As a programmer, I was doing some Unicode testing and I figured out that the 𝄞-character gives an awesome testing candidate. Now, 2 weeks later, I was wondering how these Unicode symbols would be used in practice.

To me it seems that you can't write a music piece in a text editor that way, since you can't overlap the characters, nor change the pitch of the notes: 𝄞𝄚𝄫𝅘𝅥𝄚𝄀

Here's how that renders on my Windows machine in Firefox:

Notes as picture

Granted, probably nobody would write their music sheets in Word. So let's assume we have a special music application that could place the individual characters in arbitrary positions and overlap. Like Inkscape for example:

Notes in Inkscape

Compare that to a correctly rendered note:

Corrently layed out note

That's not only a difference in font.

So in order to make the font useful, I'd not only need to know how to move the characters, I'd also need to know how to scale each of them individually.

So my question is: how would I need to design the musical characters in a font in order for them to be useful?

  • 2
    This feels a bit like reinventing the wheel. Musescore & Lilypond are free scoring solutions, Sibelius is the industry standard paid app. Most of these can use 3rd party fonts.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 12, 2022 at 13:28
  • @Tetsujin: so the answer is: you don't design a Unicode compatible font, you design a custom music font Dec 12, 2022 at 14:39
  • As for the close reason: either a musician must have graphic design skills or a graphic designer must have music skills. It will be closed equally on both sites, I guess. Dec 12, 2022 at 14:40
  • @ThomasWeller Musescore is Open Source, so I suppose you could examine the source code to see how they did it. Programming is way off-topic here though, unless it's for scripting graphic design software. Sorry. Also font design is quite a specialist subject - I've dabbled, but I'm no expert. Not sure if it would even be possible to create a font which could type music - assuming you mean using nothing but plain text. I think you are going to need software in addition to any font you could create.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 12, 2022 at 15:33
  • You can't make a unicode font for music - there are no standard unicode locations for most of the glyphs -it has to map to a specific set of characters. There is a new standard spreading though the scoring world, SMuFL - see smufl.org
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 12, 2022 at 16:03

1 Answer 1


You don't design a font with proper Unicode code points to create music. One reason is that it does not provide code points for many things available in music.

A regular Unicode font has limited usage, e.g. when explaining the individual pieces that make up a score, e.g.

A quarter note has a dot with a stem (𝅘𝅥).

For real music application, special fonts are designed. These may use commonly accessible keys and use ligatures to combine them into special symbols. An example is MusGlpyphs

  • & many standard font substitution routines & fonts themselves contain no glyph or regular substitution path to show your example. I have music fonts installed, but they don't sub properly on a regular text page like HTML etc.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 12, 2022 at 18:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.