Note Spacing

• Dec 26, 2018 - 01:50

How do I get the note spacing to equal the note values?


It depends on what you mean. The spacing is already based upon the length of the note. Explain better and someone can tell you what you need to do.

In reply to by mike320

Spacing is based on the length of the note? Really? How do you explain this?
The half-notes take the same space as the quarter-notes, and the quarter-notes take the same space as the eighth-notes, which means that half-notes also take the same space as eight-notes! Not only is this unattractive, it's hard to read too.

Using Musescore 3.2.3 on mac.

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In reply to by smb13

The spacing in the code includes a logarithm in it that makes the spacing look like old fashioned typesetters used to make it look. This means that it's not a table of constants to determines the spacing but rather the locations of all the notes on that beat in every staff.

In reply to by smb13

Which measures with whole notes are you seeing as curiously large? Again, the defaults should produce spacing that is correct according to modern engraving standards, where a whole note takes a little more room than a half note but not as much as two of them, unless you have put in line breaks to force measures to be much wider than their defaults, in which case they might seen very similar in width, which si again correct.

Basically, in order to understand what you have a question about, we'd need you to attach the actual score.

All of that said, it would probably not be too much work to add more controls to the spacing algorithm. The current formula is a complicated mathematical mess I don't really understand, but I could imagine there being parameters that could be passed in, or radio buttons to select between the standard algorithm and other (like one to produce equal spacing of measures, a fairly common request).

In reply to by smb13

It's not the same space, it's proportional in a sort of logarithmic way, which is correct according standard rules of notation. That is, half notes aren't supposed to take twice as much room as quarter notes, but more like 1.4 times, or twice the amount of space as eighth notes (as opposed to four times). And this is the approach correctly taken by MuseScore. Your example shows spacing on the relatively tight side, but add some line breaks or otherwise increase the overall spacing factor (eg, Format / Style / Measure / Spacing) and the differences will be more obvious. Youll see half notes really are taking twice as much space as eighth notes.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, you're absolutely right about the "logarithmic" spacing, which is what sheet music publishers have been doing for centuries. The term "twice" is really short-hand.

I've been peppering my scores with line breaks to make it look better. But it's a pain to go through and do each part separately!

In reply to by smb13

Realistically, there is no substitute for that anyhow, as you should be putting in breaks based on the actual musical phrasing, optimizing where page turns happen, etc. But if you just want overall "more space", that's easy enough to make happen by increasing the spacing setting in Format / Style / Measure.

When someone is playing the piano for example, it is helpful to the player if the printed score spacing reflects the timing of the notes. with most other software other than musescore this is naturally the case. In musescore when you first insert the notes of a single instrument including piano this does indeed happen. But start getting more complicated like putting in text (lyrics) for example, and the note spacing goes all over the place (a total mess), and I cannot find a way of getting back to the preferred arrangement of the space following a half note being twice the space following a quarter note, and so on. Sorry it is now a long request, but I don't think I can put it any clearer.

In reply to by Geoffrey Higges

When you play piano, you normally don't see the entire score, but rather only the piano part. Creating parts would take care of this irregular spacing problem you have. If you see a score with a piano and one part (like violin or voice), the other part is normally smaller so the spacing issue should also be minimized. You can make a staff small in staff properties. Right click the other staff and you will see Staff Properties in the menu.

Thank you very much for your comments. Keeping the piano part separate from the choir parts is a possibility I could try. (The comment about overlapping words could probably be overcome by having bigger spacing all round - although I have tried that.)
I have also tried several things with Staff Properties to no avail. (Perhaps if I had used your ideas from scratch, it may have worked out alright, by now I have the problem of correcting a mess, and nothing seems to reassign appropriate spaces to my piano part.)

I agree. So far this is the ONLY thing that is keeping Musescore from being the perfect replacement to all of the other score writing software available. There is no easy fix for this that I've found. Like even dotted notes should be a little bigger than their original values. As a drummer, we kind of rely on this as a feature, for when we're learning a new score. It helps to visually see the note's mathematical value to play it as it needs to be played. What we call a "full-beat roll" is getting the same spacing as a "7-stroke roll", and it's a little frustrating as the "7-stroke roll" has the same spacing at a "13-Stroke roll".

In reply to by coryhilliard

I’m not understanding - dotted notes already do take more space than undotted, and in general, longer note values take more space than shorter. But the standard is logarithmic, not linear - half notes don’t take twice as much as quarters but more like 1.5.

It’s true that educational materials, to help show beginners how notation works, will sometimes use direct linear scaling, though. So the method described elsewhere works - simply fill the music with invisible tests in voice 3 or 4. I’m not aware of any contexts where percussion music not intended as such a pedagogical exercise would use this technique in published, but it should work just as well either way. Similarly for experimental / pulse-less music where the linear relationship is intended to replace conventional use of noteheads etc to indicate duration.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

OK, I'll explain my situation to give you an understanding. I am a Linux user. Most of the music notation software manufacturers don't release their product for Linux. So I'm trying to find an alternative to what's available to me in my "world". In many ways Musescore is either better or just creates more visually appealing scores than the Scottish Drumming Notation Software that currently exists. (Much like Finale does for the scores we write).

With our type of music, we use the Berger Monolinear Notation System created by Dr. Fritz Berger in 1928 to write our drum scores. These scores look a million times better when they're written as note values == space they take up. I'm not asking anyone to understand, or to even have empathy for us unique score writing folks. I'm just saying, that's what we do and what we're used to. It would be an amazing feature, but I understand if nobody implements it.

For "normal" score writers, I'm sure the spacing looks fine, but we sometimes fill a measure with a bunch of 32nd notes, and that measure ends up taking all the space available in the entire line, instead of maintaining the spacing integrity of the other measures. I saw this was an issue/request in another post, that measures can't be evenly spaced out. Which would be the other feature I would love to have.

Again, I know most of the world doesn't care or do it this way. It's just how we do what we do.

In reply to by coryhilliard

It would probably be easier to discuss this with an actual score to use as an example, so I encourage you to post one. Perhaps also a corresponding excerpt from a published score you are wanting to emulate. I'm not familiar with the Berger system you mention and indeed had never heard of it outside the couple of times you have referred to over the past few days. I gather it is indeed a thing, if perhaps a not very common one outside Switzerland or Scotland. In order to understand better how it could someday be supported, and to show you the best methods for achieving the result today, actual examples will help immensely.

As it is, what I can say based on a cursory web search is that the method I described - invisible rests 3/4 voices - should work simply and perfectly meanwhile.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Alright, well here's an example. It's not even an extreme example, it's just happens to be the one I'm looking at right now. In measure 2, the half note isn't taking up half the space in that measure. Then at the beginning of that same measure the 16th notes are almost twice as long as the 16th notes at the end of measure one.

I know this seems like I'm being overly picky to those that don't care, but we do care. Also again, this is a mild example, but there are some scores that are way worse than this one, where a 13-stroke roll is the same size as a 7-stroke roll.

I'm sure I can go through and edit each one changing the x offsets, but a global fix would be preferred.

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In reply to by coryhilliard

You're not being overly picky - we are picky too about getting the standard logarithmic rules implemented as well as we can, and in fact there is work going on right now to improve that. It's just that you are being picky about something that is extremely unusual to want in the first place, so that's why we're trying as hard as we are to better understand you special use case.

As mentioned, in order to assist, we really need an actual score (not just a picture of one) - but also a picture from a published score showing what you want to emulate.

But again, as far as I can tell, this is trivially easy to achieve using the method I keep suggesting invisible voice 3/4 rests. Have you tried this yet? It works perfectly for me in all cases where I've needed this. But the grace notes could possible throw it off a little in this case. That's why it is so crucial you post an actual score instead of just a picture - so we can see exactly what is going on and how to best advise you.

In reply to by coryhilliard

Thank you all for these suggestions.

I have found a much slicker way to implement "note spacing" by changing the measure width as suggested through another thread, as this forces the measures to all be the same width, which forces the note values to look evenly spaced out as well. It kind of fixes both of the issues I've been having.

Format > Style > Measure > Minimum Measure Width: "36"

So by fixing the measure width, it fixes the width of the notes. The only time this doesn't work is when there's a pickup measure, in which case it makes the pickup measure just as wide as the others. So if you guys have suggestions for that, I don't think I would have any other problems. (Ha!)

Honestly, the more I use this program, and figure out how fix these pesky little issues, the more I love it!

In reply to by coryhilliard

The method you are describing doesn't actually produce even spacing at all. The measures might be the same width, but an eight note won't take twice the space of a sixteenth - it will still be a logarithmic scale. Plus as you mention, it won't handle pickups, or time signature changes, or any number of other situaitons.

Again, the solution we keep telling you about really is the way to go. Dead simple and solves the problem perfectly, pickups and all.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sorry for my lack of understanding, but I'm not even sure what you're talking about when you're saying "invisible voice rests", even when I looked at the example jeetee added, I still have no idea. I've tried looking up what that means.

I know how to add rests, I know how to make them invisible, but I don't know what a voice rest is. I've tried Googling it, and tried looking for "musescore how to add invisible voice rests" as a search, and I'm still getting nothing.

In reply to by coryhilliard

The phrase isn't "invisible voice rests", it's "invisible rests in voice 3 or 4" and variations on that (including variations with typos, like when I first wrote "invisible tests in voice 3 or 4". So, just ordinary rests, but placed in voice 3 or 4, which you wouldn't normally be using (percussion music normally uses just 1 or 2 voices).

So, in note input mode, switch to voice 3 using normally (e.g., using the toolbar button), select your shortest note value, hit 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ... to fill a measure. Then mark the rests invisible normally. Then select the measure and hit R R R R R ... to copy it over and over. This gives you perfectly-spaced measures that you can now with your regular notation in voices 1 & 2. You can even do this after the fact to quickly space out a score.

In jeetee's example, invisible elements were turned off via the View menu, turn them back on and you can see them all.

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