[MEI-L] Instrument settings and tunings

Richard Lewis richard at rjlewis.me.uk
Wed Oct 21 12:29:19 CEST 2015

Dear Axel,

We did some work on the problem of encoding instrument configurations
earlier this year. We actually came up with a customisation which is
published on github:
<https://github.com/TransformingMusicology/mei-tmus>, specifically,

We took the approach of extending <instrVoice> to include <instrDesc>
and <instrConfig> elements. The <instrDesc> allows a more structured
description of an instrument, while <instrConfig> is intended for
instrument-specific set up. In our specific case we then provided a
further customisation for lute tablature which extended <instrConfig>
to allow elements for describing the tunings of the courses.

Our intention was that this generic provision could be extended for
exactly the kinds of things you describe: organ registrations,
electronic instruments.

We didn't make any provision for your second requirement, however,
that of changes of instrument configuration during the course of a

We presented this at MEC 2015 but since then we haven't really revised
it. I think it's still quite experimental and really could do with
some more testing and criticism.


On Wed, 21 Oct 2015 09:01:53 +0100,
Axel Teich Geertinger wrote:
> Dear list
> I have a couple of questions related to the recent discussion about
> the model for describing instrumentations in <perfMedium>. Sometimes
> I need to add more detailed information to an instrument's name,
> such as transposition or tuning. I simply write this information
> into <instrVoice>, like
> <instrVoice>Clarinet (A)</instrVoice>
> <instrVoice>Timpani (C, G)</instrVoice>
> Of course I can add more complex information too: the settings for a
> prepared piano or electronic instruments; scordatura; or even organ
> registrations (if they remain the same throughout the piece).
> My first question is: Is it acceptable to have a rather detailed
> text within <instrVoice> (or <perfRes>, if we decide to rename it),
> or should we have some other place for a detailed description of
> settings/tunings/transpositions?
> My other question is: how would this kind of information be encoded
> in the score? I know about the transposition attributes on
> <staffDef>, of course; the timpani case is trivial too. But I
> wouldn't know how to encode things like organ registrations,
> scordatura, electronic instruments settings within <music>. Plain
> text? Or are there some special element for instrument settings?
> I could also put it this way: Are these settings simply to be
> regarded as playing techniques like pizzicato or col legno (which I
> don't know how to encode either, however...)?
> Best,
> Axel
Richard Lewis
j: ironchicken at jabber.earth.li
@: lewisrichard

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