open musical editions

About This Site


What is Tondauer?

Tondauer (in German, the duration of a sound) is a project that aims to support the longevity of compositions that deserve more attention than they have received. Tondauer editions are Creative Commons licensed, and are intended to allow musicians to make informed choices about interpretation.

“Many musicians … have no awareness of the importance of consciously choosing an edition; which criteria to apply; which criteria may have been applied in editing; why and how to make a good choice.”1

“On the other hand many musicians … wanted to know about alternatives, about versions … they wanted to shape their musical text and be responsible for it.”2

Musicians therefore need editions that allow them to check the editor’s choices and to see where different choices are possible. This principle of transparency was developed for literary editions in the 1970s. The Frankfurt Hölderlin edition of 1975 presented:

“a synoptic genetic text and a reading text with manuscript facsimiles accompanied by spatially oriented transcriptions…. [T]he facsimiles and transcriptions serve as a tool for the reader to check to a certain degree the editor’s work.”3

By providing everything needed to reproduce each step of the editing process, editors can make it possible for others to build on what they have done while taking different approaches:

“Open Source Critical Editions are more than merely presentations of finished work; they involve an essential distribution of the raw data, the scholarly tradition, the decision-making process, and the tools and applications that were used in reaching these conclusions.”4

At the same time, musicians need practical editions designed for performance rather than for research.

For each piece published as part of this project, there is:

  • A critical edition, including facsimiles of sources.
  • A performance edition based on the critical edition, with notes referring to the critical edition where there are editorial choices that musicians may be especially interested in.
  • The source code of these editions, so that derived editions can be made.


Tondauer editions are made with LilyPond. The reasons for this choice are explained in LilyPond — Essay on automated music engraving.


Please send any corrections, suggestions, or queries to Benjamin Geer.

On Twitter: @TondauerMusic

  1. John Rink, Digital Editions and the Creative Work of the Performer ↩︎

  2. Cristina Urchueguía, Critical Editing of Music and Interpretation: Critical Editions for Critical Musicians? ↩︎

  3. Rüdiger Nutt-Kofoth, Variations in Understanding Variants: (Hidden) Concepts of Text in German Critical Editions ↩︎

  4. Gabriel Bodard and Juan Garcés, Open Source Critical Editions: A Rationale ↩︎