A little ignorance

This year I redesigned the certificates for the participants in the Santa Fe Sonata Contest. I’m rather pleased with how they turned out:

2015 certificate

That’s Santa Fe Baldy in the background. And a treble clef for the “S” of Sonata Contest, to make it all music-y and such.


A treble clef is really a G. That’s why its nickname is “G clef”. A thousand years or so ago, when music notation was being developed, everything was written by hand by the monks. The only fancy writing was at the beginning of pieces. Guess what’s always at the beginning of music? Yes, the clef, which defines which notes appear on which lines or spaces.

[Aside: we pianists usually only see treble (G) and bass (F) clefs nowadays; and they are nearly always in the same locations. But C clefs are quite common for other instruments, and as recently as Bach’s day the G clef moved around pretty often. We are a touch lazier now!]

So, the G clef was at the beginning of the music, saying “G is HERE!” Thus it was tarted up by the monks writing or copying the manuscripts. Then the printing press came along and standardized notation, and the clefs at the beginning of the music stuck in their tarted up versions.

You can sort of see it as a G if you remember your cursive writing. If you read it correctly, my newly designed certificates say “Gonata Contest!” Oops! But to most people it looks more like an S now, so I went with it. It’s important to have music-y Sonata Contest certificates after all.

(And we’ll just leave aside the fact that I’m disseminating ignorance by what I did. Although I do need to think of a way to get my music educator props back.)

A little ignorance creates more flexibility for the designer!

(Sorry, students!)

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