Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letters as musical notation and tempo—Paul Standard

Calligraphic Salutations: Hermann Zapf's Letterheadings to Paul Standard
Cover and colophon. Images courtesy of R.I.T., Cary Graphic Arts Press.

“The change from italic into roman script is a change from dynamic to static, from movement to repose. An italic letter is written with as few pen-lifts as possible, its cursive nature demanding running or flowing strokes. A roman letter is an assembled affair, the strokes of the edged pen here building an upright letter in any convenient number and sequence of strokes. In structural style, italic is legato, bound or linked together as by advancing current; whereas the roman is marcato, incisively demarcated and composed of kindred elements. Like italic, the roman letter has its special rhythm, a rhythm firm yet placid and assured, but its vertical stance makes the roman letter proceed lento or adagio as against italic’s allegro. —Paul Standard

Standard, Paul. Letter, Word and Page. New York: Cooper Union Art School, c.1956. N. pag. C.U.A.S., the Graphic Workshop Project of the Cooper Union Art School. Ser. 4. Print.

With special thanks to Mr. Stan Kaplan, Levittown, New York

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