a type family inspired by the minuscule of the tenth century and the musical notation system of the Middle Ages.
A typographical research focusing on the first forms of musical notation and on cursive writing, whom goal is to facilitate the composition of Gregorian scores, to push forward our knowledge on early forms of the notations of the melody and to enrich our knowledge on the origin of the signs of the latin textual corpus.

A project initiated in 2014 at the National Institute for Typographic Research (ANRT–Nancy) and developed since 2017 with support of the National Institute for Visual Art (CNAP–Paris). Soon to be published by the PampaType foundry.

The emergence of early musical notations, which started from the ninth century onwards, ended a secular tradition of melodies’ learning based on word-of-mouth. From then on, various models of graphic transcription of the sound become favoured. The first musical notes written down on parchment–called neumes–will evolve over the centuries to become our modern system of musical notation. Two scriptures particularly caught the attention of historians: the “Messine” writing and the writing of “St. Gall”. Those scriptures are still used today to interpret the Gregorian chant as faithfully as possible to its ancestral form. Carolinéale–the type family related to this project–is based on the observation of two peculiar manuscripts, which are considered as landmarks with regards to the study of early notation systems. It is also sustained by the work done by the developers of the Gregorio project, an open-source software whose objective is to enable the digital publication of partitions using Carolingian notation systems.

The publication of such partitions is a typographical challenge. Indeed, they offer to their readers at least three different scripts to read simultaneously. As well as facilitating the typesetting of the chant, the design of Carolinéale aims to facilitate the work of scientists by providing them with a tool for easily transcribing studied signs. All produced glyphs of Carolinéale can be displayed by Gregorio and be composed together in order to transcribe the chant correctly. The type family can also be used alone to compose texts of a reasonable length. Its design has been thought as a personnal and contemporary interpretation of the ductus of the Carolingian minuscule and it is developed since 2018 in close collaboration with the PampaType foundry. The drawing of the musical signs, on the other hand, shares a “family likeness” with the shape of letters of Carolinéale, although it is based on more loose and cursive structures and energies.

The research around the design of this typefamily also investigates the issue of the origin of those scriptures and of a hypothetical graphical ancestor that they might share. It has been tought as a palaeographic study about the links between punctuation marks, Carolingian neumes and Tironian notes. Carolinéale is seeking to push forward our knowledge on early forms of the notations of the melody and to enrich our knowledge on the origin of the signs of the latin textual corpus.
Last news

The project is eligible for the Villa Médicis, Académie de France à Rome. Despite a warm welcome from the Jury for its quality, it is not selected

"Vox Sola", an in-situ intervention designed with Franck Girard, Chapelle des templiers, Metz

National institute for visual art (CNAP) research grant: support for a research / artistic production.

"Mastering type", collective exhibition, Berlin's University of Arts (UdK), Germany

"Pangramme", collective exhibition, itinerant: Metz, Amiens, Chaumont, Montreal, Liepzig (Honorable Mention of the Jury)

"Deux ans d'ANRT", collective exhibition, Rencontres internationales de Typographie, Lurs, Provence

"A character for the first notation of music: the cases of Metz and St. Gall", conference in Luxeuil, Luxeuil's International Writing Days

Carolinéale has been initiated in 2014—2015 at the National institute for typographical research (ANRT), Nancy—France. During this period, it has been realized under the direction of Thomas Huot-Marchand, Alice Savoie, Émilie Rigaud, Jérôme Knebusch, Roxane Jubert, Philippe Millot, André Baldinger and Johannes Bergerhausen.

In 2017, Carolinéale received a research grant from the National institute for visual arts (CNAP), allowing the project to be considerabilly developed, and this website to be alive!

This website has been drawn by Nouvelle étiquette and coded with love by Frédéric Thomas.
© Francis Ramel, 2014—2018