Bravura font, Serious?

It’s just me or the concept of SmuFl is a great concept but the bravura font looks chubby and horrible? Expecially separate 8th notes, the flag touches the notehead, looks really an amateurish design. Any more elegant alternative that you might know, close to the Boulez design for example?
I’m interested also in commercial solutions! Thanks.

Bongiorno Alessandro.
Can you post a picture where Bravura font ceases to be elegant and very legible, to become what you’ve described? It will probably help to understand what the problem is.

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Part of Dorico/Bravura’s whole schtick is that it is a heavier font designed to emulate traditional plate engraving rather than the whispy computer engraving of the last 20 years. I quite like it. No, every single character isn’t “perfect” but it is on the whole quite lovely and most of us are rather happy with it, I believe.

There are, however, many smufl compliant fonts available for purchase now, so you are not “stuck” with bravura by any means. Check the Music Type Foundry, for instance.

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Have a look at my engraving music Soli & Tutti fonts, not sure if you’ll like them.

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Maybe try the Sebastian font - download here:


I’ve just pulled four scores off the shelf, pretty much at random. Edition Peters, Wiener Urtext, Bärenreiter and Breitkopf.

In all four cases, on isolated downstem quavers/eighths the flag almost always touches the notehead, the exception being where ledger lines mean that the stem is over an octave long.

It may not be to your taste, but that particular choice is quite standard.

The couple of Boulez scores that I looked at had abnormally long stems. If you set Dorico to lengthen the stems, the flags (even in Bravura) won’t touch the noteheads.


That’s not the latest version, and there is at least one ‘bug’ in v1.01. Current version is 1.03.

“Software is never finished”.

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Beside the “comic-sans” look which I hate, but well, matter of taste, for somebody seems to be a kind of “plate engraving” plus which i don’t judge, I wonder how can be considered legible when flag collides with notehead… Screenshot 2021-03-12 at 15.05.58

It’s considered legible because it’s what publishers have been doing for centuries. I suspect most of us have grown up playing eighth notes with flags that collide.

It’s a choice that you don’t like, but it’s certainly not illegible.


Thanks for spotting this out, very interesting. I work almost in contemporary music nowadays so i have the impression traditional engraving looks so old. Matter of aestethics then!

Benvenuto nel forum Alessandro!

You’ve raised a storm here in this community :joy:

[mode joke:on] Pianoleo, please, serious editions! [mode joke off]

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It’s not totally colliding, if you zoom in very much…
Capture d’écran 2021-03-12 à 15.28.09

Anyways, if you apply “beam together” to that very same note, you get :
Capture d’écran 2021-03-12 à 15.31.33

Would that help? Because… we’re here to help!

Are you using the “Default” notehead set rather than the “Larger” notehead set, Marc? I find that with the “Larger” notehead set (which is actually Dorico’s default) there is a definite collision:

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You must be right, I did not check. And as it comes from a drum staff, default notehead has probably been chosen for the kick, instead of larger notehead. Anyway, that’s still Bravura, isn’t it? It’s up to the user to choose what he/she wants. That’s why I asked for a picture…

Of course there are Engraving Options for both lengthening stems and straight flags, but I suspect we’re going off at a tangent - what the OP actually wants is a wispier font.

Side-note: I also listened to the Scoring Notes podcast with Dan the other day - there was a great chat about the evolution of computerised notation fonts. That podcast always surprises me; there’s so much I’ve never stopped to think about :slight_smile:

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This is indeed a matter of æsthetics. The fact that the default engraving from Dorico looks so high-quality and traditional is indeed precisely what attracts me to it. (But I work to revive a lot of old Renaissance motets and traditional hymnody, so it’s little surprise I think this way.) I find many modern editions to be utterly soulless, so the ability to create something that could pass for an old, hand-drawn score is a big plus for me.

You raise an interesting philosophical question. I do sometimes wonder how today’s scores might be being re-edited by Dorico 180.5 users to suit the sensibilities of musicians in 2201.

Dare I suggest that Dorico (et al) are (all) trying to meet the needs of at least five categories of user:

  1. Urtext re-printers (where every mark must match the source exactly, else be explained away)
  2. Editors (producing modern editions suitable for today’s players, who follow today’s conventions)
  3. Engravers, who are tied to publishing house rules (irrespective of genre)
  4. Avant Garde composers (who just need new marks to communicate their intent)
  5. Genre composers ( Jazz, Pop, Classical etc. each of which has its own distinct traditions for notation)

To satisfy all of these is a huge task, and each will probably end up as ‘Jack of all, but Master of none’. And that is just considering notation, not the workflow to produce a sound file.

(I have a particular problem with the ‘stroke’ staccato mark, which in 18C scores is supposed to be longer than the ‘dot’, but the nearest Dorico visual equivalent is a ‘wedge’ which is shorter than a ‘dot’. At some time between 1700 and today, conventions changed… Should I use the contemporary combined dot+line?)

Can any of us determine whether the ‘flag collision effect’ is anything more than an historic accident (caused by technological limitations of the time) that became a convention? Or was it a marketing ploy to differentiate from earlier typography. Who knows? Whether it is important probably depends on in which of my categories you sit!

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FWIW MTF Arnold’s flags do not collide. But aesthetics it is!

This is from a score by Saariaho published by Chester Music in 1996 (sorry for the low-quality scan):


(I think the score was published when Gould, the notation theorist behind many choices in Dorico, worked at Chester; may we call it the British way?).