Delivering Music Notation over the Internet: Syntax, Parser, Viewer, and GUI Input System

Kartik Narayan
Leong Yong
National University of Singapore, Singapore

Peter Chiam Yih Wei
Internet Research and Development Unit
University of Singapore, USA


A simple music notation markup language (MNML) has been drafted to represent the musical and lyrical content of a music score. A musical score thus coded can be transmitted over a network as a small text file and reconstructed in its entirety at the user's end through mechanisms such as a World Wide Web browser. Other applications of this system include archiving of musical pieces in a form that can be searched using a particular melody string, a rhythm, fragment of the music, or the lyrics.

MNML fully describes the basic melody and lyrics of the piece. It is not the intention at this stage to include capability for defining complex layout and other publishing features, performance annotations, or other embellishments, as it has not been accepted as a standard.

A prototype MNML parser and a music score displayer, implemented using the Java language and displayable via a Hot Java Web browser, have been developed to demonstrate the capabilities of MNML. Potential developments in the pipeline include a Web browser plug-in.

Non-MNML-aware browsers will still be able to convey a sense of the music, since the MNML format is readable. MNML-aware browsers will display the lyrics, proper notes, and staves in the traditional western music format.

To assist in the input of musical scores, a prototype MNML editor has been written. A prototype search engine is being constructed. For a sample of the MNML implementation, see

Finally, MNML can be developed as a proposed extension of HTML or simply used as a standalone syntax.