Fonts for Early Music

Fonts for Early Music
by Ross W. Duffin

For the last several years, beginning with the editing of A Performer's Guide to Medieval Music(Indiana, 2000) during the late 1990s, I have been creating fonts for early music, both for use in text discussions and in actual editions. My interest in early notation fonts began in the mid-70s, when I convinced Leland C. Smith to create an early music "package" for his Score program when it was still running on a mainframe computer at Stanford University. Using that system, I created Forty-Five Dufay Chansons from Canonici 213: An Edition in Original Notation (Ogni Sorte, 1983), which was honored with the Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society for work of benefit to both scholars and performers.

The fonts I have created have been purchased by music publishing houses for use in making editions, mostly for notation discussions, ornaments, and incipits, although many of the fonts have been designed for use in actual editions using Finale. As can be seen in the few samples given below, I believe the symbols are the finest available for these types of notations, and look forward to adding new old fonts as I have the time and the need.

They work best on Macintosh computers, which is to say, I designed the keystrokes for a Mac keyboard, but they can be made to work on PCs as well, as several users can attest. This is never going to be a huge commercial enterprise, but it takes a lot of work to design a font and I ask $50 for each font purchase, along with a request that the font not be passed along to further users.

The fonts are briefly described below. Clicking on the sample character will link to a pdf keycaps file for that font.


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  • Great indeed and very interesting. Thanks a lot. Cheers Gérard.

  • Thanks a lot Dominique, its a great contribution!! :)

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