Frequent questions from those who have not yet used Mup

Q: What makes Mup unique? Why should I consider using Mup?

  1. Mup provides very high quality music output, and is free. You can download Mup and try it out for yourself.
  2. Mup is available ready-to-run for Windows, Apple, and Linux, and is also available in source form, so that it can be run on almost any kind of OS.
  3. If you prefer a command line interface, Mup provides that, and doesn't require using a mouse or learning a new editor; you can just create a Mup input file using any text editor of your choice. However, if you prefer an interface with menus and integrated editor, the companion Mupmate program provides that.
  4. Mup input can be easily generated or manipulated by another program. Input files are typically small, so it doesn't take a long time to create them. Since they are ordinary text, they can easily be moved to other systems, even if the other system uses a different operating system. For example, it would be easy to email a song in Mup format to a friend, and if they had Mup, they could then print it out or play it via MIDI. Since Mup output is standard PostScript or standard MIDI, output files are also portable to almost any operating system.
  5. Mup handles page layout details, but provides ways to alter the layout if you wish. It has the power to handle complicated scores, and can produce professional-quality output quickly.
  6. Mup's ability to produce MIDI output can be very helpful for "proof listening" to your music, which is usually a very effective way to spot errors that you might miss by just looking at the score,

You can review the list of Mup features, or a somewhat more detailed overview.

Q: Will Mup run on my computer?

We currently provide Mup in ready-to-run form for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux systems.

If you use a different operating system, Mup source code is also available, so if you have a C compiler, you can probably compile and run Mup. It has been run using several versions of UNIX on x86, Sun, Digital, and Silicon Graphics, as well as on OS/2, Atari, etc. Mup requires no special libraries. The Windows version will run under ReactOS. An ANSI-C compiler is recommended, but not required. If you try to compile Mup and have problems, please let us know at
We'd like to make it portable to as many computer system types as possible. The companion Mupmate program requires a C++ compiler and the FLTK toolkit.

Q: How long will it take to learn how to use Mup?

This will vary from person to person. A person who has experience with computer languages will probably pick up Mup more quickly, but such knowledge is not necessary. Mup has a broad array of features, so if you want to learn how to use every feature that Mup has to offer, this may take several days. (The Mup User's Guide, which explains all the features, and includes many examples, is about 200 pages long.) However, once you get Mup installed, you can start experimenting with Mup after reading the first few pages of the User's Guide, and it should take no more than a few hours to feel comfortable with the basics, enough to enter simple songs and get professional-looking output. Users have reported that the language is intuitive enough that even if they haven't used Mup for quite a while, it quickly comes back to them. The User's Guide includes many examples, and is provided both as a PostScript file that you can view or print out on paper, and as HTML files with hundreds of hypertext links, that you can view with your Web browser. The Mup installation package contains several sample files and a template file to help you get started. You can also download sample songs from

Q: How long will it take to enter music?

This will vary greatly, depending on a number of factors, such as how complicated the music is, how much experience you have had with using Mup, how fast you type, etc. An experienced Mup user can typically enter simple music in less than 15 minutes per page, but very complex music can often take over an hour, especially if you like to make a lot of adjustments to make things look just exactly the way you want.

Q: How did Mup and Arkkra Enterprises come about?

We are musicians and computer programmers who wanted a music publication program that would produce very high-quality output with a minimum amount of fuss. We wrote the Mup program for our own use, and continue to use it for all our own compositions. When other people expressed an interest in getting a copy of Mup, we formed Arkkra Enterprises to set up a website in 1995 to make Mup available as shareware to anyone who wanted it. After 17 years of adding features, we decided to just make it available for free, so that it could be included unencumbered in Linux distributions and such, and to encourage more people to use it.

Frequent questions from Mup users

Q. Is there a mailing list for Mup users?

Yes. There is a "majordomo" mailing list available exclusively to Mup users who have asked to join it. It provides a forum where you can ask or answer questions, get tips on how other people are using Mup, etc.

Q. Can I put Mup output into some other document?

There is a tool that comes with Ghostscript, called "ps2epsi" that converts a PostScript file to an Encapsulated PostScript file, which can then be imported into other documents.

Q: Can Mup produce PDF files?"

Not directly, but since Mup produces PostScript output, you can easily convert the output to PDF format using the ps2pdf utility that comes with Ghostscript.

Q. Why is the first score indented differently than the others?

The first score of a piece of music is traditionally indented somewhat more than subsequent scores, so that's what Mup does by default. It does that by setting the default label parameter to a few spaces, whereas it sets the default for the label2 parameter to an empty string. If you don't want the indentation, you can set

Q: Is is possible to specify a pickup measure?

Yes. You use "space" on all voices. For example,
1: 2.s; 4e;
2: 2.s; 4c;

will produce a pickup measure with just a quarter note in it.

Q: Is it possible to display a tempo marking of the form '(N = 120)' where N is a note symbol, like a quarter note?

Yes. Try something like
rom above all: 1 "( \(sm4n) = 120 )";

Q: Can Mup take a MIDI file as input?

No. However, it is possible to write a program that reads a MIDI file and outputs a file that can be input to Mup. Two programs that do this, called "mtm" and "midi2mup," have been donated by Mup users. They are limited, and not supported by Arkkra Enterprises, but may be useful for some people. Check out the programs donated by Mup users.

Q. Where can I find general information about MIDI?

There are thousands of MIDI tutorials on the web; just search for "MIDI tutorial." One place you might start is

Q: What are some of the shorthands that can be used to reduce typing?

There are many shorthands available. Some of the most useful are:

Q. The Mup User's Guide is rather long, so is there something shorter that covers the basics?

There is a Mup Quick Reference

Q: The Mupprnt command doesn't seem to work right. What do I do?

You may need to edit the mupprnt file to make sure the variables and paths are set to match where things are installed on your system. In particular,

If you are using a viewer such as GSview or gv, you may want to use its print feature rather than using mupprnt.

Q: On MS-DOS, the Mupdisp command comes back with ghostscript error 1. What do I do?

Check your config.sys file. You need to have a line like
where the number after the equals sign is greater than or equal to 9.

Also, make sure gs386.exe exists and is in your PATH. If you are running Mup from MS-DOS directly or from a DOS prompt under Windows, make sure you installed the DOS version of Ghostscript, not the Windows version. If you are using Mupmate, or Winmup, make sure you installed the Windows version of Ghostscript, not the MS-DOS version.

Q: If I use Mup for a language other than English, will it handle the letters that are not used in English?

Mup handles all the symbols in the standard PostScript fonts, which covers most Western languages. Only Latin-1 characters are handled directly from Mup input, but others can be entered via names like \(Euro) or \(lambda). The User's Guide section on text strings gives a complete list of supported non-ASCII characters. You can also define keymaps to easily input in another alphabet, like Cyrillic.

Q: Under Linux, Mupdisp says it can't open /dev/console. What do I do?

The svga library used by Mupdisp in non-X-windows mode requires write permission to the console. To allow this:

Q: What if I have more questions about Mup?

Send us email at
We welcome any comments and questions about Mup. Normally, you should have no problem contacting us this way. In the event you get a "rejected" reply when sending email, this is because excessive "spam" (junk mail) has been received from your domain at some time in the past, and our Internet service provider has installed a "spam blocker." In this case, you will have to send email from another address.

Arkkra Enterprises