Creating a musical typeface

About Harry Emmery

Harry Emmery is a renowned double bassist. He played in 29 editions of the North Sea Jazz Festival – spread over 84 concerts – and played in the Metropole Orkest for seven years. He has shared the stage and made records with, among others: Chet Baker, Dorethy Donegan, Olivia Newton John, Duke Jordan and Oleta Adams.




To understand what designing a typeface entails, I started the project by researching the legibility, function and character of the letter. I did this by reading various books, attending lectures and visiting Harry’s house. This has helped me to delve into his career and to visualise the required atmosphere and character of the typeface.



With this information I dove into the visual examination. By sketching, writing and experimenting with different materials I came closer and closer to the final design.


Harry Emmery plays his double bass (French Lady) in a special way. The grip he applies to the strings creates a unique sound. I have implemented this principle in the typeface by devising a system that warps these letters; a visualisation of how Harry Emmery plays his double bass. The end result consists of a ‘Regular’ and ‘Warped’ version of the French Lady typeface, so that the designer can choose which letters in a word or sentence are displayed with the ‘Warped’ effect.


During my study as a digital designer I became more and more fascinated with typographic art and how important it is for the aesthetics of the final product. For this reason, I chose to take on the role as a type designer during my graduation project of the bachelor Communication and Multimedia Design. This resulted in a heading typeface for the website of double bass player, Harry Emmery.

As part of my graduation project, together with:

GRRR and High on Type