A case for slab serifs in music

Music notation symbols, fonts, font sources and font creation, SmuFL.
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liuscorne
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by liuscorne » 20 Sep 2017, 14:25

I've spent some time trying to recreate the example that Schonbergian posted earlier. I must say, it's quite "annoying" how difficult it is just to come close to the original, let alone surpassing it by means of digital engraving.
The text font I've used (for lyrics and expressions) is Hercules Text by Frantisek Storm:

https://www.stormtype.com/families/hercules

It's my first choice for music engraving. Being inspired by 19th-century typefaces, Hercules fits in well with the overall appearance of music engraving. In this particular case I had to give it a small outline, otherwise it would have been to light in comparison to the music symbols. This, of course, is not ideal, but it still looks okay to me.

In another thread, Octo has suggested a community effort to create a suitable text font. Another possibility might be to approach a professional type designer to create this kind of font. Not one of the big players like Linotype etc., but a small studio, like Stormtype. When the font is based on a design that already exists and that only has to be tweaked for the particular purpose of music engraving, it might be an interesting offer for type designers.

BTW: The music font is my own. It is actually based on hand-engraved scores by Peters, though not from the particular time and in the particular style used in the score that Schonbergian referred to.
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Schonbergian
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by Schonbergian » 20 Sep 2017, 18:17

Wow! That's some of the finest computer engraving I've seen, and very close to a "modern" representation of the Peters design elements. I'll have to give that font a try.

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tisimst
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by tisimst » 20 Sep 2017, 20:20

Yes, very well done, liuscorne! What a great find in a text font. I will definitely need to add it to my collection and find a good use for it.
Music Typeface Designer & Engraver - LilyPond | Sibelius | Finale | MuseScore | Dorico | SMuFL | Inkscape | FontForge
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odod
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by odod » 21 Sep 2017, 00:48

FANTASTIC ... i think you and Wess had something in common ..both of you are amazing
LogicX, Cubase 5, MacMini i7, Macbook Pro 2015, PowerMac G5, Sibelius 8, Finale, Musescore, Reaper, Apogee Duet, Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII, FontLab, tons of Faith and Prayers

Serenade Music Engraving Service

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liuscorne
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by liuscorne » 21 Sep 2017, 12:36

Thanks for the kind words.
Hercules Text is indeed a very beautiful font. Unfortunately, in most cases it is probably not dark enough to fit in well with newer music fonts that represent more faithfully the darker look of hand-engraved scores. As a temporary solution it is possible to give the font a small outline (in the example above it's 0.04pt), but that might cause all kinds of problems when printing the score, as different printers handle that kind of outline differently. Alternatively, one could convert all outlines into solid shapes and "combine" them with the original font (which, in turn, has to be converted into vector objects, which means they are no longer text and can no longer be edited), but that takes a lot of time and effort.

There is another font that I considered for music engraving: Harriet Text by Jackson Cavanaugh:
https://okaytype.com/harriet/series
It is also based on the Scotch Roman font style so typical of 19th-century typography. It's a well-designed, beautiful font family, but, for me, it lacks the warmth of Hercules.

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tisimst
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by tisimst » 21 Sep 2017, 16:32

liuscorne wrote:
21 Sep 2017, 12:36
Thanks for the kind words.
Hercules Text is indeed a very beautiful font. Unfortunately, in most cases it is probably not dark enough to fit in well with newer music fonts that represent more faithfully the darker look of hand-engraved scores. As a temporary solution it is possible to give the font a small outline (in the example above it's 0.04pt), but that might cause all kinds of problems when printing the score, as different printers handle that kind of outline differently. Alternatively, one could convert all outlines into solid shapes and "combine" them with the original font (which, in turn, has to be converted into vector objects, which means they are no longer text and can no longer be edited), but that takes a lot of time and effort.
Are you using the optically-corrected "Text" variant? When I printed out their font specimen, I was pleasantly reassured that it had a more substantial presence than the non-optically-corrected regular weight. In any case, your temporary solution is a good one to achieve this effect.
There is another font that I considered for music engraving: Harriet Text by Jackson Cavanaugh:
https://okaytype.com/harriet/series
It is also based on the Scotch Roman font style so typical of 19th-century typography. It's a well-designed, beautiful font family, but, for me, it lacks the warmth of Hercules.
See, in my opinion, Hercules is a bit too curvy for me at display sizes (the curviness tends to vanish at small point sizes), so that would be an argument for me to use the display size of Harriet.
Music Typeface Designer & Engraver - LilyPond | Sibelius | Finale | MuseScore | Dorico | SMuFL | Inkscape | FontForge
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liuscorne
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by liuscorne » 21 Sep 2017, 20:16

Are you using the optically-corrected "Text" variant? When I printed out their font specimen, I was pleasantly reassured that it had a more substantial presence than the non-optically-corrected regular weight. In any case, your temporary solution is a good one to achieve this effect.
Yes, I used the Text weight of Hercules. And it looks fine in text sizes, 10 pt and larger (see for example the "Moderato misterioso" in the example above, which has no outline). But the lyrics are only 8 pt, and already the font looks a bit too thin. Which shows yet again that a good text font for music engraving needs different optical sizes (which makes it so much harder to create such a font family).

Knut
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by Knut » 23 Sep 2017, 11:02

Following liuscorne's example, here's the Bruckner with working versions of the music and text fonts I'm currently working on.
Graduale.musx.jpg

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tisimst
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by tisimst » 23 Sep 2017, 14:11

That's looking really great Knut!
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Knut
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Re: A case for slab serifs in music

Post by Knut » 23 Sep 2017, 17:08

tisimst wrote:
23 Sep 2017, 14:11
That's looking really great Knut!
Thanks, tisimst! I've been struggling a lot with multiple passes on the wight, spacing and numerous details. The italics have been especially difficult to design and deal with. Luckily, the learning curve has been steep as well.

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