Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Music/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Unicode template for sharps and flats

I created a page to demonstrate a possible music template for displaying sharps and flats in Internet Explorer. Since it uses CSS I had to create a page outside of Wikipedia. See Template:Unicode#Purpose for an applicable explanation. Please comment below.--Dbolton 22:13, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Can we use this to render natural signs and double sharps and flats? I appreciate the work, but I also think that once we start with templates we should aim for a larger set of supported glyphs. It's great work so far though! Oh, can we make it {{music|flat}} via #if statements instead of {{music|♭}}? You're right though that the rendering is much better on Firefox than the default. -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 22:39, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm in favor of your suggestion to use {{music|flat}} via #if statements instead of {{music|♭}}. I will look into it. This would also allow the use of pictures for double sharp and double flat until the Unicode characters are better supported. --Dbolton 22:08, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
This is an interesting solution. I like it. - Rainwarrior 03:20, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
I think this provides a solution for showing flat, sharp, and other accidental signs when those are appropriate. There is, however, a bigger issue of when they should be used and when they shouldn't (or when it might be better not to). Even when the signs come up on screen properly, not everyone in the general public understands what they are. I think that is often better, certainly when stating the key of a musical piece (Symphony No. 1 in D-flat major) to spell it out, so that everyone can read it (whether they understand it or not, at least they can read it), rather than putting in the accidental sign. Certainly, in my experience, most printed programs at concerts and recitals (both in the United States and Europe) spell it out this way. Perhaps the signs themselves are best reserved for discussing instrument keys (E-flat clarinet), although even there we are forcing people to somehow understand what that means. I think we might be surprised how many people unfamiliar with the accidental signs might look up "clarinet" and be somewhat mystified. An analogy might be with discussing elements. The Wikipedia article about "water" uses the term water throughout, and only refers to H2O as the chemical formula, for instance. QwertyUSA 09:23, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Sample template

Unfortunately the Template:Music namespace is already in use. Since the current Template:Music is only used 14 times (see Special:Whatlinkshere/Template:Music) the move would not be burdensome. In the meantime I created Template:Accidental. Please edit or make suggestions. Myke Cuthbert could you help with the #if: statements? [I managed to get the if statements working]--Dbolton 23:32, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

WAY, WAY Cool! This is Great! Dbolton is my new hero! Suggestion: we try to get the class name "music-notation" or something like that. But let's get Template:Music -- all but four of the 14 times were mistaken usages, and of the four only two are using the template to display anything except "Doesn't play any instruments". I think moving would be fine, but I've put a note there. I think it'd be great to be able to put {{music|whole-note}}{{music|tie}}{{music|eighth-note}} and get something nicely inline. It may also be possible to do more complex things like {{music|roman|ii65}} and get something like ii -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 02:04, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

I know zero about fonts, unicode, and the wiring behind all this, but a big pat on the back if you can get a universal (or near-universal) way to display music characters, just so we don't have to regularly revert the well-meaning insertion of lower-case 'b's and number signs. - Special-T 15:36, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

People will do that no matter what, unless you mean the ones who do it because they can't see what's there? ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ 16:05, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Belated weighing-in: it seems that the good-looking solution is at hand. One root of the problem is that it's more a question of what fonts are installed on the user's system, so it's hard to come up with a universal solution on the basis of a few self-selected people testing it. Given the adoption of a template instead of a single in-line character, we could have the unicode characters with fonts specified in decreasing order of goodness, and a graphic as ultimate fallback, but I don't know if that is possible to code in HTML. So, where are we with the template name and the choice of fonts? On my Windows system, Lucida Sans Unicode would be the first choice with MS Gothic as fallback. David Brooks 23:58, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
I take that back: on my system MS Reference Sans Serif looks best. The other fonts seem to include more whitespace at the top and/or bottom. David Brooks 00:06, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your input. The first font in the list is Arial Unicode MS this is based on your comment above that it looked the best. It comes with a full install of Microsoft Office but it is not a standard system font (I don't have it on my computer). Lucida Sans Unicode is the back up font. Lucida Sans Unicode is install by default on Windows since '98. Mac and Linux seem to display sharps and flats correctly with or without the template (although User:Rsholmes reported an issue).
The advantage of using a template to specify the fonts is it allows us to make changes universally rather than editing every single occurrence across Wikipedia. If issues crop up once the template it is used beyond our "self-selected testing" environment the template will allow us to easily fix or refine it.
If you have a preference on the template name please comment in the section below.--Dbolton 02:26, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Proposed move to Template:Music

Doesn't accidental better suit what you are all trying to do? Why music? Isn't accidental what you are trying to express. -PatPeter 23:09, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

There are a couple small advantages with the Template:Music namespace. First, "music" is half the length of "accidental". The word "music" offers convenience (brevity) without sacrificing meaning which will be factors that determine its wider adoption. Second, the more general category "music" would allow us to address future needs of a similar nature (a few possibilities are mentioned by Myke Cuthbert above). That said Template:Accidental would address our main concern, and it is not the end of the world if Template:Music doesn't work out.--Dbolton 00:47, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

I noticed that the template has been used at Note. Should we still move it to Template:Music (before it receives wide-spread use) or should we leave it at Template:Accidental? So far, it appears Myke Cuthbert and myself are in favor of the move. PatPeter is opposed. --Dbolton 23:44, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Another vote for the move. Template:Music may be overly generic, but Template:MusicalNotation is obviously too long. David Brooks 16:55, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
I'd say take Template:Music based on the fact that Template:Music isn't relevant to articles anyway. Even if you broke it, no article would have a problem. Why is a template with such a general name being used for user page info like this? (And only like 6 of them, even?) I'd say use Move on the existing template (or just go to the user pages and subst it in) and then just replace it. There is no reason to be using Template:Music for what is there right now. - Rainwarrior 17:52, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
I have made the move to Template:Music and moved the older page to Template:User Instruments List. At the same time, someone else wiped Music and put in a completely different usage, which I moved to Template:Music Portal and fixed all the links. Because I'm not an admin, the edit history at Accidental couldn't be moved. If a couple other people could watch these pages, I think it'd help. I'm going to work on the template to add some other functionality. -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 16:05, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Mac issues

On my desktop computer, an iMac running OS X 10.4.9, Firefox displays the symbols on Template:Accidental the same way with and without the template -- good sharp, double sharp, flat, and double flat signs, but the natural sign displays as a question mark. Safari 2.0.4 displays all the symbols including natural sign correctly, with or without the template. Just a data point. -- Rsholmes 03:50, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the info. The primary intention for creating the template was to address a Windows issue with Internet Explorer. If there is a way to address the issue you are describing I will do so. Do you (or anyone else) know if Lucida Grande or any other default fonts have support for the natural sign? I wasn't able to work out which fonts had which glyphs on Mac. (For what it's worth the natural sign displayed correctly for me when I tested it on Mac running OS X 10.3.9). --Dbolton 06:30, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Yup, the default Mac browser displays all of these with no problems. If possible, please try to design a template which only affects display in browsers with problems (as was done in template:IPA; see Template talk:IPA#Technical details).—Michael Z. 2007-06-27 07:33 Z
For the record, two browsers do not display sharps and flats without the template: Internet Explorer, Safari (Windows). It also improves rendering for other browsers on Windows by choice of fonts. This is different than technical demands of the IPA template. If anyone know how to make a template that does not affect display on Mac, let me know.--Dbolton 16:56, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
From what I've seen this template does not affect display on (my) Macs, at least in Safari (all signs work with or without template) and Firefox (all signs except natural work with or without template). Correction: The double flat/double sharp signs are affected -- they're better with the template, in both Safari and Firefox. (Without the template they are rendered correctly in shape but much too small.) -- Rsholmes 18:28, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
By the way, can anyone confirm whether these characters work in Safari/Windows?[1] Michael Z. 2007-06-27 07:33 Z
Interestingly my test of Safari on Windows displays only the natural sign without the template, and all the symbols with the template.--Dbolton 16:56, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Linux issues

On my Linux box (Scientific Linux 4.x) using Firefox ( Without template, flat/sharp/natural are OK, double flat/double sharp are bad; with template, all five symbols are OK. -- Rsholmes 18:32, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Why Template:Music and not Template:Accidental?

Because treble clef life half note would quarter rest be so much sixteenth note less fun alto clef without symbols!

or Because {{music|treble}} life {{music|halfnote}} would {{music|crotchetrest}} be so much {{music|sixteenth}} less fun {{music|altoclef}} without symbols! -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 18:02, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your work Myke. --Dbolton 21:16, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Proposals for diatonic and chromatic

I propose that the term "diatonic" be used on WP exclusively to mean the more restricted definition of the white keys and their transpositions, while encouraging editors to link the term to the page Diatonic and chromatic. The reason for choosing this option is that there isn't any other really convenient way to refer to this meaning, whereas it's easy to refer to the set of major and minor scales. —Wahoofive (talk) 16:02, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

This is an important matter, and it affects many Wikipedia articles. The article Diatonic and chromatic can quite reasonably include a section on "approved" Wikipedia usage, mentioned and internally linked prominently in its lead, once things have been settled here.
I'll present my own starting position soon, as Wahoofive already has, when I have time. I suggest that others think about doing something similar. One recommendation: deal with diatonic and chromatic jointly here. First change the heading of this section to reflect this. [O, I hope this doesn't offend anyone. I've now made such a change. We need to be able link informatively to this discussion from other pages.– Noetica♬♩Talk 04:10, 10 June 2007 (UTC)] The two terms are connected, very often being taken as opposites. (While I am drawn to Wahoofive's suggestion for its simplicity, unfortunately there are many ways of using both terms, and some of them are not straightforwardly connected to the choice we might make for scales as derived from the "white-key" gamut. We want a simple and rational solution, but we can't just jump to one.)
Other recommendations: suppress biases, and work genuinely towards a robust consensus; keep the discussion orderly, making it clear what comment you are addressing, from which editor; preferably reply after a whole contribution, not interleaving fragments within it, and always sign your contributions, wherever they occur on the page.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 04:08, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Wahoofive. This is the established use among academics, and we should defer to them on Wikipedia. I furthermore think the page on "Diatonic and Chromatic" should be renamed as "History of the terms Diatonic and Chromatic" or something similar. Njarl 22:27, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
I said above that I would present my position here soon. I regret I have been unable to give this my attention because the world presses for a share of it as well. I do believe the matter is irremediably more difficult and subtle than Wahoofive's proposal makes it appear (see Talk:Diatonic and chromatic, where there is still more to say, and still more to go into that article), much as I like that proposal. I'll get back to this later.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 00:37, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't think we should have a policy of using any term in a restricted way rather than using it as it is used in the real world. For example, in musicology especially, "diatonic" is often used in a way that is interchangeable with "tonal". I think the policy should be to take care when using the term diatonic. Just make sure the intended range of meaning is crystal clear (i.e. explain it where you use it). Wikipedia music articles shouldn't have a different set of definitions from the real academic music literature. Wikipedia is supposed to teach you about the outside world, not be its own insular conservatory of music theory. - Rainwarrior 03:44, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Images using b's and #'s instead of Unicode

I noticed that Image:Pianotocircle.jpg and Image:Circle of fifths.svg use b's and #'s instead of Unicode flats and sharps. When I tried to fix the images I ran into problems with the Unicode characters in my drawing software. Can anyone help me out?--Dbolton 03:15, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Since you're creating the images on your own computer and thus know which fonts you'll have installed, you might try using a font where flat and sharp are in the lowest 255 characters. The Bach font would do perfectly for that. I know this will work for a .jpg--I don't know if fonts can be embedded in .svg files. -- Myke Cuthbert (talk) 06:22, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Merge from Wikipedia:WikiProject Music terminology

Wikipedia:WikiProject Music terminology has been marked as inactive again. Would it be helpful to merge that page here? It seems to have been superseded by this MoS page, and partially by List of musical terminology (Which I notice is not currently linked from here (I'll add it now). Possibly parts of the wikiproject-music-terminology page could be usefully merged into there also, as I suggested a year ago). Just some thoughts :) --Quiddity 18:40, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Verb agreement for bands (is vs. are)

This has been brought up a couple times before ( here] and here - I'm surprised there aren't more), but there never really seemed to be wide consensus. I'd really like to push for one and add it here or to WP:MUSTARD. The question is whether a band should be treated as a singular entity or as separate members. This is mainly in regard to whether one would say, for example, "The Flaming Lips are an American rock band" or "The Flaming Lips is an American rock band". My opinion is that it should almost always be treated as a single entity; saying something like "the band are going to dinner" seems odd, and "the group are going to dinner" seems flat-out wrong. I think there could be exceptions when it's clear from context that a sentence refers to each member acting individually, where the phrase "the members of..." is implied, but the standard should be that the group is a unit. Thoughts? Torc2 12:46, 1 December 2007 (UTC)


I created a section on images Wikipedia:Manual of Style (music)#Images. Hyacinth (talk) 03:44, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

From the article: "Music images should be displayed in thumbnails to the right (or staggered right and left if frequent) side of the page if small, such as an image of a chord, or displayed in thumbnails on the left or center of the page at 550px for visibility if large."
I generally agree with concept (small images on right, big images on the left), but I wonder if these directions are broader than the scope of Wikipedia:Manual of Style (music). Maybe there is another manual of style that can better address this.--Dbolton (talk) 07:18, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
On second thoughts I wonder if it is a good idea to include this at all. I can think of a several instances where it makes more sense to have a specific (small) image appear on the left instead of the right (see Modern musical symbols) or even in-text (see Template:Music--Dbolton (talk) 08:05, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Good point. Hyacinth (talk) 00:41, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Italian plurals

I am interested to know why it was decided that all plurals of Italian terms should be anglicised - especially when there is an exception. I have never in my life heard anyone talk in a rehearsal about tempos rather than tempi. Concerti might seem a bit precious, but it is in constant usuage. I look forward to seeing a reference to Allegros' setting of Psalm 51 Almost-instinct (talk) 10:31, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

PS is this a US/UK usage issue? Almost-instinct (talk) 10:53, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

I think it's more likely and ignorance usage issue. How many people like to use "song" to mean any musical composition, even when talking about a fully instrumental symphony? I imagine similar problems here. I agree that outside concertos (which I've seen enough times like that, that it could probably have the status of loanword) they should be changed when you come across them. Perhaps even if someone could program a bot, or at least use AWB... ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 11:03, 21 April 2008 (UTC)
I think the rule just needs scrapping, as there are so many exceptions. Of the three examples given in the style guide
a. cellos is right and celli wrong
b. concertos is perhaps preferable to concerti, but no more (and perhaps not, anyway)
c. tempi reflects usage far better than tempos
This issue could prove to be endless in a truly dismal fashion... Almost-instinct (talk) 11:55, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Nobody seems interested in disagreeing with me, so I'll going to amend this rule Almost-instinct 11:54, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

I wrote the guide based on Writing About Music: A Style Sheet from the Editors of 19th-Century Music. I don't think anyone really pays attention to this, though. There was not much interest or discussion when I first wrote it, so consider it a draft. – flamurai (t) 02:45, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

D major triad

From the article:

  • ?????: "D, F 𝄪, A"

This is permitted by the style guide although the character is not supported out of the box for Windows users. When I tried Mac OS X a while back, it did display double sharps.--Dbolton (talk) 20:52, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Also from article:

  • "For double flats and double sharps, 𝄫 (𝄫) and 𝄪 (𝄪) can be used, but they tend not to render properly since they are outside the basic multilingual plane."

Hyacinth (talk) 20:52, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

I thought we agreed a while back that use of the {{music}} template is preferred, not merely "can also be inserted". It is supposed to finesse all these problems. Furthermore, on my system, the Unicode natural sign is different from (and uglier than) that produced by the template. David Brooks (talk) 03:20, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
That agreement, if it happened, never was reflected on the project page. Looking through the talk archive I find no moment of consensus. I do, however, find the following quote: "Banning C#/Gb is like thinking 'z' is silly this year, so the guideline becomes 'Twilight Sone' and striped 'sebra' etc." Hyacinth (talk) 04:34, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
If the new consensus is a preference for the music template over plain Unicode I am happy to support this.--Dbolton (talk) 19:12, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Figured bass

From the article:

Superscript and subscript may be combined, as in figured bass, in math markup, <math>C_4^6</math> =

The only trouble with this is the C is italic by default. What do you think about this version? <math>\mathrm{C_4^6}</math> = --Dbolton (talk) 19:50, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Aside from anything else, yes that looks better almost-instinct 07:39, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
Ah, I'd just been thinking about the italic, by coincidence, at another page. Now it's replaced by a letter-name that's larger than life. I'm unsure that this can be solved by non-developers. User:Rainwarrior knows more than most about this. See towards the bottom of this thread, at the end of a long nasty war. It might be worth reminding him of the issue and asking whether he has more recent information on how to render RNs, letter-names and figures more satisfactorily; don't mention my name. Tony (talk) 08:00, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Just found out that the math markup support accidentals. For example <math>\mathrm{I^{\flat6}}</math> = --Dbolton (talk) 23:42, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Titles with accidentals

Note that Symphony in B-flat for Band, for example, is now spelled Symphony in B for Band in its article. Hyacinth (talk) 23:33, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

When titles of pieces contain a sharp or flat it is often spelled out even in the print world. Take a look at a printed score or classical CD label--it probably has the word spelled out. There are exceptions; my music history book from college uses the symbols and in titles.
I would recommend against changing the page title to Symphony in B for Band. (1) You can't use Template:Music in a page title. (2) The word "flat" is more searchable than ""--Dbolton (talk) 07:04, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Instrument audio samples

I'm interested in adding audio samples to musical instrument articles, but haven't found any MOS-y guide on how I should do it (or even if I should do it). Anyone know? WODUP 01:23, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Quality audio samples of each instrument would be a valuable addition to Wikipedia. Looking at other multimedia encyclopedias might give you some ideas. For example Britannica has a Sound or range of instrument sample and a Musical selection sample for each instrument. Just be sure you have the rights or permission to use any audio samples you upload to Wikipedia.--Dbolton (talk) 18:02, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Right. My question is more should it be a play-in-browser link right after the instrument name in the lead section? Should it be right before the references and external links section in a section named Media? Should it be a play-in-browser box in the external links section? WODUP 20:52, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I would recommend using the Template:Listen or multi-listen templates since they help troubleshooting playback of OGG files. It probably doesn't matter too much where the media files are located. My preference would be either at the end of the lead or in a separate "Media" section. The audio links right after an article name are usually an audio pronunciation. It might confuse users if we used it for something else (see Russia for example).--Dbolton (talk) 23:04, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I added a sample to Rainstick at the top of the article below the image. Looks okay in that box, I think. If there are more than one or just a few files, maybe have a separate Media or Audio samples section. Thanks for your help. WODUP 02:27, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Half sharp and half flat

The flat sign means play a note a semitone lower than the note without the flat sign. The sign Arabic music notation half flat.svg means play a note half a semitone lower than the note without the sign. Two Arabic music notation half flat.svg signs make one flat sign , so the Arabic music notation half flat.svg sign is a half flat, not a quarter flat. Here is the code for it => [[Image:arabic music notation half flat.svg|9px]]. It is the same for sharps and half sharps. Look at the article about Accidentals. They call them half sharps and half flats there. Teenly 21:26, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Key signatures

We give "E-flat major" and "E♭ major" as the 2 right ways of writing this, and "Eb major" as the wrong way. That's fine, but there's no mention of the style that, in my experience, is the most predominant of all, "E flat major" (no hyphen). Is there a reason for this?

I also note that in the D major triad section, "F sharp" is unhyphenated.

Some reference works use a shorthand, whereby, for example, C major is rendered as just the upper-case letter "C", and C minor as just the lower-case letter, "c". I see this cropping up in WP articles. Many readers would not understand this convention, because it's not explained anywhere. I believe this should be added to the "wrong" ways of writing a key signature around here. One issue with this style is that many writers mix it up with the normal style, writing "d minor" but "D major". If "major/minor" is written out, the letter for the key should always be capitalised, imo. -- JackofOz (talk) 06:56, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

The rational behind the hyphen in "E-flat major" is "E flat" is a Compound modifier. In the "F sharp" example a hyphen is not used since "F sharp" is not modifying a third word. --dbolton (talk) 05:00, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
I understand compound modifiers, but is the hyphen really necessary in this context? There's no such thing as "flat major", "sharp minor", etc. So, "B flat major" is always construed as B flat major, never as B flat major. Sometimes the word "major" is omitted but understood, as in, say, Beethoven's "Symphony No. 1 in C". When it comes to a key with sharps or flats, we get sentences like "D-flat major is a major scale based on D-flat" (from D-flat major). By your assumed reasoning, this should read "D-flat major is a major scale based on D flat". That looks ridiculous, so we need to have the hyphen in both cases, or in neither. Dropping the hyphen in all cases would make for cleaner-looking text, with absolutely no harm to the meaning. Which is why the unhyphenated versions of these terms predominate. Which is why it needs to be listed as one of the "right" ways of writing them. -- JackofOz (talk) 14:52, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
I've captured this issue and various others @ Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Classical music#Style issues, for those who might be interested. -- JackofOz (talk) 07:24, 2 April 2009 (UTC)