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MTO Guide

Created by Lee Rothfarb
rev. 21 November 2006
Eric J. Isaacson

Note: Much of this information is now outdated. Please see MTO's main page for current information.

Table of Contents:

  1. Subscription to Music Theory Online (MTO)
  2. Retrieving MTO items
    1. World Wide Web (WWW)
    2. FileServer (mto-serv)
      1. articles, reviews, discussion items, announcements, dissertation listings, employment opportunities
      2. musical examples and graphical figures
      3. entire issues
    3. File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  3. Submitting Items to MTO
    1. Announcements
    2. New dissertations
    3. Employment opportunities
    4. commentaries on MTO items
  4. Searching the MTO database
  5. Important MTO addresses
  6. Important MTO documentation
    1. general MTO information
    2. software listing and retrieval guide
    3. guidelines for authors
    4. MTO editorial policy
  7. Appendix: SMT Policy on Advertisements and Reprints

NOTE: MTO subscribers may want to consult the MTO home page. This page has links to the current issue and all back issues of MTO, to a form for searching the MTO database, and to other important MTO documents.

For troubles with initiating or terminating a subscription, changing your subscription address, postponing and then restarting mail delivery, changing your list password, using the MTO FileServer (mto-serv), or other difficulties, see the Help Desk web page or send an email to:


You should receive a response within 24 hours.


You may fill out a convenient Web form to subscribe to and unsubscribe from MTO, as well as set subscriber mailing options.

To subscribe to MTO via email, send a message to the following address:


There is no need to fill in the "Subject:" field of the mailing header. If your mail utility requires it, type in a few letters; listproc will ignore anything in the "Subject:" field. As the text of the message include the following single line (no personal letterheads or signatures!):

subscribe mto-list YourFirstName YourLastName

Replace "YourFirstName" and "YourLastName" with (obviously) your first and last names. You will receive a message confirming your subscription, and an informative welcome message. To cancel a subscription, send the following single line to the listproc address (see above):

unsubscribe mto-list

Do not include your first and last names in a cancellation request.
To receive a copy of this document, send a message to the listproc address, and as the body of the message include the single line:

information mto-list

Subscribers to MTO should note that the mailing list, mto-list, is solely for the Editor's use, to broadcast MTO tables of contents and messages pertaining to MTO. The list is not configured for communication among subscribers. Therefore please do not send email to mto-list, or use a 'reply' command on email distributed through mto-list. Further, please do not send requests for MTO items or documentation to mto-list. Request all items and documents from the MTO FileServer, mto-serv (address and instructions below). Finally, do not send email for the Editor to mto-list. Send all email for the Editor to the address given below, in section 5.


a. World Wide Web (WWW)

Accessing MTO is most convenient on the web at the following URL: http://societymusictheory.org/mto/index.html

To see an overview of SMT Networking services, see

b. MTO FileServer

ASCII versions of MTO (Volumes 0 through 6) can be retrieved using the MTO file server.

  1. Articles, reviews, discussion items, announcements, dissertation listings, employment opportunities
    To retrieve any of the aforementioned items, send an email message to the MTO FileServer, mto-serv, at the following address:
    Leave the "Subject:" field blank, if possible, and as the only text of the message include the following lines (no personal letterheads or signatures!):

    path YourEmailAddress
    send Item
    (additional "send" lines, if desired)

    Replace "YourEmailAddress" with your full email address. The words "path" and "send" must appear. After the word "path," type your full email address (Bitnet users must include .BITNET). After the word "send," replace "Item" with the item desired. The following item-options are valid only when retrieving items from the current issue of MTO (not valid for back issues!):

    articles (= main article[s])
    gifs (= musical examples)
    reviews (= review[s])
    commentaries (= commentaries on past MTO articles)
    dissertations (= dissertation listings)
    announcements (= announcements)
    jobs (= job listings)
    ads (= informative advertisements)
    package (= all the above items, in a single package)

    toc (= current table of contents)

    Subscribers with restricted emailbox space should be careful when using the package option. A full issue of MTO, text and musical examples, can be quite large and may "crash" an emailbox of limited size. It may be safer to request a few files at a time, and to remove them from the emailbox before requesting more files.

    In order to retrieve items from past issues, subscribers must specify the desired item(s) by standardized MTO filenames (as they appear in an MTO table of contents). Filenames will be in the following form:

    yy = year
    v = vol. no.
    i = issue no.
    author = author's name
    xxx = the item-type:

    art = article
    gif = musical example(s) [see also below, section b]
    rev = review
    tlk = commentary
    dis = dissertation listings
    ann = announcements
    job = job listings
    ads = advertisements

    toc = table of contents

    Replace "yy" with the last two digits of the year, "v" with the volume number, "i" with the issue number, etc., as in: mto.93.0.1.neumeyer.art. The dissertation (dis), announcement (ann), job (job), and table-ofcontents (toc) files have no "author" component. Examples of their filenames would be: mto.93.0.2.dis (for dissertations), mto.93.0.2.job (for jobs), etc. For instructions on retrieving complete back issues as a package, see section c below.
    NOTE: To get a current list of all files in the MTO archive, request the document called mto.index from mto-serv.
    To get a directory, alphabetized by author, of all articles, reviews, and commentaries published in MTO, request the file named toc.index
    To get a directory, alphabetized by author, of all dissertation listings published in MTO, request the file named diss.index

  2. Musical examples
    The musical examples and graphical figures for MTO will be provided in the Graphical Interchange Format, GIF for short (pronounced JIF). Like all graphical files, GIFs are made up of binary code and cannot be safely mailed over telecommunications networks. In order to be emailed without danger of corruption, the GIFs must be encoded, "UUencoded" to be precise (UU = Unix-to-Unix, referring [originally] to the transfer of files from one Unix machine to another). The UUencoding converts the binary GIFs into plain ASCII text, which is safe for emailing. Once received, the UUencoded GIFs must be UUdecoded (converted back to binary form), before they can be viewed. MTO provides software for UUdecoding and for viewing musical examples on both IBM and Macintosh computers. Retrieve the document named 'software.txt' for more information (see section 6 below).
    Specifying the package option when ordering the current issue of MTO will automatically retrieve all associated musical examples. To retrieve musical examples for past issues, or to retrieve examples for the current issue by their filenames (as listed in a table of contents), send a message to mto-serv at one of the addresses given in section 2a, and as the body of the message include only the following lines:

    path YourEmailAddress (Bitnet addresses must include .BITNET)
    send FileName.gif

    send FileName.gif
    (additional "send" lines, if desired)

    After the word "path," enter your full email address. Replace "FileName.gif" with the name of the GIF file. Filenames will be in the standardized form "mto.yy.v.i.author.gif", where yy = year, v = vol. no., i = issue no., author = author's name. Replace "yy" with the appropriate year, "v" with the volume number, "i" with the issue number, etc., as in: mto.93.0.2.london.gif. If an article includes several musical examples, they may be contained in several GIF files. To retrieve all GIFs for an article in a back issue, include an asterisk (*) in the filename (after the author's name), as listed in the relevant table of contents (for example: mto.93.0.3.lindley*.gif). Beware of requesting all GIFs at once!
    GIF files, like all graphical files, can be quite large. If your emailbox space is limited, ordering all GIFs at once may exceed the limit and crash your emailbox.
    The examples will arrive, UUencoded, in email messages. Save the messages as files and download them to your desktop machine. When saving MTO items as files, subscribers should be sure to choose a name that conforms to the requirements of their desktop machine's operating system (e.g. for DOS, a maximum of eight characters for the stem and three for the extension: xxxxxxxx.xxx). [NOTE: Consult your local user services if you do not know how to save email messages as files, or how to download files from the mainframe to your desktop machine.] Once the files are on your desktop machine, decode them using the decoding software supplied by MTO (instructions included with the software). Finally, view them with the GIF viewing software provided by MTO. The document 'software.txt', available through mto-serv, explains how to retrieve MTO software (see section 6 below).

  3. Entire issues
    To retrieve the entire current issue of MTO, use the package option, described above (section 2a). If retrieving the current issue via FTP, change to the /issues directory (pub/mto/issues) and get the file named mto.current. The current table of contents, also in the /issues directory, is named toc.current (more information on FTP retrieval below). To retrieve a complete back issue of MTO as a package (all articles and associated musical examples, reviews, announcements, etc.), send a message to mto-serv (address in section 2a), and as the body of the message include only the following lines:

    path YourEmailAddress (Bitnet users must include .BITNET)

    send mto.pak.yy.v.i

    The words "path" and "send" must appear. In the "path" line, type your full email address). In the "send" line, after "mto.pak.", replace "yy" with the last two digits of the year, "v" with the volume number, and "i" with the issue number, as in: mto.pak.93.0.1 Be sure to include all periods. Be careful when ordering a full issue of MTO all at once (see the cautionary note in section 2a above). If retrieving back issues of MTO via FTP, once logged in to societymusictheory.org (see below) change directories to pub/mto/issues. Then change to the directory containing the items for the desired issue. The directory names are in the form "mto.yy.v.i," explained above (e.g. mto.93.0.5). NOTE: To get a current list of all files in the MTO archive, request the document called mto.index from mto-serv.

c. FTP Retrieval (File Transfer Protocol)
You can retrieve examples (and other file types) with FTP (File Transfer Protocol), and avoid the coding/decoding processes. Implementations of FTP differ, making universally valid instructions impossible. Consult your local user services for assistance. The general procedure is as follows:
At your mainframe prompt type: ftp societymusictheory.org
At the login prompt, type "anonymous," and at the password prompt, type your email address. Once logged in, at the ftp> prompt type "cd pub/mto" (without the quotation marks) to change to the mto directory. Then, change to the directory containing the desired file by typing:

cd DirectoryName, replacing "DirectoryName" with one of the following options:
docs (= documentation files)
authors.txt (author guidelines)
mto-guide.txt (the present document)
policy.txt (MTO editorial policy)
software.txt (document on MTO software)
mto.index (lists all files in the MTO archive)
toc.index (directory, by author, of all articles, review, and commentaries)
diss.index (directory, by author, of all dissertation listings published in MTO)
software (= MTO software) retrieve "software.txt" for a listing of MTO software
issues (= MTO items, organized in directories named as follows: mto.yy.v.i, where "yy" is replaced by the last two digits of the year, "v" by the volume number, and "i" by the volume number, e.g.: mto.93.0.6)
mto-talk (= mto-talk discussion files)

Before retrieving any musical examples (.gif files) , prepare FTP for a binary transfer by typing "binary" at the ftp> prompt. If retrieving a plain text file (for MTO, all filenames ending in .art, .rev, .tlk, .dis, .job, and .txt), it is unnecessary to type "binary" at the ftp> prompt. If FTP has been set to binary, to reset for transferring a text file, type "ascii" (without the quotation marks) at the ftp> prompt.

To retrieve a file (text file or binary GIF), type (for example): get FileName.gif, and the example file will be transferred to your mainframe. Repeat the "get" command for all desired GIFs, or other filetypes (.art, .rev., etc.). (If you cannot recall the filename[s], type "dir" to list the contents of the directory. Find the desired file[s] and issue the "get" command followed by a filename. Use the command "mget" to retrieve several files at once, all of which should be listed on the same line.) Download the GIFs or other filetypes to your desktop. [NOTE: Before downloading files, subscribers should rename the files to conform to the requirements of their desktop machine's operating system (e.g. for DOS, a maximum of eight characters for the stem and three for the extension: xxxxxxxx.xxx).] If your mainframe uses the Kermit protocol for transferring files, make sure to set the mainframe's Kermit to "binary" mode, and set the Kermit protocol of your desktop communications program to "binary" as well before transferring any GIFs. The Kermit default setting is usually "text," which is the proper setting for all other MTO filetypes). Consult your local user services for assistance on how to set the mainframe's Kermit program for binary and text transfers, and check the manual for your communications software for instructions on how to set the program's Kermit protocol for both kinds of transfers. Once the example files are on your desktop machine, you can view them with the MTO-supplied GIF viewer.
NOTE: To get a current list of all files in the MTO archive, listed by directory, get the document called mto.index (in the docs directory) from mto-serv or via FTP.


MTO subscribers may submit items by email, as described below, or may use a Web form to submit items (see links immediately below). The section "MTO Submissions" on the MTO home page has links to the forms.

a. Announcements
Send all announcements (about regional and national conferences,
workshops, lectures, lecture series, awards and grants, etc.) to the Editor (address in section 5 below). There is no special format for announcements, but the text should include all important information, e.g. time, place, fees, deadline, snailmail/email addresses and telephone/fax numbers of contact person(s). Alert the Editor if the submitted format is the one preferred. Otherwise, the format (though not the content) may vary slighly from the one submitted.

b. New dissertations
Send all listings for new dissertations to the Editor (address in section 5 below). The listing will appear only once. Use the following format for new dissertation listings:

AUTHOR: Last-Name, First-Name, Middle-Initial
TITLE: "Dissertation-Title"
INSTITUTION: Instituion-Name
BEGUN: Month, Year
ABSTRACT: 100-250 word abstract
KEYWORDS: 6-10 topical keywords, separated by commas
TOC: numbered chapter titles, if available
CONTACT: Home-Address [optional]

Explanatory notes:
Title: Include a title even if it is a working title, and may not be definitive
Institution: Give full address (institution, dept., street address, city, state, zip code)
Completion: Give projected completion date; if completed, give that date
TOC (Table of Contents): Include working chapter titles, or finalized titles if available
Contact: Optionally, include author's home address; give voice and, if available, fax telephone numbers.
Use an ASCII editor to create the file, or use a word processor and be sure to save the file as ASCII text (consult the manual for instructions). Check the information carefully before submitting the

c. Employment opportunities
Send announcements about job vacancies to the Editor (address given in section 5 below). Each submitted listing will appear in MTO only once, but listings may be submitted again for
inclusion further issues of MTO. Use the following format to submit a listing:

QUALIFICATION: e.g. MM/theory, ABD, Ph.D/theory preferred SPECIALTY: optional
DUTIES: list/description of teaching and other duties
SEND: e.g. CV, publications, scores/tapes
DEADLINE: month, day, year
Email address
Tel. nos.:

Use an ASCII editor to create the file, or use a word processor and be sure to save the file as ASCII text (consult the manual for instructions). Check the information carefully before submitting the listing to the Editor.

d. Commentaries on MTO items
As a way of distinguishing short, immediate responses to MTO articles from longer, in-depth ones, commentaries on MTO items, and commentaries on other commentaries, should be handled as follows:
1) brief, immediate responses of maximum 50 lines of text should be sent to mto-talk@societymusictheory.org. Such short commentaries (and responses to commentaries) will be automatically distributed to all subscribers to MTO's discussion list, mto-talk.
2) longer, in-depth responses of more than 50 lines of text should be sent to the Editor (address in section 5 below) for inclusion in the next issue of MTO. Authors of longer responses should retrieve the document named 'authors.txt' for guidelines on preparing electronic texts (see section 6 below).


MTO maintains a database, searchable through email, that indexes all MTO articles and reviews in five indexing categories: authors' names, item type, article titles, topical keywords and cross references (article/commentary correlations). The database can be searched either through a Web form, or with the MTO FileServer, mto-serv. To search the database through the Web, connect with the URL: http://societymusictheory.org/mto/mto-search.html. An introduction to the database, with a short explanation on searching it, is available. To search the database using mto-serv, send a message to one of the mto-serv addresses (mto-serv@societymusictheory.org). In the body of the message include a "path" line and a search command for any one of the search categories, as shown below:

path YourEmailAddress
search ITEM=article, review, talk
search AUTHOR=LastName
search TITLE=TitleWord(s)
search KEYWORDS=Keyword(s)
search REFERENCE=ReferenceFile(s)

Replace "YourEmailAddress" with your full Email address. Bitnet users must include the ".bitnet" suffix. (Alternatively, the "path" line may be filled in with someone else's Email address.) The search categories (ITEM, AUTHOR, etc.) need not be capitalized, but there must be no space between the category and the "equals" sign, nor any between the "equals" sign and the name/word being searched. Replace "LastName", "TitleWord(s)", or "Keyword(s)" with the desired names or word(s). For an ITEM search, specify one of the three item-types: article, review, or talk (= commentary). Note that searches are carried out only for articles, reviews, and commentaries, not for dissertations, general announcements, or for job opportunities posted in MTO.

Case-sensitivity and Word-boundary Options
Searches are case-insensitive by default. To make a search case-sensitive, include the plus-sign option ("+"). After the word "search" (followed by a space) include a "+", as follows: search + KEYWORDS=Classical
Refine a search further by using the word-boundary option ("\b") to filter out "Berger" and "Bergman," for example, when searching for "Berg": search + \bBerg\b
"Wildcard" searches are possible: replace any single letter with a period (.), or any series of letters with a period followed by an asterisk (.*). Boolean searches are also possible, using the following Boolean operators: or, and, and not. The word-boundary and plus-sign options may be incorporated. Four possible, separate search examples follow:

1) search AUTHOR=Todd or AUTHOR=Johnson
2) search + TITLE=Berg and not AUTHOR=Schoenberg
3) search ITEM=article and AUTHOR=\bSmith\b
4) search KEYWORDS=counterpoint and KEYWORDS=Palestrina

If no category is specified, all categories will be searched. For example, the line "search Meyer" will locate a) all articles, reviews, and commentaries written by Meyer; b) all titles containing the name "Meyer"; and c) all articles/reviews/commentaries that have "Meyer" as a keyword. Note also that searching for items by two different authors requires that the search category "AUTHOR" be specified for both authors' names, as in the 1st search shown above. The 1st search will not work if defined as follows: search AUTHOR=Todd or Johnson

To trace a discussion thread (a series of .tlk files) stimulated by an article, use the REFERENCE field. The REFERENCE field is filled in with the standardized MTO filename of the original article (as given in an MTO table of contents): search REFERENCE=mto.95.2.2.Todd.art
This search will locate all commetaries on Todd's article published in MTO, 1995, vol. 2, no. 2.
Separate search lines amount to separate searches. It is possible to link search categories, in a single search line, with Boolean operators. Three examples follow:

1) search AUTHOR=Johnson and KEYWORDS=Schenker
2) search AUTHOR=Todd and ITEM=talk
3) search REFERENCE=mto.95.2.2.Todd.art and KEYWORDS=semiotics

The 3rd search, for example, will locate all commentaries on Todd's article that have the keyword "semiotics." [NOTE: Keep in mind that "and" searches are exclusive (BOTH words must occur for a result), while "or" searches are inclusive (EITHER word may occur for a result).]
Complex Boolean searches are also permitted, so long as parentheses are surrounded by spaces. Three examples follow:

1) search ( KEYWORDS=pear and KEYWORDS=apple ) or ( KEYWORDS=orange and KEYWORDS=bannana)
2) search ( KEYWORDS=black or KEYWORDS=white ) and not ( KEYWORDS=green or KEYWORDS=orange )
3) search ( AUTHOR=Todd and ITEM=talk ) and ( KEYWORDS=set theory )

The 3rd search will locate all commentaries by Todd that have the keyword "set theory." Searches defined by very long lines, as in the 1st and 2nd searches, must not have "hard" carriage returns at the ends of lines. The lines must wrap around ("soft" returns). Beware of mailing utilites that, by default, replace hard returns with soft returns at the ends of lines.
The search program will send the user the names of files whose indexing words match the words specified in the search command(s). The files can then be retrieved, as described above under the heading "RETRIEVING MTO ITEMS." If no matches are found, the result "No matches found" will be reported.


a. Editor (editorial matters): mto-editor@societymusictheory.org
b. Reviews Editor: mto-reviews@societymusictheory.org
c. MTO Manager (administrative and technical matters): mto-manager@societymusictheory.org
d. For subscribing/unsubscribing to MTO: listproc@societymusictheory.org
e. For retrieving: individual items, entire issues, musical examples: mtoserv@societymusictheory.org
f. For retrieving MTO items with anonymous FTP:

site-address: societymusictheory.org
login: anonymous
password: YourEmailAddress (type your email address)
directory: pub/mto/DirectoryName

replace "DirectoryName" with the desired directory: docs - MTO documentation and info. files
issues - items in all MTO issues; specify issue directory in the format mto.yy.v.i, where "yy" = last 2 digits of the year, "v" = volume number, and "i" = issue number
software - MTO software (get and read software.txt) mto-talk - mto-talk discussion files
g. For searching the MTO database mto-serv@societymusictheory.org http://societymusictheory.org/mto/mto-search.html

h. For help, write to smt-help@societymusictheory.org, or go to the SMT Help Desk at the URL


a. mto-guide.html (the present document)

  1. subscription to MTO
  2. retrieving MTO items
  3. posting announcements, new dissertations, and job opportunities
  4. searching the MTO database
  5. important MTO addresses
  6. important MTO documentation

b. software.txt (a list of software for MTO, and instructions for retrieving software packages)
c. authors.txt (guidelines for authors)
d. policy.txt (MTO editorial policy)
All of the above documents are in the "docs" directory. They may be retrieved via FTP or with the MTO FileServer, mto-serv. Send an email message to the following address:
Leave the "Subject:" field blank, if possible, and as the text of the message include the following lines (no personal letterheads!):

path YourEmailAddress (Bitnet addresses must include .BITNET)
send FileName.txt (use more than one 'send' line to retrieve more than one document with a single message)


Policies on advertisements and reprints
MTO and mto-talk are copyrighted publications of the Society for Music Theory (c) 1996-2001. SMT has established policies for posting advertisements in MTO, and for reprinting material that was published in MTO. Those policies are as follows:
POLICY ON ADVERTISEMENTS (postings to smt-list, ads in MTO)

  1. SMT Network Services will provide two opportunities for broadcasting advertisements:
    a) postings on smt-list, subject to review by the smt-list Manager.
    b) listings in Music Theory Online, subject to review by the MTO Editor and Co-editorial Board.
  2. Style. In character ads will be more like announcements of availability, including pricing, than elaborate, hard-sell solicitations. Ads must direct readers to contact the seller of a product. SMT networking managers (MTO Editor, smt-list, mto-list and mto-talk managers)
    will not act as sales intermediaries.
  3. Subject. Ads will be accepted for products or services that have direct relevance to the professional needs of our membership. Examples: software for analysis, ear-training, written theory drill, music notation, etc.; books, journals, and other publications related to our discipline; ads soliciting membership in other related professional organizations (AMS, ICMA, CMS, etc.).
  4. Distribution. Ads posted to smt-list will be broadcast to the list and compiled in a monthly file, to be available for retrieval by the usual methods (smt-serv, gopher, FTP, WWW). When broadcast on the list, the subject line will clearly indicate that it is an advertisment. Ads included in MTO will be listed in the table of contents, in a special division reserved for ads, and will be made available by the usual methods (mto-serv, gopher, FTP, WWW).
  5. Submissions. Although we expect most submissions to come from smt-list and MTO subscribers, anyone may submit advertisements. The decision to publish will be made by the smt-list manager and MTO editor (with the Co-ed. Board, when questions arise) for their respective publications, based on the above guidelines. Questionable cases will be referred to the Networking Committee, which will consult with the Publication Committee and/or Executive Board if further clarification is required.
  6. Remuneration. SMT offers this service free of charge and will receive no proceeds from sales.

(smt-list, MTO, mto-talk)
Institutions or individuals who contribute material to our lists do not automatically grant others permission to reprint it. Even in cases of job announcements, general announcements, ads, and dissertation postings, where it is advantageous to distribute such notices as widely as possible, SMT cannot grant blanket permission to reprint.
SMT does grant permission under the following conditions:

  1. The original posting includes a statement granting reprint permission, e.g., "This vacancy notice may be reproduced and distributed freely." The networking operations committee encourages authors who want their notices widely distributed to include such a statement.
  2. If an announcement does not contain a statement granting permission to reprint, the party wishing to reprint must request and receive permission from the author of the original posting.
  3. The SMT publication that carried the original notice must be cited as the source if the notice is reprinted verbatim.
  4. SMT does not charge for reprint permission.
  5. Requests to reprint from other sources, e.g., Spectrum, MTO, SMT Newsletter, should be addressed to the editor of that source.

Please refer all questions regarding these policies to the Networking
Committee Chair, currently Aleck Brinkman (aleck@theory.esm.rochester.edu).