A program for scribing Byzantine chant, written in Racket
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byzscribe: A program for scribing Byzantine chant


Byzscribe is a program for scribing Byzantine chant, written in the Racket language. It runs under Windows, OS X, and Linux.

The intent of this project is to produce a program that can receive purely textual input and generate a graphical file with the appropriate neumes. This project is not intended to create a GUI for editing byzantine chant -- that will come after Byzscribe has been developed more, and will tie into this project -- although programmer-minded types might prefer this method of scribing chant.

How to Install and Use Byzscribe

For information on installing and using Byzscribe, please see the Byzscribe wiki.

Why Byzscribe?

There currently exists no free and open format for byzantine chant notation. Because of this, there are a number of byzantine chant programs that are incompatible with each other. This situation has led, at least in the English-speaking world of byzantine chant, to the use of Word and PDF files for exchanging notation. This is not ideal, as it is difficult to parse such files for use in other programs.

For instance, it would be a great boon to develop a program that aids in composing chant using established formulae, but the formulae are only available as a PDF and cannot be easily parsed by another program. It would also be nice to develop software tutors to aid in learning chant, but they cannot use the existing corpus of transcribed chant as it is difficult to parse chant from PDF and Word files.

We have many great resources available for byzantine chant, produced through much hard work. It is not the intention of this project to condemn those efforts. But for resources produced in the future, such materials would ideally would use a free and open standard for notation in order to not only greater facilitate the exchange of chant itself but also to allow easier development of a software ecosystem for byzantine chant.

One of the driving forces behind this project is my belief that it is important to develop an open ecosystem of byzantine chant applications. In so doing, I humbly hope to open the beauty of Orthodox Christian hymnography and byzantine chant to ever more people.


Byzscribe Copyright (c) 2012 Erik Ferguson

Byzscribe is distributed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). This means that you can link Byzscribe into proprietary applications, provided you follow the rules stated in the LGPL. You can also modify Byzscribe; if you distribute a modified version, you must distribute it under the terms of the LGPL, which in particular means that you must release the source code for the modified software. See LICENSE.txt for more information.