The emergence of early musical notations, which started from the eighth century onwards, ended a secular tradition of melodies’ learning based
on word-of-mouth. The first musical notes written down on parchment (called neumes) will then evolve over the centuries to become our modern system of musical notation. Two carolingian scriptures particularly caught the attention of paleographers : the Messine writing and the writi
ng of St. Gall. Those are still used today to interpret the Gregorian chant as faithfully as possible to its ancestral form.
The drawing of Carolinéale was based on the observation of two peculiar manuscripts, which are considered as landmarks with regards to the study
of early notation systems. It was also sustained by the community of the Gregorio project, an open-source software whose objective is to enable publication of partitions using Carolingian notation systems. The design process has led to a relatively informal drawing style for the musical signs, which is reminiscent of handwriting, and to a sans serif alphabet thought as a contemporary interpretation of the ductus of the Carolingian minuscule. The typeface is integrating some telltale features of the ductus of the Carolingian minuscule while seeking to remain stable, contemporary
Carolinéale is still in progress. Among other things, the Messine writing is to be added to the family, as well as an appropriate italic
and a few extra weights. The typeface started as a research project at the Atelier National de Recherche Typographique, Nancy, France.