Distance between syllables in lyrics

• Sep 8, 2019 - 19:18

I have a question about the distance between syllables.
I make leadsheets for church and I find that often syllables in the lyrics are to close together for my liking.
When looking at the options under lyrics in the style menu, I found the option "min distance", but this doesn't behave the way I expected to.

See the 2 screenshots.

In the first, I have the min, distance set at 0. Both bars are the same (the second is to show where the dashes are, because i have always force dash off. Very nice feature btw!)
As you can see there is plenty of space between abcd and very little between the syllibles after jjj.
I would suspect that changing the min. distance option would create more distance, starting with the ones that are closest together, but it doesn't do this.

The second screenshot shows the same but with the min. distance set at 0.20sp.
The distance between lll and mmm, is still non-existent, while the distance between a and b has increased, where there was plenty of space beforehand.

Am I understanding the intent of the option wrong?

I would like to be able to say, "if syllables are closer together than set distance, the notes should be moved further apart to give them more space", without giving more space to other notes/lyrics that are fine to begin with.
The same goes for the dashes. I like all the options for them but also think that they are to close to the lyrics sometimes, as seen before the lll and between gg and hh.

I hope someone can help me with this.


In reply to by Shoichi

Thanks for your response
Yes horizontal distance.
Doing things like this, changing bar width, increasing stretch etc, makes the distance between the words bigger but also takes up way more space, so this isn't really feasible for me

At first glance, it seems the option to allow the dash off seems to be interfering with the min distance, allowing zero space. Is that consistent with your experience?

As for the space between syllables that don't need help, the reality of how layouts works is that changing minimum distances does affect everything. That's because we first calculate the minimum width of the measure as in order to decide how many measures we can fit (and so the minimum distance relevant), and then after we've finished filling the system, then we stretch everything from there, thus keeping the same relative effect of the min distance settings.

In theory, it would be possible to rework the layout to recalculate widths after deciding how many measures fit, and somehow avoid this effect. The subject comes up from time to time, not just for lyrics but for other distance settings (also things like the presence of accidentals, which can affect spacing even when the stretch makes it so they don't need to). Hopefully someday.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for your reply!

>At first glance, it seems the option to allow the dash off seems to be interfering with the min distance, allowing zero space. Is that consistent with your experience?

Yes, it looks like zero space is only happening where musescore doesn't display the dash.
Not using that options makes that at least look a lot better, although I really like this option, if only it displayed the two syllables connected with the dash as if it were just one. Meaning with exactly the amount of space there is between two characters within a syllable.

I don't fully understand what you describe about how musescore determines the distances, am I correct that it looks at the min. distance when determining how much will fit, but it then doesn't obey the distance when actually placing the lyrics?
This seems weird to me, but then again, I haven't even looked at the code so there is probably a good reason why it came to be this way.

To me the option "min distance" sounds as if when I change it from 0 to lets say 0.25; that all the distances between syllables (and the dashes) that are smaller than .25 become .25; and that all distances that were .25 or larger stay as they were. (Or shrink a tiny bit to accommodate for the extra space needed elsewhere). But maybe this is just my line of thought.

In reply to by Polbeer91

I would consider the fact that min distance is ignore when not displaying the dash to be a bug. Probably with a simple fix. Feel free to submit it to the issue tracker (see Support link above).

The other part I realize isn't clear. Let me try again:

During layout, first we calculate a minimum measure width. This obeys the min distance, and as a result, extra space is added between notes as needed to make the lyrics fit, resulting in uneven spacing. Exactly the right uneven spacing you would need if the measure ere going to be that narrow. Then later, we stretch the measure to fill the system, but it's a pretty literal stretch, meaning that uneven spacing is preserved. It becomes less noticeable, but still there.

Here is an example of what a measure might look like before stretch: notice how there is more space before and after the second note (because it has a long syllable) compared to the space between the third and fourth:


In absolute terms, the different is maybe just a couple of millimeters, but it's noticeable because it's a not insignificant compared to the overall distances involved.

Here is that same measure with a little stretch applied. In absolute terms, the discrepancy is the same - a couple of millimeters or whatever - but it's less noticeable now because it smaller relative to the overall distance.


By the time you stretch it much further, you'd be hard put to see the discrepancy at all:


We rely on the fact we can "get away" with these discrepancies, but sometimes we don't, and people notice, which is what you are seeing - similar effect due to min distance as opposed to one long syllable.

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