Improved automatic placement of score elements

I proposed this months ago - helped by others (link) :). I decided to start a new topic.

Often when some elements are applied to a score, they are not in a desired position (e.g. colliding with other elements).

You can apply manual adjustments to correct this, but improved automatic placement would greatly reduce overheads. The result would be a presentation that appears tidy, accurate, consistent, and bares a quality found in professional/published works. You could manually adjust the element after it is placed, if wanted.

Can I ask people what areas in MuseScore they feel this could benefit? So far, I think:

Articulations & Ornaments

I wonder about Special Characters and Text Symbols too?


I certainly think that this would be a great idea! It would mostly be useful when creating text. There should, of course, be an option to turn it off.

I think that ties and slurs caused me the most problems. Also chords with two adjacent notes when the automatic placement didn't properly place them opposite on the stem.


Fingering is the one I would like to see.

Entering fingering at the moment jams it up so tightly against the note that you have to soom in to select it to move it to the right place.

Some reports already exist regarding better defaults (see Milestones for a few, or all). I'm not sure about ties, but Elaine Gould's 'Behind Bars' states many things that I'm sure Werner plans to implement (e.g. how things should appear).

After anything is applied, it would be moveable.

Other than this issue, is there something else that can be improved about fingering?: #15753: Fingering collides with other score elements

It's great to have feedback about functions in particular, but is there anything other than what's listed you can think of?

Yes - see my notes on that ssue.

I think this is a great idea! One thing that might make sense is to have some sort of hierarchy - when two elements collide, it is needs to be clear which should "give". And a general policy on which direction would be the preferred direction for that adjustment (left, right, up, down). If it were actually implemented in a parameterized way like that, it would be relatively easy to then tweak the system to handle different kinds of cases. Easy for the developers, that is - I am not necessarily proposing the user needs to be able to control this hierarchy or direction preferences (although if it can be made a matter of editing an XML file, why not?)

I say this as someone who has not really use Sibelius with its "magnetic layout" facility; someone more fa,iliar with that might want to share their impressions of how it works?

There are some objects that currently require manual position either always or at least very often, even when there is nothing in particular that is causing a collision except the staff and notes themselves. I think some of these are already being addressed to some exent for 2.0. I'm thinking of voltas and slurs also, also articulations when either the note head or the stem extends beyond the staff.

Chord symbols are an area of concern for me. It is not uncommon for there to be several chords in a measure such that they collide with each other. An option to cause chord symbols to be taken into consideration in measure spacing - so chords don't collide with each other - would be great. Automatically add stretch until the chords no longer collide, that sort of thing. But then allow me to temper that so that if I would rather avoid the collision by nudging the chords away from each other, the stretch is reduced accordingly. Maybe a parameter to control the minimum amount of space between chords before this kicks in.

I suppose that same strategy could be emplyed for other symbol types, but I suspect most others are better handled by simply moving the symbols around, not by adding stretch.

BTW, one more general observation - better automatic placement of things would be nice, but perhaps lower priority in my mind than addressing things that currently *cannot* be worked around by manual adjustment. This mostly has to do with things like how barlines, brackets, lyric extenders, and other elements are drawn in various situations - things that are done automatically with no way to manually override.

Indeed! I think this is a necessity. I ALWAYS have to readjust my articulations/ornaments, lines, dynamics, etc. I use a lot of instruments, so it's pretty obvious when they're not properly lined up. I think I spend more time doing things like readjusting those things, resizing text (because I'm constantly having to shrink my scores), etc. than I do actually writing music. That's one of the most frstrating things. Speaking of, I think it would be a phenomenal idea to have MuseScore automatically resize the whole score when you add instruments, etc. By this, I mean staves, instrument names, text, articulations, and so on.

Lyrics is another one - they are prone to colliding with notes, or perhaps other elements.

Two pet pieves of mine:

1. Dnamics always appear slightly BEHIND the note to which they are attached (and for which they apply--this seems to be because the LEFT margin of the dynamics-letters is adjusted to the CENTER of the note). I move everyone of those somewhat to the left by hand to make optically clear where they apply. Also in a score they ought to be closer to the staff to which they apply than to the staff below. They appear exactly in the middle right now. This is before we even enter the area of competition for space.

2. Ornaments: as soon as notes are on ledger lines above the staff the trill symbol tends to overlap the note. This to me would be the first rule: every other symbol must move away from a note.

I always assumed the displacement of dynamica was deliberate to avoid collisions. But in any event, it shouldn't require any new features to change this - the default position of dynamics is supposed to be controlled by the text style, which is user controllale l,e all other text styles. Except the text style is currently ignored for dynamics in 1.x. But presumably it will be fixed in 2.0.

For articulations, yes definitely, they should by default be placed so as not to collide with the note they are attached to!

What would maybe help with this is a set of presets you can choose from before entering an element.

The way I would see it working is that you right click on the palette icon concerned and a dialogue opens from which you can choose the position of the element concerned. This position would then remain the default until you wanted to change it.

So for example, you could set fingering to appear to the left of the note, above the stave, below the stave etc. without having to go into the more arcane settings of the Style Editor.

I spent a very long morning yesterday entering articulations into an organ piece, most of which was spent at maximum zoom fishing them out from collisions with chords and notes from other voices.

I have some hope that with custom text styles and customizable palettes in 2.0, much of what we might need with regard to this sort of thing may already be in place.

I think it's a good idea!
For example, for each fingering item you need to set his default position (coordinates), relative to the note head.
With that, twice: for the case, when stem is up, and when stem is down.

You probably don't want to do that for piano or guitar fingerings when there are chords. The fingerings should not be positioned according to the notehead they are attached but also depending on the other notes in the chord.

IMHO, fingering elements may well be positioned relative to notehead, even in the chords.

But not with the same offset each time, since you will want the fingering to stack and so be spaced differently if they are on a two notes or 3 note chords for example.

It may also tie in with this: The replacement of elements.

Love this idea. PLEASE MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Somehow I failed to find any trace of this thread when I created The Official Layout Improvements Feature Request Thread in an attempt to galvanize some action on exactly this issue. Well, might as well link between them now.

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