The challenge with text flats

Shout out to @benwiggy excellent new Neopomuk font over on Notation Central. Beautiful font, but I have to ask where did you get that name from?

Anyhow using it I noticed something, and font nerds that we are thought it might be of interest, which is mixing flats into text. Seems like a challanging problem since it looks so much like a lowercase b, and in fact I was using it for bb minor but the text jumped out at me visually


Why does this look odd? Not sure but comparing to Academico


I think it’s because of the tighter spacing of Neopomuk over emphasizes the flat because the b is so tight. Without thinking when I first saw it thought it looks like b FLAT instead of b flat, if that makes sense.

My imagination? Might be easier if you put it up in a score for context.

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I have to ask where did you get that name from?

Possibly from this composer’s middle name?


Yeah maybe the sharps are banging in to the left too much?


A lot of people don’t use this range, and Dorico’s “Insert Music Text” doesn’t default to it, but you may find you like the Standard Accidentals for Chord Symbols range better.

From the Implementation Notes: "This range is intended for mixing music symbols with text. Its metrics and glyph registrations should follow the guidelines for fonts intended for text-based applications, even in fonts that are themselves primarily intended for use in scoring applications.

These accidentals should be designed to be complementary to standard letter forms, for example when describing a note name such as “C sharp” or “A flat”. It is recommended that the stem for the flat is shortened, so that overall the flat has similar proportions to a lower-case letter b. It is likewise recommended that the counters in the sharp and natural are opened up to make them clearer at smaller sizes. This helps to balance the accidentals with the surrounding text."

With that range I get this with Ben’s font:

It’s another flat option to try anyway.

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Great tip, thanks! How are these used? The examples I gave are from {@flat@}/{@sharp@} in flow names (flow scroll box in Setup) which get used for flow titles.

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Ah, I assumed you were entering them either with Shift+X text or in a Text Frame. I just checked though and it will work in a Flow title too, you just have to copy and paste it from the SMuFL page I linked to above.

Pasting it results in this:

and this:

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I’ll make it as a solution because it’s such a great tip in general. But using capital B is cheating, lowercase is harder to use :grin:.

Anyhow I copy-pasted and switched back to Academico an am still getting run on, maybe just the way it is.


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I might mention that part of the problem you are having is that you are using a lower case letter for the note identifier (in b, in f, etc…), when it is absolutely standard to use an upper case letter (in B, in F).
Even in French we always capitalize the letters of a key or note: Trompette en Ut, (or en Do), and Clarinette en Si b. (sorry, I don’t know how to insert a real flat symbol into the forum chat)

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There are absolute standards in music notation? There are only conventions which get freely changed around the world, but it’s very French to say there are absolute standards :grin: (just kidding, I’m poking fun at a French music pedagogical method that I was trained on).

When I saw the lower case letters, I imagined they were referring to minor key signatures since some systems use Caps for major keys and lower case for minor keys.

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I was thinking about this a bit more, and it does seem odd that there’s an entire SMuFL category of accidentals designed to go with text, yet Dorico doesn’t use them in any text situations that I know of other than chord symbols. The shortened extender on the flat really does look better IMO when used with text.

Dan, if you don’t mind me keeping your thread going, here’s an example where the text flat has a negative appearance in the score:

The longer extender of the default flat doesn’t pair as well with the text. The added leading from the font metrics (bounding box? not sure what this is actually called) results in its positioning being noticeably different from a line of text without an accidental. If I remove the Clarinet in Bb staff label and recreate it with Shift+X text and the alternate glyph I can get something like this which looks better IMO:

A few Q’s:

  1. In the Staff Labels example, this is being set by Character Styles / Music Text, right?
  2. It’s not possible to specify which glyphs are used here, right? Dorico is pulling the glyphs from a specific location in the font, and the user can’t specify another substitute glyph?
  3. If the user can’t change what glyphs Dorico is using, since Bravura is covered under the SIL Open Font License, theoretically one could take the glyphs designed to go with text, copy them into the positions in the font occupied by the standard accidental glyphs, change the height specification as to not mess up the leading, and save it as a new font as long as it isn’t distributed for sale, correct?
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  1. In staff labels, yes, Dorico is adding specific characters from the chosen music font using the Music text character style.
  2. You can indeed not influence which flat character Dorico uses. It uses U+266D for the flat, which is the standard Unicode position.
  3. You can modify Bravura Text for your own use if you wish, but you can’t redistribute it under that name, nor can you sell it on its own (even if you use a different name).

Yeah agree that looks better. Good to see the two side by side, with the text flat the stem on the flat is thinner and the curve is more like a text curve too - the musical version is fancier, more like what a punch would do maybe (though text used to be punched on paper too).

Also note that if you use a text flat in your Flow headings the titlebar (on Win) doesn’t render the flat properly, but that’s a minor UI thing not in the music.

Yeah exactly, I’ve used and seen it that way and am looking at a theory book from 1911 that does the same. With any of the fonts I’m not getting good lower case text key signatures though, so there’s one good reason to stay upper case which is it does look better.

For comparison here’s some lower case comparisions with that book from 1911 (search for Harmonic Part Writing - White, if you want to see it, out of copyright and available as a Google scanned pdf)


So what they did here is italicized the lower case which probably helps distinguish, and interestingly the flat is quite small. Maybe that’s the idea for text flats, they can’t be too large or they dominate the the lower b.

By the way, I didn’t say there were “absolute standards”, which is quite different from saying that it is absolutely standard to use upper case letters when naming instruments.

Yes, lower/upper case letters are used in many systems to denote minor/major keys.

however, it IS standard to use upper case letters to name the transposition of an instrument: “Horn in F”, “Trumpet in C”, and so on.