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Re: old time signatures

From: Christian Mondrup
Subject: Re: old time signatures
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 22:50:00 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i586; en-US; rv:0.9.9) Gecko/20020408

Juergen Reuter wrote:
Hi, Mats, Christian, and all others on the devel list!

Long ago when lily 1.1.55 came up, mensural time signature styles
old2/4, old6/8alt, old4/8 were added (by Mats & Christian, the
changelog says), using a three quarter circle opened to the left side
(like the letter "C", but reversed on the x axis).  My resources (MGG,
Harvard Dictionary of Music, DTV Musikatlas and others) show for (white)
mensural notation only a single form with such a reverse "C", namely
the "tempus imperfectum cum prolatione minori" typus with brevis as beat;
i.e. the reverse "C" equals the vertically slashed "C" (alla breve).

I guess, your resources refer to some notation that was used earlier,
maybe franconian ars nova or something alike.  Could you check this and/or
do have you any bibliographic or WWW references?

at the time when Mats on my request created the additional white mensural notation timesig symbols I had limited access to litterature on that subject. In the meantime I've aquired the German edition of Willi Apel's (author of Harvard Dictionary of Music) book on notation "Die Notation der Polyphonen Musik", Leipzip 1962. According to this book (p. 157 f) the 'inverted' C is one among a series of alternative (alternative to a fraction notation (2/1) indications of 'proportio dupla', also denoted 'diminutio' or 'diminutio simplex' which, in case of tempus imperfectum ,as you write has 2 semibreve per beat.

Please bear in mind that the symbols offered in Mats's adaptions of the 'ancient' feta fonts have no musical implications whatsoever - they're just symbols which you can use as you want. Personally I used them for the 'original notation' incipits of my MusiXTeX typeset modern editions of works by Thomas Ravenscroft. You may find these editions on the successor of the GMD music archive, the Werner Icking Muisc Archive ( where you'll also find Mats's feta fonts along with a type 1 postscript version and macros for MusiXTeX typesetting.

This is the best information I have myself. You might want to ask more intricate questions to Alain Naigeon (address@hidden), who maintains an interesing web site on early music, see

Best regards
Christian Mondrup, Computer Programmer
Scandiatransplant, Skejby Hospital, University Hospital of Aarhus
Brendstrupgaardsvej, DK 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark
Phone: +45 89 49 53 01 -

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