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

From: Patrick Andries (
Date: Wed Mar 07 2001 - 16:11:13 EST

----- Message d'origine -----
De : "Lukas Pietsch" <>

> In my last posting I wrote:
> > 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.
> Patrick Andries has answered this point, suggesting that
> the black and white variants should be seen as font variants.
> I guess that's a valid point, but it raises the question why the other
> musical notes aren't unified in the same way. There are separate
> (1d1b9) "SEMIBREVIS WHITE" and (1d1ba) "SEMIBREVIS BLACK".

To create a basis for canonical decomposition, I believe.

> Note that these
> symbols are *not* affected by the semantic ambiguity problem we were
> discussing, which involves only the smaller note values minima,
> fusa and semifusa.
> I'd be interested to learn the rationale behind these choices. Is the
> original proposal available anywhere?

Me too. I found some confort in other "motivated" French amateurs of this
period questioning the current encoding's names.
Among whoch the author of
Comments available in French.

> As for the other question, that of the stem of "longa" and "maxima": Yes,
> Patrick's suggestion is right that the most common form of these notes has
> a downwards stem (on the *right* side of the notehead, mind!) In earlier
> mensural notation, the directions of noteheads did not depend on the
> position of the notehead on the stave, as today; rather, minims and other
> small notes always had upwards stems and single longae and maximae mostly
> had downward stems. However, the odd example of longae with upward stems
> can be found even then. From the mid-16th century onwards the modern
> convention of context-dependend stems seems to have emerged, and from then
> on both the longae and the minim stems were placed according to it. So, it
> seems consistent that the Unicode charts show all notes with upward stems,
> implying that upward and downward stems are context-dependend glyph
> variants.

It is a point of view : these upward stem longae are context-dependent,
while the reference (nominal) glyphs in charts should,IMHO, be the standard
reference form they take when that are spoken about in isolation. And these
reference forms are in the 16th century (pointer given before) as today with
a stem downwards.

P. Andries
(the plane won't wait)

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