14 June 2007

New Free Chant Font

Jeffrey Tucker at The New Liturgical Movement posted a link to the new free Gregorian chant font Caeciliae. It's still in the testing stage, but it's very promising. I downloaded it right away to try it out. Twenty minutes of messing around with it in TextEdit later, I managed to produce this:

This is the beginning of the Introit for the Nuptial Mass, in case you didn't recognize it. Learning it seems to go pretty quickly for me, and almost anything I wanted to try that wasn't mentioned in the tutorial came pretty intuitively. Knowing the names of the neumes certainly helps, but there are online reference guides for this if you don't already know them.

The result also seems to be prettier than the St. Meinrad font, though maybe I am imagining things. The squiggly bits in the quilisma are definitely a little more subtle, more like what's in my Graduale Triplex than the St. Meinrad font. The do clef seems different, too. I've never used the St. Meinrad font myself, but I sang from sheet music made with it for years, so I can say that I like the look of Caeciliae better though I can't compare how easy it is to use on the computer.

The font doesn't work in the version of Microsoft Word that I have--I can make neumes, but I can't move them out of their default positions, so for now I have to use it in TextEdit (I work on a Mac). I am not as familiar with TextEdit, so I can't do fancy formatting things and make the text look pretty, but at least I can line the text up under the music. It's also really easy to fix the spacing of the music, since there are two different widths of blank staff space offered.

If you want to make your own chant sheet music at home, I'd say this is a great option even though it's still in the testing stage and the tutorial needs to be fleshed out a little. My fiancé and I are going to have a chanted nuptial mass, and were looking for something a way to include the music for the responses in our programs so the congregation can follow along, and we were afraid that we were going to have to get the music in a PDF from a friend of ours and mess around cutting and pasting with that (the other free chant font I'm aware of, Gregoire, wasn't an option for us because it doesn't work on my computer), but with Caeciliae it looks like we might be able to do it ourselves.

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