The Tablature Processor

The Tablature Processor is a program for the editing, playback (via MIDI) and printing of music written in lute tablature. It was originally intended as a simple interface to a crude database system for cataloguing lute music, but has grown somewhat until it is now fairly comprehensive, although it lacks a full range of typographical symbols (for instance for ornament signs) and it is only really useful for Baroque lute music.

The main use of the program is to produce camera-ready artwork for the Das Erbe deutscher Musik edition of Silvius Leopold Weiss's Sämtliche Werke (complete works), for which Tim Crawford is the current editor, in succession to Douglas Alton Smith. The font used for the program is based on Silvius Weiss's handwriting, and was derived from digitizations of his writing carried out during the 1970s by Dr Smith which were used in preparing the tablature Anhänge to the facsimile of the London Manuscript (Sämtliche Werke, vol. 2, Tabulatur II).

The program uses the graphical user-interface of the Macintosh computer, so that notes (in the form of tablature letters) are inserted by clicking the mouse on the six-line tablature staff and typing the relevant letter. Rhythm-signs are added by typing an appropriate code (based on the upper-case initials of standard US note-values: Q for quarter-note; H for half-note and so on). It also incorporates simple MIDI recording and playback using Apple's MIDI Manager, so notes can be entered from a MIDI keyboard.

At present, only French tablature is properly supported, although crude Italian tablature can be displayed. It is hoped that proper Italian tablature can be added soon without too much extra work.

The Tablature Processor can open and save in its own native format, as well as TabCode (see below) and Nightingale's Notelist format (see below). This provides a crude form of automatic transcription of tablature into staff notation. (It is hoped that MIDI-file support will be added before long.)

It is intended that The Tablature Processor will be made available for downloading on the Internet within a short time. Also in principle it should be possible to produce versions for PC and Unix platforms, although this may take a little longer.

Department of Computing, Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW

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