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Music Engraving in the 21st Century
Developments and Perspectives

January 17th – 19th, 2020
Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria

[PDF Version]

Conference Invitation

Today, computers are everywhere. Even in the music world, computers have become a tool used for many purposes – especially for music engraving, they are now indispensable. The old craft of music engravers became extinct, and we rely on programs to apply the knowledge and aesthetics accumulated over centuries. This brings broad and specific opportunities and challenges that have to be considered heading for the future of musical applications in the digital age.

How well does this work? To discuss this and related topics, we proudly announce a conference titled Music Engraving in the 21st Century – Developments and Perspectives, taking place at the Mozarteum Music University in Salzburg, Austria, from January 17th (Fr) to 19th (Su), 2020. The keynote speaker will be Elaine Gould, author of “the” authoritative book on music engraving, Behind Bars, discussing the value of high-quality music engraving.

This conference targets all people who are interested in music engraving: users, developers, and vendors of notation software and related tools. We plan to have workshops and demonstrations of notation software, but also more advanced talks for specialists and developers, both about advanced (e.g., scholarly) uses for and development of software. Please see below for more details.

Conference languages will be German and English.

Call for Papers

To organize an exciting conference we hope for a wide variety of contributions in any of the formats described below – and others if you come up with further ideas. Concept and structure of the conference will be substantially shaped by your input.

There will be no formal anonymized submission process, instead you may send any proposals to where it will be internally discussed. Proposals may be complete papers, abstracts, or informal suggestions, but we may request further elaboration before accepting a contribution.

Please send proposals no later than November 1st, 2019, but we will gladly consider any earlier submissions. The following descriptions of contribution types are loosely ordered according to the 2(–3) conference days.

Product Presentations

Vendors or developers of notation software may present their products to inform (potential) users about features or update them on the latest development (plans). Presentations may be given as live demonstrations, with or without slots for audience questions, as regular talks, or as poster presentations. We would be glad to present a representative array of commercial and open source software packages. Presentations may be scheduled, for example, for 30–90 minutes or as permanent (poster) installations.


Workshops, whose contents range from an introduction to a notation software (although the border to product presentations might be blurred) over advanced and specific topics (e.g., toolchains or workflows) to abstract material like encoding formats or general engraving practice, may be proposed.


Posters may be presented covering aspects like software products, workflows, extraordinary engraving projects, or whatever you like to present in such a permanent fashion. Posters will be available during the conference, and there will be a poster session where visitors can get in touch with the authors.

Paper Presentations

At the heart of every academic conference there are of course paper presentations. The range of topics expected for discussion is outlined in the next section, but we want to make clear that we will accept papers for various target audiences and group talks accordingly. The intended audience of the conference is end users (mainly academics, i.e., students and teachers), scholars, publishers, and other developers.
Talks may be targeted at either of these groups and may include general topics (e.g., workflows for use in school or publishing), reports (e.g., a specific project), research discussion (e.g., handling of specific notational challenges, optical music recognition (OMR), theoretical foundations of music notation or engraving), or discussion related to the development of notation software.

Arbitrary Group Events

After two official conference days there will be a day reserved for arbitrary fun and progress. This can be an opportunity for members of open source teams to meet in person, for users and developers to talk to developers of other software, to hack together, or for regularized discussion of arbitrary topics (e.g., interchange formats and encoding standards).
Attendants may spontaneously make appointments on the first two days, but we also welcome ideas for more regularized events that can make it to the official program.
So far a meeting of LilyPond and Frescobaldi developers and users is planned for that day.

List of Topics

We are specifically interested in talks, workshops, and presentations covering the following topics, but other areas of interest are explicitly not ruled out:

Practical topics
  • Basics of music engraving (what do to with notation software, introduction to programs, updates to programs, presenting selected features, etc.).
  • Who needs what – which programs fit which user, which features are a notation program expected/required to have, as seen from the point of musicians, etc.
  • Aesthetics and comparison of printing results of various notation programs and/or various notation fonts.
  • How to improve the workflow with a given program (for example, using additional plugins).

Advanced topics
  • Challenges and possible solutions (technically, musically, philosophically, etc.) in the creation of professional music engraving.
  • The connection of music engraving and text typesetting for educational material, scientific publications, and the like.

Meta aspects of music engraving with a computer
  • Sustainability and maintainability of digital documents for long-term storage and access.
  • Significance of the media (paper vs. “digital notestand”).
  • Connecting and cross-linking musical data of all kinds.
  • Managing large repertoires.
  • Usability for blind and visually impaired persons.
  • How to collaborate in creating/editing a work.

Related issues
  • A look outside the box: the relationship between music engraving and the current state of art of digital editions (e.g., MEI).
  • History of music engraving.
  • Use of computers in music (engraving) compared to other disciplines.