MusGlyphs, an advanced music text font

News

I’m happy to present a new font called MusGlyphs. MusGlyphs derives all its glyphs from Bravura and Academico, modifying them to allow the user to type in intuitive key combinations to create these glyphs within text: aligned, correctly sized, and spaced together nicely.

MusGlyphs in use

Here’s a brief backstory of how MusGlyphs was created.

A few weeks ago, a user on the Dorico forum was needing to add a time signature as a text item and mentioned in passing that it seemed more difficult than it ought to be to do something so simple. That’s true of adding most (all?) music glyphs as text items. While the glyphs are readily available, they typically have to be copy-pasted from a character map, or input using Unicode, which is far from intuitive. Often they also need to be resized and their baselines altered significantly to make them look like they match the Roman text around them.

It’s easy enough to map basic symbols to single letters, of course. “q” is a quarter note, “h” is a half note. But that’s clearly not the complete solution. I was fairly new to fonts, but a little digging revealed that ligatures were the answer. A ligature is essentially a substitution: type a combination of keystrokes, and an entirely different character is displayed. The most common ligature is the “fi”:

If you’re using a program that supports ligatures (hint: you need to have them turned on, too!), and if you’re using a font that includes this ligature, when you type “f” followed by “i,” you get a new glyph. It hasn’t simply squished the two characters together, although it appears that way; it’s actually a completely different glyph that the program displays in place of the “fi.”

Typing “B3#” will create a bass clef with three sharps, for instance

Of course you can see the potential here: if you want to type “4/4” and have the time signature displayed as it would appear in the score, you simply need to create that time signature as a unique glyph within the font, then assign the key combination “4/4” to trigger it.


Try it! In the box below, type 4/4, or B4#, or tr#, or, for loads of fun, |:LLLL%%LLL:|

↑↑ (Chrome / Microsoft Edge browsers: Certain ligatures won’t display correctly immediately in these browsers. Please click OT and then toggle Standard Ligatures off and on after typing the characters to view the correct ligatures.)


That’s really all there is to tell. MusGlyphs is a bit unorthodox, since I wanted to avoid some OpenType functionality that was more powerful but may not be available in some programs. Every glyph, including every time signature, is either a direct mapping of a letter or a unique ligature triggered by what I hope are intuitive key combinations. It should be useful to music educators, scholars, and any users that want to quickly add various musical symbols as text.

Here’s MusGlyphs in action, typed using just a handful of characters.

 

All the most common glyphs are represented, I think: time signatures, key signatures, chord symbols, clefs, notes, rests, and more. You can find all the info you need on the character map. The intention is that, while a user might need to check the map for reference the first time, the key combinations are quickly learned and intuitive.

MusGlyphs is available at Notation Central. It was created and is made available under the SIL Open Font License, and as such it is available at no charge; however, a suggested contribution of $10 or whatever you care to contribute towards this project is greatly appreciated.

I hope you find MusGlyphs useful. If you find any errors or have requests for symbols to be added that would helpful for other users, please let me know.

Dan Kreider on the Scoring Notes podcast

On the Scoring Notes podcast, Philip Rothman and David MacDonald talk with Dan about his role as the founder of Hymnworks, a service that has produced tens of thousands of copies of custom hymnals. Not only is Dan an expert engraver, he’s also one of the top music notation software specialists, having worked extensively in Finale and Dorico.

Scoring Notes
Dan Kreider on hymnal engraving
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Comments

  1. Andrew

    THANK YOU! At last a way to enter musical symbols in my text without it going haywire and messing up my line spacing and creating terrible open spaces that really, well… just look bad! It is super easy to use, effective, and really amazing how it transformed my text.

  2. Waldbaer

    This is just extremely useful, thanks a thousand times!

  3. Tony Ward

    This is utterly, Wow-out-loud-so-that-my-wife-looks-at-me-funny brilliant. Bravissimo.

  4. Jan Steele

    Just downloaded. Where do I put the file in my computer?

  5. Dan Kreider

    I’d let your operating system decide that. Simply install the font as you would any normal text font, and Windows or Mac will put it in the right place.

    1. Jan Steele

      Got it thanks!

  6. falk

    Very nice! Do you think there is a future glyph version based on port font?

    1. falk

      port = pori

    2. Dan Kreider

      Pori? Unfortunately not. But I am working on a Roman version (using Academico, with full support for Roman characters) and a sans version, typeface TBD.

  7. Falk Rene Beigang

    Another question: MusGlyph not shown in Apple Pages Fonts, only in Word!

    1. Dan Kreider

      That’s correct. It’s because Apple OS does not recognize MusGlyphs as a Latin script, so it appears in its own section in the list.

      You should be able to select it in Format > Fonts > Show Fonts even if you don’t see it in the drop down menu.

  8. Jan Martin Smørdal

    This is fantastic, thanks so much. Will download and donate immediately.
    2 questions:
    – Is it possible/Will it be possible to write more complex rhythmic modulations, e.g. parts of a quintuplet equals swing/3:2
    – Can Musglyphs also create this tiny circle instead of n as niente in dynamics? Or maybe a downscaled dim will do?

    Again, thanks a bunch for this work!

    1. Dan Kreider

      The next version will include comprehensive (I think) support for metric modulations, such as this: https://forums.steinberg.net/t/musglyphs-bravura-for-writing-in-time-signatures-and-other-glyphs/707172/104

      I will add the niente circle to the next update as well, thanks.

  9. Marek Tabisz

    I’ve not noticed alto clef with key signatures. There are only F and G clefs. I’s impossible to write for instance A4#). Or maybe I am missing something. Anyway great project!

    1. Dan Kreider

      That’s correct, key signatures are presently available only with treble and bass clefs.

  10. mirabilos

    This is very interesting for a start (it doesn’t seem to be possible to place notes on note lines, but I guess that’d be much more complex, though an interesting addition for some easy ad-hōc inline writing that can then be expanded by embedding e.g. SVGs produced by MuseScore or even the webplayer for playback).

    As a T/CT singer, I note the most glaring omission is the G8vb clef ;-)

    Is there a way to be notified of new releases of this font, without going through the whole order form again and manually checking if the version number changed?

    1. Dan Kreider

      You mean the treble clef with the little 8 underneath? I can add that.

      When you download the font through Notation Central, you’ll be automatically notified of all future releases when they’re available.

      Yes, adding notes on the staff is quite daunting. Basic notes aren’t difficult, but things like beamed 8ths quickly get very complex. I’d rather direct users to dedicated notation software for that. Dorico has a new graphic slices feature that allows you to crop and export excerpts as various formats.

  11. Malcolm

    I really like the look of this but when it comes to time signatures, is 11/4 (for example) really not possible? Or have I misunderstood? If not, a full range of time signature options would be very useful.

    1. Dan Kreider

      Hi Malcom, any time signature is possible… if I add it. Each option has to be manually created as a ligature. So there will never be an unlimited number of possibilities (I’ll probably never add support for irrational time signatures), but I can add options that users will commonly need. I’ll add 11/4 and 12/4 for the next update.

      1. Malcolm

        What a great response…thank you!

  12. Kino

    Hi Dan, I just purchased the MusGlyph font, installed it on my Mac.
    Unfortunately, it does not work as advertised.
    When I type a text like “4/4” in Microsoft Word, and then select the text and choose “MusGlyph” as font, it merely gets a bit bolder, but the / is still there and it looks nowhere near as beautiful as I see in your video. Bummer! Any solution?

    1. David Louis

      Same for me !

      1. Dan Kreider

        As the documentation states, you need to turn on ligatures in Word. Then it’ll work as expected.

        1. David Louis

          Thank you for your answer but but I have chosen MusGlyphs font but in my version of word (windows) OpenType features is grayed out

          1. Dan Kreider

            Version of Word are you running? I believe 2008 was the first year that Word supported ligatures.

          2. David Louis

            The last one (Office 365)

          3. David Louis

  13. Richard Hubbard

    Excellent! Where have you been all my life?! This will transform my lecture notes for students. A really useful resource, and well worth the requested donation. I look forward to future updates (e.g. 15/8)

    As a percussionist, I’d welcome the addition of a series of percussion symbols (maybe that needs a separate font).

    Thank you so much for creating this.

    1. Dan Kreider

      Hi Richard, thanks for the kind words. Could you please email me a list of what you feel are the most important percussion-related glyphs? I don’t know that it can be comprehensive—I want to keep the font from getting too bloated—but I think we can add some.

  14. Lucy Innes

    Many thanks for this! I’ve been frustrated by this issue for years. Thank you. I’m just about to buy it!

  15. Nancy Piver

    MusGlyphs will be a great help when I write a page of learning tips for my arrangements. The first thing I wanted, though, I didn’t find in the list of glyphs: a Rehearsal Mark in a little square (I typed RM A, to no avail). Did I miss finding it? Thank you.

    1. Dan Kreider

      Hi Nancy, at present there are no enclosed letters.

      1. mirabilos

        For enclosing I highly recommend to follow the Unicode standard instead of using ASCII shortcuts as ligature substitutions.

        U+20DD ⃝ COMBINING ENCLOSING CIRCLE
        U+20DE ⃞ COMBINING ENCLOSING SQUARE
        U+20DF ⃟ COMBINING ENCLOSING DIAMOND
        U+20E0 ⃠ COMBINING ENCLOSING CIRCLE BACKSLASH
        U+20E2 ⃢ COMBINING ENCLOSING SCREEN
        U+20E3 ⃣ COMBINING ENCLOSING KEYCAP
        U+20E4 ⃤ COMBINING ENCLOSING UPWARD POINTING TRIANGLE

        1. Nancy Piver

          Thanks for the suggestion. The Unicode standard? Alas, I don’t understand what you mean. Kindly explain.

          1. Dan Kreider

            Hi Nancy, I’m planning to add enclosed letters in the next update.

  16. David Louis

    It works ! :)
    I have a question. How can I write compound rhythm like this example :
    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xbeEL8WvP-c/maxresdefault.jpg
    Thank you

    1. Dan Kreider

      You can do most of those, except for ssess. Email me at dan dot kreider at gmail dot com, and I’ll send you a beta that includes that.

  17. Steff

    It is a fantastic idea to have the abilty of putting music symbols into a word-based textfile, especially when you work on a theory book or analysing tunes! Thank you very much for that.
    I have one little question: In the screen animation file above I can see that there are several text parts (the time signatures) selected at the same time – I was always wondering how this can be done … I think it is more a questtion on how to use word, but maybe someone can mention, how to do it … ;-)
    Thanks

    1. Dan Kreider

      Hmm… that’s a question for Philip!

    2. Philip Rothman

      On Mac, hold down Command while drag-selecting the text; on Windows, it’s Ctrl. See this post.

  18. Matthew Hindson

    Dan, this is insanely good. As someone who has designed fonts, you just put (most of) what I have done in this area out of business. And I am very happy about that. I will just direct them to your font instead.

    One question: how about being able to use full words rather than abbreviations. e.g. “treble” rather than/ in addition to “tre”. “upbow” / “ub”. Fewer shortcuts needed to remember?

    Also I would advocate for “dim” for the diminuendo hairpin.

    And add Tenor and Percussion clefs in there too.

    1. Dan Kreider

      Hi Matthew, thank you for the kind words! As it happens, I do have a version just about ready to release: MusGlyphs-Roman, which does exactly what you’re requesting.

      I’ll check with Philip to see if we can get it updated on the product page this week.

      1. Dan Kreider

        EDIT: I misread your comment, sorry.

        “Tre” returns treble clef, so I assumed the user wouldn’t need to continue! I can add upbow. “Dim” is a dedicated “dim” chord suffix already though.

        I’ll add tenor and percussion.

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