Juhani wrote:It might be that some sort of computerized, electronic score (something like Joe Monzo's Tonescape) might be the best format for such complex works as Johnston's 7th Qt or Twining's Requiem.
That still seems to assume that there is a single best format for all readers, all purposes and all instruments. There is no reason why modern music notation software could not allow us to enter the music once, then allow us to automatically generate versions of it in various notations. But sadly, the designers of most notation software appear to have little understanding of microtonal notation requirements. Is there any notation software available now that allows multiple accidental characters against a single note? I have great hopes for Steinberg's new product when it arrives -- at least they had the foresight to consult George and I regarding microtonal accidentals in general, not merely Sagittal. We convinced them to include many historical accidentals that have nothing to do with Sagittal, and we ensured many others were correctly described and attributed, including Johnston's and Sabat and von Schweinitz'.
Looking at his scores, the 7-accidental is (hand-)written in numerous ways, sometimes resembling a half-arrow, sometimes a seven, sometimes it's a straight line.
Thanks for explaining that. It appears I have been misled by the glyphs for the Johnston symbols shown in the SMuFL documentation and Bravura font. See page 113 of http://www.smufl.org/files/smufl-1.18.pdf
The + and - getting lost against the staff lines is often mentioned as a serious problem - but it's only a problem in computer notation, and should be avoidable there, too;
Yes. If the Sagittal 5-comma symbols are unacceptable for some reason, we recommend Erv Wilson's plus and minus 5-comma symbols which can be seen as U+E47B and U+E47C on page 143 of the above SMuFL document. Their otherwise horizontal strokes are thickened and slanted in the manner of Bosanquet's 5-comma slashes, which is the same manner as the flags on the Sagittal 5-comma symbols. In fact one can visualise a simple continuous geometrical transformation that would morph Johnston's 5-comma symbols via Wilson's to the Sagittals.
The minus symbol should never be written on the stave.
Where should it be written?
A combination of three minuses does get awkward, though (so does a combination of three half-arrows in multi-Sagittal). Here my preference is Sabat-v.S.
We would never recommend combining symbols vertically in the manner of Gould's quartertones or S & vS's 5-commas. It moves the visual center of the symbol, multiple staff positions away from its intended target, which could be quite confusing when notating chords. And using a full (left and right barbed) arrowhead for something as small as a 5-comma just seems wrong IMO. At least Sagittal and Johnston agree on the appropriate uses of the full arrow.
As to the misleading half-arrow and the intuitiveness: yes, you're right, but who's used to half-arrows? Can't think of any published scores of any well-known (in contemporary music circles) music that uses them.
That's a very small musical category.
Even if it's not perceived as a half-arrow,
might naturally be perceived as a modified flat symbol and therefore assumed to indicate a flattening by some fraction of a semitone. The naturalness of such an interpretation led to such a symbol being used with this meaning in the 18th century by van Blankenburg and Tartini, and in the 20th century by Fokker and the International Musicological Society.
But independent of this, one reason we don't recommend using the prime numbers themselves as accidentals is because we want a notation system that is not restricted to JI. For example, although the fundamental meaning of the
symbol in the Sagittal system is the 7-comma down, it needs to be possible for users to think of it as being associated with numbers other than 7. For example, it is 1/6th-tone in the 12-edo-relative notation, 1 degree of 21, 36, 43 and 51 edo, 2 degrees of 72 edo, and the chroma for the decimal notation of Miracle temperament.
I suggest we go through some important and representative Johnston scores with Cam so we get an idea what compound symbols are in active use in this repertoire.
Yes. That's an excellent idea. I'd be happy to create the necessary font, provided the number of combinations doesn't run into the hundreds.