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

Hans Åberg via Unicode unicode at
Mon May 28 05:43:10 CDT 2018

> On 28 May 2018, at 11:05, Julian Bradfield via Unicode <unicode at> wrote:
> On 2018-05-28, Hans Åberg via Unicode <unicode at> wrote:
>>> On 28 May 2018, at 03:39, Garth Wallace <gwalla at> wrote:
>>>> On Sun, May 27, 2018 at 3:36 PM, Hans Åberg <haberg-1 at> wrote:
>>>> The flats and sharps of Arabic music are semantically the same as in Western music, departing from Pythagorean tuning, then, but the microtonal accidentals are different: they simply reused some that were available.
> ...
>>> The fact that they do not denote the same width in cents in Arabic music as they do in Western modern classical does not matter. That sort of precision is not inherent to the written symbols.
>> It is not about precision, but concepts. Like B, Β, and В, which could have been unified, but are not.
> Latin, Greek, Cyrillic etc. could not have been unified, because of the
> requirement to have round-trip compatibility with previous encodings.

Indeed, in Unicode because of that, which I pointed out.

> It is also, of course, convenient for many reasons to have the notion
> of "script" hard-coded into unicode code-points, instead of in
> higher-level mark-up where it arguably belongs - just as, when
> copyright finally expires, it will be convenient to have Tolkien's
> runes disunified from historical runes (which is the line taken by the
> proposal waiting for that day). Whether it is so convenient to have a
> "music script" notion hard-coded is presumably what this argument is
> about. It's not obvious to me that musical notation is something that
> carries the "script" baggage in the same way that writing systems do.

Indeed, that is what I also pointed out. So I suggested to contact the SMuFL people which might inform about the underlying reasoning, and then make a decision about what might be suitable for Unicode. They probably have them separate for the same reason as for scripts: originally different fonts encodings, but those are not official, and in addition it is for music engraving, and not writing in text files.

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