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Old 05-31-2009, 05:31 PM   #1
Elfwreck
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Advice for musical notation pages

I'm working on converting a set of public-domain children's books (Berle's Self Culture, which AFAIK isn't available in any of the current PD collections) which include stories, poetry, songs and so on. I'm not sure what to do with the songs. I've attached a sample page.

I'm using ABBYY Finereader 7.0 Pro. I'm still debating what formats to use for final output; right now, I'm planning to export to Word and do more editing in that, and then take it to BookDesigner rather than Calibre, because there's a lot of formatting involved. (Poetry. Calibre doesn't deal well with poetry.)

I could:
  • Make the music sections images, which makes them not searchable. If I wanted them to look nice, I'd have to do a lot of speckle cleanup.
  • Make the music part image and the words, words, set over the images--I can do this in Word or PDF, but have no idea how well it'd be supported in most ebook formats. Seems unlikely to work well, especially as it'd be difficult to line up the word with the notes. Still, if I do a PDF version, this method would be preferable for that.
  • Make a line of music-image, then text, then music-image underneath that, and lose the connection between the treble & bass clefs. Allows the music to be included, but still has the problem of lining up the words.
  • Major edit: Make the music part all image, and include the text of the verses underneath that. That moves away from being an accurate re-creation.
As it stands, I'm not planning on doing a gutenberg-style re-creation. Not capturing line breaks for prose, not including page numbers and headers. Advice or suggestions are welcome. (Even if I don't wind up using any of them because I'm sure someone else will want ideas for different projects with similar issues.)
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Old 05-31-2009, 08:35 PM   #2
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[*]Make the music part all image, and include the text of the verses underneath that. That moves away from being an accurate re-creation.
I think you have already highlighted the issues with each approach. From my point of view the last option is the most benefitial, since while it is not an accurate re-creation it makes the text available to those with text-only readers, but allows those with devices/software that can handle the images to see the music + text.

I would suggest adding the text as the ALT tag for the image, but I don't really have enough knowledge of how well this would be handled by various ebook readers.

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Old 05-31-2009, 08:52 PM   #3
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Could you break each verse into three images: Bass clef, verse, treble clef?

Then replace the verse image with a much smaller image containing only the linking bar.

Then simply put the text, as text following the bar image.

So it'd be something like this:

[image: BASS CLEF with NOTATION]
[image: LINKING BAR]Text of Verse
[image: TREBLE CLEF with NOTATION]

It'd then just be a matter of figuring out how to tell whatever tool/format that you're using to put the pieces so close together that no gap shows.

More work, but the best of both worlds -- and the image slicing is probably scriptable.

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Old 05-31-2009, 09:32 PM   #4
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[image: BASS CLEF with NOTATION]
[image: LINKING BAR]Text of Verse
[image: TREBLE CLEF with NOTATION]

It'd then just be a matter of figuring out how to tell whatever tool/format that you're using to put the pieces so close together that no gap shows.
I don't think that's possible--because I'll have no control over how it's being viewed. Ebook readers don't offer a lot of CSS options (not that I know anything about CSS, but I might be able to learn something simple & repeatable), and if I put it in eReader format, I know there's no "close gaps between images" option. I don't know if it's do-able in LRF or not.

(Probably shouldn't do eReader pdb with images this large anyway. Should consider removing the images for pdb and just having text.)

If I have to separate the treble & bass clefs, I probably lose the line that connects them, and the ability to line up the text to match the musical notation. There are too many ways ebook readers can parse the contents to be sure of lining anything up.

If I want to be sure of the layout, I'd need to use PDF. And while I might do that, it won't be a full conversion because I'm skipping the page headers & original page numbers.

I think I like the idea of a single image for each block of music & lyrics, followed by text lyrics underneath that. I can probably figure out how to add alt text, although it seems weird to add alt text that matches lyric fragments.

My next concern is pretty text boxes--boxes of scrollwork or knotwork designs around text. I suppose those just get dropped in the ebook formats; I can't think of any simple way to include them.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:20 AM   #5
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Okay, just thinking off the top of my head here, brainstorming.

If the musical notation is available as a PD font, would it be possible to embed the font? Because then you could "break" the musical notation pages into 3 images. A smallish left image (3-15 pixels or whatever), it's mirror image for the right side of the page, and a middle image 1 pixel wide and however many high, set to be repeated.

Now that the musical bars are accounted for you can "type" the musical notation on top of these images, along with the song lyrics.

The only other thing that I can think of is to take a look at some musical software that offers printing of musical scores to see how they handle things. Particularly any websites that provide similar features. Any such site is dealing in HTML and you're not much different. You might find some creation tips there.

Not sure of it's status / usability for this, but this music symbol font might be of help. Assuming this font is no good, try the music sites first (they are more likely to have what you want), then free font websites.
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Old 06-01-2009, 06:03 AM   #6
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I would re-create the music score (with words) in high quality with lilypond or musiXTeX (that is, pdf or svg vector format) and include it as an image in the book. The lyrics could be added as text-only optional content.
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
If I have to separate the treble & bass clefs, I probably lose the line that connects them, and the ability to line up the text to match the musical notation. There are too many ways ebook readers can parse the contents to be sure of lining anything up.
...

My next concern is pretty text boxes--boxes of scrollwork or knotwork designs around text. I suppose those just get dropped in the ebook formats; I can't think of any simple way to include them.
If you weren't working in Word, I'd suggest doing it in XHTML and CSS. You're right that you can't guarantee the display on every reader, but I think you can take a good swing at it from XHTML.

I am not an expert, just beginning, actually. But from what I've read, both of the things you want above should be achievable. One way would be to use absolute pixel placement (which would not scale up to different size readers or text sizes) -- a better method might be to have a relative scale (percentages) of both the images and the text, so that whatever changes the size of the view would keep things together.

But it's probably not simple for a beginner like you (and me!) If it were worked out, though, I think such a technique would look great, and be mobile. Maybe Jellby's suggestion about SVG would make it easier.

Also, I think that if you pulled just the clef bars, it makes no logical difference whether the text is between or below -- it will not match up properly. But it might look more familiar between. And it might roughly match.

A high-quality recreation image of a full-page of music, with a searchable text fragment is a good suggestion -- might you hide the text beneath the image? Would a search for the text simply bring you to the image?

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Old 06-01-2009, 10:02 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sabardeyn View Post
If the musical notation is available as a PD font, would it be possible to embed the font? Because then you could "break" the musical notation pages into 3 images. A smallish left image (3-15 pixels or whatever), it's mirror image for the right side of the page, and a middle image 1 pixel wide and however many high, set to be repeated.
I have worked with musical notation fonts. I am willing to do so again... but not for a free, "fun" project involving several hundred pages (over the 10 books) of music. Nope, nope, nope; I am not that kind of masochist.

It's like learning a language and advanced typographical layouts all at once. Half an hour into it, and I'd be screaming "I am not being paid enough to do this!" (And then realize that I'm not being paid at all to do this, and give up on it.)

Quote:
Now that the musical bars are accounted for you can "type" the musical notation on top of these images, along with the song lyrics.
Musical notation fonts have the bars and clefs and all that stuff built in. That's the easy parts. It's getting the notes to line up, adding the little arches and making sure the right notes connect to each other, and all the weird kerning issues, that are the problem.

Quote:
The only other thing that I can think of is to take a look at some musical software that offers printing of musical scores to see how they handle things. Particularly any websites that provide similar features. Any such site is dealing in HTML and you're not much different. You might find some creation tips there.
They're not trying to get the music to display in a half-dozen different kinds of readers. For the most part, they don't care about digital displays at all. You can bet they never say, "I wonder how this will look on a Kindle or iPhone?"
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:11 AM   #9
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I would re-create the music score (with words) in high quality with lilypond or musiXTeX (that is, pdf or svg vector format) and include it as an image in the book. The lyrics could be added as text-only optional content.
Lilypad looks both interesting and frightening. And beyond the scope of what I'm trying to accomplish; while I'd probably be willing to tackle any one or two songs with it, I'm not willing to translate dozens-to-hundreds of pages. (This will be a long & difficult enough conversion project--10 books of over 400 pages each, with sometimes whacked formatting--without adding musical conversion to it.)

Especially since I'd need a crash course in *reading* musical notation first; I'm okay with basics, but some of these are fairly complicated.
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:03 AM   #10
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Lilypad looks both interesting and frightening. And beyond the scope of what I'm trying to accomplish; while I'd probably be willing to tackle any one or two songs with it, I'm not willing to translate dozens-to-hundreds of pages. (This will be a long & difficult enough conversion project--10 books of over 400 pages each, with sometimes whacked formatting--without adding musical conversion to it.)
Yes, that's probably too much. I assumed my suggestion was only valid for a few tens of pages at most. Second option would be to replace svg with a plain scan (conveniently rotated, cleaned-up, and black/white-balanced).
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