#286 DocBook Music Notation

DocBook (176)
Lee Savide

I'be been using DocBook for some time now, and I've noticed the lack of support for a formal syntax to use for music notation. I have found MusicXML, but that standard is maintained using DTDs; it hasn't even started using RELAX NG or Schematron, calling them "immature" schema languages. I've also been a percussionist for the past 10 years, and if I've noticed anything on music notation, DTDs are a downright joke to try and make a decent music notation markup language; music is simply too complex in nature. I'd like others opinions to help add a useful, well-defined music notation markup language to DocBook. Thanks to anyone who can help.


  • Lee Savide

    Lee Savide - 2011-07-30
    • priority: 5 --> 7
  • Norman Walsh

    Norman Walsh - 2011-08-02

    DocBook focuses on markup for technical documentation, specifically documents about computer hardware and software.

    I wonder if the Publishing subcommittee would be interested in music markup?

  • Norman Walsh

    Norman Walsh - 2011-08-17
    • priority: 7 --> 5
  • Lee Savide

    Lee Savide - 2011-10-23

    I've actually begun a project on Google code to cover music markup. It's based on ABC music notation, and if anyone wants to contribute, email me. It follows the design of ABC notation as closely as possible, so updates should follow the ABC notation standard at http://abcnotation.com. the project is here: http://code.google.com/p/sfzml/. The mark up uses RELAX NG to describe the grammar allowed, but the Schematron schema is going to cover all the rules of Western music notation, as well as certain markup constraints as needed.

  • Larry Rowland

    Larry Rowland - 2011-11-16

    Thank you for your suggestion. The DocBook technical committee has considered your request.

    Name spaces were added to DocBook 5, specifically to allow mixing other XML-based grammars with DocBook. I have looked at the 3.0 release of MusicXML, and it seems to be quite expressive (although I am not a musician) and to already have a lot of supporting technology for rendering the markup into output formats. They have also added XSD schema support to the 3.0 release.

    The committee has decided not to directly address music notation for a couple of reasons:

    1. It is outside the intended scope of DocBook (which is technical documentation).
    2. The name space mechanism allows including other, specialized, XML-based notation schemas. While the definitive notation schema for DocBook is RNG with schematron, it is also available in XSD and DTDs (although with reduced quality of representation of the schema).

    Good luck with developing a new schema for music notation. Schema development is challenging, as is producing the tools to render the schema into useful representations.

  • Larry Rowland

    Larry Rowland - 2011-11-16
    • status: open --> closed-rejected

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