[MEI-L] Annotations visible on the music and arbitrary segmentation

Roland, Perry D. (pdr4h) pdr4h at eservices.virginia.edu
Sat Mar 4 17:04:54 CET 2017


Text underlay doesn't have anything to do with <dir> or <annot>.

I apologize for the confusion created by the definition of <verse> -- it was too short and too cryptic.  In the version of MEI currently under development, verse is defined as "Division of a poem or song lyrics; a stanza."

The verse/syl construct is only applicable at the note level.  For musical material which is repeated, but with different words/lyrics/sung text, <verse> provides a method of recording which words belong with each repetition.

  <verse n="1">
  <verse n="2">

For text not directly associated with individual notes, lyrics/lg should be used instead.  <lyrics> occurs outside the stream of notated events; that is, inside <measure> and <syllable>, although not within <staff> or <layer> as might be required for mensural notation.  I'll correct this oversight soon.  The <lg> element is, of course, borrowed from TEI.

For those situations where the sung text is visually separate from the musical material, one can use --

    <l>Oh, say can you see</l>

To associate each syllable of these words with the notes, one can add <syl> elements --

      <syl synch="#n1">Oh,</syl>
      <syl synch="#n2">say</syl>
      <syl synch="#n3">can</syl>
      <syl synch="#n4">>you</syl>
      <syl synch="#n5">see</syl>

One may object to calling the text of a 15th century motet "lyrics", but the same markup applies.


From: mei-l [mailto:mei-l-bounces at lists.uni-paderborn.de] On Behalf Of Giuliano Di Bacco
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2017 6:28 AM
To: Byrd, Donald A.; Music Encoding Initiative
Subject: Re: [MEI-L] Annotations visible on the music and arbitrary segmentation

Thanks, Don:

I swear that I am not trying to complicate the issue further, but I should recall that it was another moving part of the mechanism that originated this discussions on MEI-Mens, that is, <verse>. That is, also arbitrary segmentation/alignment of... non-arbitrary text (!) deserves attention:

1 - about its use, as regard to the issue described by Don: how best to record arbitrary (I prefer: "non standard") placement of text underlay (alignment of chunks of text in <verse> with <note>s), when not possible/easy to do it with <syl>.

2- about its definition. This may be slightly off-topic, but important: discussion on MEI-Mens reveals that there may be some confusion about what <verse> is supposed to be used for. The specifications say that this is for "lyric verse". Period. First, I am not sure whether "verse" has to be intended as "a body of metrical writing/poetry" or a "stanza/strophe of poetry" or a "single line of a metrical writing" -- definitions in major Brit+American dictionaries (and people's opinions) fluctuate between these poles.  Second, I am not sure whether "lyric" stands for the genre (lyric poetry as opposed to narrative, epic, didactic poetry) or generically for "the words of a song". Admittedly, in romance languages both terms are less ambiguous than in English, so I suppose that we just need to clarify, through a more generous description, if <verse> is "whatever poetic text underlay" (my best guess) or what. It would be very useful to clarify this point while we talk about "text". The next step would be to decide if we need/want to represent poetical structures of lower (or higher) order (it would seem logical to me if we borrowed stuff from TEI), and how to distinguish text underlay proper from text-that-goes-with-these-notes but not-laid-under-the-notes, that is, written/printed somewhere else in the page (introducing some tag/att like "underlay" and "displaced" perhaps). But this is really off-topic (premature) for now.

As usual, please don't hesitate to correct me if I misunderstood/misrepresented anything -- it would be helpful.



Byrd, Donald A. wrote on 04/03/2017 01:36:

For quite awhile, some of us -- mostly Laurent, Giuliano, Craig, Perry and I, plus other members of the mensural IG -- have been discussing the need for annotations with arbitrary text that are displayed on the music. Unfortunately, the discussion so far has been scattered among several places, including the mensural IG mailing list and Verovio GitHub issues #248 ("Directives in mensural notation aren't drawn"), 388 ("@n for <harm>"), and especially 389 ("implement <annot> display"). You can read #389 at


and similarly for the other Verovio issues. Anyway, I'll try to summarize the issues here.

We've talked about using one of two existing tags for these annotations, namely <dir> and <annot>. It seems clear that <dir> is not what we want because it's specifically intended for performance directions. As for <annot>s, of course they are currently only for annotating the encoding, not the music, and they're not displayed in the SVG. We could add a @visible attribute to <annot>, but the problem then is _where_ on the music should they appear? But it seems to me this is only a serious problem if you expect the notation engine to position everything automatically, and that's something that I think is completely unrealistic for complex music regardless of annotation. I suggest visible <annot>s should have a crudely-calculated default position, and it'd be up to the user to specify a different position if they want.

Giuliano has raised a related concern. He wrote yesterday that

"[N]ot only something like <dir> for arbitrary non-lyric text is needed, but also some arbitrary segmentation, to encapsulate portions of music and/or lyric/non-lyric text where things happen (such as, lyric text loosely connected with a portion of music, or passages where the mensuration is uncertain...).

"If I understand correctly, most of the problem with <dir>  originates from the missing <measure> level in the hierarchy (at least this creates problems with Verovio), so I was wondering whether the introduction of a tag <segment> at that level could be useful. The latter, contrary to <measure> would be totally optional, and contrary to <measure> or <section> would be used without any structural meaning.

"This is the point where we felt the need that the discussion escalates on MEI-L.  Non-structural segmentation is something that TEI introduced lately in their schema (they call it <seg> when the portion of text is shorter than a paragraph, and <ab> when an 'anonymous block' of text is found that escapes from the paragraph structure). In my experience this is one of the most useful features when dealing with complex documents, and in past projects I used it also to provide annotations. I wonder whether there are any reasons for not having a <seg>-like tag available at any level."

Giuliano's ideas make sense to me, but I don't feel very well qualified to evaluate them.

I'm looking forward to hearing people's thoughts on all of this!



Donald Byrd

Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellow

Adjunct Associate Professor of Informatics

Visiting Scientist, Research Technologies

Indiana University Bloomington

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