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PCH Publishing

Dr. Don

About PCH Publishing

I formed PCH Publishing in 1998 as an offshoot of my intersecting interests in baroque chamber music performance on the harpsichord, music typesetting, and computer programming.

I had been a musician all my life, playing piano and clarinet in various classical and jazz settings along the way. I began playing harpsichord in 1981 after building a Flemish single-keyboard model from a Zuckermann kit. I've attended baroque music workshops every summer since 1985, where amateur and professional players of period instruments gather to play together in coached ensembles and in master classes with top instructors. Many of the PCH editions are pieces I culled from these workshops, especially the International Baroque Institute at Longy (Cambridge, MA). Some others, most notably those by J. H. Roman, came to me through the Silverlake Baroque Ensemble, for which I was the regular harpsichordist for several years.

In 1993 I learned about a music typesetting system called MusicTeX. TeX (pronounced "teck") is a general freeware digital typesetting system invented by Donald Knuth of Stanford. It is favored by mathematicians for its elegant handling of equations. MusicTeX was an add-on developed by Daniel Taupin, a French physicist, that enabled music typesetting. A year or two later Dr. Taupin produced MusiXTeX, a considerable improvement over MusicTeX especially in its ability to properly apportion horizontal space. One major problem with MusiXTeX is that the input language is complex, arcane, unintuitive, and verbose. I quickly recognized the need for a good preprocessor, and set out to write one in FORTRAN, the computer language I knew best. The resulting code, called PMX, has evolved continuously since 1993. The input language I invented in 1993 has stood the test of time and continues to serve as the basis for very efficient text-based music entry. By 1998 PMX was advanced enough to produce PCH-1, the Rameau two-harpsichord arrangement by my friend Janine Johnson of Berkeley. PMX itself does not handle lyrics, but using Rainer Dunker's TeX add-on called musiclyr, Dirk Laurie has written a preprocessor to PMX that makes it just as easy to typeset vocal scores as raw PMX does for instrumental scores. All of this software is freely available from the software section of the Werner Icking Music Archive, which I happen to manage. (For some reason MusiXTeX and PMX are far more popular among Europeans in general and Germans in particular than Americans, but of course that raises no communication problems at all in the Internet age). The Icking archive hosts a mailing list for MusiXTeX-related matters. The feedback I've gotten through that list has been absolutely invaluable in guiding the ongoing development of PMX.

I'm always on the lookout for new material for PCH Publishing. If you have a suggestion for a new edition of baroque instrumental chamber music, please let me know about it.

Don Simons

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