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Old 06-12-2009, 06:09 AM   #1
TooLoose_LeTrek
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Default How a Music Font Works?

I need to learn how fonts paste together to create characters so I can use these symbols in my text for a music book. For the sake of explaining what I mean, please reference this webpage: Music Symbols. I selected the site randomly.

Some of the symbols in this font collection are dismantled, incomplete. Looking at the bottom row, the 5th and 6th items are flag parts of the stem of an eighth note. Somehow, when whatever program uses this font, it must be assembling these items onto a stem of say a quarter note to create a separate note.

I need a font from which I can extract music symbols to be used in my text, mostly symbols or sharp, flat, natural, double sharp, double flat, and other common music symbols. I have various fonts already on my computer that look like the one I've referenced here, from the various music programs I have installed, and want to know if and how I can use them in my text.

Thanks.
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:03 AM   #2
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Music notation software does exist. The dmoz open directory project has a list of links (with descriptions) to many of them.

One that I have heard of is LilyPond: Music notation for everyone. There is a downloadable trial at the site and it appears you can also download the documentation, which should help you evaluate it.

There is at least one free option, based on TeX: MusiXTeX for Linux (not sure about other platforms)

Alternatively, if you just need to snag a few characters, you could figure out which keys produce which part (make a keyboard diagram once you know), then print them in a vector program like Illustrator (at very large size), assemble them manually, and print. Very tedious, but if you just need a few isolated characters, it might do.

Sounds like an interesting project. Let us know how you go.

   
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Old 06-12-2009, 10:51 AM   #3
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Quote:
kt: Music notation software does exist.
I think TooLoose is looking for a musical notation font because given the other thread, TooLoose is using Finale which I think is musical notation software?

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Old 06-12-2009, 10:57 AM   #4
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As Kathleen notes, there are plenty of music notation programs (Finale and Sibelius being the two most prominent ones used professionially), both of which ship with music notation fonts which are used and pieced together to make the kinds of scores that follow the really very complicated rules for music engraving. The reason for the bits and pieces of notes in the font you referenced are those complicated rules -- for instance, stem length being defined by context, spacing of accidentals based on how the chords are laid out, etc. Plus, the programs usually come with several fonts to represent the engraving styles of different engraving houses historically -- most notably, both include "jazz" fonts to look like hand copying and "engraver" fonts to look like classic 19th century music engraving.

Adobe introduced a music symbol font very early on called Sonata, which is probably still available. Finale can use that font (don't know about Sibelius), and at the time (mid 80s) it was the most professionally drawn music font around. It has since been supplanted, and by a lot, by new fonts (notably Maestro, which is only available as part of Finale).

Like any PostScript font, all those fonts can be used in text blocks, but because of the very unusual leading and spacing within the fonts -- it has to accommodate huge symbols like the treble clef as well as the very small ones like accidentals -- using them within a word processor becomes very problematic. Mostly because they will tend to increase the line spacing -- to type "Ab" (A-flat) with the "b" in the music font adds all kinds of white space above and below the line because room has to be saved for a treble clef, which is vastly larger. In a music program, the white space issue is moot, since every character is treated as a separate graphic element; in a text file the white space issue is very much a problem.

A few fonts of music symbols were created to get around that spacing problem, the earliest of which may have been one of mine -- Shpfltnat, which I made in 1988 for my dissertation and updated sporadically until about 1992. It's shareware, but you can have it for free if you can find it for download somewhere -- the last version made was 2.2, though who knows if any of the downloading sources online still have the old readmes. It has all the symbols you listed, and then some, and, if the original fonts have not been corrupted, will not screw up line spacing in text blocks.

   
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:06 AM   #5
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Hey David...long time no see...'-}}

Thanks for that info as I am clueless about this...

I did a browser search for your font and found the following--note: I have no idea about how legitmate these sites are so make sure to run an antivirus on the download:

1. fonteo

2. discoverfonts

3. searchfreefonts

4. discoverdinbats


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Old 06-12-2009, 11:22 AM   #6
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Hey —hi! I was hoping you would turn up. Thanks.

   
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:05 AM   #7
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I already have quite a number of music fonts on my system. As for notation, I will stick with Finale as it is known in the industry. And I've already invested hundreds of dollars in it...and have all my music files written in it. Perhaps the fonts I am looking at in Character Map have all the elements my software uses to paste up readable notation. Maybe I'm not really intended to see these fonts because the program does with them what it will. I might do best to find a stand-alone font that has all the symbols I need. I can find sharps and flats in Microsoft Reference and Word Perfect Iconic Symbol fonts, but not some of the more esoteric symbols. I will check out your links. I do run AV software, but am leary of "free" sites. Perhaps I best back up all my files first, just in case...

I'll ask in my music writing software forum and see if they have any suggestions, too.

At least there is no extra charge when downloading one of their malware presents!

Thanks!

Last edited by TooLoose_LeTrek; 06-13-2009 at 04:05 AM. Reason: Forgot to say "thanks!"
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:16 AM   #8
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Those fonts all have the basics and probably will work. Being a suspicious type person, I wonder why things are offered free, and I have attracted my share of offensive additions to downloads. It's not that I am suspicious of anything that is free. I realize people are basically good and want to share. I do. But I know there are those wolves and predators out there who are always on the lookout of ways to take advantage of and use situations for their own nefarious purposes.

Open source, I understand. I really liked it when the Internet was first starting and people were so eager to help one another...until business stepped in and took over. And the trouble makers, the hackers.

Sorry. I've gotten a bit off topic here! And now you must all think I'm the schizophrenic-paranoid type. I'm really not! BTW, does Homeland Security track us here?
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:23 AM   #9
TooLoose_LeTrek
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Default Who Really Are The People Who Offer Fonts Free?

I bet someone here knows my off-topic question...

Who are the people who offer "free" fonts, and what do they 'really' want? Are they able to skim off email addresses from users and then sell them? Where do they get all these "free" fonts? Public domain?

I know this is a bit off topic, but I have wondered this for a long time. Somewhere in the known universe, there is somebody who at least one point was sitting at a computer making these items available, and that person had some motive for doing so, either charitable or nefarious. I can see when someone is working in a large community, how they want to help one another along and develop a give-take relationship that benefits all concerns.

But all these free fonts?

As you might guess, I do not have any illegal software on my computer.
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:39 AM   #10
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There will be others here who can give a more complete answer to the question of "free" fonts, but I've got an answer that's actually in first person. I was one of the first ones to make fonts, ostensibly for my own pleasure (you could fit my typographic training into a thimble and still have room for thousands of angels), and I figured -- as in the case of Shpfltnat -- some other people might be able to use them. So I uploaded them to the precursor to this page, the DTPForum of Compuserve, right around the time that Windows started being able to use PostScript fonts (3.1, I think). And before the internet as we know it existed. And since Windows was now able to use fonts, at the time everybody wanted more.

Eventually I attached silly readmes to the fonts and suggested donations to Columbia University, where I worked at the time, if users liked and used the fonts. Over a few years, it did bring in several thousand dollars, and it helped with performances of music written by Columbia students. I stopped doing it around 1992.

Some of my fonts were specifically free. Why? I didn't need the money, and I figured you get what you pay for. Others had the shareware request. In the intervening years, the internet exploded, font sites multiplied, other people with various motivations joined the font-uploading crowd. Some are genuinely generous, others are nefarious. And because uploaders and site managers have stripped away readmes and/or regenerated fonts under different names, and/or misattributed fonts, it's hard to get a grasp on why, who, how. I get about a dozen e-mails a year asking for rights to use fonts that didn't originate with me.

And after all that. I pretty much just use Adobe Caslon and Adobe Garamond. And, of course, Maestro in Finale.

   
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