The Neume Notation Project

Louis W. G. Barton

§ Neumatic Notation on Computer: Project Proposal




REPORT

12 February 1995

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

Steps:
1. Look at examples of neumatic notation in facsimiles of old manuscripts
Goals:
  • 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)
Tools:
  • 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
Goals:
  • 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
Tasks:
  • 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
Tools:
  • Envisions ENV 8100 scanner with Envisions Dyna Scan software
  • Image Folio software (for image editing)
4. Begin early with documentation of the project
Goals:
  • 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
Goals:
  • 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
Tasks:
  • 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
Tool:
  • Fontographer for Windows
6. Demonstrate the creation of a score with neume characters
Goals:
  • 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
Tools:
  • Personal Composer for Windows
  • if there is time and funding, Finale for Windows
  • if there is time, Finale for Macintosh
7. Demonstrate printed output
Goals:
  • 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
Goals:
  • 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
Goals:
  • 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
Philosophy:
  • 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