Note/rest too close to start of mid-system measure with time signature

• Oct 10, 2019 - 06:50
Reported version
S4 - Minor

I have done some searches about this issue on centering notes horizontally within measures, but all I find is about centering whole note within the measure. I don't see people asking about centering all notes (not just whole note) within a measure.

Please see attachment. Don't you think the left alignment of notes/rests is a bit too much and too unnatural? The quarter/crotchet rest is too near to the left while the eighth/quaver note is too far from the right. I would have wanted the spacing on both sides to be more even.

I have played around with the note offset settings on the inspector. That works, but I would really want to center align all the notes in the document by default, instead of going through thousand of notes and fixing everyone of them. Also, for this kind of thing, I would want it to be done automatically by default instead of having each note manually fixed.

I have played around with Sibelius. I see the notes in there are layouted very nicely and spaced very naturally. I believe MuseScore can do better with this kind of things.


Notes show like in a timeline, when they start to play. their distance to one another reflects their duration, more or less.
I can't see anything wrong or unexpected in that image

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Yes, I understand that. Visually on layout, a half note should take more horizontal space than a eighth note.

But what I am saying here is a different thing. The attached image is kind of showing the opposite of what you just said. Looking back at the attachment, don't you feel that the space on the left of the first rest should be more than, if not equal to,the space on the right of the last note? Whether using the aforementioned "timeline logic" or the common behaviour on other software, the attached example just doesn't seem correct.

The notes on MuseScore do look very much left-aligned rather than justified.

no, that rests sits where it starts to 'play', as does that 8th note. Yes, they are left aligned, as that matches were they start to play, which is what I said above.
You need to compare the space right of that first rest with the space right of that last 8th

But Indeed that quarter rest looks a bit too far left, it looks better if there is also a clef:

But that can get tweaked: in Format > Style > Measure increase "Note left margin" (default 1sp), to match the setting of "System header with time signature distance" (default 2sp)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I get what you mean. There is like a horizontal space a note/rest will take up and the space width is proportional to the note/rest duration. I just think the note/rest can still be center-aligned within their own space.

Don't you think the spacing in this attachment looks more natural this way? (Attachment is just a mock up)

It looks horrible to me, waaaay too much space between time sig and 1st note/rest.
They are left aligned and really should be, to reflect when thes start to play, that is what counts to the musician reading them

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well... that was just a mock up. I agree there are too much spacing between time signature and first note/rest. I just didn't change that part from previous screenshot. Please ignore that part.
What I want to focus on is the spacing among the three notes/rests. I am not saying left-alignment is a bad idea and neither is center-alignment as the perfect idea. I just feel that, on MuseScore in particular, the first note/rest in a measure is sometimes too tight to the left and the last note/rest is sometimes too far from the barline on the right.
I don't mind manually changing spacing once a while, but my urge of fixing odd spacing may be a little too frequent with MuseScore. No offense, really! On other notation software, I just don't feel so much I have to change the spacing just to make the doc to be read better. I mean... looking back on the first attachment at the top, you really don't think the first note/rest got too close to the left? If you really don't think so, then I rest my case here. May be it's just me or my eyesight getting old. And again, no offense intended.

No offense taken. But still IMHO having notes/rests left aligned is the right thing to do.
But yes, in your initial example the first rest looks a tad too far left to my eyes, maybe we need to change the default there, to match the distance seen when a clef is there too, at the start of a system

Title Centering notes Note/rest too close to start of mid-system measure with time signature

I agree there is no good reason that rest is closer to the time signature when it occurs mid-system versus when it is part of a system header. In the former case, we use the regular "Note left margin"; in the latter we use "System header with time signature distance". I think probably there should be a separate "Time signature right margin" specifically for this case. Or, we could piggyback off the "Clef/key right margin", which is used for mid-system key & clef changes at the start of a measure.

Meanwhile, the workaround is to increase the leading space for the rest in the Inspector. This should only come up in that specific situation - first note/rest of measure after a time signature. In all other cases, you should be able to adjust the distances in the the style settings to get whatever look you want. But FWIW, the defaults chosen in MuseScore are in accordance with the established normas, you shouldn't need to be adjusting them much if at all. if you find any other cases where you feel the defaults could be improved, please let us know so we can investigate.

But, definitely centering shouldn't enter into it. Unless you are designing your own experimental notation, centering of notes or rests just isn't a thing in conventional music engraving.

BTW, one reason the example at hand looks so unnatural is that 2/4 measures with only a single note in them would never normally be that wide. So it's a corner case situation to begin with. In the more usual layout, the position of that first rest (1sp from the time signature) would actually not look so far off. But for the record, Gould recommends 2sp (top of page 43). This applies to key and time signatures, but not clefs. She doesn't sho a mid-system clef at start of measure (which would be fairly quite unusual, but mid-measure clefs show only 1sp or less. So really, we should have three separate settings, for clef, key, and time signature right margins (to be used only in the mid-system case, as the header cases are already covered).