Lack of flexibility for note spacing (including tuplets and grace notes)

• Sep 30, 2020 - 21:51

Hi there,

This has been bugging me ever since Musescore 3 came out. I figured it would eventually get fixed as it seemed like a standard problem, but apparently not, or I am missing something.

The attached PDFs show a comparison of the spacings I could get Musescore 2 with what I could get in Musescore 3.5.

In Musescore 3.5, I managed to get the spacing I wanted for the arpeggio by using grace notes (at the expense of proper playback), but could not get the repeated notes any closer together.

While in this instance, not being able to figure out how to get the tighter spacing doesn't cause a new line to be needed for these 4 bars, in many instances, 4 measures of tuplets (and cross-rhythms) that would fit on a line in Musescore 2, no longer fit on a line in Musescore 3, causing many of my scores to be simply un-printable (without making the entire thing smaller much smaller, which I don't want to do). Am I missing some way to do this?

Thank you,


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Yes, there are grace notes, though in this case Chopin hardly expects them to be played as typical grace notes, and hence the work around. The main problem is the spacing. My options are: 1) have trouble controlling the grace note spacing with poor playback, or 2) use regular notes (where I can control the playback) that I can't space tight enough to look good. The problem is worse when it is tuplets in place of grace notes, as I don't have option 1.

While it is merely ugly spacing in this example, in other instances, like the Fantasie-Impromptu with cross rhythms for many bars at a time, it means that what once could fit on a single line with tight spacing in Musescore 2 now requires 2 lines (and hence what once could fit on a single page, now requires 2 pages...etc) in Musescore 3. Apparently Musescore 3 is scared to have some notes overlap visually when they don't play precisely at the same time.

Here's an example from the G Minor Ballade. See how the left hand spacing is skewed by the right hand cross rhythms pretty much every time, but especially in measure 179? I could move a couple notes over manually to smooth it out, sure, but I don't know how to make the whole second half of the bar as tight as the first half because the notes that sound at slightly different times will not visually overlap vertically. Measure 170 to measure 172 also has this problem of not being able to get the left hand notes all equally spaced at any tightness really (barring major inconvenient workarounds I haven't thought of yet).

Am I missing something?

In reply to by mike320

The two halves of measure 179, are different widths. I cannot make the width of the second half as small as the first half because the overlapping tuplets at the end of the bar won't overlap the notes vertically. The triplet notes ought to be able to moved closer together (as regular notes can be spaced closer together) but that A-flat underneath them seems to prevent it.

In reply to by Superpianoman83

The two halves are different widths because they have different numbers of notes in them. The spacing is the way I would expect to see them in a professional score. For example, in the right hand the second note in the 4-let, the Ab, is played between the F and Ab in the left hand. There is extra space between these notes to allow room for the RH note. A similar thing happens in m180 & 181 with the triplets.

In reply to by mike320

Yes, that's the problem - I don't want them different widths as the left hand has an equal number of notes in both halves. Here are some pictures of the measures in question from the professional score I am working from that shows the spacing options I am after. If you can show me how to edit my musescore file so that the spacing is similar, I would be very grateful. Overall, I am dissatisfied with the current professional scores at my disposal, and would like to make my scores even better.

In reply to by mike320

Here's another couple examples that gets more to the root of the problem: not being able to get tight enough spacing to fit tuplets efficiently on lines with cross rhythms.

Ballade: Here, the spacing is fairly tight overall causing LH to be spaced unevenly, which is fine. But In measure 110, the fifth quarter note pair (F-sharp and D) gets moved over and fits nicely underneath the octaves D's in the RH even though it is played at the same time as the octave C-sharps just before, while in measure 112, because there is a tuplet in the RH, that kind of thing doesn't happen.

That half bar gets more space than it needs (that 4-let takes up close to as much space as the 7 notes in the same spot in the previous measures) leaving the rest of the line even tighter. While here everything still fits on one line, in many cases, this causes what would fit on a single line in Musescore 2 to no longer fit on a single line in Musescore 3. Flexibility was lost somewhere along the way.


I copied the same 4 bars three times. The RH fits on a line without the LH. The LH fits on a line without the RH. Put them together, I would love to be able to have them still fit on a line.

In reply to by Superpianoman83

My initial thought is that your goal to emulate the score you are using is not good. It's confusing because it obscures the order of the notes between the two hands which is clear in the MuseScore default layout. My general philosophy in helping people in the forums is to not judge you if you do something I don't agree with, so I have attempted to do what you want and it's not difficult.

Attached is the edited score that shows m179 adjusted to be closer to what you want. Here's how it looks:


I only did 2 things. I selected the beam for the 6 notes in the left hand and checked the "Local relayout" option in the inspector. I then selected only the notes in the second half of the measure (click the G at the top of the RH chord, shift+click the F at the end of the 8th notes in the LH then click "Notes" in the inspector). If you look at the inspector for any or all of these notes, you will see that I set the leading space to -0.60 while leaving the notes in the first half of the measure unchanged. It's getting close so you may want to make the -.60 -.80 or something close to that.

In reply to by Superpianoman83

Local relayout only works on beams. The larger notes mostly don't move as much as the smaller ones due to other notes so if you really want one moved more then use the chord's x offset for the note. That's getting more into tedious.

The fantasie-impromptu is the same principle. I selected all of the notes on both staves and set the Leading space to -.30. I adjust the number by clicking it and moving my mouse wheel until it starts looking right.

In reply to by mike320

Okay, I think I can make this work, though I still think the default is overly large for cross-rhythms compared with regular notes. I think, the last time I tried to do this, the negative leading space didn't seem to work so well, and I still had that ruled out as an option in my head. Thanks again!

In reply to by mike320

I notice now the trailing space button seems to have disappeared, so I am guessing the functionality changed somewhere along the way, but I didn't understand how.

In something like the ending of the Bach Invention attached below (with 3 versions of spacing), the whole note at the end of the third version has a bunch of trailing space I don't want. In Musescore 2, I could just decrease the stretch on that bar. In Musescore 3, I managed to decrease the stretch in the second version only by increasing the stretch of the other two bars on that line. However in the first version, with all 5 bars on the same line, I can only increase the stretch of one of the other bars before it pushes things onto a new line, creating an imbalance between it and the other 3 measures when trying to minimize the trailing space at the end. Having to indirectly use the increase stretch button on a different measure rather than directly making the bar I want tighter, seems to be one of the answers to what I was missing originally, and contributed to my lack of understanding on how to now use the program.

The other thing I think, is that with leading space, trying to move just one note over would tend to move the rest of the bar around in ways I didn't want (especially if I hadn't decided exactly which bars I wanted on a line yet), and so I apparently built a rule in my head never to use it. However, using it on all the notes at once - even ones that I don't necessarily want negative leading space on - seems to allow me to do what I want so far. This seems to be another part of the answer to what I was missing originally. I am just glad I am unblocked! Even if counter-intuitive to me, the possibilities are there!

Attachment Size
Invention_No._15 spacing example.mscz 23.54 KB

In reply to by Superpianoman83

The trailing space button and leading space buttons usually did the same thing, so there really wasn't a need for both. One thing I rarely did was max out one then use the other to make things closer (or rarely farther).

Your last measure is ugly and MuseScore does a terrible job with it. You can move the notes by changing the x offset in the notes Chord section. I suggest you always use the chord section even though the note section works on a whole note, it doesn't work on smaller notes and my leave some articulations unmoved. Hopefully this is something that oktophonie is fixing for either 3.6 or 4.0.

In reply to by mike320

What I have discovered for what looks 'ugly', depends a lot on how the page is laid out. If that last bar with the whole note is the 17th bar, and all the other lines have 4 bars per line, it looks best as small as possible as a fifth bar at the end of the fourth line to keep the spacing for that line as close as possible to the other 3 lines. If on the other hand it is the eighth bar in a 4-line, 2-bars-per-line set up, it looks better taking up an equal amount of space as the other seven bars. If it is the 9th bar of a 2-bar-per-line setup, both extremes look wrong, and I have to eyeball it until it looks okay as the 3rd bar on the last line as adding a line or page just for it tends to be significantly worse.

In some of the examples above, I didn't necessarily want those particular bars exactly how I was asking them to be changed, I just needed to know how to do it so I can make decisions on a case-by-case basis depending on how I have set up the rest of the surroundings, so thank you for going with it even if you disagreed with a particular change.

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