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Re: Question about customizing emmentaler font

From: tisimst
Subject: Re: Question about customizing emmentaler font
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:47:04 -0700 (PDT)


Good, valid questions, and thank you for your response. Let's see if I can answer them satisfactorily:

1. The use case, at least as it is with me, would be for anyone dabbling with their own notation fonts that want to use them without needing to mess with source code. Granted, the work-flow is a little bit hacked and definitely done on the command-line, so it takes some courage for those less inclined to work there. Also, the method I'm using allows the user to edit only the glyphs they want to change in FontForge (usually the standard glyphs) and leave the other less-common glyphs (like the ancient notations) as they are, but still available (as opposed to what Gonville has done) if someone wants to mix notation styles in a score, thus allowing for complete flexibility while maintaining a comprehensive glyph set.

2. The reason I chose not to edit the metafont source is because it appeared that metafont behaves more like a person with a pen writing down the glyph (which absolutely has its place) and not a craftsman with a chisel making a glyph punch and engraving the glyph in a metal plate. I just don't know (probably because of my lack of experience) if metafont can easily add the features I've identified. Now, I 100% agree that it would be a very nice touch if it could be integrated into LilyPond itself, even a totally custom build. I just don't know how to make the changes in the metafont easily, but that, again, could be due to my lack of experience.

Honestly, the differences between Emmentaler and Cadence (that's what I'm calling my font so far) are pretty small. Some more obvious, others more subtle. I've attached the FontForge's full-font print out to show the 20pt sizes of both Emmentaler and Cadence. 

Also attached are LilyPond's engraving of the first score in the "essay", Suite I, BWV 1007. One version was laid out to match the PDF version of the essay in its printed size (larger margins, staff-size of 15.3pt, etc.), but engraved with Emmentaler, which looks fabulous (I always wondered why LilyPond's version was not included for comparison in the essay), which looks fabulous. 

The other two are the same score at 20pt size, still letter-size paper, but default margins, one using Emmentaler and the other using Cadence. This particular score looks fine with Cadence since it doesn't use any dynamics or numerals (except for the fingering which actually comes from a smaller optical Emmentaler font).

- I've tried to mimic the way that some styles blend the noteheads together, particularly the half-note and whole note (similar to what the Parnassus font does for MuseScore). They are a little larger, and a little more round, but still NOT round or even elliptical.
- I've simplified the curves of the treble clef (it just always looked a little too hand-written to me) and increased the length of the tail of the bass clef. 
- I've also increased the width of the natural accidentals (not completely settled on this yet, but the default seems a little thin to me) and increased the stems a little, adjusted the interior void of the flat accidentals so that the stem has a more consistent taper and the bulb is more voluptuous and black. 
- Of course, I added consistent internal rounds to all the glyphs that should have them (and not all SHOULD have them, by the way, if we follow the engraving process).

If you get any tips as to solving my problems with the font, I'd greatly appreciate it!


On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 11:29 AM, Urs Liska [via Lilypond] <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Abraham,

this sounds very interesting indeed. I'd be most interested in seeing
some comparison examples!

I can't help you at all with your actual question, but I have a question
of my own: Could you please make somewhat more clear what the use case
is exactly (in terms of your "users")?
My main question is why exactly you want ot edit the .odt files and not
the sources. I mean you are writing a Python script, so your users
wouldn't mess with Metafont anyway.
Of course Modifying the .otf is faster and doesn't require a LiylPond
build. But wouldn't it be a very nice touch if the modifications you
made could principally be integrated into LilyPond itself (or at least a
custom build).


Am 21.04.2014 19:19, schrieb tisimst:

> I am developing a /relatively/ easy python script to allow a person to tweak
> the default Emmentaler font as they desire without needing to mess with
> metafont, but by simply modifying the .OTF files in FontForge. I feel like
> I've gotten things /mostly/ under control, but I am running into two issues
> that I just can't figure out.
> The first has to do with the glyphs, which I tweaked a little, that come
> from the feta-alphabet subfonts (i.e., the time-signature numerals and the
> dynamics letters) which for some reason default to some other font for the
> numbers and letters and don't use those in my font at all:
> <>
> The other issue appears with the arpeggio element and, I suspect, also with
> the trill element (though I haven't tried it explicitly), neither of which
> did I modify at all. As can be seen below, the glyph doesn't connect for a
> continuous look:
> <>
> I have combed through the source code, but I couldn't find anything remotely
> obvious as to why this would be the case.  There also appears to be some
> kerning information for these glyphs that I think I've figured out, but not
> sure. Let's just say I am at a loss without some help from someone more
> intimately involved in the data required to render these glyphs (Han-wen?
> Werner?)
> Now, why am I doing this?
> Well, Although creating a new music notation font is definitely fun, there's
> another more important reason for this. I'm an engineer by trade with some
> manufacturing experience. I also love singing and playing the piano and
> computer programming, which makes using LilyPond quite enjoyable. As I have
> looked at the notation glyphs from older (and IMHO more beautiful) scores
> that are hand engraved and printed, there is an artistic aspect of the glyph
> designs that is still missing from Emmentaler. I am, in NO WAY, saying that
> Emmentaler is a poorly designed font. It is VERY NICE and I offer my highest
> regards to those who developed it. I know it took a ton of work.
> Here's what's missing, and I don't know how metafont can capture this. Much
> of the focus of the design of Emmentaler font has been around the
> */engraving/* part, which is HUGELY important. However, one thing we are
> forgetting (which may not be important to others, but I see as more
> critical) is the design AND FABRICATION of the punches that were used. Let
> me explain what I mean.
> In order to cut metal, I have to have a tool that is */sharp/*. How sharp?
> Well, that's relative I suppose, but let's assume I have a tool with
> knife-like edge that is hard enough to cut, say, the treble clef punch at a
> particular size. Now, this knife edge is only so sharp and, when cutting
> metal, isn't likely to be used like we would use a knife to carve wood. On
> the contrary, it would be used more like a chisel and would be able to
> create a /smallest/ feature size, like for an interior corner. This is the
> most obvious kind of feature that most people don't think about when
> creating a classical-looking font. Exterior corners can be made sharp--/no
> problem!/--because I am not limited in size by the tool I'm using to create
> it. On the other hand, the interior corners are /*NEVER EVER EVER* going to
> be sharp/ because I simply do not have a strong enough tool with a sharp
> enough edge to cut a perfectly sharp interior corner. Even nowadays with our
> advanced manufacturing processes, this is a difficult and very expensive
> challenge.
> What this means: in order to have a truly authentic, classically engraved
> look, ALL interior corners should be rounded-ish, and the rounded-ness
> should remain optically constant (i.e., for emmentaler-26, the internal
> rounds would be optically the same size as those for emmentaler-11, but in
> the font itself, the rounds would be /MUCH LARGER/ for emmentaler-11 than
> emmentaler-26 because the intended print size is /MUCH SMALLER/). I realize
> that using a traditional printing press with liquid ink will also contribute
> to the final size of these rounds, so what this "minimum feature size"
> should be is certainly debatable. I know that not everyone would agree with
> the need to add this feature, or with any of the other changes I've made,
> but take it for what it's worth. I think it would add a very nice touch to
> Emmentaler.
> (phew!)
> Wow, I didn't mean for all that to come out right now, but I thought I'd
> share some thoughts on this matter. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the printed
> look of hand-engraved scores, and the Emmentaler font does great for the
> most part, but I don't feel like it quite captures some unmistakable
> hand-engraved features of the whole engraving/printing process needed to
> make computer-generated scores look more authentic and less
> computer-generated. There are even more features that I love, but would be
> most difficult to mimic, so I won't go there (yet).
> So, back to my original reason for posting this. Can someone help me figure
> out why the dynamic letters and time-signature numbers won't appear like
> they should from my font and why the arpeggio elements won't line up? I know
> there's kerning involved, but I don't suspect that is the issue. I know the
> glyphs are there in the font, so that's also not the issue. Thanks for your
> help and keep up the excellent work!
> -Abraham
> --
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pr-Cadence-20-20pt.pdf (285K) Download Attachment
suite1-bwv1007-emmentaler.pdf (190K) Download Attachment
suite1-bwv1007-cadence.pdf (191K) Download Attachment
suite1-bwv1007-essay.pdf (63K) Download Attachment
pr-Emmentaler-20-20pt.pdf (202K) Download Attachment

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