Uniform vertical autopositioning for chord symbols within a system

• Jan 4, 2019 - 16:35

The autopositioning system currently allows chord symbols to be vertically misaligned in a system. It would be helpful if the autopositioning system, if it needs to autoposition a chord, changes the vertical position of all chord symbols within a system uniformly so that chord symbols read easily from left to right.

The primary use case for this is in lead sheets & chord symbols for Piano / Guitar / Vocal style pop arrangements. In these, chord symbols are consistently aligned vertically for easy reading from left to right.

In the screenshot, the first system is the current behavior. In the second and fourth measures, the chord symbols are vertically misaligned.

The second system depicts the desired behavior.


So basically similar to what we do with lyrics: if one element in a system needs to get moved, all get moved by the same amount.
We do the same for consecutive voltas

Not really sure we want this here.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Yes, the same behavior does already exist for lyrics and consecutive voltas.

I think it would be incredibly useful to at least have the option to do this via style, similar to how "Create multimeasure rests" is a style option.

I have a lead sheet project of over 200 lead sheets for six transpositions, and my team is constantly having to manually position chord symbols depending on voltas, tempo markings, height of notes & stems, in order to keep them both close to the staff, but vertically uniform all the time.

Since vertically uniform chord symbols are standard in pop/rock/vocal and lead sheet books, we would greatly appreciate this even as an optional, style-enabled feature. I think others would as well.

In reply to by HSFlik

FWIW, I don't think just aligning everything on the system is the best way to go about it. What many published charts do is pick a height that allows most to align then allow a few outliers so the rest aren't too high. You can do this by selecting the chord symbols on the system and setting a vertical offset in the Inspector, leaving automatic placement enabled. Then everything that can be placed at that height will be, anything that can't will still be placed higher. Of course, you can use this same approach to move them all high enough. So you can have the best of all worlds.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

The standard in the vast majority of my personal music library is that the chords are vertically aligned. Here are some professionally printed examples that I've attached below:

1) For the First Time in Forever: In the third system, all the chord symbols are further away from the staff to accommodate for the beams. The different is most prominently observed when comparing the Gbmaj7 in the third system with the Fsus in the second system.

2) Linus and Lucy: Note the vertical offset of the Ab in the second system, third measure. The Ab maintains the vertical spacing of the previous Db, Ebsus, and N.C. that were pushed upwards due to the block chords in the second system, first measure. Compare that with the third system, first measure.

3) Billy Joel Piano Book: Note the spacing on the first system especially when compared to the second and forth systems. The chords are all uniformly vertically aligned.

I acknowledge that this isn't always the desired style, as some of my books do move the chord symbol around. This is why I think it would be best as a style-oriented solution.

In previous versions of MuseScore, chords were vertically aligned by default, even if there are collisions. Since the only way to do this now is to manually disable autoplacement for every chord, this is a huge hurdle for us as we have around 1200 parts to modify (200 MSCZs, 6 parts each). Here is why.

I've also attached three PDFs.
1) MS2 - Vamo Alla Flamenco. This is a PDF of the original MSCZ, created with MuseScore 2.3.2. Our goal was to fit this information all on one page.
2) MS3 - Vamo Alla Flamenco. This PDF is generated by MuseScore 3.0.0, having opened the original MuseScore 2.3.2 file through a batch job and generating a PDF directly through the CLI.
3) MS3 + Batch Style Updates - Vamo Alla Flamenco. This PDF is also generated by MuseScore 3.0.0, having opened the original 2.3.2 through a batch job, applying a style, and generating a PDF through the CLI.

I don't know what happened with the autoplacement in #2. #3 looks a lot better, but we'll have to make a lot of style tweaks to get it to fit back on one page, and vertically align all the chord symbols again manually. We can't afford to do this for 1200 individual sheets after having spent lots of hours tweaking the layouts for MuseScore 2.

I think that being able to apply uniform vertical alignment for chord symbols as a style-wide option would not only greatly help my team out, but be a useful feature for MuseScore to have as the standard is widely followed in many professionally published works.

In reply to by HSFlik

I think an option to align by system if desired is a good idea. But again, it's very simple to get that right now, without disabling autoplace. As I explained above, just select all chords on a system (just a few click - select the measures, then right click a chord symbol and Select / All Similar Elements in Range Selection) and increase the vertical offset until they are either all aligned, o as many as you want while still allowing outliers to be higher if you like. As I said, the best of all worlds. All made possible by not disabling autoplace. But even if you decide you'd rather have collisions, disabling autoplace for all chords symbols in an entire score takes only seconds as well - right click one, Select / All Similar Elements, disable autoplace, done. But then you'll have to fix the collisions manually just as you did in MuseScore 2. The method I describe is infinitely better.

And again, it looks to me like no adjustments whatsoever should be needed in your MuseScore 3 example once you add the missing lien break. If you post the actual score, not just a picture, I can verify and give your precise steps. I can't imagine it taking more than a few seconds to get it looking as expected. No style tweaks should be needed at all.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I acknowledge that it's possible to do it manually. However, I believe that this work is best done algorithmically by the autoplacement functionality as the "rules" for positioning can be defined deterministically based on the position of other elements on the page. If a task needs to manually be done over and over again, in this case disabling autoplacement across different parts & sheets, then ideally, software should be able to automate it. Consecutive voltas are automatically vertically aligned. I think there should be an option for chord symbols to follow this convention too, as it's an extremely common and standard practice in professional engraving to do so.

We have to update all the following lead sheets on this website, and more, in order to MuseScore 3 and take advantage of its new features, like autoplacement and the jazz notation font:

The ideal updating method would be to use MuseScore's CLI batch conversion functionality to apply a custom style, as we wouldn't have to update upwards of 1,100 sheets manually.

In reply to by HSFlik

Again, I agree it's a reasonable feature request, and I encourage you to submit is as a formal "Suggestion" in the issue tracker (see "Support" menu above). Meanwhile, I'm just trying to help you do things as efficiently as possible, and the method I describe should work extremely well. Again don't disable automatic placement, simply adjust offsets in the Inspector. This will be both quicker and more effective (because the collision avoidance will still work for voltas etc). Again, it's a win/win.

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