The Neume Notation Project

Louis W. G. Barton

§ Neumatic Notation on Computer: Project Proposal


12 February 1995

Outline steps for realizing the Project, tools that will be used, and how they will fit together.

1. Look at examples of neumatic notation in facsimiles of old manuscripts
  • arrive at selection of characters to make up at least one character set
    • TrueType allows 207 characters per font
    • determine what 'framework' characters are mandatory (e.g., clefs)
    • take into consideration how characters might eventually be translated to MIDI
      • are certain font cells 'reserved' for musical or extra-musical symbols?
      • if possible, do work as to permit eventual translation to MIDI output
  • provide a set that is musicologically more useful than the Solesmes set (Liber Usualis)
  • Paleographie Musicale, vol. 12 Worcester and vol. 15f Benevento (facsimiles)
  • Antiphonale Sarisburiense, W.H. Frere (facsimiles)
  • Graduale Sarisburiense, W.H. Frere (facsimiles)
  • Die Neumen, Solange Corbin (note the map showing regional styles)
  • "Music Writing in the West," Leo Treitler [JAMS, 1982, #2] (note comparative table)
  • Grove Dictionary of Music, (article on "neume"; note comparative table)
  • New Harvard Dictionary of Music, (article on "neumatic notations")
  • Liber Usualis, Solesmes (the standard source for modern neume notation)
2. Write up a brief survey of existing music-editing software and neumatic fonts
  • include both PC and Macintosh platforms (mention UNIX?)
  • compare features vis-à-vis the goals of this project
  • maintain and update this report along the way
3. Scan pictures of individual neume characters
  • for non-Solesmes neumes, decide what constitutes the archetypal shape of each neume
  • scan in line-art mode (B/W) at 600 dpi
  • clean up and crop images using Image Folio software; save in bit-mapped format
  • Envisions ENV 8100 scanner with Envisions Dyna Scan software
  • Image Folio software (for image editing)
4. Begin early with documentation of the project
  • keep a log of technical data explaining procedures, use of tools, and decisions taken
  • keep notes for a user's manual including both the creation and use of the font
  • allow enough time at end of the semester to put documentation into a finished form
  • extract portions of documentation for submission to a journal
5. Create character font set
  • create at least one complete font for demonstration purposes
  • create versions of each font in TrueType and PostScript Type I formats
    • TrueType is used in Microsoft Windows, for instance Personal Composer
    • PostScript is used on the Macintosh and generally in the publishing world
  • input bit-mapped images to Fontographer software
  • establish the 'base line' for each character
  • establish the correct scale for each character
  • output characters to a font file in both font formats
  • Fontographer for Windows
6. Demonstrate the creation of a score with neume characters
  • show feasibility using one or more music editing programs
    • Personal Composer for Windows
    • Finale for Windows
    • Finale for Macintosh
  • show how staves of various depths can be used
    • work initially with a four-line staff
    • demonstrate three, two, and one line staves (also try six lines)
  • show how staves of various lengths can be created
  • resolve the difficulty of correct placement of notes on the staff
  • create at least one finished reproduction of part of an original manuscript
  • Personal Composer for Windows
  • if there is time and funding, Finale for Windows
  • if there is time, Finale for Macintosh
7. Demonstrate printed output
  • printout directly from the music-editing program
  • cut and paste music from music program to word processor
  • output EPS format file, read into word processor
8. Speculate about how MIDI output could be generated from neumatic scores
  • include at end of the project write-up
  • used for checking score input
  • mention potential applications to multi-media; education
9. Speculate about how a translation program could be written to produce other data formats
  • include at end of the project write-up
  • mention the number-based format used by musicologists for comparing scores
  • possible translation to standard-period music notation
  • explain how a program would read a PostScript file, translate, & output to PostScript
  • main priority is that this be a learning experience about interdisciplinary work
    • as with science, sometimes a failed project is just as informative as a success
  • we hope to have a successful outcome to the project
    • create at least one useable font
    • demonstrate feasibility of score creation, editing, and printing using the font
  • a good user's manual is as important as progress with software development
  • I would like to achieve a publishable article from this work

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Revision: 12 June 2001
Copyright © 1995, 2001, Louis W. G. Barton