There’s a new (old) music font available for use in Sibelius. It’s called Lelandia, and it’s available now from Notation Central. It’s been migrated from Leland, which is the default music font used in newer versions of MuseScore. Leland is inspired by the look of the SCORE engraving program, created by Leland Smith.
If you looked carefully at yesterday’s review of Sibelius 2023.5, you may have noticed that we used it for all of the music examples in that post.
Before we explore Lelandia, let’s revisit the history of one of our favorite topics on Scoring Notes: the music font.
Sibelius users are no doubt familiar with its default music font, Opus — even if they don’t know it. They may also be familiar with Helsinki, another of Sibelius’s default music fonts, which has made its way into more of its house styles recently.
Fine folks are fickle with fonts, though. Nearly 10 years ago to the day, Daniel Spreadbury — still in his first year at Steinberg — set out to make a new font, called Bravura, for their scoring program, which didn’t even have a name at that time (Dorico was not released until 2016). He also created a new font standard, the Standard Music Font Layout, known as SMuFL, which was implemented in Dorico, and, later, Finale and MuseScore, among other programs.
Sibelius, though, like Finale before it, was built using its own font standard, which made use of a suite of fonts that had glyphs mapped to code points specific to Sibelius. While it shared some commonalities with Finale’s fonts in terms of the layout of the most widely used symbols, it quickly diverged to the point that it is most practical to use fonts explicitly designed for Sibelius, with Sibelius.
“From a technical point of view, it’s not totally trivial to sort of just say, ‘Oh, well, from now on, instead of getting the symbol from this place, I’m getting it from this place,’ because of course it depends on all manner of things. That’s all very well for your own fonts.
What about for third-party fonts or existing documents? So it’s not necessarily a surprise that the other big players in the desktop space, you know, namely, Sibelius and Finale, don’t yet have support for SMuFL in their applications. Because music follows very quickly on from text, and it’s about as fundamental as you can get to these applications.
Changing things like where you get the symbols from, and how they’re stored, and how the code points are stored, and all the rest of it, that’s actually quite fundamental even to the way the file format might be set up. As we know in Sibelius, for example, every symbol has a definition and maybe that number can’t quite handle a Unicode codepoint in the range that SMuFL is using.”
So when Steinberg released Bravura, I enjoyed its look to such a degree that I wanted to shoehorn it into Sibelius. The way to do that was to disassemble it (legally permissible, thanks to the Open Font License under which Bravura was released), and reassemble it painstakingly into a format that Sibelius would understand.
Matthew Maslanka did all the heavy lifting for that initial effort, and the result was the Norfolk fonts, first released in 2014, and updated several times since then, thanks to the help of many expert collaborators.
Norfolk has since been downloaded thousands of times and is in wide use, both for users wishing to have greater consistency of appearance among Sibelius’s and that of SMuFL applications, or simply to use it as their preferred font in Sibelius. It comes bundled with the Scoring Express templates and has spawned a few extra fonts of its own, like the chord symbol fonts and their angled slash chord variants (ASC), engineered brilliantly by Jeff Kellem and Bernie Cossentino, respectively.
Having completed the task of morphing Bravura into Norfolk, we repeated the process when the jazz-style Petaluma font was introduced for Dorico, which itself was based upon the look of the hand-copied music from The New Real Book, published by Sher Music Co. Petaluma became Pori, and that was quite a story:
Pori has also enjoyed great success as a go-to jazz font for Sibelius.
Leland, and inspiration, strikes
But fonts are an obsession, and just when you think you can rest easy, inspiration strikes yet again. It turns out that the MuseScore team, in preparing for their gigantic overhaul of the software, decided to make an entirely new SMuFL-based music font of their own, to become the new default font for that program.
First released in MuseScore 3.6, and used in MuseScore 4 along with host of engraving upgrades, that font is called Leland. Designed by MuseScore lead designer Martin Keary in collaboration with music engraver Simon Smith, Leland draws inspiration from the look of scores produced by the legendary SCORE program and its creator Leland Smith (no relation to Simon).
At the time of Leland’s release, Martin said:
“When setting out to create our font, Simon and I agreed on a few goals: First, we wanted the notation style to function as the new default in MuseScore, so our focus was on creating a highly finessed version of the classic notation style. Second, we particularly wanted to match the feeling of precision and balance that SCORE had so successfully achieved. Third, since legibility is of the utmost importance, we wanted to avoid the impulse to make something really flashy that draws attention to itself. In a way, we wanted to make the Helvetica of music notation, with everything feeling just right so performing musicians almost don’t know what’s there.”
Recommended viewing is his accompanying video on the subject:
The appeal of Leland could not be denied. Although Bravura/Norfolk is a stunningly beautiful font, Bravura literally means “bold”, and it has a thickness and robustness that is greater than most music fonts. Its glyphs were modeled after the Not-a-set dry transfer system, which in turn was based on engraving punches of Schott, and, before it, Breitkopf & Hartel. It intentionally has a slight imprecision to mimic the “analog” nature of the engraving and dry-transfer processes, in which ink will seep into the paper.
Leland, on the other hand, was based on SCORE — the first commercially available music notation program. Famously, SCORE didn’t even have a music font; it drew all of its shapes using precise vector instructions, and what appeared to be a smooth oval-shaped notehead was actually a series of infinitesimally small lines connected at defined angles.
This helped contribute to the “precision and balance” that Martin admired in SCORE’s output, and it’s what more generally appealed to an entire generation of engravers working in SCORE.
Now that Leland was available and set out to replicate those qualities, it was time to restart the foundry, and create a Sibelius version.
The result of that effort is Lelandia — get it? “Leland” and “Finlandia”, in keeping with the Finland-based Sibelius theme — and it’s available now from Notation Central for use in Sibelius.
Before we go on, if you watched Martin’s video carefully — and I mean, extremely carefully — you would have noticed an “info blast” on this slide, which was on the screen for exactly one second:
Well, it took a while, but consider Lelandia hereby announced on Scoring Notes and available at Notation Central!
Jeff Kellem, one of the expert collaborators I mentioned above, returns here for an encore virtuoso performance. Under his careful eye, he executed the series of precise and detailed maneuvers necessary to turn Leland into a suite of fonts that plays nicely with Sibelius.
Lelandia is an engraved-style font. Naturally, the difference between Norfolk and Lelandia is far less pronounced, than, say, Norfolk and Pori. You may not even notice it with only a quick glance. But zoom in — or zoom out — and the difference is apparent.
Lelandia achieves that precision. Look at this comparison of Lelandia (Leland) on the left and Norfolk (Bravura) on the right:
Norfolk has a smooth, relaxed inner oval in the whole note, generously rounded edges in the accidentals, a high slope in the sharp’s cross marks, and other slight intentional imperfections that pay homage to its provenance. Lelandia, on the other hand, snaps to attention: the inner part of the oval is more upright with its left and right sides almost straight like a parallelogram, the angles are more square, and its edges more defined.
Neither is better or worse; they’re just different. In the same way that different text fonts can be more well-suited to one style of writing than another, the same is true with music fonts.
So, with that, you now have Lelandia to enjoy in your Sibelius music projects, courtesy of all of the people named above, and no doubt many others.
Get and use Lelandia in Sibelius
Getting Lelandia is easy. First, quit Sibelius if it is running.
Then, simply download Lelandia from Notation Central, and install the entire set of fonts on your computer, in the usual manner specified by your Mac or Windows operating system. We’ve also bundled Steinberg’s Academico text font with Lelandia, if you don’t have it already, so you should install those as well.
Lelandia is free, but you’re welcome to make the suggested contribution of $15, or whatever amount seems right to you. (Thank you to all of the users who have contributed over the years to Norfolk and Pori — your contributions were re-invested in our efforts to support those fonts and add Lelandia, so this is for you!)
There is a basic Sibelius file included, with two versions of Sibelius at the time of this release, appended with the version(s) of Sibelius with which it is compatible:
- 2023.5 +
- 2020.3 (for use up to 2023.3)
You will find these documents in a folder contained in the download package.
Open the Sibelius file corresponding to the most recent version of Sibelius installed on your computer.
You can export a house style from this document, and use it in other Sibelius files, by going to Appearance > House Style > Export, and choosing an appropriate name for the house style, such as “Lelandia”.
Once you restart Sibelius, you basically have two easy options to use Lelandia in your document:
- The preferred option is to import the Lelandia house style directly into your new or existing document. You do not need to import the Document Setup settings; leave this unchecked so that you can maintain your document’s current page size and margins. Further instructions are included in the Lelandia documentation, and also more generally in Sibelius’s documentation, with respect to using house styles.
- If you are working with an existing file with a customized house style, you may wish to preserve your document settings and just import Lelandia as a straight-up replacement for your current music font. To do this, go to Text > Format > Edit All Fonts (the dialog launcher). For Main Music Font choose Lelandia Std. (Music Text Font should automatically change to Lelandia Text Std.) Check Change existing text if it isn’t already checked, and click OK. You will have to make any adjustments à la carte to engraving settings, symbols and the like, to accommodate any undesirable differences that Lelandia has introduced into your document
Thanks to Avid’s Sibelius team for including out-of-the-box support for Lelandia, beginning with Sibelius 2023.5, so you should see Lelandia Std as an option in Preferences > Music Fonts, like so:
If you’re using an earlier version of Sibelius, consult our documentation for how to set up your Preferences > Music Fonts, which comes into play if you use the second method mentioned above.
What else: Norfolk house style update, and what’s to come
New Norfolk house style
Existing Norfolk users have something to enjoy as a result of this process. In the course of developing the house style for Lelandia, we re-made the house style that’s included with Norfolk as well, so that the two are as similar as possible.
In essence, the new house style for Norfolk is a simplified version of one of the Scoring Express Chamber styles. It doesn’t have all of the extra lines and some other special features that you get in a Scoring Express house style, and there’s no template or manuscript paper included with the Norfolk download. But, if you use this new Norfolk house style for your Sibelius project and then later decide you’d like to upgrade to Scoring Express, you’ll find that the transition should be very easy.
If you’re a registered user of Norfolk, simply log into your Notation Central account and download the fonts again, or use the Retrieve Files link to have them delivered to your email. (Please don’t create a new order if you’ve already acquired Norfolk from Notation Central, as your download link will always retrieve the most up-to-date version.) There are no other changes to the fonts at this time, so you don’t need to re-install those, but you’ll see a new house style included, which you can drop into your house style folder, as above.
Lelandia future updates
Hopefully, the version of Lelandia that’s been released works well for you right away. But, this process is part art, part science, and if there’s anything that looks broken to you, or seems like it could be improved, please let us know, so that we can issue an update.
There are some glyphs that either didn’t exist in Leland or weren’t practical to migrate over precisely. So there are some instances that the Norfolk glyph appears in Lelandia as a fallback. You should find that, at the very least, nothing is missing if you switch from Norfolk to Lelandia, although it’s possible a certain item may look the same, because it is.
Jeff said, “It’s always a pleasure to work with Philip on these projects. For Lelandia, since we decided to use Norfolk (Bravura) as a fallback, we added some changes to support fallback for the various font styles and attempted to make it fit reasonably well to replace in a score already using Norfolk. In some cases, we added new or modified Leland glyphs (~50) to try to keep the style more closely aligned with Leland. When there wasn’t a printout of SCORE output easily available, I left the fallback going to Norfolk instead of introducing a design that might not feel right for the original Score design. For changes that make sense to add to the Leland SMuFL fonts, we’ll be sending them to Martin and Simon.”
Likewise, in time, if Leland is updated so that it is possible to include any changes in Lelandia instead of using the fallbacks that Jeff mentioned, we will attempt do so.