MEI Score Editor – MEISE
Native editor for the encoding format of the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI)
Developed at the Musikwissenschaftliches Seminar Detmold/Paderborn (University of Paderborn)
The MEI Score Editor (MEISE) is an Eclipse-based client software for viewing and editing MEI-encoded music documents in CMN (Common Music Notation), facilitating proof reading as well as modifying and correcting MEI files. MEISE is designed to satisfy special requirements of research in musicology, currently unsupported by existing music notation software tools. MEISE should be used especially for working with MEI-data as a processing and editing tool, e.g. for creating variants, generating, completing and modifying MEI-files. As a key merit, MEISE gains of its homomorphic internal data structure to the MEI schema tree, allowing for native support for theoretically all MEI encoding principles. This allows for some unique features arising from the field of scholarly music edition, such as the encoding and visualization of variants of different musical sources in one digital MEI representation.
For download, technical information and installation tips for the MEI Score Editor please go to the MEISE project page on sourceforge. Prerequisites for working with MEISE and MEI requires basic knowledge of musical notations and terms as well as a familiarity with XML-structures. Information about the Music Encoding Format MEI, a comprehensive MEI-Tutorial MEI1st and even the MEI Sample Collection can be found on the MEI's webpage. There is also an overview of MEI and other music encoding formats as well as detailed information about musical data and metadata in the DARIAH report "Fachspezifische Empfehlungen für Daten und Metadaten" in chapter 3.3 Musikwissenschaft (MEI) (in german). A step by step introduction, tutorials and documentation on XML (Extensible Markup Language) are available e.g. on w3schools.
The following chapters should give an overview about ongoing processes, the current state of development, some aspects of history as well as examples of working with MEI-data in the editor. If there are any questions about the editor or the MEI format, feel free to contact the developer at the Musikwissenschaftliches Seminar DT/PB (email@example.com).
Seeing the need for an editor-tool which allows the rendering of MEI-code and especially for displaying several sources encoded within one MEI file, the idea appeared to develop a specific editor facilitating such features. A first version of the MEI Score Editor was developed in a two-year working phase as a plugin for the TextGrid project's editor software TextGridLab. The further development then became part of the eHumanities project DARIAH-DE in 2011 releasing a first standalone version of MEISE in early summer 2012.
Main challenges actually have been the handling of note rendering and implementing native MEI support within the given technical boundaries of the Eclipse Rich Client Platform. Another challenge is the definition and the design of a basic graphical editing functionality, especially to support editing principles which go beyond common tasks, e.g. the visualization of variants. The result is a stable draft tool being able to display MEI-2013-files with most of the common musical symbols. By the end of february 2014 (the end of the first funding phase of DARIAH-de) a next milestone in developing the MEI Score Editor will be achieved and we hope that the MEISE documentation may be a completion, description and instruction for potential MEISE-users and any interested researchers.
With the beginning of the second funding phase of DARIAH-DE in March 2014 this draft tool will be taken as blue print for further development, implementing MEISE within the DARIAH Service Infrastructure and other scholarly music editing tools. Further work will focus on improvements and enhancements in the possibilities of research driven note rendering.
Beside the note rendering of MEI-code, the purpose of MEISE is to support special MEI encoding principles arising from scholarly edition or philological aspects in musicology. The use of the tool could offer several benefits (the practical use of it is described in Workflows and Use Cases). You will also find instructions and informations about handling the tool as well as the MEI encoding principles. Almost no curated software utilizing the visualization of MEI data was available before MEISE. Compared with common musical software, MEISE is currently the only tool, which offers the opportunity of displaying variant readings. By developing the MEI format and promoting the distribution and use of it as an XML standard, the request for a displaying tool, especially one which is capable of handling several sources grew up. Besides that, using the MEI-format required a working-tool, which allows comfortable handling of XML as well as musical notation. MEISE complies with these requirements and meanwhile is an essential tool for all users working with MEI.
In the second funding phase of DARIAH-DE, the features of MEISE and the use of the software in general will be increased and improved. While working with MEISE within several projects as described in Workflows and Use cases, various requirements came up, which led to suggestions and the definition of goals for further development of MEISE. Basically, these suggestions aim at an improvement of the note rendering process and of the overall usability to gain a considerable workflow speedup compared with manual encoding of MEI. Currently, such desirable improvements are restricted by reasons of compatibility with the TextGridLab software and the resulting technical boundaries. Projects working with MEISE and using the editor not only as a tool to render MEI, but as a research tool for their work with the visualization of variants raised the question, whether different MEI encoding principles like readings could be understood as forms of non-verbal annotations. This inevitably requires new concepts of visualizing such encodings going beyond MEISE's current possibilities.
Combined with general improvements of usability the definition and development of a new visualization concept will be the main goal for the MEI Score Editor in the second funding phase of DARIAH-DE. The first step will be the migration of MEISE's current features to a web based application to improve MEI rendering and usability. A modularized structure will provide more ingeniousness and bring out broader opportunities for further developments as well as technical and workflow-based connections especially with musicological tools like the Edirom Tools and other humanities research tools and infrastructures. The second step will be the definition and implementation of rendering concepts and improved research features to face one of DARIAH-DE's main research topics: techniques of scholarly annotating and annotation-processes. It will also be necessary to support the ongoing work of the MEI format and it's schema and to accelerate its further adoption by the scholarly community, wherefore MEISE is an essential contribution.
The following descriptions of use cases and workflows may provide an overview of ongoing processes as well as demonstrate the benefit of using MEISE in different projects within the musicological field. However, improvement of the tool is still required and some of the problems which showed up during the work with MEISE are documented as well. The following chapters describe the use of MEISE in the student's Bargheer-project and the application in the Sarti-project as well as the use of MEISE to support the development of the MEI Sample Collection. Furthermore, the workflows described here should illustrate the handling of musical notation within different tools and schemes and finally the use of MEI data of older versions or similar issues, including transformation with stylesheets etc.