Re: For Western music notation lovers

From: Kenneth Whistler (
Date: Tue Sep 06 2005 - 13:36:50 CDT

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    Marnen Laibow-Koser indicated:

    > 1. If the reference glyph for MULTI-REST is changed, I fear that it
    > will break existing fonts and documents. I hate to say it, but it
    > might be better to just live with an improperly named character
    > (perhaps MULTI-REST = breve rest, H-SHAPED MULTI-REST = multi-rest?).

    I concur with this assessment.

    The history of the musical symbols proposal makes it clear that
    *intent* of the encoding all along was for what is now encoded
    as U+1D13A to represent the double rest. It was clearly in a set
    with the whole rest, half rest, quarter rest, etc. Its *identity*
    has been established by that history and the now long-published
    glyph for the character. Attempting to change that would be a mistake
    at this point.

    So the name is wrong, and needs to be added to the growing list
    of incorrect character names. The correct way to handle this
    is by annotation and acknowledgement of another name problem.

    Changing the glyph would create a *bigger* problem than the problem
    the defect report is attempting to fix. This is another instance
    where a legalistic interpretation of the standard's claim that
    names are normative (and cannot be changed) and that glyphs are
    representative runs afoul of the deeper principle that it is
    the *identity* of the encoded character which must be maintained

    As for the requested additional symbol, U+1D1XY MUSICAL SYMBOL
    QUADRUPLE WHOLE-REST, I don't see a need for encoding that. As
    one of the examples indicates, a quadruple whole-rest is
    "two double whole-rests joined as one". Given that all of these
    symbols exist in the context of an implied higher level protocol
    that does complex musical layout and formatting, it seems to
    me that a sequence of the double whole-rests would be sufficient
    for representation.

    The other rationale for encoding -- citation as a musical symbol in
    isolation in running text -- would seem to fail in the case of
    the quadruple rest. It is not at all uncommon to see double whole-rests
    cited this way (as shown even in the examples in the proposal), but
    the citations of the quadruple whole-rests are all in staff layouts,
    because they don't make much sense cited in isolation.
    > 2. While it would be good to have a code point for the the H-shaped
    > multi-rest, I can't think of too much actual use for it. Unlike the
    > other rest symbols, the H-shaped rest shrinks or expands as necessary
    > for justification, which makes a non-typographical implementation
    > more likely.

    The case for a symbol for an H-shaped multi-rest symbol is better,
    I think. It is cited in-line in the example as a symbol. But it
    should definitely be a newly encoded symbol, rather than a
    reinterpretation of the existing U+1D13A.

    For use in musical scoring, it could be used as a base symbol
    associated with a start and stop anchor. But before suggesting
    that that be the expected behavior, it would be best to investigate
    existing scoring systems to see how they implement multi-rests.
    It may well be the case that they simply use the existing
    U+1D13A with a start and a stop anchor -- in which case even
    the existing name for U+1D13A would not be entirely misleading.


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