Gamera Addon: Optical Tablature Recognition Toolkit

This is a Gamera toolkit for optical recognition of lute and guitar tablature notation. It is based on the Gamera framework and requires a working installation of both Gamera and the Gamera Music-Staves Toolkit.

About the OTR toolkit

Lute tablature is a historic music notation which is specific to fretted string instruments like lute, guitar or viol. Unlike common music notation, it does not describe the sound of the music, but where and when the strings of the instrument are stopped. It was in commen use from ca. 1500 until 1750 and hundreds of historic tablature prints and manuscripts have survived from that period.

Lute Tablature

There has not been a single lute tablature notation in commen use througout Europe, but different regions used different encoding schemes, as shown in the examples above. Beside these differences there was also a wide variety of notations even between tablature prints of the same tablature type, eg. with respect to the rythmic notation or the fret letter font.

The OTR toolkit provides

The toolkit does not include training data for the tablature symbols. This makes the toolkit easily adaptable for any kind of typeface, but also means that you must do some training on a few pages before starting the automatic recognititon.


A detailed documentation is included with the source code package in the subdirectory doc/html, or you can browse it here online. For a comprehensive overview of the recognition system for staffline based lute and guitar tablatures or the staffless German lute tablature, respectively, see

When referring to this toolkit, you can cite these papers. When linking to this toolkit on a website, please link to the official project home page

Authors and Acknowledgements

The authors of the OTR toolkit are:

Parts of this software were developed in the ECOLM project funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Software Download

The source code of the OTR toolkit is freely distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. Note that the toolkit requires a working installation of Gamera and of the MusicStaves toolkit.

File releases of stable versions are available below. Moreover you can get a development snapshot via SVN access from the OTR SourceForge site. In short, you obtain the source code with the following command:

svn co svn:// otr4gamera

This will create the subdirectory otr4gamera and download the source code therein. You can then install the toolkit with

cd otr4gamera
python build && sudo python install

Available source code file releases for all platforms are:

For release notes, see the file CHANGES. For installation and usage instructions see the file doc/html/index.html in the source package. When all prerequisites are installed, installation simply requires typing

python build && sudo python install

On Windows, you can alternatively also use the binary installer (make sure you have also installed Gamera and the MusicStaves toolkit and also download the above source package for documentation!):