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Insert musical symbols with PopChar

Now and then, PopChar users ask how PopChar can help them with inserting musical symbols in documents.

It is important to note that PopChar does not contain any symbols; it just makes it easy to use and insert symbols that are already available in your installed fonts. This means that you need fonts with musical symbols to start with.

The Unicode standard contains a few musical symbols in the “Miscellaneous Symbols” block, among symbols for other purposes. These are just a few note symbols: AppleSymbolsMisc.png There is also a larger Musical Symbols block that defines 256 symbols, but they are hardly supported by currently available fonts. For example, the “Apple Symbols” font contains only 30 of these symbols: AppleSymbolsMusical.png Due to the lack of font support for musical symbols, you need to use non-standard fonts for musical symbols. Here are a few fonts with musical symbols:

  • Bach is a free font by Yo Tomita.
  • Maestro is a font that comes with Finale, a professional music notation program. The font is also available as a separate download from µfonts.
  • Bravura is another musical font that is available from SMuFL (Standard Music Font Layout by Steinberg): These fonts contain most musical symbols in the “Private Use Area”. This is the area where font designers are free to place symbols that do not conform to the Unicode standard. As a consequence, these symbols do not have names, which means that you cannot search for them by typing, for example, “quarter note”, in PopChar's search field.

Here is a screenshot of Bach, as it appears in PopChar: BachPUA.png