Fine-Tuning Note Head Styles

Maybe it’s something in the fall weather that makes a body want to refine note head shapes… About this time last year I created a new, more rounded TwinNote note head style, and recently I designed a new version that improves upon the previous style in subtle ways.

Below is an image illustrating the original triangle shapes followed by the previous default style introduced last year.  Next is a recent experiment that has shapes that look a little like houses.  Below that is the new default style which combines aspects of the previous and experiment styles.  The last staff shows traditional notes for comparison.


The difference between the previous and new default styles are pretty subtle, but I like how the new style has a more solid connection between the note head and the stem, and how the note heads are slightly larger and easier to see (having more visual “weight” on the staff) without being any wider.  There’s also something about the way the left and the right sides of the note heads curve towards the vertical axis that make the notes seem more stable and comfortable on the staff and in relation to each other.

The new default style can be seen in the interactive “audiovisualizer” on the TwinNote home page and in the learning game on the Practice page. It is also found in the most recent file that is used with LilyPond (see Software).

In the process of working on the file I made some significant revisions to the code that tells LilyPond how to draw the note head shapes.  These changes make it easier to  experiment further with note head shapes (maybe next fall?) and also easier to use and compare the current styles.

One new feature is that you can use any of these note head styles on any given TwinNote staff. Kind of like selecting different fonts for a text document. Previously there was only a single default style that was supported. Now you can even adjust the width of the note heads “on the fly” if you want to experiment with slightly wider or narrower notes. As you would expect, whole notes are wider in all of the different note head styles (as in traditional notation).  (Wider whole notes had only been implemented for the default style before.)

For details on how to use the different note head styles in TwinNote in LilyPond, see this new section on the Software page.  If I find time I may do another more technical post focusing on these under the hood changes.  (One of them is that I’m now using the make-connected-path-stencil function rather than ly:make-stencil and a path expression.)

Posted on by Paul Morris | Permalink.