Overview of the Mup Music Publication Program

Mup is a program for printing music. It takes an input file containing ordinary (ASCII) text describing music, and produces PostScript output for printing the musical score described by the input.

A Mup input file can contain several kinds of sections or contexts. The description of musical notes is given in the "music" context. There are contexts for defining page headers and footers. There are also several contexts used for setting various parameters. For example, there is a "score" context in which global aspects are listed, such as the number of staffs, the time signature, page margins, etc. It is also possible to set parameters for individual staffs and even individual voices. (Each staff can have up to three independent voices.) Any parameter that can be set for an individual voice can also be set for a staff, and any parameter that can be set for a staff can be set for the score as a whole. The actual value used for a given parameter is obtained by searching from the most specific (i.e., voice), to the most general (i.e., score) until a value is found. All values are given a default at the score level, so that everything will always resolve to some value. Parameters include items such as:

Mup can handle up to 40 parallel staffs. Each staff can have a different key signature, clef, and transposition value. Staffs can be 5-line, 1-line, or tablature (1 to 9 lines). It is possible to print a subset of staffs or voices. Guitar grids are supported.

Music data is organized into measures. Each measure consists of data for one or more voices followed by a bar line. Data for each voice consists of one or more chords. Each chord consists of a time value and one or more notes, and possibly additional items associated with the chord. To minimize input, an omitted time value defaults to being the same as the previous time value, and if the notes are omitted, the notes of the previous chord are used. There are also two special kinds of "notes": rests and space. Time values from octuple whole through 256th are supported, as well as tuplets, and any number of dots. Notes are specified by a letter "a" to "g", which may be followed by up to 4 accidentals (#, &, x, &&, or n for sharp, flat, double sharp, double flat, and natural respectively, or user defined accidentals), and an optional octave. The octave can be an absolute number 0 to 9 or one or more + or - signs to indicate one or more octaves above or below the default octave. It is also possible to specify that octave marks are to be printed.

Individual notes or entire chords can be tied or slurred to notes in the following chord. Slides, bends, and phrase marks can also be specified. Mup takes care of all details of drawing appropriate curves and splitting the curves across scores or pages if necessary.

Grace notes can be specified before any chord. It is also possible to specify that notes are to be printed in "cue" (small) size rather than regular size, or that "X" or diamond shaped notes are to be used. Shaped notes (as used in "Sacred Harp" music) and mensural notation (a precursor of modern notation) are also supported.

Each measure ends with a bar line. There are several types of bars: an ordinary bar, a double bar, a heavy bar to end the song, and bars with repeat signs. There is also an "invisible bar" which allows for organizing the input into bars without having the bar lines printed on the output.

First and subsequent endings can be specified at bar lines. Rehearsal marks can be requested at any bar line.

Macros can be defined to minimize input or improve readability. There is a generalized "if" clause that lets you produce different outputs based on macro values. A special kind of macro evaluates an expression. It is also possible to "include" one file in another.

Lyrics can be specified for zero or more verses, above, below or between staffs. You can control the font and size used for the lyrics.

Music symbols or words can be placed relative to staffs and notes. This may include musical marks such as fermatas and accents, as well as words to indicate tempo or dynamics, etc.

Since both the input and output of Mup are ASCII text files, it is easy to write programs to do various transformations. For example, a program could be written to move voices from one staff to another, or any sort of PostScript filter program could be used on the output.

Mup will optionally provide output in standard Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) format, for performance rather than PostScript output for printing. Custom accidentals and alternate tuning systems are supported. You can specify gradual changes in things like tempo and volume.

While Mup itself bucks the trend of graphical, mouse-driven input, it has proven to be a very useful and powerful method of capturing the complexities of musical notation, and there is a companion program, called Mupmate, that provides a graphical interface on top of Mup for those who are more comfortable with that kind of interface. The use of ordinary text input and PostScript output make it largely device-independent. Mup was designed and written by people who are both musicians and computer programmers. The result is a program that provides the capability to produce full-featured, very high quality musical scores with a minimum of effort. It is available ready-to-run for selected computer operating systems, and source code is also available so that it can be run on most platforms that have a C compiler. You are welcome to download Mup and use it for free.

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