How do I push this to 3 systems per page?

• Jun 17, 2022 - 11:28

My choir is singing a piece from scruffy old photocopies, see attached scan of a sample page (the piece is well out of copyright). I'm trying to make a 'clean' copy of it that is easier to read, but I'm struggling to replicate the number of systems per page. Juggling various settings (staff distances, page margins) doesn't seem to allow me to get three systems onto an average page.

I need to do this because the rest of the choir is working from the scruffy copies, and the director is likely to say things like "page three, bar four", which I need to be able to follow.

The attached version is my work in progress. All the page breaks are in the right places - but as you can see, the distance between the SATB staves doesn't allow for 3 systems per page, and the distance between systems is painfully tight.

Can anyone help?

Attachment Size
Greater Love Hath No Man.mscz 48.61 KB
Scruffy sample.pdf 1.15 MB


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Also note that it is possible to fine tune the stave space scaling by entering a value directly rather than just accepting the rather large jumps in scaling offered by the up/down buttons on the control. I often find that a change of a fraction of a millimeter makes all the difference.

As you mention, spacing is already tight, but that's because it looks like you've overridden a bunch of settings - presumably in an attempt to squeeze another system onto each page. And actually, those settings are working against you here, making it appear there is less space to work with than there actually is and also making it harder for the normal spacing algorithm to do its job.

Seeing a scan of one of the original pages would help in seeing what sacrifices they made. Would be interesting also if you could physically measure a staff with a ruler and report to the total staff height in millimeters - divide that by 4 to get the corresponding staff space size in MuseScore.

Anyhow, there are a number of settings you can adjust to try to squeeze things tighter, and that could allow three systems without much change to the staff size, but I'd start over, by first resetting everything to the defaults, then going from there. Reducing the margin above/below lyrics in Format / Style / Lyrics helps a little. So does just looking out for places where MuseScore is needing to add extra space between staves because there are markings that would collide otherwise, and resolving those collisions manually instead. Like the dynamics in the piano part at bar 18. Really, all throughout the piano part there are opportunities to reduce space requirements by adjusting some things manually.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

I attached a scan of a page to my OP. I have attached it again.

Also attached is a version of the score with the default restored.

As you can see, the big difference is the distance between staves within a system. Between he voice parts, the distance between the top of one staff and the bottom of the one above is just 6mm; the distance between the top line of Piano's treble staff and the bottom line of the Bass staff is just 8mm.

By the way, adjusting things like dynamics doesn't seem to alter the spacing between staffs within a system. I have no idea why.

Attachment Size
Scruffy sample.pdf 1.15 MB
Greater Love Hath No Man.mscz 47.91 KB

In reply to by Richard BW

Thanks for the info, but I should have been clearer. I'm not looking for distance between staves - I'm looking for the actual size of the staff. Measured from the top line to bottom line.

Sorry I missed the PDF originally. Yes, I can see the sort of compromises the editor had to make here, so you might have to do the same. Notice how in many places, dynamics are overlapping the staff, hairpins are moved to start after the note so as to require less vertical space, there is almost no margin above or below lyrics, and staves are allowed to come closer to together than the height of a staff. None of these are normally recommended but editors may resort to them in some cases. So all of things can be done in MuseScore as well. To move dynamics onto the staff, just drag them or use the arrow keys or the Inspector for more precision. To reduce the margin above/below lyrics, see Format / Style / Lyrics. And yes, you do need to reduce the minimum staff and system spacing, but not to the extremes you had it. At no point are staves closer together than 2 sp, so I'd just set the mins that way and leave everything else at the default.

Moving dynamics definitely does affect staff spacing. If the dynamics are the only thing forcing extra space - as they are in the original measures 17-18 - then moving them out of the way allows MuseScorre to close up the space. Move the hairpins closer to the top staff, also push them to the right to avoid the notes, also move the dynamic to the right, etc - those are exactly the sorts of things done in the original.

With just a bit of this sort of thing, you can fit three systems per pages at at staff size of 6 mm (staff space 1.5 mm) pretty easily. I'm curious if the original was actually larger than that - 6 mm is pretty typical for choral music actually.

For example, here is how that system looks with just those adjustments (and yes, three systems fit on the page):

Screenshot 2022-06-17 2.26.06 PM.png

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you so much for the time you have given this. Weirdly, I still have the same problem, though. I had tried the moving of dynamics etc before - and claimed it made no difference... Well, it still doesn't!

'Before' and 'After' screenshots attached - plus the file I am working from for convenience.

I set the minimum stave and great stave spacings to 2 and leave everything else, as suggested. I then move the dynamics, make the slur-lines shallower and move them onto the staves...

And the spacing between staves changes not one tiny bit!

Again, MacOS v3.6, FWIW.

Attachment Size
Before.jpg 519 KB
After.jpg 507.52 KB
Greater Love Hath No Man.mscz 48.1 KB

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

True, it is borrowed. Since it is for my own personal use, the piece itself is out of copyright, and I assumed (wrongly?) that it was permissible to download pieces shared on the site. I didn't think, therefore, that I was doing anything wrong. If I was, please do enlighten me.

If the problems I am experiencing are hangovers from the way the original was created, then fair enough - I'll just have to live with it!

In reply to by Richard BW

Downloading is allowed (of copyrighted works to Pro users). Re-publishing probably not (showing it here though most probably is 'fair use').
The composer John Ireland died in 1962, so 60 years ago, this is less than 70 years ago, so his works are still under copyright. The uploader gave it a wrong license. Unless he's got the puiblishers written permission.

Anyway, you can change it to look like you want, as demonstrated. And no, there's nothing wrong with it stemming from an older version, except that this explains things like the 1.764mm spacing setting.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Apparently this score is in the public domain in the USA but not elsewhere:…. In the USA copyright is based on the date of publication, in this case 1912, and not the date of the composer's death.

If the OP is creating a one-off, more legible copy for his personal use only, because of poor eyesight, then I think this would be regarded as fair use even in the UK or wherever.

In reply to by Richard BW

Normally there is nothing wrong with downloading public scores from - that's what they are there for. If they are still copyright protected and not legally licensed for use on, that's something the site administrators are supposed to sort out - it's not your job. Basically, if you can download it, you may.

Anyhow, while the fact that it's a very old score does mean it suffers from a number of other potential issues, what we're talking about here has nothing to do with it being old. As I explained previously, the only way the original editor got this to fit with three systems per page was by going out of their way to break some normal rules of notation - deliberately creating collisions and overlaps that would not normally be recommended. So you'll simply need to do the same, via alterations to style setting and also probably a considerable number of manual adjustments.

In reply to by Richard BW

Scalings and sizes are in more than one menu. So to set the Staff space, go to Format - Page. To set the system and stave distances, go to Format - Style - Page. To set the scaling of a part, e.g. make the piano accompaniment smaller, R-click on a bar and select Stave/Part properties. You need to play with all three settings. Hide the empty staves during the solo passages.

I've attached a score which seems to do what you want, though I'm sure it could be improved. You can see the settings I've used, e.g. a Staff space setting of 1.4.

Attachment Size
Greater Love Hath No Man_bis.mscz 43.41 KB

In reply to by Brer Fox

I wouldn't think of this small or scaling options as having anything to do with fitting on a page. For fitting on a page, you always always want all staves scaled together, and that's done through Page Settings. The only reason to ever mess with the per-staff small or scaling settings in Staff/Part Properties is if you simply want one staff to be bigger or smaller than the others. This wouldn't normally be done for "fitting on a page" reasons but for simple readability. Piano part on a vocal score might be small so if doesn't confuse the vocalists; solo parts on a piano score to avoid confusing the pianist. Basically, for cases where you are showing a staff you don't actually expect the people to read from, but you're showing it just for reference.

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