Type Anatomy: Kira Norman

While reading Ellen Lupton’s “Thinking with Type”, specifically the “Letter” chapter, I learned more about what exactly makes up a typeface’s structure. The sharpness and uniformity of a piece became more and more important over time, helping designs comfortably accommodate broad bodies of text. Key components of type anatomy include the arms and legs of a letter, also known as the little tails that stick out the ends of a letter’s body, the baseline, the place where all the letters sit and the most stable axis, and the height which attempts to standardize the measurement of type.

During our trip to MASC, I was really drawn to the typeface featured in this music manuscript. It was featured in a Spanish Monastery during the early 1500s. It contains services covering vesper service for the Feast of Saint Jacob and Apostle through service for Exaltation of the Cross and Octava of the Virgin’s birth. First leaf indicates, however, that the series should go through the Feast of Saint Clement, Pope and martyr.

A big thing that I noticed about the typeface is the cap height of the letters. The capital letters are all painted red and are twice as big as the lowercase font. All of the letters seem to have unique arms and legs to the bodies of the text and are evenly separated. The baseline of the text is just above the faded red lines that keep the page from looking too crowded, The height of the letters vary as well, with the Ls and Fs really standing out as tall. On certain pages, the capital letters are intricately created. For example, the scale of the letter S in the page with the red text is evident, as it takes up more of the page than any of the other letters. The overall style is humanist, and may very well be calligraphy.

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