Additional Music Fonts

I’m curious - how often do you use a music font other than Bravura (or Petaluma)? I really like the idea of collecting some additional music fonts to have available, but wondering if it is just a way to put window dressing on when additional dressing isn’t all that necessary, I you know what I mean.

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Well, is it necessary to use a Microsoft Word font other than Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman as “window dressing”? I think it comes down to what you like the look of. A quick google search of music fonts for Dorico will provide you with plenty of good options. You said you really like the idea of more fonts so have at it! Experiment with a few free fonts and see what you like. :slight_smile:

The music fonts have to be SMuFL-compliant to work in Dorico, so that eliminates a lot of the music fonts you might find. The SMuFL site has a list although I’m not sure if it’s up to date.

Finale released six SMuFL-compliant fonts with their last major update and they are all available for free. MuseScore’s Leland font (modeled after SCORE) is also available for free. @NorFonts is pretty prolific has quite a few styles available for purchase. November and Sebastian are fairly commonly found too. Links to all of these are available at the SMuFL page linked to above.

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I don’t think the analogy with text fonts is quite the same. It’s easy to tell a text font difference at a glance, but music fonts are much more subtle. I do agree there’s a difference, but unless it’s a very particular font, it’s very slight to the average eye (even for professional musicians).

Now that I say that, there are a couple music fonts I absolutely can’t stand. :roll_eyes::roll_eyes:

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I get what you are saying. Really it depends on the font. There are many text fonts that are very similar to eachother. Even Arial and Helvetica, two of the most common text fonts, are very similar. As far as music fonts go, there are less options than text fonts, so I would agree with you for the most part they are similar. But just like text fonts, there are some very different fonts like this one BopMusic - SMuFL - Notation Central

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I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. I know there are options and of course, you don’t use just one font for type. But as said above, there is a huge difference between Serif and Sans Serif fonts, let alone all other varieties. Whereas music fonts are much more nuanced.

My curiosity was more about how often you actually use a different typeface from the default. Did you find one that became your personal house style, or stick with Default and change other layout options.

Perhaps a silly inquiry. But I am curious.

In Finale, my default was a hodgepodge of a whole bunch of music fonts, mostly Maestro Wide and Engraver, but a few other fonts like Sonata thrown in as articulations, etc. In Dorico, I’ve mostly stuck to Bravura and have been content with some fairly obscure text typefaces for customization. I suppose I should probably revisit some of the other various font options for common glyphs myself.

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I always uses my own font with Dorico … because I’m not too fond with the default font, but honestly the default font it better than opus ,

P.S : I don;t know why I could not upload any file here …

I like to pick the font according to what feels good in relation to the material I’m working on. It somehow can even change how I feel about the music, and I believe the musicians can percieve this too (but perhaps subconsciously)

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@odhot are you talking about a text font or a music font? And what is ‘opus’ that you refer to? I have not heard of that.

I think Opus is the name of the font family supplied with Sibelius.

Well, having put together Sebastian, I use it exclusively, because it is exactly what I want! (within the confines of available talent and skill…)

I’d agree with Dan that music font choices are a bit more subtle than text font choices: the differences tend to be much more slight. I have a few criteria: quaver down-stem flags should be bulging, rather than the quill-like flick of Bravura/Maestro, and not quite touching the notehead; and G clefs shouldn’t lean one way or the other. I’m quite fussy about rectangular breves, and the ‘crossed 6’ bass figure.

We’re making a page of visual information. Of course the window dressing is crucial! Music engraving has as much to do with graphic design as it does with music.

There’s a balance between tradition and individuality. You want your page to be familiar, but not generic.

As nice as Bravura and New Century Schoolbook/Academico are (and better than many preceding music fonts coupled with Times), you might not want your page to look like everyone else’s page. Comparing with text fonts, Times New Roman (and Helvetica/Arial) are often seen as ‘the absence of a style decision’ (and there’s even a page saying the same about Minion Pro). That’s a bit harsh: you can still create personality and individuality with ‘default’ fonts, though it’s perhaps more difficult. There’s an argument that using a different font is a pejoratively ‘easy’ way of creating a unique design.

You can mix and match fonts, using Dorico’s Font Styles and Music Symbols editor. You can have Bass Figures from one font and dynamics from another; the trill symbol from a third; and so on.

Like wine with a meal, the text font(s) need to be paired with the music, and a page of Bravura will look very different surrounded by Plantin or Nepomuk or Minion or Avenir.

If you produce a wide range of different material – early music, contemporary, barbershop, jazz – then you may want to differentiate each style with a different music font. But we are overwhelmed with choice these days: printers and music engravers worked for centuries with only ‘one style’ of tools at their disposal.


You can find more SMuFL fonts here: List of SMuFL fonts?

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thanks @benwiggy - this is exactly what I was curious about. In my previous life as I graphic designer, we would often agonize over typeface subtleties and differences. When it comes to notation, I’ve both lost my eye* a bit for picking out the details, and noticing the slight changes a different typeface can add.

I have spent a lot of dollars on typefaces over the years, and so I am not against spending the money for good typeface design. I was more curious professional engraver’s attitudes and thoughts on this.

There’s a balance between tradition and individuality. You want your page to be familiar, but not generic.

This makes total sense, and a great way to phrase it. Thanks!

*To be honest, I have never really given notation that much thought until this past 6 months or so. I have taken notation so much for granted and never truly studied it as a separate piece of art.

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For a time, I used November, but I found myself continually going back to Bravura. I find I prefer to focus on text fonts for a unique look. I did make some changes to things like line thickness, and sometimes I change out the treble clef.

I’m working with a client on a major hymnal project that we anticipate being pretty broadly used. For the lyrics, they’re using a very expensive and uncommon text font. And for the music font… we’re using Bravura. :sunglasses:

I do like Sebastian. And @LSalgueiro has a beautiful font called Iris, but I haven’t had occasion to use it yet.


These threads are from 2015, but a bunch of us were discussing the fine details of a bunch of music glyphs over on the Notatio forum, with side-by-side examples. I didn’t re-read all of it to see if my opinions have changed over the years, but you might find the discussion and variety of fonts interesting.

Thread on clef design
Thread on rest design

Elbsound Studio has a pretty cool music font comparison tool with lots of music fonts. Unfortunately the majority of them are not SMuFL-compliant, but you can at least see how some of them look when used on a few different musical examples.


Also, even though many fonts are not SMuFL-compliant, you can pretty easily pull glyphs from them and use them in Dorico via with Music Symbols editor.


I’ve agonized over fonts as well. (I think many of us here have.) Going for absolute clarity and a traditional look, I’ve landed on TenOldStyle and IowanOldStyle as my fonts of choice.

For music fonts, I love the dorico default. It’s bold and traditional. Other fonts often look very anemic to my eye, whereas bravura has a very timeless/classic look without being too weighty or kludgy. It’s just right. (You can always tell a finale default score because it’s so “wispy”. )

To my delight, I’m starting to find some Dorico scores floating around in the wild now on places like cpdl, although they are certainly less common.

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I uses my own music font and of course mix with Nepomuk (the best expression font for me)

How often do we use music fonts other than Bravura? That seems like a valid question. I have 10 SMuFL-compliant fonts installed, which I all like, but I haven’t used any of them yet. It’s good to have them (probably the hunter-collector-syndrome), in case one day a score should look like one of Henle or Peters. But for everyday use Bravura is just fine.

It has already been mentioned that the differences among the fonts touch the subconscious rather than the recognizable. The same applies to text fonts, but there the differences are much more obvious. There are worlds between serifs and sans serifs, Slab or Display fonts. My current sans serif favorite is Linotype Syntax. The serifs are the familiar ones: Adobe Minion Pro, Adobe Garamond. I still think Times New Roman is of classic beauty, despite being so well known. Linotype Walbaum is a bit special, but very appealing. I thing it’s Schott’s corporate typeface.

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