GoldenAge SMuFL font

Thanks everyone, and especially to Ben for breathing new life into GoldenAge. I think it’s super that it works with Dorico!

I created the GoldenAge typefaces in 1992-1993 in response to feedback from NYC session players. Printed computer notation at the time looked engraved and legit, while parts for commercial projects and broadway shows were created with pen & ink - a very different look and style. Players kept asking if I could make the parts I was delivering to record dates look less engraved and more like what they were used to seeing every day.

I had my chance in the fall of 1992 while on the road in Chicago working as a copyist on Marvin Hamlisch’s musical version of “The Goodbye Girl.” We were probably using Finale 2.6.3 on that job. I started experimenting with Fontographer’s calligraphic pen tool on days we weren’t busy with the show, and a music font started to take shape. The text font was created the following year, on the road in Houston as a copyist for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” pre-Broadway tryout. After endless iterations I released a shareware version sometime in 1994 I think.

The name refers to the look of music copywork during the “golden age” of commercial music preparation.

Not long after GoldenAge was released, other hand-inspired fonts became available - Jazz and then many others. Today there’s a lot of choice. What an amazing 35+ years it has been - not just for typefaces, but for the evolution and refinement of notation platforms. Cheers!

Don Rice


What music font is used in the screenshot here? The one with rehearsal mark 5. Is this one of Hal Leonard’s house fonts? I think it is used in Essential Elements Jazz books, and a bunch of Hal Leonard scores. I write out parts for my students and would be nice to keep the same font.

Does anyone know?


Yes, that’s a custom font made for Hal Leonard and is based on the “Ash Music” and “Ash Text” fonts. It is not available and is suitable for use only with Finale.

If you’re willing to accept something close, I’d suggest you check out the BopMusic fonts. The characters look very similar to the Ash fonts and text can be enclosed in a surrounding box. Here’s a sample:–-Remote-Control.pdf

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There is of course a “Finale Ash Text” SMuFL font that you can download for free.


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Yes, that’s right. But that font doesn’t include the boxed enclosures. The modified Ash Text that I use has enclosures stolen from the Jazz Text font. BopMusic has a clever way of enclosing text - enclosures are a text style from the same menu as plain, bold, etc.

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Thanks @notesetter but the enclosures will only work on macOS, not on Windows. RealScoreSMFL fonts features the same thing too.

I have been looking at this font for several weeks. It does seem very nice. Unfortunately, fonts can’t practically be offered on a trial basis, so I have some questions I hops somebody might be able to answer:

  1. Every example I have seen has all the text in caps. I realize that is a common look, but in my case, I’d like to have upper and lower as usual. Is that supported in the Bop font?
  2. If I purchased the Bop font (or any others in that set of fonts), is it really as simple as instaling the font and then changing the default font family?
    Changing the default font family

On edit, looking at BopMusic (SMuFL) Font | NorFonts
there is a reference to “12 fonts for a Professional Handwritten Jazz Scores”, “1 MUSIC SMUFL COMPLIANT MUSIC FONT AND 11 JAZZY TEXT FONTS”. I assume at least one of these text fonts supports lower case, but I don’t see where any of these text fonts are described anywhere. That’s a lot of money to ask on a non-refundable basis without any detailed information.

According to BopMusic - SMuFL - Notation Central, the fonts are:



BopMusicAlpha-Bold Italic
BopMusicAlpha-Bold Oblique

BopMusicAlpha-Light Italic
BopMusicAlpha-Light Oblique


But again, there are no details about any of these text fonts.

BopMusic Alpha has both upper and lower case. The Mac version of these fonts has a disk image installer that installs the fonts and any additional stuff.


Thanks. I’m a little confused about all these variations of the font. I think I understand the italic, bold and oblique. And I saw some examples of the special enclosure font. But I don’t understand the difference between BopMusicSMFLText and the BopMusicAlpha variants.

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I suspect (though don’t know) that the first is the ‘text’ version of the SMuFL font, for use within paragraphs of text – as with Bravura Text; and the other is an Alphabet, i.e. normal text, font.


I sprang for the BopMusic font. These setup steps work fine:

Library → Music Fonts → BopMusicSMFL. That changes all the glyphs.

Library > Character Styles → Music Text → BopMusicSMFL Text

Library Edit Font Styles Font Family → BopMusic Alpha … (whichever variant you want)

Library > Paragraph Styles → Default text → BopMusicAlpha …

Library > Font Styles → Default text font → BopMusic Alpha …

The net result is that things like tempos appear as small caps (via BopMusicSMFLText) but any Dorico text items use upper and lower case (via BopMusicAlpha …). That’s a familiar style. So far, I don’t see any problems, except I can’t make all the variations of the “enclosure” font work as advertised.


Yes, you just nailed it!

It is a very nice set of fonts. The early “handwritten” fonts (from the 1990s and 2000s) mostly struck me as “too handwritten” or “handwritten to a fault” because they tended to appear sloppy and hard to read. I can’t say how many reading mistakes I have made as a direct result of one of those fonts where the quarter rest and eighth rest both looked like sloppy squiggles that were easily confused. A font’s first job is to make it easy to read accurately, IMHO, and style is a (distant) secondary goal.

I find both the GoldenAge and BopMusic fonts are really clean and legible. The style is present but not rammed into the player’s eyeballs, so to speak. I think these are both very well done, as is Petaluma. We have an embarrassment of riches.


@cparmerlee speaking as an engraver, my personal dictum is always that the primary goal of music engraving is clarity above all. So many small details go into achieving this, not least of which is an excellent music font.

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Just a note to say I’ve released a new version of Golden Age, v1.07.

Most of the improvements relate to using the font in the SMuFL version of Finale (v27.2), and don’t really affect Dorico that much.