TEI with Music Notation customization

The Text Encoding Initiative Special Interest Group in Music is pleased to announce the results of a TEI-funded project to bring music encoding into TEI documents.

Music, like many other art forms, is often mentioned, discussed and described in writings of various kinds. This applies to both historical and contemporary documents, even though the way of notating music has changed considerably in western history. In most cases, music notation enters the text flow in a way similar to figures, images or graphs. On other occasions, elements of music notation are treated as characters in running text.

The TEI with Music Notation customization introduces a way of signalling the presence of music notation in text, but defers to other representations to describe the music notation itself, which is not covered by TEI guidelines. In fact, several commercial, academic and standard bodies have developed digital representations of music notation and, given the topic’s complexity, these representations often focus on different aspects and adopt different methodologies. Therefore, the customization defines a container element to encode the occurrence of music notation and allows linking to the data format preferred by the encoder. This element is called notatedMusic, which has been proposed to enter the TEI specifications and TEI’s namespace in a feature request available here for further discussion.

The customization also allows the use of elements from the Music Encoding Iniative (MEI) format that is modelled on the TEI, aims to be independent from rendering software and provides encoding methods for different research approaches in musicology. MEI provides a vocabulary for the representation of Common Western Music Notation, mensural and neume notation and aims to offer extension mechanisms to include other notation systems and non-standard notational components. Moreover, it accommodates a number of modules to express declarative knowledge about the music being encoded, such as analysis, critical commentary,ambiguity, variants, etc. The MEI format was released in its first stable version in summer 2010.

We would like to invite those of you who are interested in the encoding of texts which contain music notation to access the documentation, the ODD and the schema on the SIG’s webspace:


We consider this output as a beta release and we are very interested in collecting comments, feedback and discussing possible use scenarios. Please join our mailing list if you would like to discuss any aspect of this customization.

With kind regards,
Raffaele Viglianti

Raffaele Viglianti
PhD Candidate and PGRA
Centre for Computing in the Humanities
King’s College London