Early Music Sources Serenissima

The font “Early Music Sources Serenissima” is emulating, for good and for worse, both visually and conceptually, the most common way music was printed in the 16th and 17th centuries. Apart from easily creating beautiful prints with it, the font supplies an educational experience of how historical type setters were thinking and working. The font can work on almost any word processing program, and it’s free for download!

DOWNLOAD THE FONT HERE: EMS SERENISSIMA version 1.0

I. Installations instructions

II. Typing instructions

III. Troubleshooting

IV. Demonstrations

V. Credits

I. Installations instructions (very easy!):

  1. Download and install the font on your system. After you download, on windows, right-click on the font file and choose install; on Mac, double click on the font file and choose install. On iOS it is possible to install the font using the app iFont.
  2. The font is based on the feature of ligatures. Most word processors support ligatures, but one must make sure to ENABLE THAT FEATURE. Without it the font won't work. On Microsoft word: open the font settings window (Ctrl+D on Windows) > under “advanced” tab > set “ligatures” to “all” > then press OK. If you can’t find this on your program, google “how to enable ligatures on [your word processor]”.
  3. In order to choose the font click on the font name window and type EMS. If the font is installed you will see “EMS Serenissima”. Do not look for the font in the list because you might not see it, you must type its name.
  4. Enlarge the font size to 72 or so.
  5. You can start typing!

IMPORTANT: make sure to enable the LIGATURES feature on your program

II. Typing instructions:

Most of what you need to know is found on this font map: (PDF download here)

Static signs:

Clefs: C, F, and G gives a standalone version of these respective clefs. If followed by a number, they will appear on a stave and placed accordingly. For example, in order to get a G clef on the second line of the stave, type G and then a 2.

Time signatures: T gives a standalone version of the “common time” sign. If followed by a number (1-9), different time signatures will appear on a stave (see font map above).

Bar line: B

Double line: E

Repeat sign: R

Double empty stave: u

Medium empty stave: i

Small empty stave: o

Tiny empty stave: p


Modular signs:

The note values, and other modular signs in this font, can be followed by a placement key in order to locate them in the desired location on a stave. The placement keys are centered around the key g, which is the middle line of the stave. Other keys on that row are for placements on the other lines, and keys on the row below are for placements in between the lines. See in the font map above.

Note values: numbers 1-8 (Long, breve, semibreve, minim, semiminim, croma, semicroma, biscroma) give standalone versions of these note values. If a number is followed by a placement key it will appear on a stave on the respective place. Blackened note values (black long, black breve, and black semibreve) are q, w, and e, and work in the same way.

Rests: If a note value (numbers 1-8, and q, w, and e) is followed by the number 0 it will become a rest of the respective note value. In order to control the position of the rest on the stave, it is possible to follow the number 0 with a placement key (three-stage ligature); the rest will appear on the respective place of that placement key. For example: 4 (minima) followed by 0 (->rest), followed by the placement key x (->minim rest on the lowest line).

Sharp sign: plus [+] gives a standalone version of the sharp sign. If followed by a placement key it will appear on a stave on the respective place.

Flat sign: minus/hyphen [-] gives a standalone version of the flat sign. If followed by a placement key it will appear on a stave on the respective place. For some users the hyphen didn't work for flats so I added the key "b" to do the same.

Dot: dot [.] gives a standalone version of that sign. If followed by a placement key it will appear on a stave on the respective place.

Custos: U gives a standalone version of the custos sign. If followed by a placement key it will appear on a stave on the respective place.


Further features:

Fermata sign: aestriks [*]. Typed after a note, a fermata will be added.

Barline with a tie over it: B followed by (

Barline with a tie under it: B followed by )

Independent ties: this feature does not work as an integral part of the font, it must be typed on an independent text box (make sure the text box has no fill color and no border) and placed where needed.

Tie facing up: ( )

Tie facing down: { }

Tie line: _

III. Troubleshooting:

  • If the font doesn't work properly, it is most likely because the Ligature feature is not enabled on your word processor program. Even if you enable it once, some programs (like Word sometimes) may reset this per document. There are some program that does not support ligatures at all: PowerPoint and Apache OpenOffice Writer.
  • For some users the flats doesn't work with the hyphen [minus] key, so I added also the key "b" to make flats instead. If you are not sure if you have the latest version, just download again and reinstall.
  • Often, the font won't work well when printing. But if you first make a PDF of it, and then print, it works.

IV. Demonstrations:

1. Scipione Lacorcia: Ahi, tu piangi, Il secondo libro de madrigali, p. 20

Left: original publication (rome 1616); right: Microsoft word with EMS Serenissima, typed by Doron Schleifer

2. Giulio Caccini: Euridice, p. 6

Left: original publication (Florence 1600); right: Microsoft word with EMS Serenissima, typed by Doron Schleifer

3. Antonio Carpani: O dulcissime IESU, Florido de Silvestri (collection), pp. 66-67

Left: original publication (rome 1659); right: Microsoft word with EMS Serenissima, typed by Doron Schleifer

V. Credits:

The font was made by Elam Rotem. Many thanks to Alon Schab, Doron Schleifer, John McKean, and Jedediah Allen for their help!