preliminary proposal: New Unicode characters for Arabic music half-flat and half-sharp symbols

Garth Wallace via Unicode unicode at
Thu May 17 01:47:45 CDT 2018

On Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:42 AM, Hans Åberg via Unicode <
unicode at> wrote:

> > On 16 May 2018, at 00:48, Ken Whistler via Unicode <unicode at>
> wrote:
> >
> > On 5/15/2018 2:46 PM, Markus Scherer via Unicode wrote:
> >> I am proposing the addition of 2 new characters to the Musical Symbols
> table:
> >>
> >> - the half-flat sign (lowers a note by a quarter tone)
> >> - the half-sharp sign (raises a note by a quarter tone)
> >>
> >> In an actual proposal, I would expect a discussion of whether you are
> proposing to encode established symbols, or whether you are proposing new
> symbols to be adopted by the community (in which case Unicode would
> probably wait & see if they get established).
> >>
> >> A proposal should also show evidence of usage and glyph variations.
> >
> > And should probably refer to the relationship between these signs and
> the existing:
> It would be best to encode the SMuFL symbols, which is rather
> comprehensive and include those:
>  https://www.smufl what should be <>

If you want to write up a proposal for that entire set of characters,
godspeed and good luck.

> >
> > which are also half-sharp or half-flat accidentals.
> >
> > The wiki on flat signs shows this flat with a crossbar, as well as a
> reversed flat symbol, to represent the half-flat.
> >
> > And the wiki on sharp signs shows this sharp minus one vertical bar to
> represent the half-sharp.
> >
> > So there may be some use of these signs in microtonal notation, outside
> of an Arabic context, as well. See:
> >
> >
> These are otherwise originally the same, but has since drifted. So whether
> to unify them or having them separate might be best to see what SMuFL does,
> as they are experts on the issue.

SMuFL's standards on unification are not the same as Unicode's. For one
thing, they re-encode Latin letters and Arabic digits multiple times for
various different uses (such as numbers used in tuplets and those used in
time signatures). There are duplicates all over the place, like how the
half-sharp symbol is encoded at U+E282 as
"accidentalQuarterToneSharpStein", at U+E422 as
"accidentalWyschnegradsky3TwelfthsSharp", at U+ED35 as
"accidentalQuarterToneSharpArabic", and at U+E444 as "accidentalKomaSharp".
They are graphically identical, and the first three even all mean the same
thing, a quarter tone sharp! The last, though meaning something different
in Turkish context (Turkish theory divides tones into 1/9-tones), is still
clearly the same symbol. The "Arabic accidentals" section even re-encodes
all of the non-microtonal accidentals (basic sharp, flat, natural, etc.)
for no reason that I can determine.

There are definitely many things in SMuFL where you could make a claim that
they should be in Unicode proper. But not all, and the standard itself is a
bit of a mess.
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