Formats and how to use them.

This page contains instructions for how to listen/view the content of my music pages.

Choice of formats

It would be nice if there was a universal format for describing musical notation. Unfortunately, just as each composer has her ideas about what is important in a score, each notation package has its own ideas. I had heard a few years ago about consortium assembled to write a standard, but Coda Software (one of the larger manufactures and the maker of the package I use: Finale) pulled out, so I don't think we will see it any time soon. What we are left with is the following choices:

  1. MIDI --- a kind of lowest common denominator used to communicate between computers and synthesizers. This is plain text (ascii) of music format, it conveys the basic ideas, but none of the extras marks indicating performance information that appear on the printed score (or the historical notes, or the lyrics for that matter) .
  2. Postscript (R) --- this page description language is understood by most printers and viewers are available for most platforms. This used to be a lingua franca of the internet in the good old days before the World Wide Wait. These days even long time internet veterans are confused because their browser "can't find a plug-in" for type postscript (you just download it and ship it to your printer). Unfortunately the only way to get a postscript file into your music software is to type it in (unless you own a music scanner).
  3. Proprietary formats for various music software.

Actually, there are other worse choices (like bitmap images of musical notation), but no one perfect choice. What I've chosen to do instead is to use both of the first two choices: (1) a MIDI file for listening (entering into the computer) and (2) a Adobe Acrobat for looking at the notation (many of the same advantages of Postscript, but the viewers are more readily available). Other formats are available upon request.

Do check out the PDF (Acrobat) format files, even if you don't read music very well. I often put notes about the dances or source or how the music fits to the steps on the page which you may find quite useful.

MIDI Format

MIDI is a generic Music format which originally devised for communicating between electronic instruments (synthesizers) and computers, sequencers, etc. Most music software is able to read and write MIDI files. So you should be able to download this and play it on whatever your music set-up is.

If you don't have a music program and just want to listen to the dances, there are several places that offer free MIDI plug-ins for plug-in aware browsers (Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer). Crescendo is probably the best know, however the Yamaha MIDI Plug now in beta, offers the ability to adjust the tempo of the music, which could be very useful for dancers. For a complete list of MIDI plug-ins go to, the Plug-in Plaza Sound Plug-Ins page and search for MIDI. Nota Bene! If you have one of these MIDI plug-ins installed, then you may need to option-click (or right click) on the link if you want to download it for use in your music program. Consult the help file on your browser for more information.

For those of you who are trying to decode the MIDI information, I've tried to consistently use the MIDI information. As most of the settings are for a recorder (or other wind instrument) ensemble, I've used one voice per channel. For the basse dances, the first channel is the tenor (usually assigned to the trombone) and the remaining voices are countertenor lines. For the Arbeau Bransles, the first line is the melody (from Arbeau) and the remaining lines are harmony parts.

One of the things which can't be included in the MIDI format is the copyright. Please be sure to read the copyright and license for use before downloading the files.

Adobe Acrobat (R) (PDF) Format

In addition to the music, I wanted a representation of the printed score. I finally settled on the Adobe Acrobat (R) format (sometimes know as PDF) because: (1) its compressed files were smaller than Postscript and (2) because it is much easier to tell people how to view it. (Postscript viewing instructions vary wildly according to platform and printer). If you don't have an Acrobat reader on your system, you can get it from Adobe's Download Page. You should be able to print the resulting music directly from the printed page.

In some cases performers editions of works are available from professional publishing houses. In those cases, I have included catalog information for those publishers so that we can encourage them to produce more quality dance music. If you do not have a local music store which will let you order this music, you might try one of the publishers listed on the Classical Music Net Instrument Makers and Publishers list My wife and I have done a lot of business with both Antique Sound Workshop Limited and von Huene Workshop and we like them a lot.

Postscript and ETF format available on request.

If you want printed copies of these dances for use with your ensemble and are finding the Acrobat versions are too low resolution for your needs, I can send you postscript files for specific dances. Email requests to

I prepared these files in Finale (R) version 3.5 and willing to share the sources with other Finale users (either as FinMac 3.5 files or ETF files). Email requests to

Legal Mumbo Jumbo

Postscript and Acrobat are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems, Inc. Finale is a registered trademark of Coda Music Technology, Inc.

[Early Dance Music]
[Basse Dance Pages] [30th Year Dance Collection ]

These pages designed and maintained by Russell Almond
Last modified: Thu Jan 30 17:29:54 1997