Skip to main content
Topic: Shaped notes (Aiken, fasola, Sacred Harp) in NWC2 (Read 16400 times) previous topic - next topic

Shaped notes (Aiken, fasola, Sacred Harp) in NWC2

Version 2 of NWC allows notes to be specified with empty note head. This permits a text item to be placed as substitute for a note head.

I have recently created a True Type font "NoteHedz" that includes the common shaped note symbols, as well as a variety of other useful things, such as A-G alphabet notes, and standard notes at 75% size for use as lead-ins. Some of these are also useful in NWC1.

The font is available on my own web site and on the Scriptorium. It was updated on August 31, 2005 (version 1.50) to enable an additional function, which does not affect shaped notes,

Although NWC2 supports internal scripting, I wrote an external script in the form of a web page (because I understand JavaScipt). The script works on music clips from NWC2 files. It may be used to change the appearance of music just prior to printing. However, do not use it on the original music file, or on music that is not finished. The script pages are at the Scriptorium. One of the scripts was written for 4-shape Fa-Sol-La-Mi style, but it can be modified for 7-shape styles by modifying its internal lookup table (which note gets which code from the font).

There are limitations to how shaped note heads may be used. Some systems traditionally place the shaped note head so that it is centered on the stem, like a lollipop. But modern music places upward stems to the right of isolated note heads, and downward stems to the left of isolated note heads. When you use substitute note heads, stems will be at left or right, in the same fashion as modern music. It is difficult or impossible to re-align the substitute note heads in a way that will not interfere with modifiers such as duration dots, since that would require a different notation algorithm.

Thus, if you are determined to reproduce the appearance of traditional 19th century shaped note music exactly, you may find that this solution does not work for you. But if you wish to apply substitute note heads to otherwise-normal modern music notation, this solution may work.

Normally, stems meet note heads at left or right, vertically in the middle. This will also be true for substitute note heads. Some substitutes look better if the stem meets the note head at a corner, rather than mid-vertical. This effect can be achieved by moving the note stem up or down by one staff position (which effectively changes the pitch, if played), and by reducing the stem length by one.

If you use substitute note heads, it is best to retain the staff with normal music notation, and place the substitute music on another staff. You can mute the substitue staff when the music is played, and you can hide the original staff when the music is printed. In other words, "how it looks" and "how it sounds" may have some amount of independence. Another reason for using an added staff is that in ordinary notation, a note head and its stem are a unified object. But when a font substitute is used, the note head (text) and stem (notation) are separate objects, and are treated differently by the editor.

Re: Shaped notes (Aiken, fasola, Sacred Harp) in NWC2

Reply #1
NoteWorthy liked this concept so much that after 6 years, has been built in to NWC 2.5
Registered user since 1996