Is there a way to keep MS3.3 from adjusting vertical spacing of staves?

• Dec 27, 2019 - 04:52

I have scores I have created in MS2.2 that I want to convert to MS3 file format, and having put a lot of work into positioning the elements I would like to preserve as much of this as possible through the conversion. I'm now converting one such score using the MS3.3.4 AppImage in Linux Mint. I selected "keep original positioning" when I imported the score. In a number of places there had been collisions between slurs in adjacent staves, which I had adjusted by hand to be readable (MS2 is like working on fixed-spacing manuscript paper). MS3.3 went ahead and increased the staff spacing so as to fix the collisions, but this brought the bottom staff down too low on the page. Is there a setting somewhere that will prevent this - or a way that I can readjust the vertical staff positions?

I have been a holdout until now on switching to MS3, and IIRC the main reason was the difficulty (as I found it then) of controlling the auto-positioning functions. It appears now that most of my earlier issues seem to have been resolved (thanks Marc), which is fortunate since I am eager to use some of the anticipated new features of MS3, including single-note dynamics (if and whenever that becomes available). Again, thanks to all those who participated in the development effort that has brought MS3.3 to where it currently is.


I too still struggle with the conversion of scores from MS2 to MS3, and I don't think that there is a single answer to your problem. It's a complex issue, with several alternative solutions.

  1. It's a fact of life that MS3 is a bit more "greedy" for vertical space, so one partial solution is to reduce the Scaling slightly in Format > Page Settings... > Scaling.
  2. Another area where you can make global adjustments is to reduce the over-generous "Position above" and "Position below" in Format > Style... > Dynamics and in Format > Style... > Hairpins.
  3. You can sometimes get back some vertical space by reducing the settings in Format > Style... > Page > Great Stave Distance and in Format > Style... > Page > Min. System Distance.

And I am sure that others will contribute more ideas!

"keep original positioning" does not keep the MS2 positioning as a whole; it means, retain the values of all manual offsets I've entered in MS2 and now apply them in MS3 as well. IMHO the results of that are often worse than allowing MS3 to reset those values.
Then after importing I often also simply Ctrl+A Ctrl+R the score, so all elements really are back at default values for MS3.

SND already is a thing, just make sure to use the Expr. (expressive) sounds for the instrument in the mixer if you didn't change any of the default sound settings.

It's always easier to assist if we see the actual score. If you successfully avoided collisions in 2.2, then 3.3 should not be needing to add much if any additional space (at most, it will try to ensure a fraction of a staff space more breathing room than you gave it). If you elected to leave symbols colliding, though, that is the main place where you'd see a difference, because it will add as much space as is needed.

Either way, you can tell MuseScore 3 not to avoid collisions by reducing the "Min. vertical distance" in Format Style / Score. A negative value will allow overlap. I added that around the same time I implemented other improvements to the autoplace algorithms - you're welcome :-)

It's also possible to use the "fixed" spacer from the palette to pull two staves closer together and force an overlap here and there.

Still, there is no denying that some scores - particularly heavily customized ones - will look a little different between 2 & 3 and may take some tweaking if you need to reproduce the look of 2. I still recommend keeping 2 around for older scores where you don't feel like spending that kind of time, but you'll also get faster at it with practice.

Single note dynamics have been available since 3.1 - same release where I made the big autoplace changes.

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