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

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Original proposal text[edit]

Background information. Jc86035 (talk) 11:17, 16 November 2018 (UTC)

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.

Many classical music pages[note 1] currently lack any audio files and may not have them for years to come, in part due to the difficulty of sourcing correctly-licensed recordings (pretty much any audio recording from after 1922 will remain in copyright in the US for some time). Sheet music can usually be found at IMSLP, but sheet music doesn't easily convey to (most of) those reading it how something actually sounds. At the same time, the MediaWiki Score extension, which utilizes LilyPond, is already capable of both rendering scores and playing MIDI files.[note 2] However, its lack of a graphical editor makes learning how to use it more difficult than it needs to be, and LilyPond scores and generated audio cannot be used normally with file syntax without exporting the score with an external application.

Possibly the most capable free and open-source scorewriter with a graphical editor is MuseScore. It also has a large and active community at musescore.com (Alexa ranking of 3,490[note 3]),[note 4] but its files cannot be rendered in MediaWiki. It is possible to use sheet music made with MuseScore in LilyPond and the Score extension, but it requires a two-step conversion through the MusicXML format.[note 5] However, the LilyPond extension can already perform conversion of ABC notation; and 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]

Musescore.com has its own share of issues: users cannot update scores uploaded by others; its online player (which is not bad[note 7]) 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.[note 8] These factors would probably encourage MuseScore users to upload their arrangements and transcriptions of copyleft works to Commons, if it were possible to upload them at all; and those users could potentially benefit from MuseScore/MusicXML scores being used in highly visible Wikipedia articles, whose audio files might be played hundreds of thousands of times per year.[note 9]

Likewise, various parts of the Wikimedia community could potentially benefit from using the scores of the public-domain works posted on musescore.com, such as the verified transcriptions that are being created in the OpenScore project,[note 10] as well as from MuseScore users uploading their transcriptions and creations directly to Commons. 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.

Footnotes

  1. And other pages for out-of-copyright music.
  2. LilyPond can play both MIDI files generated from the score itself and MIDI files uploaded to Commons.
  3. As of 7 November 2018. This means that Alexa Internet measured it to be the 3,490th-most-popular website over the previous three months.
  4. Musescore.com 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. What it does is it flips through the pages of the score and uses SVG images to highlight the bar which is currently being played. The player in the application works differently, by moving a vertical bar behind the notes which are currently being played.
  8. It is also possible to be awarded MuseScore Pro for uploading transcriptions for the OpenScore project.
  9. Examples: File:FurElise.ogg, which is played about 460 times per day. Some others are played even more frequently. The most-viewed commercially reusable classical music score on musescore.com is Moonlight Sonata (Jazz Lead Sheet), with 96,615 views since it was uploaded in 2012.
  10. It might also be possible to benefit from the score validation software that is being developed for that project.