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Gregoria : structure

by anatoletype last modified 2011-08-16 06:03

On the four line stave a range of pitches of up to thirteen levels can be placed. In the existing PostScript font family used untill now at the Abbey, the lines of the stave are split from the neumes and put in different fonts: the vertical positioning of the neumes must be manually done with the help of scripting. Gregoria instead, integrates the staff lines in each glyph of the font, so that there is no need of adjustments or manual positioning. The system induces a big amount of signes, because for each basic element, 13 copies at different

levels have to be designed. This is possible in an OpenType font, in which a complex system of ligatures and contextual alternates allows the user to reach about 3000 signs only through the keyboard.

The illustration above present the basic one-element neumes, which can be typed with the simple range of latin letters from ‘a’ to ‘m’ and capitals ‘A’ to ‘M’. Almost all the rest is obtained by combination of these basic elements.


The dimension of a single-note neume constitutes the basic unit from which the whole font is derived. Modularity is a considerable feature of the font. All the elements (neumes, spaces, keys, rhythmical marks, etc.) have multiple or

submultiple widths, in order to keep a regular structure, and also to obtain a constant length for each line.
Without this method, a complex, gigantic and heavy kerning pairs system should have been set up.