Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Multimedia and Commons/Musical notation – files on Commons (rendering and playback), graphical editing

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 ◄ Back to Multimedia and Commons  The survey has concluded. Here are the results!

  • Problem: Although sheet music can already be embedded in articles to some extent, right now it's impossible to share digital sheet music as files on Commons. This limits the use of digital sheet music, which could otherwise be used to make synthesized audio files to compensate for the dearth of correctly-licensed recordings in Wikipedia articles and on other projects.

    US copyright has prevented almost all audio created in the 20th century from going into the public domain,[note 1] and will continue to be similarly restrictive for years to come; and using public domain sheet music doesn't easily convey to (most of) those reading it how something actually sounds. At the same time, the MediaWiki Score extension can already render scores and play MIDI files from LilyPond source code.[note 2] However, LilyPond lacks a graphical editor and its scores can't be used through the MediaWiki file syntax without exporting to PDF or OGG. The open-source notation program MuseScore is feature-rich and has a graphical interface, as well as a large and active community at (Alexa ranking of 3,417[note 3]),[note 4] but its files cannot be rendered in MediaWiki at all. Conversion to LilyPond format requires a two-step conversion through the MusicXML format.[note 5] However, both the MuseScore application and the MuseScore command line app can export MuseScore files to various file formats which can already be rendered or played by MediaWiki.[note 6]

    Supporting MusicXML/MuseScore files on Commons would also potentially encourage MuseScore users to also upload scores to Commons,[note 7] and Commons would be able to take advantage of the large amount of transcribed public-domain sheet music that has already been uploaded to, including the verified and reviewed transcriptions that are being created as part of the OpenScore transcription project.[note 8] Because of Commons's more useful file categorization system and more stringent copyright enforcement, if Commons becomes another hub for MuseScore users it would also become easier for people to find digital sheet music and verify that a given score is in fact reusable for their purposes.

  • Who would benefit: Wikipedia readers, Wikisource readers and editors, Commons, LilyPond users, and the MuseScore community
  • Proposed solution: It would be beneficial for both readers and editors to allow notation files from Commons to be rendered and played.[note 9] This could be done by using the existing Score extension to render and synthesize the files,[note 10] by creating a new MediaWiki extension to allow them to be rendered separately,[note 11] by modifying the Media Viewer extension, or through a combination of those methods. There is an ongoing RfC at Commons to determine which file formats would be supported by Commons.[note 12][note 13]

    Another improvement that could be considered would be to integrate a graphical notation editor into VisualEditor, since this would enable editors to create scores graphically without having to worry about file conversion issues.[note 14] This would probably require writing a graphical interface for LilyPond or improving an existing unofficial one.


  1. Almost all audio created between 1923 and 1972 has a much longer copyright term than other works in the US due to being covered by state copyright law rather than federal copyright law until 2018, and the last recordings will only enter the public domain in 2067. See c:Commons:Hirtle chart#Sound recordings and w:en:Music Modernization Act.
  2. LilyPond can play both MIDI files generated from the score itself and MIDI files uploaded to Commons.
  3. As of 20 November 2018. This means that Alexa Internet measured it to be the 3,417th-most-popular website over the previous three months.
  4. is possibly the most active community for uploading sheet music, although this is in no small part due to much of its content being arrangements and transcriptions of copyrighted works.
  5. MuseScore files (.mscz) can be converted to MusicXML files (.mxl) in the MuseScore application, and vice versa; the open-source application Frescobaldi can convert MusicXML files to LilyPond files (.ly), but cannot do the reverse (although there are some conversion scripts around the internet). Most proprietary scorewriters, like Finale and Sibelius, can convert their files to the MusicXML format (or if not, there is usually a plugin or other program which can do that). None of these formats can be uploaded to Commons.
  6. The ones most useful for Commons would be SVG, PNG, OGG and PDF.
  7. has its own share of issues: users cannot update scores uploaded by others; its online player is unfortunately closed-source, unlike the MuseScore Windows/Mac/Linux application; and individual users can only upload five scores if they do not purchase a MuseScore Pro subscription. See the talk page for more background information.
  8. It might also be possible to benefit from the score validation software that is being developed for that project.
  9. Originally this proposal also asked for video or otherwise visual playback of scores. In the interest of more clearly indicating the goals of the request I have omitted that part.
  10. This would probably be accomplished by modifying the file syntax to allow specifying whether a notation file is rendered as PDF, as audio, or both.
  11. This would probably use the MuseScore app's command line to export files to PDF and OGG. It would be difficult to re-implement the entire MuseScore renderer, because the MuseScore format does not have a formal specification and is defined solely by the functionality of the application.
  12. While it could be sufficient to only allow MusicXML uploads, it may be desirable to additionally allow MuseScore files to be uploaded. This is because MuseScore's import and export of MusicXML is not perfect, and if two users use MuseScore to contribute to the same file then it may be beneficial for them to avoid importing and exporting to edit the MuseScore source file.
  13. Even if Community Tech doesn't have time to action this proposal, simply allowing uploads would allow musical notation files to be shared much more easily. For example, I've uploaded MuseScore exports to Commons before (such as File:Für Elise preview.svg), but have been unable to also upload the source file.
  14. Since this would be LilyPond-based, presumably the original LilyPond and its users would also benefit from the new graphical editor's existence.
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets:
    • phab:T208494 – Allow music scores to be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons (1 November 2018)
    • phab:T201637 – Support engraving of musical files on Wikimedia Commons (10 August 2018)
    • phab:T209695 – Playback for musical notation files hosted on Wikimedia Commons (16 November 2018)
    • phab:T183642 – Support MusicXML to Lilypond Conversion (24 December 2017)
    • phab:T49528 – Create a VisualEditor plugin tool to add/edit musical scores (23 April 2013)


User:Facenapalm User:Dispenser User:Ruslik0 User:Micru User:Hiàn User:Trockennasenaffe User:JAn Dudík User:Gryllida User:Tacsipacsi User:Superchilum User:Theklan User:M11rtinb User:MichaelSchoenitzer User:TheDJ User:Ayack User:Shizhao User:Thomas Obermair 4 User:Sannita User:Draceane User:Consulnico User:Liuxinyu970226 User:David1010 User:Mahir256 User:NMaia Notifying everyone who voted in the similar proposal from last year. (This proposal is, broadly, more precise and more feasible.) Jc86035 (talk) 15:05, 17 November 2018 (UTC)

  • Comment Comment "However, LilyPond lacks a graphical editor and its scores can't be used through the MediaWiki file syntax without exporting to PDF or OGG." Misleading. Its scores can be inputted directly into MediaWiki. File syntax is not necessary and is to be avoided. Further, any notation would have to be converted into an image or audio for display on the web... The Score extension is also about to change (gerrit:370209) to use SVG and MP3 is supported.
"However, both the MuseScore application and the MuseScore command line app can export MuseScore files to various file formats which can already be rendered or played by MediaWiki." More conversions? Also I see MuseScore renderings to be of lesser quality and not as feature-rich as LilyPond (and they removed the LY exporter!). Its GUI is its "attractor".
Supporting MusicXML in the extension is basically a "beginner" task :) I also think the MuseScore format is very poor and so we should focus on improving the LilyPond experience, although I can see why allowing MuseScore files may be wanted. Ebe123 (Communication | Activity report) 02:18, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
@Ebe123: Sorry, I seem to have written that sentence with the assumption that the reader knows that the Score extension supports LilyPond. Will fix. Quality is somewhat subjective, although LilyPond is unambiguously more customizable. Jc86035 (1) (talk) 16:26, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

HLJH wrote:

“online WYSIWYG player/editor seems to be closed-source and freemium”: They use an OSS renderer internally on some places.

I’m also pretty sure that, if Wikimedia were to approach MuseScore/Ultimate Guitar, a Free solution could be found for code reuse suitable enough to make it usable here. (An online editor, though, is likely out of scope.) The profit model is to sustain development. Wikimedia adoption would rather drive more people to use it, so I’d think that would be more welcome. The MuseScore developers are very approachable and like the Free Software scene.

“I assume that it is also higher-bandwidth than the markup alternatives”: no. MuseScore files come in two flavours. *.mscx and *.mscz. The latter is the default, and it’s a PKZIP container with the mscx in it as well as any images etc. embedded into the score. The mscx is XML and comparable to MusicXML, but in my personal experience, MusicXML is more verbose. (MusicXML also has a compressed container format, *.mxl, but that’s rarely used.) I keep all my own scores as *.mscx in git and just batch-convert to other formats occasionally, and have written an MML to MusicXML exporter, so I have experience with both formats.

Mirabilos (talk) 23:37, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

Thank you for the information and the talkpage ping, Mirabilos Full version of this reply at the RfC. It looks to me as if the trade-offs run:
Format Advantages Disadvantages Technical difficulty Lacks
MusicXML *common interchange standard *being replaced by MNX *can be imported by ~any player, designed as an interchange format, not for display *ongoing support
MuseScore *large community *online/mobile freemium elements *online visual editor and playback software exists, including mobile version, but is proprietary; would have to either duplicate and compete, or partly rely on third-party freemium service *copyleft online player/editor
LilyPond *already integrated into Mediawiki, fits markup orientation, unicode *does not natively export to MusicXML, only imports *open-source visual editor and playback software (not web-based) exists, but see phab:T49528 (mobile might be harder) *MusicXML or MNX export (NoteEdit, Rosegarden, and Frescobaldi, all GPL, have code for this)
MNX *should be perfect in every way :) *does not yet exist *starting from scratch (can be an advantage) *a full specification and an implementation
MEI/Verovio *browser-based, fast, wide and growing range of music cultures (including historic ones) encodable *does not do really sophisticated engraving (making pretty scores for print) *should be easiest, as open-source software exists, browser-based, SVG output (not sure if it does visual editing or just rapid previews) *non-academic users
I see that MuseScore is heavily involved in MNX development;[1] more MEI-focussed groups, including LilyPond, are not. MuseScore is also ably represented here on the Mediawikis by Peter Jonas (shoogle). Perhaps someone might also contact the LilyPond devs and MEI devs ask them to participate in this discussion, so we can get a broad range of viewpoints? HLHJ (talk) 04:06, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
This discussion is continuing at the RfC, with useful comments from format developers. Comments from Mediawiki developers and other community members are also welcome. HLHJ (talk) 02:47, 29 November 2018 (UTC)


  • Support Support Hiàn (talk) 04:31, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Jc86035 (talk) 05:15, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Libcub (talk) 11:07, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support ديفيد عادل وهبة خليل 2 (talk) 12:03, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support M11rtinb (talk) 15:21, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:39, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support NMaia (talk) 16:20, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support -Theklan (talk) 17:52, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support JAn Dudík (talk) 20:27, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 00:52, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • GA candidate.svg Partial support; I support LilyPond and MusicXML hosting, but not MuseScore hosting. I'd support conversion of MuseScore uploads. Reasons per my comments on the RfC. I support a Visual Editor plugin for editing music markups and a Commons score player. HLHJ (talk) 04:13, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Fixer88 (talk) 08:23, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Ainali (talk) 12:06, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support — Draceane talkcontrib. 17:00, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Wesalius (talk) 21:25, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  • GA candidate.svg partial support Do not cannibalize on improving the LilyPond input to make it user-friendly. Some of my qualms are in the comments section. (Maintainer of the Score extension) Ebe123 (Communication | Activity report) 02:18, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • GA candidate.svg Partial support; Support LilyPond & MusicXML. Have serious reservations about MuseScore hosting. Abzeronow (talk) 02:48, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support for every solution that might work, thanks! Sannita - not just another sysop 13:34, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • GA candidate.svg partial support;for MusicXML and LilyPond Vulphere 12:15, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support CAPTAIN RAJU(T) 22:48, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support all three formats. Mainly MuseScore as this is the format used by OpenScore (reasons given on the the RfC), but the other formats are useful too. (OpenScore Project Manager) --Peter Jonas (shoogle) (talk) 23:20, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Novak Watchmen (talk) 13:37, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Matěj Suchánek (talk) 09:26, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Helder 13:19, 25 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support — AfroThundr (u · t · c) 02:32, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support PMG (talk) 16:35, 26 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support PJTraill (talk) 00:23, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support A garbage person (talk) 17:24, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Thgoiter (talk) 18:46, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Support Support Could facilitate what I'd ultimately like to see happen with video: having an archive of free-use music available to use as scores, either by performing it themselves or attaching existing MIDIs to their videos. Daniel Case (talk) 23:06, 28 November 2018 (UTC)