Broome Sound fonts specimen

Typeface Review

Broome Sound

Reviewed by Louise Sandhaus on December 31, 2020

Broome Sound, a custom typeface designed by Tré Seals for the third issue of Umber Magazine, intrigues me for several reasons: its important historical reference; its craft; its simple beauty; and, above all, its status as a work of distinct experience — an optical translation of sound.

As someone fascinated with the history of motion graphics, I am struck by the way this typeface resonates with that history. It’s a history that begins with artists who sought to convey what they believed was a natural correlation between music and colorful abstract animations — what became known as visual music. And it was this relationship as well — music in relation to moving imagery — that we recognize today as motion graphics.

Other historical correlations between music — or sound — and visual imagery are the graphic representations of sound used in audio software: the animated undulating waves, rainbow bars, or jagged lines that represent qualities like shifts in tone and volume over time. And still another historical relationship between visuals and sound is visual audio tracks. These tracks, appearing on the edge of filmstrips in the work of artists like Norman McLaren, translate into sound when the film runs through a projector. In other words, they aren’t musical notations to be performed, but visuals that manifest as sound.

As a graphic designer rather than, say, an animator who loves motion graphics, I’m most interested in the typographic element. The magic of typography for me is that it allows words, dressed in visual “costumes,” to perform all kinds of meaning. We read and see simultaneously. And this is the experience for me with Broome Sound: we hear the words. We see sound. A crescendo of meaning and experience.

Louise Sandhaus is a graphic designer and is faculty at California Institute of the Arts. She is founder and codirector of The People’s Graphic Design Archive, a crowd-sourced virtual archive; author of Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design, 1936–1986; and coauthor of A Colorful Life: Gere Kavanaugh, Designer. Louise is a current Letterform Archive board member, former AIGA board member, and former chair of the AIGA Design Educators Community steering committee.

Post a Comment

Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like newspaper “Letters to the Editor”. Abusive or off-topic comments are not published. We appreciate compliments, but don’t publish them unless they add to the dialog. Thank you!