Fonts for Lyrics

Music notation symbols, fonts, font sources and font creation, SmuFL.
benwiggy
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Fonts for Lyrics

Post by benwiggy » 05 Jul 2016, 09:27

I seem to be vacillating between various different fonts for lyrics, and I change my mind constantly as to their suitability. Does anyone have any opinions/favourites?
I tend to favour a reasonably weighty face that matches the "colour" of the music.

Minion is nice, slightly condensed, though the hyphen is a bit mean.
Garamond is too small an x-height.
Palatino also works well: Medium is better than Roman.
ITC Century Book is legible and concise, though not quite convinced by its aesthetics in this use.
Other Humanist fonts like Bembo can work well, though they can be a bit fat. Also, make sure they don't have an oblique hyphen.

I'll post some samples of the same music with different lyric fonts in a bit.

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OCTO
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by OCTO » 05 Jul 2016, 09:53

The Psalm Book printed by Swedish Church uses Adobe Caslon Pro. I have been thinking about that typeface for a quite long time, but I have never used. It is really working well.
Minion is beautiful too, I think it is a bit to close to Times.
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Knut
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by Knut » 05 Jul 2016, 11:11

I know a slightly condensed version of Century has been frequently used in vocal scores of the past. That is without a doubt the typeface I prefer.
I'm not sure if any of the commercially available condensed versions of Century is of a weight suitable for music, though. Strictly speaking, a condensed version of New Century Schoolbook seems ideal to me as an overall Roman style for music. Unfortunately, no such style currently exists, to my knowledge.

benwiggy
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by benwiggy » 05 Jul 2016, 11:25

Yes, the Ricordi scores seem to use a condensed Century. The ITC Century Book Condensed typeface, perhaps the closest you can buy, is a little too squeezed, IMO.
Of course, the suitability will also depend what other faces are used for titling, expressions.

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OCTO
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by OCTO » 05 Jul 2016, 12:28

IMO, a good way is to use one of Adobe Pro types which has a vast amount of same font variants. In this situation you can use only one font for all texts in one score thus keeping the balance.
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benwiggy
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by benwiggy » 07 Jul 2016, 18:26

I've spent the last few days printing out the same page of music with different lyric fonts, and I've decided on ITC Cleartype (aptly named!). I think some other publisher uses it for their house style. It's big on the X and small on the Y, which is what you want from a lyric font. It's quite modern, I suppose, but distinctive and ... clear!
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tisimst
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by tisimst » 07 Jul 2016, 18:54

benwiggy wrote:It's big on the X and small on the Y
Did you mean the opposite? I see it as small on the X and big on the Y. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding something...
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benwiggy
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by benwiggy » 07 Jul 2016, 19:13

It's x-height, so y-width!

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tisimst
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by tisimst » 07 Jul 2016, 19:36

benwiggy wrote:It's x-height, so y-width!
I see what you mean now.
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benwiggy
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Re: Fonts for Lyrics

Post by benwiggy » 15 Nov 2016, 07:47

I've been thinking about lyrics fonts a little bit more. Here's my list of candidates:

ITC Century Book Condensed: Perhaps a little too condensed, but one of the best for lyrics. Century Book (non-condensed) is very similar to New Century Schoolbook, both of which are a little too fat, IMO.

Times New Roman MT Condensed: The condensed face of this font is very good. Better than Finale Lyrics, which is also a condensed TNR.

Minion Pro Display: The "Display" styles of some of the OpenType fonts are slightly condensed, but not as much as the actual "Condensed" styles. Similarly, the "Caption" styles are slightly expanded: Minion Condensed Caption is essentially identical to Minion Display. ;)

ITC Clearface: This works well, though it has a very particular, strong look, which is perhaps a bit informal. It might not sit well with other typefaces. (That's why I've changed my mind on using this: it doesn't fit with my titling and expressions.)

Bodoni Book, Monotype Modern Condensed: These modern faces are quite good, though the high contrast can sometimes be difficult to read, where the lines are thin. (Conversely, other styles of these fonts suffer from being too thick.)

Bulmer MT Display: This is the one I have chosen for my house style. It's a very crisp, modern face, and the Display style has a nice metric that avoids displacing notes.

One other thing to remember is that Finale reduces the lyric size along with the staff reduction. A 16pt lyric on a 75% staff size will appear as 12pt, unless you set a Fixed size for your font. And of course some fonts appear smaller than others at the same point size.

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