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Content archived on 2024-04-19

Computer Access to Notation and Text in Music Libraries


The objective is to examine the suitability of SMDL for encoding sheet music for music libraries. This will be carried out in conjunction with the design of a hardware and software system together with a demonstrator.

Through the systems specification and work on the demonstrator, plans will be elaborated for future development of the input component, specifically scanning into SMDL (Standard Music Description Language).

The project deliverables will be a series of reports on the current context affecting the storage and transmission of printed music, a system specification and a demonstrator together with a plan for additional development work.
Impact and expected results

The project should make a significant contribution to the HyTime standard for multimedia time-based systems.

Combining text and telecommunications standards with Standard Music Description Language (SMDL) for music notation - and encompassing timing elements - will pave the way for searching, downloading, locally modifying, reproducing and even playing back music from remote sources.

The project will also help to protect the interests of rights holders in a future which will be based on electronic distribution.


The prototype system will be the most important deliverable. Certain technical documents relating to this and to SMDL are restricted category, but publicly available now are reports on:

Needs and specifications from Music Libraries;
Needs and specifications of the Music Publishers.

In the public domain and to be delivered in line with project progress are:

Model evaluation;
SMDL evaluation;
Final report.
Technical approach

There are five workpackages, each divided into a number of tasks:

Needs and specifications from the Music Libraries;

Status report on European music libraries;
Requirements for access and delivery systems;

Needs and specifications from the Music Publishers;

Status report on European music publishing industry;
Publisher views on SMDL and access/delivery systems;
Copyright and royalties;


Examine SMDL;
Assess HyTime in relation to SMDL;
SMDL implementation, with descriptions, target files and access operations;
Liaise with SMDL ISO Committee;

Computer interfaces and system specification;

Specification of prototype;
Development of prototype;

Model building;

Analysis of results;
Model for future practice for libraries and publishers.

Key issues

- examination of user requirements
- standards for music encoding and document delivery
- development of a demonstrator

Information will be collected on the needs of users, librarians and publishers. The project will liaise with the ISO working group that is developing SMDL as an application of the HyTime standard.

The aspects to be covered in the client-server approach include input (either manually or by scanning), access to the encoded information from remote terminals, display, printing and payment of fees including royalties.

The project will develop a demonstrator of the client-server part of this system (excluding the input stages and the scanning) to show access to a sample database, the downloading and display of the music file, its conversion to printed sheet music and the regulation of payment and royalties or rights.

Documentation can be obtained from the contact below and from

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

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Studie en Vakbibliotheek
EU contribution
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1016 GM Amsterdam

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Total cost
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Participants (2)