Swing alignments

• Jul 28, 2019 - 23:31

Is there a way to nicely align swing 8ths with triplets on the other staff?

See attached screenshot for a visual explanation. The upper triplets have a ugly hole before the 3rd note, because there is an 8th note in this spot in the bottom staff.

I set the score style to Swing and so the upper and lower staff are supposed to be played together.
Is there a way to remove that ugly hole in the upper staff? (I mean automatically not by manually adjusting every occurence).

Attachment Size
swing.png 14.63 KB


Just after posting I found that you can use "Local Relayout" on the triplet beam properties to have a nice triplet regardless of the 8th in the bottom staff.

That's something. Still interested in other suggestions, possibly if there's a way to align the bottom swung 8th with the upper triplet 8th.

Swing eighths aren't usually triplets, so it's correct they wouldn't align. If you want literal triplets, and want them all to align by default, maybe better to notate in 12/8?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Usually depends on context, I guess.

I know there are many ways to feel and play swing eights. It depends on tempo, style, personal preferences, etc.

Yet I think all blues piano sheets expect you to play the second quaver at the same time as the 3rd quaver of a triplet in the other hand.
They are virtually all in 4/4 (if they aren't ternary, of course).

Same for a lot of jazz piano.

In reply to by jods

Even in those cases where it's proper to play swing as triplets, it's still improper to notate them as eighths and expect them to line up with triplets. Professionally-produced editions generally use triplets for the swing in those cases (eg, quarter-eighth) so they line up. If they make the (very inadvisable) choice to notate as plain eighths in one staff despite the presence of the triplets in the other, if they want them to line up, they do that manually. But I highly recommend against it, it just isn't proper notation.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Can we please stick to the issue?

Opinions such "it's still improper to notate them as eights", "Professionally-produced editions generally", "if they make the (very inadvisable) choice" and "I highly recommend against it, it just isn't proper notation" are condescending and not helping in any way.

Writing swing 8ths on top or below a triplet is common practice in jazz or blues piano, including professional publications (e.g. Hal Leonard or Alfred publishing). You don't like them, fine.

There's one point where you're right: the second 8th usually doesn't line up. Silly me for suggesting that idea, let's forget my first comment and focus on my original post.

Look at the screenshot I posted in my OP and tell me those big holes and imbalanced triplets look like "professional" engraving? They don't.

I found a way to fix it by manually checking "Local Relayout" on the tuplets in question. That's tedious and I would like to know if there's a way to apply it more globally or improve Musescore in that regard.

For your reference I'm attaching a (bad quality, sorry) picture of one bar published by Alfred. It's swing, with 8ths explicitely played as triplets, and the triplet is evenly spaced even though there's an 8th in the lower staff (which doesn't line up although you play them together, yes).

Attachment Size
tuplets.png 73.84 KB

In reply to by jods

I agree that writing the rough approximation shown is common. It's true I don't actually like it, but that has no bearing on the issue of whether or not these eighth notes should align with the tuplets. That is what I trying to say would not look professional. This was not intended to be condescending but to be helpful - I want people to produce the best-looking scores they can with the least amount of effort.

So it sounds like we agree that what you are showing in your example from Alfred is something entirely different from what you originally wrote. Here, the eighths don't align with the triplets, so it's perfectly correct. They just did the additional optional optimization of evening out the spacing. And as you've noticed, we provide a local "relayout" option just for that purpose. if you'd like to do that globally, just wait until you're done, then select all beams (eg, right-click one then Select / All Similar Elements) and apply local relayout to them all at once.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

"Something entirely different from what you originally wrote" is not exactly what I'd say, quotes from my OP:

"The upper triplets have a ugly hole before the 3rd note"
"Is there a way to remove that ugly hole in the upper staff?"

Maybe you focused too much on the alignment question I added in my first comment, but hey at least it seems we finally understand each other.

I was hoping for a better solution than select everything, change the props.
1. It means I have to proof read everything again because Musescore tends to change layout in unexpected ways. Changing properties of everything at the end basically means looking at everything again to check if anything changed badly.
2. "When you're done" is an elusive concept. I often think I'm done and then change things again. Having to remember to manually fix layout every time is tedious.

IMHO that's not "produce the best-looking scores with the least amount of effort" but at least it's a workaround... that works!

Out of curiosity: why is this an option and why isn't it on by default? What's the drawback of selecting this option?

In reply to by jods

To be clear: alignment wasn't just in your first comments, it's right there in the very first sentence of your original post: "Is there a way to nicely align swing 8ths with triplets on the other staff"? So I took that mean, alignment was the main goal, eliminating gaps was merely a pleasant side effect.

Anyhow, it's true that a style or staff setting could be useful, feel free to submit it to the issue tracker as a Suggestion.

It's not the default because it isn't actually the norm when looking across all music, all instruments, all styles, etc. Often it's quite important to show the actual sequence of notes, and the local relayout can obscure that. Consider:


It's more even, sure, but it now lies about which notes are played when. So this would not be a good use of this option.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I see. And that's a perfect reason not to apply that setting blindly to your whole score.
I would not like such a layout either.
So I'm stuck with manual application, case-by-case. :(

I guess a good layout algorithm would minimize such stretches, in particular reduce them to 0 if the balanced layout is not invalid with respect to time.
In the triplets example I gave, all notes are in order so there's no real need to stretch the upper triplet.

I have no idea how MuseScore works internally but that stretch looks rather large.

In reply to by jods

And your example (tuplets.png) is not a very correct form for swing for me. If we want to give the player to a metric information: The bottom eighth note should be very close to the last note of the triplet. //I'm talking about the swing.

If there is a swing : it makes more sense to me that the score looks like this.


Because the notes should be aligned (graphically) in this way (for swing).
And these notes can also be fully aligned. (I just couldn't adjust this example correctly)

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