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New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 01 Nov 2018, 11:29
by Florian
Hey everybody!

I thought some of you might be intersted in a font project I've been working on. It's another font for figured bass notation, called Figurato.
Here's me inputting some figured bass with Figurato using the lyrics popover in Dorico:

Figurato.gif
Figurato.gif (128.92 KiB) Viewed 399 times

The font makes use of OpenType substitution and positioning features to turn intuitive input strings into correctly stacked figured bass indications. It supports accidentals on both sides of the numbers, parentheses and brackets, and italic numbers. Multiple accidentals in adjacent rows avoid collisions automatically.

Although Figurato was developed with Dorico's lyrics popover in mind, it works in all applications that support OpenType features, including Finale 25.

Figurato is available for free here. Attention: Mac users must read the Readme before using the font. Actually, I recommend reading it to everybody. It's nicely illustrated, too.

If you try it out, do give me a feedback! Any sort of constructive critique is very welcome.

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 01 Nov 2018, 18:57
by David Ward
This is a bit OT, but follows on logically enough from Florian's post above. Can anyone recommend a very good book explaining in detail the conventions of figured bass notation?

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 01 Nov 2018, 21:08
by John Ruggero
The classic, encyclopedic work in Engish is by your compatriot F. T. Arnold: The Art of Accompaniment from a Thorough-Bass (Oxford, reprinted by Dover). The conventions varied a lot from era to era and composer to composer.

One could also read the section on figured bass from C. P. E. Bach's Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments. trans. WIlliam J. Mitchell (W. W. Norton) and learn figured bass conventions directly from the Bachs. Of course, this is also covered in Arnold.

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 03 Nov 2018, 15:08
by David Ward
Thanks, John, this is useful information.

I think I'm usually correct in my interpretation of figured bass (purely for study, I have no need to perform from it), but felt I'd like to be better informed.

As for the modern more-or-less equivalent of figured bass, chord symbols, these sometimes flummox me completely when they attempt to be ‘advanced,’ but fortunately I rarely have any reason to read them, and none at all (so far!) to write them in my own music.

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 04 Nov 2018, 22:21
by John Ruggero
Florian, Figurato is an excellent and attractive font for figured bass, and I downloaded it for possible future use in Finale. Your implementation of it in Dorico is superb. If only Dorico met my other needs...

Just one quibble. I would prefer that accidentals be closer to the numbers, as in the BGA etc. both singly and in groups, where they might nest within each other more closely. Perhaps there could be an option to alter the spacing to taste, or just another version of the font for those who might feel as I do.

For example, see page 20 etc. in

http://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg ... 1079-b.pdf

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 05 Nov 2018, 07:29
by OCTO
Florian wrote:
01 Nov 2018, 11:29
Hey everybody!

I thought some of you might be intersted in a font project I've been working on. It's another font for figured bass notation, called Figurato.
Here's me inputting some figured bass with Figurato using the lyrics popover in Dorico:
It looks very good, and - easy!
Is it possible to use realisation lines?
8––7
65
4–3

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 05 Nov 2018, 08:42
by Florian
John, thank you for your kind words. I'm glad about your very positive feedback!
I'm curious: at what size did you test the font? It's developed for use at 9/10 pt which is quite small and I found that the figures are easier to read when there's a bit of space between the components.
I may be able to produce another version for use at larger sizes with less sturdy outlines and tighter kerning at some point, though that'll be a bit of work because I'll have to modify the kerning tables by hand, and they're huge.

(If you don't need the font now but at some point in the future I recommend taking a look at the repository then again. As they say, development is ongoing.)

OCTO, thank you!
Lines are not really possible right now. Long lines of arbitrary length are awkward to realise from within a font anyway. In my current development build (not available yet) you can do something like this pretty easily though (of course such figures wouldn't work well as lyrics anymore):
Image
(Sorry about the huge image. I don't know how to define the size of svg images with BBCode.)

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 05 Nov 2018, 22:38
by John Ruggero
Florian wrote:
05 Nov 2018, 08:42
I'm curious: at what size did you test the font? It's developed for use at 9/10 pt which is quite small and I found that the figures are easier to read when there's a bit of space between the components.
I can only insert individual glyphs in Finale because your combinations don't come up in Text>Symbol>Insert. I can view and insert all the combinations, however, in Indesign, because your whole font displays under glyphs. However different glyphs are inserted than one selects in the grid, for some reason.

As a test, I just inserted a individual 7 and an individual flat from your font at 10 pt. in a Finale file. I myself find no degradation in legibility when the symbols were placed closer together than the imitation of the same combination shown in your example above. For me there is actually an increase in clarity because the symbols cohere more as a unit.
Example .jpeg
Example .jpeg (24.48 KiB) Viewed 215 times
This would also avoid the flat being read as a separate symbol in a very quick harmonic rhythm. In the following example from the Trio Sonata from the first edition of Bach's Musical Offering, one sees how the engraver tries to keep the accidentals and numbers very close together, which I think was a common practice of the time. This has the nice benefit of helping the player avoid the danger of misreading a series such as the 6—natural in the seventh measure of the example as a raised 6.
Bach Musical Offering first edition.jpeg
Bach Musical Offering first edition.jpeg (300.51 KiB) Viewed 215 times
Here is part of the same from the BGA, which shows the distances between number and accidental that I am more familiar with:
Bach Musical Offering BGA.jpeg
Bach Musical Offering BGA.jpeg (31.54 KiB) Viewed 215 times

Re: New font for figured bass: Figurato

Posted: 06 Nov 2018, 00:30
by Florian
John Ruggero wrote:
05 Nov 2018, 22:38
I can only insert individual glyphs in Finale because your combinations don't come up in Text>Symbol>Insert. I can view and insert all the combinations, however, in Indesign, because your whole font displays under glyphs. However different glyphs are inserted than one selects in the grid, for some reason.
John, I take it you're testing FiguratoMac then? (You should find that the normal versions of Figurato work fine in Finale on Mac too.) With all of the versions, you should be able to just type the combinations, e.g. "6b4" should give you a six with a flat on top of a four, like described in the Readme.
The pre-built figures in FiguratoMac are not mapped to Unicode code points, they're only accessible as ligatures. That's probably why they don't show up in the dialog.

*****

Your reasoning about the closeness of numbers and modifiers makes sense. I'll think about it. It would be interesting to know how others feel about this. (Ben?)

Interestingly I myself am more familiar with greater distances between numbers and accidentals as I've kind of grown up with the NBA which shows positionings like the ones I've chosen for Figurato. (I'll post a picture tomorrow.)