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by anatoletype last modified 2011-08-16 06:03

A large project commissioned by the Abbey Sainte-Madelaine du Barroux in Luberon, France. The font is going to be released soon.
Today, Gregorian chant is still written using the Middle Ages notation, which is also the base of our modern notation for music. But for years now, the need for digital documents for publishing pushed the Gregorian community to look for new solutions, such as programming, softwares and fonts.
OpenType technology can facilitate the work of type setting and improve the result quality: with a number of glyphs almost unlimited but easy to access, it gives quite a lot of freedom for experimentation.


In the Middle Ages, the notation system for music gradually developed, from simple dots and strokes placed above the text (something similar to diacritical marks), to the revolutionary invention of the stave (by Guido D’Arezzo, an Italian

Benedictine monk who lived from 995-1050 A.D.). Although originally there was only one horizontal line, the same method is used today for gregorian, combining a four line stave with the first form of notes known as “neumes”.


Above is a collection of square neume symbols. This kind of notation is the steady form developed in the high Middle Ages. Compared to the previous forms, which have the merit to be more flexible and expressive, the new “nota quadrata” of the thirteenth century was a revolution in music writing and reading, adding essential information, such as the duration of the note and the exact pitch. Yet, for the paleography of square notation, nearly everything remains to be done.

How and where we moved from the original neume to the square is still subject of study today.

To design these simple shapes for Gregoria, was an interesting exercise. Clearly based on calligraphy, the basic forms (square, diamond, line) should be drawn in a sensitive and dynamic way.