Hermann Zapf’s musical notation calligraphy. An example for musicians & typeface designers (part I)

T11his capacity to pass on suggestions to us throughout generations, give directions to reveal, connect concepts across the void of space and time has made it possible to make great strides in our understanding of deep space, common understanding and self-understanding.

To understand how writing began, we must go to ancient Sumer, where writing first began to be used extensively. Yes, you see merchants and potters.

You see the streets and gardens. These temples play a big role in why writing began.

Not hundreds of people or thousands of people, but together tens of thousands. And as cities grew, so did the temples for the gods.

However these enormous, vast holy place complexes they did not serve just as habitations.

No, take a closer look. Do you see those males bringing jugs packed with grain right here? These holy places likewise worked as massive storage facilities. Database for the enormous wide range of the city. In excellent times, presents streamed in.

And in difficult times, they were split back. This system produced a huge wide range for the clergyman, but he additionally guaranteed that cities of this dimension can function. We don’t care now. Look next to the guys that bring the grain. Do you see a guy watching them?

Note that whenever they bring a container of grain, he will certainly make a tiny mark on his clay table.

With such an economy, with lots of supplies, moving to and from the temple every day, they needed to keep records somehow. That table will be saved later, so that the priests may know exactly what they have at hand in their giant temple storehouse.

Scribes were looking for faster and easier ways to record commodities, they did not laboriously draw every sub-item brought to the temple, but instead they came to a mutually agreed set of more symbolic representations for goods flowing into holy places. And you can see how someone could happen, that these symbols need not only represent the concept of something, but also the word itself.

As well as that’s specifically what happened.

The icon for the cow was recognized not only as a representative of the pet, but also as a word cow thus. Still, with a thousand nouns, you can’t do much. As well as right here comes a pleased etymological coincidence. Do you see the individuals at the holy place talking with each other?

Both of these points are important because when many of your words are monosyllabic, it is easy not to think of a symbol as a word, but as a sound for that word. Stop thinking of a symbol indicating a word and begin to think about the general meaning of its sound, which can indicate more specific things.

Now you begin to consider images as noises and integrating noises together permits you to develop different words.

As well as when you integrate that with that said in Sumerian a variety of terms were based upon straightforward words, for example, a sickle plus grain might indicate a harvest, so there is a quantum of what you can do with sounds and concepts, which stand for thousands of pictures. We’re not done. Because how the scribes created has actually altered the method we create in Western nations today. Do you remember exactly how our buddy in the holy place adds grain?

Did the markers on the clay table? View him create. See just how he creates from top to bottom, simply as you would write a listing. That will transform quickly, due to the fact that the problem with clay is that it takes forever to dry. And if you inadvertently relax your hand while creating from top to base, you can quickly delete the whole column you just entered.

This risk is reduced if you start writing from left to. It was easier for scribes, but other literate people, who had to read it learned from top to bottom, so they didn’t like this sideways writing.

Soon people read personalities written laterally from delegated right. However due to the fact that they were inverted, they were extra abstract now. Even a lot more various from the images as well as things they made use of to represent. This creating system was then adopted by the surrounding Akkad as well as Elamites, who generalised it even more. Elements or tiny personalities have likewise been included to establish which part of the speech was which, to avoid uncertainty.

And currently you have a genuine creating system.

Initial pictures, however also pictograms changed from them they totally disappeared into the wedge prints as well as lines created by the stylus pen then chosen. Which means rather than a handful of nouns to be written to supply checklists here we have a creating system that can give us lyrical and abstract points like the Legendary of Gilgamesh or Enum elish. Just how do we know all this? Amusing aspect of clay: When a location burns down and also all your records get on clay, rather than being destroyed, they harden and also remain.

It won’t happen here for a while. So allow’s praise scribes like this and the wonderful city of Sumer for what they gave us. A gift that lasted us more than five and a half thousand years. Writing. Since we don’t get to the False Episodes for these one-offs, I want to emphasize that this is only the first place in history where writing has flourished.

It will later develop independently in Mesoamerica and was almost certainly developed independently in China. There is a great deal of controversy over whether it has developed independently in the Indus Valley and Egypt. From what we have read, which is far from enough for a layman’s opinion, I believe that both groups have inherited the basic concept from Sumer. If you liked this attempt and you are interested in the history of ideas as well as the history of people and companies, let us know in the comments. If so, we’ll try to do it sometimes.


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The early unedited version of this video is available for the supporters of https://patreon.com/terentyev, the source materials are available there, too. Keep in mind that such production is an effort, which you are most welcome to reward by subscribing to Patreon.

The books shown here are:
Hans Baumann’s Der Helle Tag and his Die Morgenfrühe, published by Ludwig Voggenreiter Verlag zu Potsdam in 1938 and 1939 respectively. Both books (originally) hand-copied by Hermann Zapf in Haus Fürsteneck. (Geshcrieben von Hermann Zapf in Haus zum Fürsteneck Frankfurt am Main.)

This film is a part of a musical typography research conducted at https://www.terentyevpublishing.com/

In touch with:

0:00 — Intro
3:13 — G-clef (treble clef)
3:38 — crotchet (fourth note)
3:57 — minim (half note)
4:20 — semibreve
4:33 — crotchet rest (fourth note rest)
5:12 — quaver rest (eighth note rest)
5:29 — minim & semibreve rests (half and whole notes rests)
5:44 — rhythm dot (time dot)
6:04 — sharp
6:27 — natural
6:42 — flat
7:17 — beams
7:39 — quaver (eighth note) flags (tails, hooks)
8:14 — semiquaver (sixteenth note) flags
8:33 — barlines
8:45 — ledger (leger) lines
9:14 — key signature
9:36 — time signature
9:57 — miscellaneous
11:03 — Outro

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