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Re: A few questions

From: Juergen Reuter
Subject: Re: A few questions
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 20:33:07 +0100 (CET)

Hi, Elie!

Sorry for the late answer!

On Thu, 29 Dec 2005, Elie Roux wrote:

One of the aim will certaily be to make a standard for gregorian chant representation, that will be under GPL, and that everyone will be able to use, a bit like MusicXML is ; I think it is quite important that something like that exists. But of course it's just a part of the project, other parts will be how to write it simply (eventually with a GUI like denemo) and how to print it.

I guess you had a look at the "Ancient notation" and, in particular, the "Gregorian square neumes ligatures" section in the lilypond manual (section as of lily 2.7.26)? Lily comes with a low-level input language (e.g. the "high-level" ligature torculus is expressed as a combination of "low-level" ligatures pes and flexa). But nevertheless, this language still abstracts from a particular flavour of notation (i.e. the language does not express the graphical appearance of the neumes, but is musicologically common for square neumes, gothic numes, adiastematic neumes, etc.; although, currently only square neume ligatures are fully implemented).

I explored some pists for printing : MusiXTeX seems interesting but it is not complete for gregorian chant. One part of the project could consist in completing it. I also watched OpusTeX, but even if it seems better-made, the licence is not clear, and I want to make something totally under GPL.

While the input language for Lily's Gregorian Chant implementation has been developed from scratch, OpusTeX served as a model with respect to the features supported. Only very few of OpusTeX's features are still missing, most notably the versus/responsio marks and horizontal alignment of vowels in the lyrics with left side of corresponding ligatures. OpusTeX's \augmentumduplex command is considered superfluous for Lily, providing that the horizontal placement of dots within ligatures will be fixed. \musicinitial and \textinitial are also missing, but can be mimicked with help of the instrument name engraver (though we may want to add handy scheme macros for this purpose). Lily has also severe problems with spacing between ligatures, and placement of accidentals within ligatures is not yet handled correctly. Meanwhile, I consider Lily's Gregorian Chant engine much better than OpusTeX with respect to many typographical details (except for horizontal alignment).

But writing MusiXTeX or OpusTeX is totally horrible, with key words like "\punctumreversumparvum", so another way to write it must be used. Lilypond style of writing seems apreciated, that's why I'm interested in defining some grammar for gregorian chant in the style of Lilypond, and eventually integrate it into Lilypond for another way of printing.

Can you explain this in more detail? Is your plan to extend or replace the current input language for Gregorian Chant notation?

But a first step could be a definition of an easy language, that could be converted into xml, and from xml to MusiXTeX for example, even if it is unwise :).

Conversion from a (musicological oriented) xml language to MusiXTeX should be basically feasible, but will probably be a lot of work to implement, since MusiXTeX's input language is rather CAD-stylish than musicologically oriented.

This language could of course evolve as the printing system (of Lilypond) would evolve too, but evolution is not dangerous, as all partitions could be converted in xml, that will not evolve.

I'm very interested in the evolution and the actual state of Lilypond's gregorian chant engine, it would be nice if I could have informations, and, if the project goes in this direction, I could collaborate. I think producing notation is important, but I don't know how Lilypond produces it, is it metafont ?

There are a couple of Gregorian Chant characters implemented in metafont, see appendix C.4 in the tutorial:

(Search in this table for characters that contain the substring "vaticana" in their name.)

More "dynamic" shapes, such as the curved shape of the porrectus, are drawn "on the fly" by directly generating proper postscript/pdf code.

Thank you,

Hope that helps,

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