A modern looking score in 2018?

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teacue
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A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by teacue » 17 Jun 2018, 18:38

Lurking on this forum since a few months I see here is a great love for beautifull looking scores engraved in a traditional way with classic and proven fonts.
I am amazed about the knowledge shared and it helps me a lot to "see" things in a score I would have never noticed before.
I am a primarily a composer and I have to engrave my music by myself and engraving is not my profession.

I have a question which maybe is not in the main mood of the forum but I nevertherless would like to ask in the hope for some advices.

Would someone share some ideas on how could a score look like if explicitely designed to stilistically be from the 21th century and still keeping a beautifullness similar or even greater than the one found in traditional scores?
With "coming from the 21th century" I of course do not mean to initiate a semantic polemic, I just use these words to express something like modern or contemporary design vs a classical traditional design.

First which text fonts could be used?
And second and probably much more difficult, which music fonts?

I ask this because I am in the process of transcribing all my work from Finale to Dorico.
This task is in itself a lot of work and I thought why not at the same time take the opportunity to give my scores a more modern touch?

I am in no way against a traditional and classical look, I appreciate it a lot, even more since this forum helps me to better see and understand what makes a score looking good.
I am just curious on how it could be possible to leave the path of tradition and still produce good results.
I also wonder how a score could express the style of the written music.
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OCTO
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by OCTO » 19 Jun 2018, 08:07

Welcome to the forum!
Indeed many interesting questions you propose, and it is more than easy to answer. If there was an easy and simply solution, we would have many great scores and great engravers; it is indeed hard to achieve the "ideal".

Yes, the fonts developed, but what I can notice, all improvements in font design is just reflecting a need to improve reading and efficiently use of object spacings. It is therefore difficult to say what 21-century scores would look like.
I believe that simply "using a new font" is not the (only) way to go, if the font per se is not badly designed (Opus, imo) that needs to be replaced.

In your position, as a starter of that exploration, I would try to use the standard fonts (Meastro + Times, in Finale) and exercise in everything else: spacing, object positioning, kerning, line widths, slur/tie shapes, margines, page turns, stave distances, braces and bracket shapes, etc etc. Than exporting to Illustrator/InkScape and edit it further (line edges, micro-positioning, object crossing, etc). So you will go forward in knowing music editing much more than changing fonts. I have seen some contemporary scores excellently engraved in "pure" Finale, nothing to complain.
So, try to get so wonderful score without changing the fonts, that is already a very difficult task.

One thing, concerning the fonts, about "modern" scores that I should warn for—from a perspective of a composer, engraver and musician—never use sans serif in music fonts. Simply, it adds another difficulty for performers: for sight reading and learning. (I did that mistake, yes it is difficult to perform from that score, musicians have sometimes 2 meters distance from the score).
teacue wrote:
17 Jun 2018, 18:38
I also wonder how a score could express the style of the written music.
Interesting indeed. I would recommend the score of Ligeti's Violin Concerto by Schott. It is done in SCORE + Times. That is a masterwork in music engraving, yet all kind of "extravaganza" is avoided. Hats down. That engraving just reflects Ligeti's music and the score should be studied as engraving technique.
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teacue
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by teacue » 19 Jun 2018, 12:43

Thank you for your thoughts

Serif vs sans serif
I have of course often read this statement about serif vs sans serif but I must confess that I disagree.
For my job I had to design and layout for many years posters and program booklets for Musicals.
It gave me the opportunity to learn a few things about fonts and design.
I was also very interested to try to understand the difference in readabilty between serif and sans serif and after some research I came to the conclusion that there is no universal consense and that other aspects like paragraph styles, leading, how dense a page ist and others are even more important than the font itself.

The fact that most serif fonts have these old school a and g which are known to be difficult to read for children and the reason why we have fonts with infant characters does not add to the readability of a serif font.
It seems also as if very often sans serif fonts are recommended for websites.

These are a few reasons why I believe that the readability difference between serif and sans serif is not so essential.

The performer side
I would also add that in practice a performer may encounter very different situations.
As I studied classical guitar a few decades ago I sometimes had to play in Musicals as an orchester musician in the theater that was right beside our school.
I can assure you that the manuscript notes that we sometimes got were quite difficult to read!
And texts were nothing like serif or sans serif but something indefinable and very difficult to decifer.

I wanted to upload another example but I can't find the scores in my basement, so I will only describe it.
I once had to work with the ochestra material of West Side Story.
This was rented material from the music publishing company.
You would not believe how bad it was!
I can assure you that the worst written page of the Real Book is like a work of art in readability compared to the manuscript parts of this copy of West Side Story we got!
It was sometimes almost impossible to read any text annotation and you had to even guess the written notes!
Now how important the difference between serif or sans serif when in pratice you have to play with unreadable manuscripts?

I think that any printed material is in itself very readable and of course pure luxury compared to a lot of manuscripts and I do not think that it really matters wether it is a serif font or not.
At the end all musicians get used to the material they have to play.

The other performer side
Allow me please to add a last thing to your comment: in all my life I never saw an orchestra or band musician who had to sit 2 meters from his music stand!
I do not say it does not exist but I really never saw this!
On the contrary I experienced that most of the time you do not have enough space and you almost have to share your sit with the neighbour musician and you also possibly share one music stand placed half on your knee and half on your neighbour knee ;-)

Design
What I mean with this is that at the end the readability is for me not an argument to use or not to use a sans serif font.
But the overall design of the score is!
The curved design of the keys, the stem of an eighth note, the piano brace, the quarter rest ... all these symbols almost dictate the use of a serif font.

I believe that as long as these musical symbols keep this curved design it will be always difficult to use something else than a serif font.
But as soon as you can use a less curved piano brace or a less curved eighth note stem then it is easier to use a sans serif or even a fancy font.

I believe that a re-design of the notes, stems and rests is an essential factor to maybe allow a much more modern design approach.

About Ligetti
I assume this is what one can see here:
https://de.schott-music.com/shop/pdfvie ... idy=128240

I find this score really great looking, thanks for this example.
Indeed one could say that the avoiding of any "extravaganza" gives this score a modern touch.
I find in particular pages 2 - 8 quite modern looking maybe because of the consequent use of horizontal beams for the sixteenth notes.
But from page 11 as soon as there are a lot of dynamic symbols and time signatures numbers with the bold Times font this first impression goes away.

Alternativ font for dynamic symbols?
BTW just looking at Ligettis score I realized even more than before how intrusive these dynamic symbols can be!
For me this would be a reason more to search for an alternative font for dynamics!
Sorry if this may sound like a sacrilege ;-)
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John Ruggero
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by John Ruggero » 19 Jun 2018, 16:02

I think that changing the style of our musical symbols for the sake of achieving a more "modern design" is doomed to failure:

1. Our current notational system is the result of centuries of evolution in which that which makes the music easiest to comprehend has survived and that which does not has become extinct. It is possible that our system will continue to evolve, but only on the basis of an improvement in communication, not style. Even improvements of this type will run into the following:

2. Musicians learn to react instantly and instinctively to the appearance of musical notation and are therefore understandably resistant to change. This is a factor that most composers would not be willing to work against.
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teacue
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by teacue » 19 Jun 2018, 16:55

@ John Ruggero
Well I am not trying to find a revolutionary new notation system :)
I am interested in a approach to notation which would be a little less "baroque".

You are of course aware that musicians playing jazz like the look of the Real Book.
Even the quite traditional oriented Dorico team introduced a Real Book like font in Dorico!
If they did, then it probably means that they are aware that this kind of notation is usefull and pleasant for a certain kind of musicians.

On my side I also like the Real Book type of font but I am searching for another style.

May I ask you if the kind of style changing found in a Real Book type font belongs to the category "doom to failure"?
If yes, why?

I appreciate an evolving tradition and the fact that music evolves the way it does.
I played Bossa Nova songs with my guitar years before I played on a Baroque Lute and I appreciate still today both kind of music which are not so different BTW but they have a distinct flair or style.
I find that the design of any kind of graphic can also reflect the surrounding time.
And reflecting the zeitgeist does not necessary means less efficiency.

I wish I had more examples of what I mean with modern approach!
Maybe this too:
In this thread on the Dorico forum member LSalgueiro introduces his own font which a work in process:
https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewto ... 90#p722590

I must say I like for example his piano brace as well as his G-Key.
It has of course a hand written character, this is what he wants to do but to me it is also a kind of modern approach.

About musicians being resistant to change
It is surely true for some and saddly not only for musicians.
But even if it's a real fact I do not think that one has to bow before it.
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David Ward
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by David Ward » 19 Jun 2018, 18:36

On the subject of Serif versus Sans Serif, the way the eye communicates with the brain and the memory is crucial. Design people like sans serif, but a sans serif font doesn't hold the eye in position as well as does a serif font (that is assuming other things are equal), although it might be marginally quicker to read. This is almost more a physiological matter than a design one. You are more likely to jump a word or a line when reading sans serif and it doesn't impress itself so clearly on the memory.
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John Ruggero
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by John Ruggero » 19 Jun 2018, 23:17

Sorry for the confusion, teacue. When I said "changing the style of our musical symbols" I didn't mean a "revolutionary new notation system" but exactly the kind of thing that you illustrated with the LSalgueiro example.

Braces and clefs are neutral, unchanging elements that should not call attention to themselves as they do in the example. Like most fonts that imitate handwriting, I think that the LSalgueiro example is too active and informal to produce a well-balanced page of engraved polyphonic music that looks like a finished product rather than an improvisation.

And my eyes agree with David Ward. As well, serif fonts are restful and organic-looking and integrate well within the many curved elements of musical notation.
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odod
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A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by odod » 20 Jun 2018, 05:00

Well, honestly .. i am more of a custom music fonts guy, i dislike maestro and opus or any other default fonts from engraving software. The fact that i’ve collected so many samples from old plate engraving had the intention of learning how those beautiful engraving was done. I mean how they put all the notes and everything evenly without computer is just a masterpiece of a stylistic mind. Right now i am really into Nepomuk font, Own music fonts, espressivo, and others.

The point is how to make your score easily readable even though its a “complex” composition, but how to put all the pieces together into an art and fits the composers or client’s needs that is all what you need.

Just my two cents though

One of my attempt is like this
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John Ruggero
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by John Ruggero » 20 Jun 2018, 15:40

odod wrote:
20 Jun 2018, 05:00
The point is how to make your score easily readable even though its a “complex” composition, but how to put all the pieces together into an art and fits the composers or client’s needs that is all what you need.
I agree.
odod wrote:
20 Jun 2018, 05:00
I mean how they put all the notes and everything evenly without computer is just a masterpiece of a stylistic mind.
Absolutely.
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OCTO
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Re: A modern looking score in 2018?

Post by OCTO » 20 Jun 2018, 19:01

Agree completely with odod, John and David.
Again concerning sans serif: it is true that sans serif is used for, for instance, road signs or naming pharmaceuticals. It is because they are like informational objects that need a high attention, which differs from the rest of the environment. So sans is a very legible in that context.
But in a musical score there shouldn't be a block that takes attention in such way. Simply said, a good serif font is in a harmony with musical environment.

Yes, some percussions, particularly multiple percussions, can have up to such distance the music stand.
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