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Re: Using Unicode symbols for accidentals

From: Pavel Roskin
Subject: Re: Using Unicode symbols for accidentals
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2011 22:55:58 -0500
User-agent: Internet Messaging Program (IMP) H3 (4.1.4)

Quoting Carl Sorensen <address@hidden>:

I think the point Werner was making is that accidentals are used on a
staff.  The graphical representation of f sharp is a notehead on the f
line or space (depending on which staff, and which octave) with a sharp
symbol either before the note (an accidental) or in the key signature.

The text representation of f sharp in germany and austria is fis.  When
you want to describe a note in text, that's how you do it.  In english, we
write "f sharp"; in german, they write "fis".

I understand that.

Using those signs in a text file would be a new thing.  Maybe
accidentals should be written before the notes, as in the score (♯f),
but that could complicate parsing and conversion to the new format.  On
the other hand, it would be better to make a choice that's more natural
for musicians, not for programmers.

For german musicians, fis is more natural.

Personally, I would *hate* having to type unicode symbols for sharp and
flat. It's much easier to learn that is means sharp and es means flat,
than it is to learn (and remember) how to get unicode characters in my
text file.  I can type text at 70 words per minute.  I can type unicode at
about 0.2 words per minute.

It should be possible to convert is/es to Unicode symbols with a script or in a GUI such as Frescobaldi.

If learning that "is" means "sharp" and "es" means "flat" is going to stop
someone from using LilyPond, I have no confidence that they will ever use
it anyway.  They should probably use some GUI point-and-click tool, rather
than LilyPond.

That's not my goal at all. I want just want compact input that would be easy on the eye. "fis" looks three times wider than "f". And it would be hard to separate it from other notes if chords were written without spaces ("dfisa").

I believe that someone who wanted to (including you) could define a
language, e.g. unicode, that used unicode symbols for entry of
alterations.  It should be relatively straightforward, by adding entries
to the file scm/define-note-names.scm.  If you'd like to try it, I'd
certainly be willing to help you through rough spots that you hit.  And if
you have a unicode language, then we can have the discussion about making
it the default language for LilyPond, although I doubt there is any chance
of moving it to the default.

One of the nice things about LilyPond is that if you want a feature, you
can implement it.  So let me encourage you to give it a try!

I understand now that I wanted to do two different things.

1) Unlock the possibilities of using musical symbols defined in Unicode to create more compact and readable input files.

2) Have universal notation for sharps and flats that would be accepted with any language settings.

Judging by the feedback so far, it looks like the advanced Unicode symbols may be a poor choice for the universal notation.

A special "Unicode language" could be a stepping stone towards the first goal. I'll try to implement that if I have time.

Pavel Roskin

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