problem with the font and paper sizes. The
biggest score I've ever seen in my life is Peter Eötvös's
Psychokosmos, typesetted for paper of size A2, but the
usually papersize that everybody uses in orchestral
typesetting is the A3 paper. I know that in LaTeX there are
problems if someone want to use so big papers, and therefore
I have the question: what about MusiXTeX? Can I use the
normal A3 paper for writing my scores? And what about the
font sizes? For example if I have, let's say, 22
instruments, and I want 2 systems in every page (that is 44
staffs and margins and the space between systems), can I set
the font size to something enough small?
I have three other questions related to staffs. The first:
can I put an "ossia" somewhere in the score? That means: can
I put a small staff that begins in the middle of the line,
and maybe ends before the end of the same line? The second:
can I change the number of staffs used by an instrument
inside a line? (For example, if I have 5 flutes in 5
different staffs, but suddenly the 1-2-3 and 4-5 begin
playing together, so that I'd need only 2 staffs from that
point -- I saw this for example in the Eötvös piece
mentioned above.) The third is: if someone writes an
orchestral score, there may be only few times when the full
orchestra is playing, and most of the time there may be
instruments with very long pauses. In this cases the scores
normally only include in each system the instruments that
are actually playing in that system. Since MusiXTeX does the
the system-breaks automatically (which is in fact a very
powerful feature), does it care on this very important
thing, or I'll get scores with a lot of instruments full of
pauses? And related to the automatic system-breaking: I read
that the system breaks are done at the bars, which is normal
in old musics, but what happens if a score doesn't have any bar?
My last and maybe very easy-to-answer question is, that
which is the biggest score size that can be managed with
MusiXTeX? My biggest score up to now (the above mentioned
piece for 22 instruments) had 51 pages in A4 format, but a
normal orchestral score can easily have 70-80 pages in A3
format (I'm not talking now about pieces like Stockhausen's
Inori, which has more than 200 pages in A3 paper). So if I
want to write orchestral music, do I have the chance for
build scores with lots of pages? (I know that there's no
restriction, but I don't know if the compiler breaks down or
not building so big things.)
Thank you very much for your answers,
Date: 2006-Aug-22 15:59
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1. Continuously variable resizing of all score
elements, text, graphics etc.
2. Free movement of all score elements etc.
3. Cross staff & cross bar beaming.
4. Automatic transposition of selections or complete
scores, with appropriate key signature change.
5. Alternative notation fonts.
6. Choice of European or American nomenclature
(crotchets etc. or quarter notes etc.)
7. At least 12 voices (layers).
8. Rudimentary graphics capability (fully adjustable
lines, circles, squares, brackets etc.)
9. Score elements, graphics and text layer change, ie
graphics behind or in front of score, anything in front
or behind anything else.
10. Grace notes with adjustable playback duration, and
playback on or before the beat.
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