Re: What about musical notation?

From: Edward Cherlin (
Date: Wed Feb 28 2001 - 04:09:14 EST

At 3:52 AM -0800 2/22/01, William Overington wrote:
>Having been advised recently about accessing 21 bit unicode characters using
>an example from musical notation, following up on that advice I have found
>the document that details characters in the range U+1d100 to U+1d1ff,
>entitled Musical Symbols.


>I find myself interested in the possibility that unicode could be used to
>encode as a sequence of characters a representation of the contents of the
>composing stick of a hand set metal type printer, including the various
>items of spacing material of which the viewer of a finished print is not
>One application at present would be so that fine quality type set
>illustrations of music and mathematics could be produced by placing that
>sequence of codes in the param statement of a java applet in a web page.
>Does anyone know of any details of metal music type please?
>William Overington
>22 February 2001

The TeX DVI output file format does something close to what you
describe by putting items and expressions composed from basic
characters into boxes, and specifying the location of each box. Both
horizontal and vertical spacing are expressed in integer multiples of
the basic unit, 1/65536 of a true printer's point (1/72.27 in.). Font
sizes are also specified in the same unit.

The TeX source format includes codes for the common typographical
spaces, several more specialized math spaces, and a general concept
of "glue" spaces with numeric stretch and shrink parameters,
including three orders of infinite stretchability. Further spacing
control is provided in tables.

Most software that handles mathematical expressions can translate
them to TeX. This includes high-end math software such as
Mathematica, technical publishing applications, notably FrameMaker,
and ordinary word processors with built-in expression editors. In
some cases, the translation from a word processing format requires an
external utility.

I suggest, therefore, that writing a downloadable TeX DVI renderer
plug-in for a Web browser is a more general long-term solution for
your application. Most of the code you would need is available as
open source in C. It would not surprise me if a DVI renderer in Java
had been done somewhere, although I have not heard of one.

There is a Unicode TeX, called Omega TeX, capable of handling any
writing system in principle, and supporting a fair number of writing
systems in practice.


Edward Cherlin Generalist "A knot!" exclaimed Alice. "Oh, do let me help to undo it." Alice in Wonderland

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