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Digital Music Notation Formats

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[Feature Article] Digital music comes in different formats. However, in this article we concentrate on formats for representing musical notation in a digital form, which primarily means musical scores or parts, although, as will be seen, it can include additional information, even audio in some cases. Since the 1980s such formats have been evolving, and at last count there were over 60 different means of representing such information in a form suitable for use on a computer. The aim here, therefore, is not to attempt to describe all of the formats in existence, but to explain some of the different approaches and summarize the current state of the art. (Some additional links and resources relating to musical notation codes are listed at the end of the article.) Although there are a variety of proprietary formats in use for the exchange of music-notation data, corresponding to key commercial application packages such as Sibelius, Finale, and SCORE, this article concentrates on those publicly available formats that have been aimed at enabling interchange between systems.

JAES Volume 53 Issue 9 pp. 849-854; September 2005
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AES - Audio Engineering Society