Antescofo Workflow

In this chapter, we will see how to work with Antescofo, from the edition of the score to the interactions with Max, PureData or other softwares through OSC.

Editing the Score

The first step in the development of an Antescofo Application is probably the authoring of the augmented score. An augmented score is a text program and can be edited with any text editor (like Sublime, TextWrangler or Emacs but not with a text processor like Office/Word).

However, Antescofo comes with a companion application: AscoGraph. Ascograph is a graphical tool that can be used to edit and then to control a running instance of Antescofo through OSC messages.

Ascograph and Antescofo are two independent applications but the coupling between Ascograph and an Antescofo instance running in MAX appears transparent for the user: a double-click on the Antescofo object launches Ascograph, saving a file under Ascograph will reload the file under the Antescofo object, loading a file under the Antescofo object will open it under Ascograph, etc.

Ascograph is available in the same bundle as Antescofo on the IRCAM Forum. It is still far from being stable but can be extremely useful for authoring/visualizing complex scores and for monitoring your live performances. Your feedback is extremely welcome.

Importing Scores to Antescofo (import of Midi files and of MusicXML files)

Very often, the musical events to follow have already been specified through a score editor (Finale, Sibelius ...), or exist as a MIDI score.

It is possible to automatically import MIDI or MusicXML scores to Antescofo format to spare the burden of rewriting the followed part. This feature is available by drag and dropping MIDI or MusicXML files into AscoGraph. For multiple instrument score, care should be taken to extract required part in a separate MIDI or MusicXML file. The result is an Antescofo score that can then be modified at will.

In the figure below you can see the Antescofo importer that appears when you drag your score in AscoGraph.

Users employing these features should pay attention to the following points:

Importing MIDI scores to Antescofo

The major problem with MIDI format is the absence of grace notes, trills, and glissandi. Such events will be shown as a series of raw event elements in the score.

Another major issue with MIDI import is the fact that in most cases, timing of note-offs are not decoded correctly (based on where the MIDI is coming from). Bad offset timing creates additional event with linked pitches (negative notes) with short durations. To avoid this, we recommend users to quantize their MIDI files using available software. The Antescofo importer does not quantize durations.

Importing MusicXML scores to Antescofo

MusicXML is now the standard inter-exchange score format file between various score editing and visualisation software. It includes high-level vocabulary for events such as trills, grace notes and glissandi which can be converted to equivalent events. However, decoding and encoding MusicXML is not necessarily unique for the same score created by different software!

The Antescofo MusicXML import is optimized for MusicXML exports from FINALE software. Before converting MusicXML score to Antescofo, users are invited to take into account the following points and to correct their score accordingly, especially for complex contemporary music scores:

This feature is still experimental and we encourage users encountering problems to contact us through the Online User Group.

Antescofo Importer

Using AscoGraph

As you can see below (open the screenshoot in another tab to have a larger view), the Ascograph interface contains 3 parts :

AscoGraph Interface

At the top of the ascograph window, there are five buttons that correspond respectively to the Antescofo functions previous event, stop, play, start and next event that you can launch directly in your patch.

The play button simply sequences from the beginning of the score to the end, using given event timing and internal tempi, and undertaking actions wherever available.

The Play string function (Menu/Transport/Play string) only plays the selected part of your score. This enables to test on the fly Antescofo fragment (only actions are performed, musical events are ignored) and even allows a limited form of live-coding.

The App Menu

The text Editor menu contains all the functions relevant to the text editor. Included is the display mode selector, where you can toggle between integrated, floating (default) and hidden. The View menu retains the functions pertaining to the visual editor.

Color Scheme

AscoGraph comes with a new color scheme for both the text and visual editor. By default, we provide dark backgrounds for both. The philosophy behind this design choice is the fact that many of us use AscoGraph during live concerts and bright backgrounds create too much light on your screens which make things annoying for you and your audience who are most of the time in the dark.

Many users however prefer working on white background while typing. You can easily Import a new Color Scheme for AscoGraph's Text Editor from the Text editor Menu. You can design your own color scheme by doing an Export Color Scheme from the Text Editor menu, modify the XML file and import it back. Users interested in classical white background text editor can import Larry Nelson's Color Scheme in particular.

Interaction Between Visual and Text Editors in AscoGraph

Clicking on a Musical Event or Action in the Visual Editor will bring the text editor to the corresponding text. Conversely, Right/Ctrl-click on an event in the text editor takes you to the corresponding place in the visual editor.

Vertical mouse-wheel (or double-finger on pad) gesture allows you to browse over the text-editor, as well as horizontal mouse-wheel (double-finger) gesture on the visual editor.


Holding CMD + mouse scroll: zoom in/out (visual & text editors) CMD + <number> switches the text editor between the open files (main .asco score and any @INSERT-ed files). You can also switch using the tabs at the top of the editor.

Edit your curves

Ascograph is also very useful to visualize and edit the curves constructs.

You can Edit Antescofo Curves easily from the Visual Editor. Applying graphical changes will automatically create the corresponding text into the right place. See Nadir B's very userful YouTube Tutorials.

To start, you can create a curve after a note with the menu "create/actions/curve". After saving the score, if you see the action view, below the piano roll, you can see your curve.

If you click on the arrow at the right of the curve band, the curve is moved on the piano roll, to see the superpositions and you can add or move the curve's points. You can also choose the type of the interpolation between each points.

curve edition with Ascograph

Automatic Filewatch: Using Another Text Editor

Starting with AscoGraph version 0.25, there is an Automatic Filewatch integrated into the editor. This means that you can now use any of your favourite text editors instead of AscoGraph. The moment you save the Antescofo Score outside, it'll be automatically loaded (and visualized) in the AscoGraph window without any intervention. And the Antescofo object will reload the score automatically !

So you can use in parallel the Piano Roll and action view and still use your favorite text editor.

The addition of the Automatic Filewatch feature just makes score editing with AscoGraph more coherent with other editors as they all integrate automatic filewatch as well.

Max users can also use the Antescofo Max Object Autowatch attribute. This means that if the loaded score is modified elsewhere, it'll be automatically reloaded in the Max object. Obviously, you'd want to turn this attribute off during live concerts! Autowatch is currently not available for PureData objects but upcoming.

For the people that prefer use their own beloved text editor, we have created some syntax highlightings for Sublime Text, TextWrangler and... emacs ! You have just to download them in our Forum.

Styling your score

Antescofo scores can be pretty big and it is important to grasp the elements at first glance. A syntax highlighter is included in Ascograph and third party packages exist for Sublime and Atom, look at our Forum.

Antescofo scores can also be embedded in markdown (as illustrated by this documentation) using the Pygment highlighter or in latex using the lstlisting with a dedicated style.

The automatic indentation provided by editors like Sublime for Antescofo score is basic. It is always possible to send a printfwd message to the antescofo object. This command will write a file with an automatically indented version of the score together with various additional information (depending on the current verbosity). This file can be loaded again in Antescofo. Notice however that macros are expanded in this score and that the initial comments are not reported.