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Describing instruments

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Describing instruments
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 2009 21:06:32 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.50 (gnu/linux)


currently the only connection between instrument and lilypond are
instrument names (pure typesetting) and a midi instrument (just

I think it would be useful if instruments could become more than that:
for example, if a given instrument (or one manual of such an instrument)
has a certain available range, it is not really sensible if the chord
typesetters leave that range.  The predefined guitar chord symbols, for
example, can map chord names to the usual guitar ranges.  But what if
you have a classically trained player playing from normal notes?  The
chord symbols are not mapped back into notes.

If you transpose music, Lilypond could warn if notes become unplayable
on a baroque soprano recorder.  Because the range is left, or because a
particular semitone is not on the instrument.  Similar for other

Or a player could declare only a subset of guitar chords he is able to
play and tell Lilypond to transpose this thing so that he can both play
and sing a song.

It would also be helpful for arrangers and composers to have a databank
of instruments available, so that they don't go to the orchestra with
their finished scores and get told "Dude, that's not playable on a
standard bassoon."

Maybe that would be workable in the context of performers?  On the other
hand, where mapping a chord to the available range is required, this has
to happen quite a bit earlier.

David Kastrup

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