Typographic orthodoxy to use roman brackets around dynamics symbols??? Dynamics symbols are clearly based on Modern-style Italic types. Perpendicular brackets are always going to look odd around oblique letterforms.
Nope. Roman (i.e. upright) brackets are always used in delimiting italic text unless there’s a particular reason not to. The same applies to things like quotation marks. Generally, such delimiters should only be italicized if they’re part of a passage in italics, not surrounding it.
You wouldn’t italicize square brackets in a critical edition.
I’d give chapter and verse but it’s the middle of the night…
To be blunt, I wouldn’t expect any reputable publisher to accept this. If I found some square brackets were upright and some were slanted, I’d assume that the two had different functions and would be reaching for the critical commentary.
I would actually be puzzled if I came across the (mf) example you give in your Scoring Notes article. Using upright brackets (round or square) would be much more usual editorial practice.
You may think italic text within upright brackets looks ‘weird’ and ‘odd’ but a more common debate amongst typographers is whether or not brackets (and some other glyphs) should ever be slanted. Robert Bringhurst famously says not:
‘Parentheses and brackets are not letters, and it makes little sense to speak of them as roman or italic. There are vertical parentheses and sloped ones, and the parentheses on italic fonts are almost always sloped, but vertical parentheses are generally to be preferred. That means they must come from the roman font, and may need extra spacing when used with italic letterforms.’
Then Dorico will need to change its current practice of using the Dynamics Text font style for the brackets, assuming you agree that they should, or may, be italicised.
I just find it gives a more compact appearance, which can be useful in tightly spaced music. The extra space to accommodate uprights can make things very wide.
I was thumbing through Elements of Typography, but couldn’t find anything relevant. However, I do think that music has many typographic exceptions when compared to a page of text. Similarly Edward Tufte says that staff lines should be very thin, because he’s thinking of graphs.
I was quoting from page 85 of Version 3.0 (I think the passage is the same in Version 2.4). I certainly don’t agree with everything Bringhurst says but he’s generally right in this case.
In writing, we usually mark a parenthesis with brackets or dashes; in music we just use brackets. In typesetting, I might very occasionally use a slanted variant of a bracket for clarity (perhaps a parenthesis within a quote in italics) but the default would always be a standard, upright bracket. In music, unless one’s using upright and slanted brackets to mean different things, there’s no reason to use anything but the standard symbol. If I see mf, I take it as an instruction; if I see (mf), I would think it means still mf or represents an editorial addition (depending on the context). If I saw your (mf), I wouldn’t know what to think (it looks like it should indicate an exception to an exception). It’s certainly not something I’ve seen very often.