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Nib For Music Composition

nib music fountain pen composing

40 replies to this topic

#1 essayfaire

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 00:11

Hi y'all,

 

So my understanding is that music nibs are not actually best suited for writing music.  Which relatively inexpensive pen (>$40) would have a nib that would be suitable for a budding composer who likes fountain pens but has small handwriting and does not do calligraphy?  Would an italic be the most appropriate one to write notes and pauses? A broad?  Before starting to research this I had naively thought that music nibs were for writing music. :huh:


Edited by essayfaire, 12 December 2018 - 00:12.

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#2 sidthecat

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 06:05

My dad did his composing with a pencil: a professional copyist (talk about a vanished occupation!) would make it look pretty. I assume there’s a computer program that has taken over that job.
But my fountain pens make my writing process more interesting, so I imagine you may feel the same. An italic or broad nib may do the trick if you’re using pre-printed paper.

#3 Honeybadgers

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 09:32

an italic. Most music nibs are too broad.

 

Personally I recommend a wing sung 698 and pilot plumix combo. the plumix has an italic nib that can be swapped into the 698 (it uses the same feed and nib style as pilot's steel nibs) the result will be a piston filler with two nib options for under $25.

 

If you write small notes, maybe a nemosine singularity with a 0.6mm stub.


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#4 essayfaire

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 00:22

an italic. Most music nibs are too broad.

 

Personally I recommend a wing sung 698 and pilot plumix combo. the plumix has an italic nib that can be swapped into the 698 (it uses the same feed and nib style as pilot's steel nibs) the result will be a piston filler with two nib options for under $25.

 

If you write small notes, maybe a nemosine singularity with a 0.6mm stub.

I have a singularity with a M nib and I'm not a big fan - I find it temperamental and leaky, a problem I don't have with any of my other pens.  Could I swap the nib on that and give it a try, or do you think it wouldn't be worth the trouble?

 

I had been looking at the Plumix but got confused as to whether I would have to buy two of them.  :o


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#5 BaronWulfraed

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 21:18

My dad did his composing with a pencil: a professional copyist (talk about a vanished occupation!) would make it look pretty. I assume there’s a computer program that has taken over that job.
 

 

Lots... I had Deluxe Music on an Amiga back around 1986. Currently have Finale (v25, can't justify upgrade to v26 given how little use I've made of it). Modern programs can even handle transposing for instruments, changing measures per stave, etc., for already written pieces.

 

 

For the OP: From a limited sample (one each Sailor and Platinum) Music nibs are basically broad stubs, often with dual slits for heavy ink flow (Sailor is single slit, and while the Noodler's Neponset is dual slit, it is not a music stub and is billed to offer more flex than a single slit nib).

 

I can see them used for music notation, but one has to learn to rotate the pen/wrist to take advantage of the nib: Orient -- to draw thin stems, then orient | to do open note heads (thin top/bottom, fat left/right), and maybe start -- and end / when drawing flags.

 

If not trying for a formal score style, probably any pen will suit -- you just need more "scribbles" to fill in note heads.



#6 torstar

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 21:32

Charlie Harper used a MB ballpoint to write his jingles a few times.



#7 MKB

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Posted 15 December 2018 - 06:20

I have a singularity with a M nib and I'm not a big fan - I find it temperamental and leaky, a problem I don't have with any of my other pens.  Could I swap the nib on that and give it a try, or do you think it wouldn't be worth the trouble?

 

I had been looking at the Plumix but got confused as to whether I would have to buy two of them.  :o

 

I have had a number of Nemosine Singularity pens, and I really like those smaller stub nibs 0.8 and 0.6. Unfortunately, I also had occasional leak issues.  Regardless, I would try to work on the problem or keep the ones that didn't seem to have the issue.  Finally, after not using them for some time, I tried eyedroppering one of them, even though I imagined that the leak issue might end up being worse and with a massive amount of ink to add to the problem.  Surprisingly, I haven't had an issue since and really like the flow.  I've eyedroppered a couple of the remaining ones without any problems (which makes me wonder if it had more to do with the converter or it's connection to the section).

 

The one caution, and it is a big one, is that since the cap screws to the section and not the body, it is imperative that the section is screwed to the body pretty tightly, such that the cap, if turned, will always screw off of the section (and not the section from the body spilling ink all over). I also sealed the threads of the top piece of the cap, that holds the clip, with the same Dow 111 that I used to seal the threads of the body to section threads. Before that I could blow into the cap, and air would pass through the top of the cap.  Now, I have a nib that I like with lots of ink, that starts up after not being used for weeks at a time in a light weight pen with a comfortable section. I picked up a couple more of these pens recently, as it seems like they are being closed out everywhere.



#8 TeeTee

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 16:36

Lamy Joy, 1.5 or 1.9?



#9 sidthecat

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 18:36

I wonder if the Sailor Naginata Togi nib would be useful for music notation: its horizontal-vertical orientation is reversed, which might be useful. An “architect’s nib” is similar.

By the way, I recollect seeing a few pages of Beethoven’s manuscript, and he was the copyist’s nightmare. Scribbles, blots and strikeouts - the whole battle is there.

#10 Honeybadgers

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 02:29

I have a singularity with a M nib and I'm not a big fan - I find it temperamental and leaky, a problem I don't have with any of my other pens.  Could I swap the nib on that and give it a try, or do you think it wouldn't be worth the trouble?

 

I had been looking at the Plumix but got confused as to whether I would have to buy two of them.  :o

 

 

If you got a dud singularity you got a rare pen indeed. I've never even heard of them leaking before. Make sure the nib and feed are seated deeply and the converter is seated well. If the converter isn't on there well, the air interchange will cause issues (which is what it sounds like MKB's problem was )

 

The nibs swap easily, they're a standard #6. I have three singularities and find the fit/finish excellent. Kevin personally gives the nibs a once-over before fitting them to each pen.

 

But also bear in mind that every pen. At every price. From every maker. On this entire planet. Is going to have some duds that slipped past QC. email kevin at nemosine or whomever you bought it from and they'll make it right. I've had to return thousand dollar pens for not writing at all. And I've had to return ten dollar ones that wrote better but still not well. No pen is perfect, though the closest, most reliable quality control out there is probably pilot and sailor (though the pilot vanishing point stub can be prone to crappy baby's bottom)

 

the plumix is a decent pen on its own, if a little ugly. I find it insanely comfortable and practical, it can even be eyedroppered. But its nibs fit all standard pilot steel nib pens (78g, kakuno, prera, metro, cavalier, penmanship) and a bunch of chinese pens. the wing sung 698 with a plumix nib is a pen I never have un-inked. it refuses to dry out and never hard starts.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 17 December 2018 - 02:32.

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#11 A Smug Dill

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 23:07

Which relatively inexpensive pen (>$40) would have a nib that would be suitable for a budding composer who likes fountain pens but has small handwriting and does not do calligraphy?


I think any Delike fountain pen with a 0.6mm 'EF bent' or upturned nib will do, if you're after a nib that will produce stroke width variation but not by flexing, and you're primarily going to use it with short disjointed strokes. My Delike New Moon 3 writes like a dream, and only cost approximately US$7.
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#12 Wolverine1

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 15:35

One of my friends is a rather famous American composer who used to teach at the Univ of Michigan before he retired. He used a vintage Parker Vacumatic with a nib that he had adjusted by John Mottishaw into a fine italic stub, actually it was more like a medium-fine italic stub nib, and he would use Aurora Blue ink. He won at least 2 Pulitzer prizes using that pen to write his music.



#13 torstar

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 16:50

One of my friends is a rather famous American composer who used to teach at the Univ of Michigan before he retired. He used a vintage Parker Vacumatic with a nib that he had adjusted by John Mottishaw into a fine italic stub, actually it was more like a medium-fine italic stub nib, and he would use Aurora Blue ink. He won at least 2 Pulitzer prizes using that pen to write his music.

 

We want names!

 

I have a side interest in 20th and 21th century string quartets, filled by all kinds of rather famous Univ profs.

 

Famous being a term interestingly brandied about....  :D



#14 essayfaire

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 18:59

One of my friends is a rather famous American composer who used to teach at the Univ of Michigan before he retired. He used a vintage Parker Vacumatic with a nib that he had adjusted by John Mottishaw into a fine italic stub, actually it was more like a medium-fine italic stub nib, and he would use Aurora Blue ink. He won at least 2 Pulitzer prizes using that pen to write his music.

Well, that's inspiration!


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#15 Wolverine1

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Posted 06 January 2019 - 10:12

torstar and essayfaire : I will send you folks a PM, I dont know if said composer would like me talking publicly about his writing habits.  :)


Edited by Wolverine1, 06 January 2019 - 10:18.


#16 Sholom

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Posted 20 January 2019 - 20:16

Sorry I'm late to the party here but I have tried many inexpensive (at the time) music nibs for composing over the past several decades. What passes as a music nib has varied widely over time and manufacturer, and some of them really were for writing music. These days I mostly use the Sibelius music scoring program or one of my precious original Blackwing pencils (Stravinsky's favorite) if I'm doing music sketches. My favorite, but now effectively unobtainable, pen/nib combination was the Eberhard-Faber-Higgins Pengraphic pen with the music nib that was sold for it, a 14K, 3-tine Bock nib. The pen was an inexpensive piston filler made of some brittle and solvent-unweldable plastic but it worked, and probably is still working but I haven't used it in the past 10 years or so. In the 60's and early 70's Osmiroid went through several permutations of what they labeled as a music nib for their 65 and 75 models, the most famous of which was a 2-tine, steel oblique supposedly made to Benjamin Britten's specifications. I was never happy with mine but I probably used the wrong ink for it (Higgins engraving, ostensibly fountain-pen safe but clog-prone in most pens). I have but have never used for music a Pelikan 120 Mark II (Merz & Krell) with the steel M and B italic nibs; the M looks about the right width for music. Other relatively inexpensive vintage pen options for music would be Esterbrooks with stub nibs. I think a 2284 or 9314-M or B would work pretty well. For something finer in an Esterbrook there are the 9314-F or 2442 nibs. The Pilot 78G B nib is quite stubbish and not super broad, so it should also be useful for music, and mine is a beautiful writer. It's really a matter of personal preference, but there is certainly no need to spend the fortune one can now spend on modern music nibs if all you want to do is write music.



#17 minddance

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 04:48

I guess it depends on the space between staffs/lines on your manuscript paper, and complexity of the music you want to conpose.

A real extra fine nib could get the job done.

A round broad nib might be too big for some line spaces and might create ambiguity in pitches.

It also depends on how fast/slow you want to write. Do you want to just dot and create note to indicate pitch or do you want to take time colouring your note?

I guess a Pilot Custom 74 F (or EF) would work. But certainly not its Music Nib:it is way too broad for lines and spaces on many manuscript papers.

A nib that is able to create different line thickness could be quite useful too. The rather inexpensive Pilot Pluminix (Italic) in Fine comes to my mind.

For good precision, Platinum and Sailor fine and extra fine nibs should be good too. (Their music nibs, at their broadest, are way too broad for content input into small spaces in my humble opinion.)

But if writing with a Music nib somehow gives you the necessary impetus and inspiration, please feel free.

Edited by minddance, 21 January 2019 - 04:56.


#18 essayfaire

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 22:22

Such wonderful feedback from everyone!  I ended up ordering a Monteverde Flex. The Platinum and Sailor F and EF nibs we have don't leave enough room for line variation.  I am unfamiliar with Delike and the Plumix doesn't intrigue me as much as some of the other options. 

 

Honeybadgers, my Singularity is behaving better now that I have rechecked the seals.  Thanks.  Still not my favorite, but at least it's less leaky now!

 

sidthecat, those who can compose as well as Beethoven.... ;)

 

I'll keep y'all posted ( no pun intended).


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#19 minddance

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 03:49

Such wonderful feedback from everyone!  I ended up ordering a Monteverde Flex. The Platinum and Sailor F and EF nibs we have don't leave enough room for line variation.  I am unfamiliar with Delike and the Plumix doesn't intrigue me as much as some of the other options. 
 
Honeybadgers, my Singularity is behaving better now that I have rechecked the seals.  Thanks.  Still not my favorite, but at least it's less leaky now!
 
sidthecat, those who can compose as well as Beethoven.... ;)
 
I'll keep y'all posted ( no pun intended).


Pls pardon my ignorance: what kind of line variation do you need for music composition? Is it for the Italian dynamic markings? The notes on the staves?

#20 JonSzanto

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Posted 03 February 2019 - 05:48

I am very sorry I just saw this thread, as you've ordered a pen. I certainly hope you enjoy that Monteverde for any uses you find. However, here is an answer I gave to a fellow on the reddit fountain pen sub a while ago:

 

I have been using fountain pens for nearly 50 years (started in middle school) and have been a professional musician for over 40. In college and a few years after I supplemented my income by doing music copy work, used in professional organizations, and continued after that in writing my own parts and compositions.
 

You are correct: you do not want/need a music nib. You also do NOT want any flexible nibs. What you do want is an italic style nib. Italics are - broadly speaking - a nib that makes a wide vertical stroke and narrow horizontal stroke. A stub is the easiest to use but the corners are rounded, so the thin stroke is not as thin; a cursive italic is the most severe, takes a bit of practice, but gives you the most difference between the strokes and the thinnest horizontal.
 

A bit of the trick is that the beams on the notes are the thick part (along with the body of the notehead) and they go... horizontally. As such, one tends pull the pen across the page, and then hold it somewhat sideways to do the stems of the note (the thin part). It becomes second nature in time. As an aside, I was working against another obstacle: I'm left-handed. Believe me, if I can successfully do music by hand, anyone can!
 

You don't need an expensive pen at all. To be honest, if you want to get an idea of whether this will work out for you, you can pick up a Pilot Plumix for under $10. The nib is a bit of a stub, but you can practice doing the thin and thick lines. If this is still to your interest, then you can get any number of other pens with a good, crisp italic nib. When I was doing this for $$, I had a number of pens but none were expensive. Frankly, I must have done around 75% of my copy work with Sheaffer No-Nonsense pens and their stock "calligraphy" nibs, which were just Fine, Medium and Broad italics. You can still find Sheaffer calligraphy sets online (I think they still make them with slightly different bodies) with those three nibs.

 

 


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