I really want Musescore 3.0 to stop automatic placement

• Oct 30, 2018 - 00:10

How can I disable auto-placement of elements on Musescore 3.0?


Can you explain what problems you are seeing that lead you to want this? I am finding about 95% it does a really good job. For the other 5% I turn them off individually. Some of these are bugs and are reported as such, some are just places where I think my decision on how to resolve a conflict is better than MuseScore's, and I couldn't reasonably expect it to be otherwise. If you have cases where you think MuseScore should be doing a better job than it is, they should be looked at and hopefully fixed. So do report them!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I am also experiencing problems with auto-placement in two areas. Firstly, AP doesn't seem to consider page size so if a lot of auto placement takes place, staves can be pushed off the bottom of the page. Secondly, but not as critical, if I'm reading a large score I like the instruments to stay in the same place across left and right pages. AP can result in staves on the right page being higher or lower than the corresponding stave on the left.
The suggested solution of disabling AP on a per element basis is not practical. Could it not be a global setting?

I have been trying version 3 ( and thanks to Forum I have a working 32 bit version for a stick PC too). I agree the automatic placement works well, but sometimes it makes a bit of a mess with complex piano scores with many voices. I am using the 64 bit version on a powerful desktop computer.

I also find the placement of piano fingering numbers on a grand score format worse than on the version 2.3.2. It puts the numbers on beams and muddles them into bunches of closely packed noteheads, where it is sometimes impossible to see them and even move them. The first note on each bar seems to take a fingering number and place it in a sensible place, but subsequent numbers on remaining notes in the same bar go in very odd places and are not consistent in their initial placement. I had got used to the placement in version 2.3.2 which was often slightly odd, but logical. The new version, perhaps because of auto placement, seems a bit wayward.

I am still persisting with version 3. It is obviously a very clever update, but therefore perhaps a little too complex? I hope this is not taken as a criticism because that is not intended. Just a comment from someone having a go at getting used to the new version.


In reply to by fingerstoo

While creating new scores, do not hesitate to post specific issues here in the forum so people can take a look at them. There are a lot of bugs being worked on, so someone can let you know if you've found a new one that needs reporting or if it's a known issue that's on the agenda to fix.

As you indicated, it is a complex update and will take feedback from users like you to help improve it.

In reply to by mike320

I think if you take any complex piano score (e.g. from any of the downloadable ones on the site) and try to add fingering numbers in the conventional places, you will immediately see what I mean. It happens all the time. It is not a simple bug. And it is completely and easily reproducible without much effort. I wonder if I am one of the few users who always add my own fingering to scores and hence it matters to me more than average users?

In reply to by fingerstoo

There must be at least 5 issue reports relating to fingerings. Perhaps these will fix all of your fingering issues. I know that fixing these is a priority for some programmers. If you move your mouse to activity on the menu and click issues, you can do a search for "Finger" and find all of the issues related to fingering. You can then click the 3 dots to the right and subscribe to them so you can see when they are updated.

In reply to by fingerstoo

One more thing about the fixes. Updated releases are expected every 2-3 weeks, and a fix will of course only show up in the next release. If you want to pre-test fixes, you can download the nightly that is created when the issue is marked as fixed. This is one of the nice things about open source projects, you can influence what happens if you want to.

In reply to by mike320

While it is true there are known issue involving fingering and we are looking at how to improve this, the known issues are almost entirely about guitar fingering. I'm not aware of any specific issues filed about piano fingering. I just did a real quick test, taking my Reunion demo, Ctrl+A to select all, then double-clicking the "3" piano fingering in the palette. I definitely see some collisions I'd rather not see. Some of them also were collisions if I try the same experiment in 2.3.2, and some of the collisions I see in 2.3.2 are now fixed, but there were definitely so new collisions as well, mostly single-note beamed passages where the fingering sits on the stem. There is specific code that is supposed to make sure the fingering goes past the end of the stem in those case, but obviously it isn't working. Could be that it worked at one time but now needs to be updated to account for subsequent changes in the beaming code.

Could someone with a good handle on piano fingering issues please file an issue and include some good examples? BTW, I don't consider it impossible that we might start supporting stacked fingering for chords the way professional music engravers would do it. This wasn't feasible in 2.x but might be now.

Auto placement implemented as-is is a challenge for SATB choral music. For example, auto placement of dynamics below the note runs contrary to every piece of choral music I'm transcribing. Forcing this as on by default for me is very inconvenient (to the point that I may revert back to 2.0 to get away from this).

Please, please, please, give us a choice to either:
- configure auto placement positioning, or
- turn it off for all newly added dynamics

Whoever configured auto placement may have known many forms of music, but when it comes to SATB choral music, this feature creates a significant problem (dynamic auto placement is below when it should be above the note). As it stands, I literally have to go to Inspector, un-check auto-placement, and then move the dynamic for every dynamic (and with choral music just assume that the typical piece can have a LOT of dynamics). This really is a time sink as-is.

That all said, this is a #FirstWorldProblem. I'm grateful for the free nature of this software and would like to thank all contributors for their amazing work. I'm good using 2.0 if this feature remains unchanged.

In reply to by Carewen

You are missing a very fine feature of MuseScore.

set location.PNG

In the picture I have changed the location of the selected dynamic to "Above" I now have a black S on the button on the right. If I click this, then all dynamics in the score will be set to above.

In reply to by mike320

Now that IS something fine I'm missing. Thank you!

That said, I've been playing with this for a while, and it's an interesting experience. Even though the composer's convention is to place dynamics and bar lines (crescendo, etc.) above the notes, this might be an approach I personally prefer. What's occurs to me is that the dynamic is actually easier to see given it's proximity to the lyrics. What makes this work is that auto-placement also moves the lyrics to allow for the dynamic. I guess I was attached to replicating a score per the composer/arrangers layout, but as a chorister, I believe this is actually better.

In short, if you want to lyrics by your dynamics 3.0 does it better than the convention. Fascinating. Well done to those involved.

In reply to by Carewen

I haven't done any purely choral scores, so I live with the non standard placement of dynamics and lyrics until I'm done entering a score. I then worry about layout all at once. I can select a staff (or all vocal staves since they're adjacent), right click a dynamic, select all similar elements in selection and set them all to above at once in the inspector. It is almost never necessary to move an element type one at a time. If you are patient, you can move as many as you want at a time. If you've tried it, you have seen that it takes a little time and I thought my system was going to crash the first time I did it.

In reply to by mike320

That is really cool, Mike. I might never have found the "S" setting though, because the default size of the inspector panel cut that off my screen. The whole right-hand column of the inspector was truncated. (Could this be based on my particular screen size?) Now that I've stretched the panel, hopefully Musescore will remember my preference.


In reply to by toffle

There's a scroll bar at the bottom of the inspector that lets you look at the right (or left) hand side of the inspector without needing to widen it. This is useful if you want a more narrow inspector but still want to be able to see the right side of it.

In reply to by mike320

Indeed useful. In my case, it was more a matter of not knowing that I was missing a feature. I had no idea the S option existed, and as I couldn't see it, there was no thought to go looking for it.

Musescore 3.0.1 is looking a lot more stable. I'm (barely) afraid to use it for important new work. :)

I very strongly vote for having a global setting for disabling/enabling Autoplacement. Not the current "select all elements, then disable", but the one that applies Autoplacement for any new element based on whatever the global setting is now.

I am mostly creating Jazz charts and lead sheets.

Here are some areas where the default (AP=ON) is a nuisance:

  • adding things like Change Instrument, Tempo, music style (via System Text), etc. - i.e. all info that typically applies to the whole sheet. AP puts them above the first staff, using up valuable real estate (gigging musicians will understand how keeping a sheet to one page is very important - we've no assistants to turn pages :)). I want to move them into the header space, but have to fight AP to do that (i.e. disable AP for all these elements)
  • spacing of staffs themselves. AP tries to keep them wide apart - see my comment above about real estate on the page.

My current approach is two-phased:
- first, put everything I want into the sheet, in whatever positions everything ends up;
- select all, disable AP;
- do second pass, placing elements where I want them.

Would be nice to have a choice not to do this. Perhaps, some people may prefer to actually do two passes; but giving us a choice would be... democratic? :)

In reply to by tomilchik

3.1 will include a command to disable autoplace for all elements. But, I would urge you not to do things this way just to move things into the header. You will create ton more work than necessary. Just disable it for those elements - and 3.1 will also provide a shortcut for that. Then you get the best of both worlds. Or, add the elements to the title frame if that'a really what you are trying to do anyhow, rather than using system text.

As mentioned, autoplace is not really what is controlling spacing of staves and systems, that is mostly a matter of style settings. The only time it adjsuts things is if there are collisions, but if you move the elements to avoid the collisions (which surely you'd want to do anyhow), then the space goes away. If you have problems figuring out how to adjust based on the info above, then please attach a score you are having trouble with and we can understand and assist better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Score attached.

I don't see how to achieve this, though: "...add the elements to the title frame if that'a really what you are trying to do anyhow, rather than using system text...".

I'm using elements from Text palette. When I drag any of these onto the title frame - they don't seem to see it (no plus-sign appearing), and only seem to know how to attach themselves to existing elements within any bar - I'm using bar 1 for everything I want to go into header, attaching them to the first note in the bar. This btw presents another problem - I can no longer safely touch/remove that note, as all attachments I created that way disappear with the note.

Attachment Size
Moped.mscz 23.47 KB

In reply to by tomilchik

You don't add text to frames using the palette - you right-click the frame. What you used "instrument change" for should have just been "part name" - it's not a change at all. And the other text could have just been "frame text". The only element you've added that really needs to be added from the palette is the tempo text, so that's the only one marking in the entire piece you should have needed to disable autoplace for.

You have a whole bunch of text elements you've disabled autoplace unnecessarily and indeed harmfully. Like, the words "verse" and "chorus" - if you want thsoe above the staff, don't disable autopalce and move them manually, just press "X" to flip them above the staff. Or use the Inspector, and if you want all text of that style to be above staff, click the "S" button (for "Set as style"). Similarly the text you moved to the left to avoid chord symbols - better to have just set the text style to be right aligned, and perhaps offset -1p from there. Actually, if you start from the Jazz Lead Sheet template, much of this is et up for you already. But from what you have, I'd suggest using "staff text" for the text below, "system text" for the text above, then you customize each as needed.

In another thread I commented on the use of stretch where system breaks are the much better way to do what you were doing.

Basically, everything you did manually here could have been much efficiently and effectively just by changing style settings, and then you'd only have to do it once - save the score as a template, and every other score you create from that template inherits those same style settings and will look perfect right out of the box, no manual adjustments of any kind needed again (well, that's a slight stretch, but only slight).

I've fixed up your score using all of these techniques. Use this as a template (save it to your Templates folder, select it from the template list next time you create a new score) and you should find you need almost no manual adjustments, the few you do need won't require disabling autoplace. The only two things in this score that have any manual adjustments of any kind are the elements in the title frame and the last "repeat and fade", which is set to right aligned.

The bottom line is - use style settings and the Inspector well, and you will find autoplace helps you more than you could possibly have imagined.

Attachment Size
Moped-fixed.mscz 19.35 KB

In reply to by tomilchik

So, I spent about 20mins on your score using 3.0.5, of which the first half was restoring automatic placement of all elements and resetting elements to their default positions. Also, just for certainty, reset the stretch on all measures.

To add text to the header, right-click it (or for Mac Ctrl-click) and select Add → Text. The "Ac. Guitar, Capo 7 and Slow cha-cha" are all part of the same text element, the separate styling is done by highlighting the relevant part and using the styling toolbar at the bottom of the window.
This allows us straight away to reduce the height of the title frame to 6sp.

Next was to reduce the insanely big/bold rehearsal marks into something readable. I manually styled and positioned the first one, then pressed the "set as style" buttons in the inspector to have it propagate to all of them.
Next I added line breaks before nearly all rehearsal marks, allowing them to flow into the page margin, just as in your current score.

Similarly, reset all chord symbols to the style I gave the first one.
Staff texts that should be above the staff were changed to placement "above" and once again a default position was set using the first of those markings. Similarly, a default position is set for those that have placement "below" as well.

Replaced the first coda sign with the actual "to coda" instruction (so playback now understands it too), then changed it's text to read as the coda symbol. Changed the size of it and the Segno to be 24pt instead of 25pt, which hardly makes a visible difference, but is a more standard fontsize; so likely the printout of them will be sharper.

This is the point where you realize you simply have too much music to fit on a single page. Looking at the scaling of the score, you're currently using a whopping 1,85mm for an sp, which is quite large. Reducing this to a still very acceptable 1,6mm makes everything almost fit on a single page, just one system too much.
Going into the style settings and reduce the minimum system distance from 8,5sp to 8sp makes everything fit on the page.

Also added a frame to more clearly separate the coda from the main piece.
Added line breaks to result in a more balanced distribution of measures across the systems. Reduced stretch once for the measures of the Chorus&Break part to make them fit on a single line.

Disabled automatic placement for the D.C. al coda to allow it to reside below the staff.

Prevent measures from flowing onto the next system after line breaks are locked in, by selecting the full score and reducing stretch once.

So, if I didn't had to undo all your manual fiddling, that sums up to just about 10 mins of styling work (without knowing the piece up front; imagine if I actually knew how it should look!) and disabling automatic placement on just a single element.

See attached for the resulting score and a comparison view.

[EDIT] post crossed with Marc's from above, but we're basically saying the same thing. Use styles to set default positions as you want them, and you'll find automatic placement working for you, rather than against you in most situations.

Attachment Size
277590_Moped_0.mscz 22.71 KB
277590_comparison.png 166.41 KB

In reply to by jeetee

For the record, your time estimates match mine pretty well too :-)

But, I wonder about the rehearsal marks, that's not how they look for me. I gather some people are seeing issues with MuseJazz font set bold, I guess you must be one of them, but I haven't been able to reproduce.

Overall, I am impressed with the automatic placement in Musescore 3. Don't remove the feature, please. Just add an option for those who want to disable it globally.

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