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

Hans Åberg via Unicode unicode at
Thu May 17 02:40:54 CDT 2018

> On 17 May 2018, at 08:47, Garth Wallace via Unicode <unicode at> wrote:
>> On Wed, May 16, 2018 at 12:42 AM, Hans Åberg via Unicode <unicode at> wrote:
>> It would be best to encode the SMuFL symbols, which is rather comprehensive and include those:
>>  https://www.smufl what should be
>> ...
>> 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).

The reason is probably because it is intended for use with music engraving, and they should then be rendered differently.

> 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!

But the tuning system is different, E24 and Pythagorean. Some Latin and Greek uppercase letters are exactly the same but have different encodings.

> 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.

In Turkish AEU (Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek) notation the sharp # is a microtonal symbol, not the ordinary sharp, so it should be different. In Arabic music, they are the same though, so they can be unified.

> 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.

You need to work through those little details to see what fits. Should it help with music engraving, or merely be used in plain text? Should symbols that that look alike but have different musical meaning be unified?

More information about the Unicode mailing list