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Exploring the potential of the dedicated XML syntax for diatonic harmonica tablature


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My poster about harmonica tablatures presented on ICMC 2011

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Exploring the potential of the dedicated XML syntax for diatonic harmonica tablature

  1. 1. EXPLORING THE POTENTIAL OF THE DEDICATED XML SYNTAX FOR DIATONIC HARMONICA TABLATURE The harmonica (also called mouth Diatonic harmonicas are made in organ or harp) is a unique musical different keys. The key of the instru- instrument in many aspects. In the 20th ment comprises two terms: the pitch of century, the instrument has undergone the root note in the tonic chord (i.e. C, significant improvements, and new D, E), and the tuning (i.e. major, minor). playing techniques have extended its There are 220 alternative tunings for musical potential. Those new tech- diatonic harmonicas, classified into niques require a special form of visuali- major, minor, antipodean, 12/14-hole, sation. And tablature serves this pur- spiral, Spanish, magic dick, Joe Filisko, pose, because it was designed specifi- Kraus tuning, modal rearrangements, cally for the harmonica. and 54 oddities.The main peculiarity of tablatures — they dont reflect musical notes and are not tied to any specific sound pitch. Instead, they describe hole numbers, direction of airflow (blow or draw), and special techniques (bends, overbends, etc.).B stands for “blow”, D for “draw”, and Db marks a Numbers denote holes, straight arrows show The same left approach with difference in visualiza- Notes doubled with peculiar geometric shapes todraw bend. direction of airflow, curved arrows show bends. tion. The length of arrows indicates duration of distinguish bends, and V marks direction of airflow.Beginner Blues Harmonica, 2006 Sourcebook of Little Walter/Big Walter Licks for sound. All-American Harp, 1998 Blues Harmonica, 2000 The Sourcebook of Sonny Terry Licks for Harmonica, 1995Different numbers denote holes and rhythm count, Geometric shapes distinguish bends; arrows show Numbers indicate holes, and plus and minus signs Colored circles indicate air direction. Black circlesnotes show duration of sound, and B indicates duration and effects, such as vibrato and glissando. distinguish direction of airflow. Regular notes used show draw notes, white – blow. Arrows show bends.bends. Blues Harp for Diatonic and Chromatic Harmonicas, in parallel also. Rock Blues Country Harp, 1993Teach Yourself Blues Harmonica - 10 Easy Lessons, 1996 Play Irish Music on the Blues Harp, 20002000 Examples above demonstrate lack of a universal standard both in data structure, and visualization methods. It is evident that such variety does not improve interoperability.REQUIREMENTS FOR CREATING A SYNTAX FOR TABLATURES POSSIBLE USE CASESCreating XML schemes would allow standardizing the tablature format, and easily We propose various basic examples of using harmonica tablatures syntax, such as:extending it on demand in the future. One of the advantages of using XML is the ability touse XSLT to interpret and visualize tablatures at any difficulty level. It means that sametablatures can be visualized as plain HTML or as rich SVG graphics. џ Storing, indexing, and search tablatures. Special repositories with metadata indexing can be developed; џ Visualization of tablatures. Reading tabs on screen of different devices (computer, e- book, mobile devices etc.), printing tabs as music scores;Our main goal is to create a simple interoperable language to write tablatures, designed џ Playing tabs with a special player. There are various possibilities for rendering ofspecifically for diatonic harmonicas, and not burdened with excessive functions like uni- sound available. Learners can play tabs by parts, with metronome, with and withoutversal notation languages. Unlike MusicXML, our format does not imply any specific visualization of harmonica etc.;visualization method, and interpreting is delegated to software that uses the tablature џ Export and import from and to other formats, e.g. MIDI, MusicXML. Tools for suchdata. task can be useful for teachers who create harmonica tablatures. First version of the HarpTab schema is currently ready. It can be downloaded at the HarpXML project wiki page