Chant and modern notation: fonts, programs, and software
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,499
    If anyone would like to try out gregorio without installing it locally, send me an e-mail ( ), and I can give you remote access to a linux machine where it's installed.

    I'm assuming you will be connecting from a linux or other Unix-like system using ssh.

    (This offer is subject to cancellation whenever I want to use the machine for some other purpose.)
  • zapman
    Posts: 5
    How many people here use MacOS X? I started a program to typeset chant using Cocoa, and I occasionally even get to work on it. (My day job is pretty intensive.) However, perhaps something to inspire me to find more time to work on it would be seeing a decent amount of interest.
  • TBL
    Posts: 13
    zapman -- I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm on a Mac, and I'd be interested in your program! I'm currently using Gregorio, which is good, but a native Cocoa app would be great. I'd be interested to hear more about its intended features. If you could use a collaborator or even just someone to test, you can contact me by email (listed in my profile here -- I'll be out of town for a few days so I apologize if I can't reply right away). I've only been programming in Cocoa for a short while (picked up a Macbook earlier this year), but I do have a longer background in C/C++/Python and some weekend free time...

    For anyone interested, here's a copy of some notes I typed up on Gregorio, including a walkthrough on how to create a chant score starting from .gabc notation and ending with the final pdf (which is why it's a little long; sorry). Some parts are missing/could be hashed out in more detail but I hope its enough to get started.
  • Norgz
    Posts: 1

    I'm the main developer of gregorio, I've been working on it for more than two years now. At last, gregorio seem to get more and more stable, and start to be used by some people, which is something quite new for me! GregorioTeX is for now a bit tricky to install, especially for fonts, but I'll soon write scripts to automatically install them on a TeXLive system. I will also translate the web documentation on GregorioTeX (installation, introduction and details), they are quite complete. I still have to correct one or two bugs and to stabilize it, and then I hope everyone will be able to use it simply.

    To answer some questions: gregorio works under macos, windows (cygwin) and linux; very simply on TeXLive systems, but other TeX systems may require some skills to work with gregorio. The graphical user interface is something that will require a lot of time. I already have a lot of work done in python/qt4 ; but most of the part is still to do. But please don't develop an interface in cocoa! Only mac users would be able to run a cocoa app, whereas everyone could use a qt or gtk app.
  • Wow, all this just to type a punctum! Maybe the medievals were on to something with pens and paper.
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • Really sorry for the delay, but I'm finally uploading some typeset Chants.

    I have something like 200 Chants to upload, once I've inspected my typesetting on each.

    I'm highly impressed with Gregorio and GregorioTeX, they produce very beautiful results.

    Find them here:

    For recent uploads:
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    This is amazing, Andrew !
  • This is very nice... I am wondering, though... the first (large)letter of each chant and the first line or two of notes doesn't come through for me. Is there a problem with my computer reading it, or is that how it was uploaded?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,499
    Hi, Andrew!

    It's good to see some of your results going up on the site. Since the site is in the form of a wiki, I took the liberty to add some more navigation links on the front page, and to assign the scores to categories.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    The results of Gregorio are impressive. Norgz, would you comment a bit more on why lilypond is not a good basis on which to build? Just a few sentences.

    I'm interested in the rapid encoding of the entire Gregorian repertoire is as neutral a format as possible, i.e. just its pitches. These would be mere strings (e.g., c d a a bf a) that could then be marked up in more specific ways, as per gregorio, lilypond, and so forth. A good descriptive structure for these melodies is also crucial. All in all, what we're talking about is simply a spreadsheet of text. If this were a collective project, it could be accomplished well within a year. We'd need a team of editors to check incoming transcriptions for accuracy.

    Pitches are fundamental. The rest is packaging, however brilliant.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    Back to Meinrad. I am using Micrsoft Word 2003. No trouble with Meinrad and 2003 with XP. But now I've switched (upgraded! ha!) to VISTA. Works pretty well, with the exception of a few characters. In particular the episema. Janet? Anyone else having trouble with this?
  • I haven't had any trouble with the episema... just when trying to use CutePDF to print to a pdf file. The meinrad fonts don't work at all... since I haven't figured out how to fix this on my new computer, I find myself, thumb-drive in hand, back at the old computer creating pdf files... (I'm not too happy about that). Otherwise, I can't see any difference.
  • PS... AOZ I've been using your chant responsorial psalms at Mass every week... Thanks!
  • Twelve years ago, after I had experimented with the Meinrad fonts, I asked Dean Fredrickson, a friend who specializes in computer graphics, to create a "modern chant notation" font for me. With this font I typeset the entire American Gradual (part of which is accessible via the CMAA site). It is quicker and simpler to use than the Meinrad fonts. Like them, it generates increments of staff along with the notes.

    I will give this font to anyone who writes to me offline:
  • TBL
    Posts: 13
    I'm not Norgz, but I've contributed a little bit to Gregorio recently, so this is my perspective...

    I've used LilyPond a fair amount for modern notation, which it does very well. But if you've tried to use it for chant, I'm sure you've seen its implementation there is still weak. From the project's introduction page: "[Lilypond] prints music in the best traditions of classical engraving with minimum fuss. Don't waste time on tuning spacing, moving around symbols, or shaping slurs." This is true for scores in round notes/modern notation. But look at this example, from the documentation.

    This is certainly usable and anyone could sing from it. But the horizontal spacing is off, there are collisions between elements, and there is no alignment between neumes and vowels. Fixable? Probably, but chant dev has progressed very slowly. Glance at the LilyPond mailing list archives-- the same problems have been brought up every so often in the last couple years. I'm guessing there is a low subset of people interested in both chant and working on the LilyPond backend, and these problems are nontrivial... Perhaps someone could email the developers and ask for better support. It's possible (as has been mentioned on this thread in the past) that chant is sufficiently different from modern notation that it needs its own encoding to produce beautiful scores, but I'd be happy to see that proven wrong.

    I also think the user's input to create a chant score in LilyPond is somewhat... verbose? Clicking the image of the solemn Salve Regina in the above documentation link brings up the code that generates the score. I don't think there's any convenient way to get that input, except to type it by hand (or are there Lilypond importers that will work with chant? I've never looked for one). Compare that to the gabc code (which seems a little closer to your goal of a `neutral representation' of chant music) a user needs to write for the gregorio program to spit out an xml, opustex, or gregoriotex equivalent of that score (it also includes rhythmic signs, since that's the version I had lying around on my hard drive). To be fair, these formats are also very verbose (gregoriotex, in particular, is not meant to be written by hand), but at least they are produced by gregorio automatically, and not the user. This is the pdf score produced from gabc->gregoriotex->pdf, which is still not perfect, but to my eyes, a little better than LilyPond's version.

    Having said all that, I see no real technological reason why a plugin for Gregorio that converts gabc->ly would not possible. It's even mentioned as a future function on the project website, though no one is working on it at the moment. Such a plugin would certainly save some typing time for a LilyPond user. If you think using Gregorio as a preprocessor for LilyPond would be useful and it should be bumped up in priority, or if you have any other ideas for features, please write -- your email will be appreciated :-)

    Incidentally, I completely agree with you that having a chant repertoire in a compact format with the musical information encoded -- as opposed to just a font-based visual representation -- is a worthy goal. That's what got me interested in the Gregorio project in the first place -- more specifically, how musical analysis could then be done on such scores...
  • soli
    Posts: 95
    Does anyone know of free software for setting modern notation? I would appreciate your advice. Thank you very much! I recently tried different programs and experimenting with the chant fonts. I have found gregoire (despite little quirky things) excellent for setting our communion antiphons and gospel acclamations and other little items as well as transcribing an english chant Mass in modern notation to neumes with very little difficulty and the final product looking nice. If anyone is looking for something easy to use (it is a drag and drop style) and free, this might work for you. But for bigger projects it might be a little risky (in terms of losing some of your work).
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114

    One program I've found that works well for engraving both "regular" modern music, as well as stemless modern music is Musescore.

    All you have to do is right click on a line, go to "staff properties", and check "stemless". To make measures longer, right click a measure, click "measure properties", then adjust the number where it says "Measure Duration: Actual".

    Then simply typeset the notes. Yes, it's drag and drop.
    That's all you have to do to typeset chant in "modern" notation.

    I would also note that unless you are using obscure features, this program is quite possibly nearing finale, from what I've hear (although I confess I've never actually used finale).

    I hope this helps!
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • joerg
    Posts: 102

    As for the discussion about a format for describing and typesetting pieces
    of chants, I thought I should contribute the format I've defined for
    typesetting an antiphoner for my parish here in Southern Germany. The following
    lines describe the first antiphon for first vespers of Sundays 1 and 3
    in the 4-week cycle. (We use a 2-week cycle for the psalms with 4 psalms
    at vespers.)

    REF: CAO2328

    Modus: 8g(am)

    Clavis: C4

    Verba: Domine, clamavi ad te, exaudi me.

    Versio: Herr, zu dir habe ich gerufen, erhöre mich.

    Neumae: +4 / / - / / - / / nc / v E

    Voces: c c j c a g j c ag a hc a

    VocesMs: f f i f d c di f dc d ef d

    Differentia: c c h c a g

    Officium: Dom 1

    Hora: V1

    Locus: 1

    Fons: Ps 140:1

    Psalmus: 140:1-9

    Manuscripta: A98/Z270v*

    Spatia: 1

    Annotationes: In Z a fifth lower

    These lines are automatically converted into TeX code
    typesetting the psalm together with the antiphon,
    i.e. most of page 1 and the first part of page 2 in the attached pdf.

    The only layout information here is in the line "Spatia: 1"
    (defining distance between consecutive lines.) Everything else
    is handled by my layout program (including hyphenation, accentuation,
    bilingual psalm layout with pointing etc.) The
    TeX code produced can be easily included in an arbitrary
    TeX file as below.

    Two comments on the lines "Neumae" and "Voces/VocesMs":
    In the "Neumae" section +4 means 4 units higher, the individual
    neumes are coded as letters/symbols resembling the St. Gall neumes: / is virga,
    - is tractulus, n is clivis, nc is clivis with "celeriter", v is pes quadratus,
    E is an abbreviation for a frequent combination of neumes
    appearing at the end of the antiphon. (At present there are approx. 130
    such signs.)

    In the "Voces" section we have the usual names for the notes. Single
    letters mean punctum, unless other note forms are specified, e.g.
    aPAD means punctum auctum descendens on a, ag means clivis from
    a to g, agPPR would mean cephalicus, etc. I use two special note names:
    i and j: Since the manuscripts I use are from the German area,
    they often have c resp. f where today one would sing b natural resp. e.
    To indicate this I write the modern notes with a horizontal line.
    "VocesMs" gives the notes as the manuscript has them in case I have
    to alter some notes. (Here my manuscript Z (antiphoner from Zwiefalten)
    has everything set a fifth lower and has a pes as note 7 where manuscript
    A (Vol. 1 of the famous Hartker antiphoner) has a virga.) VocesMs isn't used
    for typesetting but will sometime in the future be used to automatically
    create a critical apparatus for my edition.

    Unfortunately my layout program isn't very flexible. In fact I have hard
    coded most layout parameters to suit my own taste. But if people find this
    format useful I might try to produce a version which I can give to the public.

    Thanked by 1igneus
  • Dear joerg,

    This combination of square notation and St. Gall neumes ist amazing! How did you do that? It would be indeed a _very_ useful tool for a free typeset Graduale Duplex. I have never seen typeset (not scanned) neumes that look so good.

    Which programs are necessary to run your layout program and could you post it anywhere? It looks as if you were using some branch of TeX.
  • Dear all,

    I know it's been a while since anyone contributed to this thread, but I was curious if anyone had found/made a decent font that can be used in the Windows (Adobe InDesign) world. I am putting together a booklet for the Latin Mass for my parish and I've tried both the Meinrad and gregoria (the TTF font) fonts with only marginal success and a lot of headache. Considering some of the success people have had with gregorio (the TeX software) I considered using that but my problem would be incorporating that tightly into an InDesign document. If anyone has any information or assistance I would be very, very grateful.

    In Christ,
  • Francis....Francis....this is for you!

    I have used enjoyed using Caeciliae with inDesign...Francis has a neat way of using inDesign.

    Find Caeciliae link in early postings.
  • frogman,

    I can't thank you enough! That font is amazing. I put it through a little torture test of everything I've been working on and it performed flawlessly. Thanks so much for telling me about it.

  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,044

    I'm not sure if I'm the only one to not know this by now, but the Meinrad fonts are now free on the archabbey website. Go here for the links. Great news, whether or not you prefer Gregorio, Meinrad, or something else!
  • This is an old thread but... I got the following announcement today:

    Robert Piéchaud Releases Medieval 2

    Robert Piéchaud is a composer, performer, and a veteran Finale software engineer, having created Human Playback, FinaleScript, Score Merger, the November music font, and more. Today Robert has released Medieval 2, an update to his ingenious solution to creating ancient music notation with Finale …

    For those of us Finale users who thought that the Medieval plug-in was long dead, this news is most welcome.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    The link above simply redirects to the top of this thread. Here's the link again:

    Looks interesting!
    Thanked by 1MikeHalloran
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,391
    This is so good it is making me angry.
  • The link above simply redirects to the top of this thread.

    Weird but you're right. I pasted it in again and now it works correctly.

    Thank you.

    This is so good it is making me angry.

    I'm not so sure about that ... but it is good.
  • I put together this tutorial to create Gregorian chant scores in modern notation using the MuseScore program.
    Pdf in English:
    Spanish original:
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen GerardH