Re: Square and lozenge notes -- Musical Notation 3.1 -- Mensural notation

From: Lukas Pietsch (
Date: Wed Mar 07 2001 - 08:44:01 EST

> All notes could have been given post-1420 names given the fact that the
> white notes appear only after 1420...

Well, not really, because there are quite a few symbols (black notes of
semibreve and above) which occur only in the pre-1420 notation. So the
series of "black" note names would have a confusing gap:

"black head with no stem" = "black semibrevis"
???? = no "black minima" ????
"black head with stem" = "black semiminima" (new usage)
"black head with stem and flag1" = "black fusa" (new usage)
"black head with stem and flag2" = "black semifusa" (new usage)

"white head with no stem" = "white semibrevis"
"white head with stem" = "white minima"
"white head with stem and flag1" = "white semiminima"
"white head with stem and flag2" = "white fusa"

That's what your proposal boils down to, isn't it? Well, certainly
historically correct, but I find it even slightly more confusing than the
other way. I do think that the terminology Unicode has chosen is the more
consistent one. Confusing, yes, but it *will* be confusing to
non-specialist users either way, won't it?

> P.S. Incidentally, do your sources also show consistently the nominal
> of the MAXIMA and LONGA with stems pointing downwards contrarily to the
> Unicode reference glyph ?

Oops, indeed, they do, and I hadn't noticed. (As I said, my musicology days
at university are way back...) -- This might very well be significant. Yes,
I think mensural notation did not have the modern convention that the
orientation of the noteheads depends on the position on the stave. Hold on,
I'll check.

I also notice that the "black maxima" seems to be missing. Since we have
the "black" and "white" series, we ought to have them both complete, right?
"black longa" can be thougt of as unified with Gregorian 1d1d3 "virga", and
"black brevis" with generic 1d147 "square notehead black", but the "black
maxima" isn't there.


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