Adjusting layout of score

• Jul 6, 2022 - 10:40

You can adjust the layout of a score to force a bar to move to the next system. Can you force a bar to move to the system above? For example, can you move bar 4 to the system above?


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Sorry. I was a bit slow. On the page settings I've changed the scaling down, and this has changed the layout from five systems on the page to four. This has achieved the result I wanted, though slightly reducing the size of the score.
It seems strange that I couldn't adjust the number of bars on the system at the original size, when there seemed to be plenty of white space to accommodate four bars per system instead of three.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I do often adjust the page borders to improve the layout, but in this instance it wouldn't have worked, because I was already at 15mm margins, which was the minimum I could get away with, so I couldn't narrow the borders any more, to increase the number of bars on the system.
So, at least I've learnt what difference adjusting the scaling makes, which has enable me to get around the problem, if not to solve it.
Thanks for your timely help.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Well, I think we're back to my original question, which was whether there is a way of forcing a bar up to the system above, or only down to the system below. With the system breaks you can try moving a bar down to see if it improves the layout, but unless I misunderstood your original response, the user is bound by whether the settings think there is enough space. The user can't try moving a bar up, to see whether there is enough space.

In reply to by Gordon H Taylor

If you truly think that that should've been the case, then please share the score and tell us which system is concerned. Then we can inspect that score to see if something else is throwing off your expectations.

But by default MuseScore layout starts by calculating the minimal size of everything (given the style settings), then looking at how many bars fit within the system. Only then that system is stretched to the page width.

In reply to by Gordon H Taylor

It is in the user's hands, but because there are a plethora of style settings that can make things smaller there is no single magic button fix for it. It's in the user's hands to decide which style setting to alter (note-to-barline-distance, accidental-to-note-distance, stretch-factor of involved measures, ...)?

In reply to by jeetee

I know it is a special skill, but my problem is that I am only an occasional MuseScore user, and I usually have only two or three days to do vocal scores of about 12 hymns with lyrics, with 100% accuracy. It's a tall order. But I am grateful for being able to draw on the experience of skilled users, when I don't know, or have forgotten, how to do something.

In reply to by Gordon H Taylor

@Gordon...You wrote:
I've tried 'decrease stretch' but I can't see that it makes a significant difference. The change was minimal.
My judgment is that there would have been enough space, but obviously the system says no.

Judicious selection of measures before applying 'decrease stretch' is important.

Try to follow these instructions on this actual score:

To move bar 11 to the system above, select 4 or more contiguous measures of the system above, then keep tapping { until it moves.
Now reset.
(N.B. When you see "Now reset", use menu item: Format > Stretch > Reset Layout Stretch to put everything back to starting position.)

Try again selecting fewer than 3 measures - doesn't work, no matter how many times { is pressed.
Now reset.

Notice the final bar 22...
Try to move bar 22 to the system above by selecting from bar 15 to 21 inclusive - doesn't work, no matter how many times { is pressed.
Now reset.

Try again selecting from bar 15 to 22 inclusive. Tap { until bar 22 moves up.
Now reset and you can experiment with this score. resetting at any time (or using Ctrl Z or undo the last move) if things get out of control.

For simplicity, lyrics are excluded here and may affect stretch adjustments depending on syllable lengths, but the basic measure selection strategy still applies

FWIW, it's no different with, say, text in a word processor. You might think there is enough space at the end of a line to fit one more word, but if it wraps around to the next line, rest assured, there wasn't enough space, or it would have fit. And if you want it to fit, merely wishing it to happen won't change the math and physics involved - either it fits or it doesn't given your current settings. So, you simply need to adjust your settings. There are basically two that you'd want to mess with in a notation program - the staff size, and the note spacing. In a word processor, that's font size and character spacing. So, it's not that hard to learn, really.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I think that with your expertise you exaggerate the simplicity of the MuseScore operations. It is very different from working with text in a word processor, at which I am vastly experienced. If I am looking a MuseScore, I can see where there is white space on a page with five systems, each with four or five measures/bars. How I get an evenly spaced score on one page is infinitely more complicated than producing five paragraphs or even five pages of justified text on a word processor. I have to accommodate legible lyrics within 26 measures, with 1-3 beats per measure. You may know what the variables are that you can control, but I don't. Choosing the staff size is not comparable with choosing the font size on a word processor. I know, or I assume, you are trying to be helpful, but I think you underestimate the difficulties. Given time, and a sympathetic teacher, I could perhaps learn quicker, but I am working under great time pressures, and I am doing my best to see what works, but it is not easy.

Attachment Size
The_Eden_Above.mscz 27.09 KB

In reply to by Gordon H Taylor

It's not that different from text in a word processor. Think about it. Say you currently have a document where you have 19 words on a line, with one word stuck on the next line. Now you want to get all 20 words on a single line. How would you go about making that happen? It's virtually identical - changing staff size in music is exactly analogous to changing font size in text, and same with changing spacing. What do you believe is different about it?

Of course, in a word processor, one seldom really cares that much about exactly which words are on which lines, so the fact that it might be hard to figure out how squeeze more words without changing font size seldom comes up as an issue. But again, the process is basically the same.

Also, ,usic is inherently far more complicated than text in very many ways, so it stands to reason there will need to be far more controls provided over formatting, and that it might take a little while to learn them. But luckily, we're here to help. So, if you continue to have problems, just ask! Is there something specific you are looking for help with in the score you attached? You seem to be off to a great start so far with this!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I think we should drop the unhelpful analogy with word processing now that you've accepted that music is inherently far more complicated than text. I understand that there are far more controls involved in formatting musical notation, but I am trying to learn how to use them, without knowing the maths or the physics. I've been learning some of the skills today, but the attached score is the outcome of many hours of work, getting me to this stage. What I am trying to achieve is a compact musical score on one page, with lyrics large enough to read. Looking at the score, from bar one, I think there is far more white space than there needs to be, but I don't know how to reduce the unnecessarily generous stretch across the top two systems without making the staff size and the text smaller. If you can add any more light on that question, I will be grateful. I am hoping to add two more lines of text throughout, without the score spilling on to a second page. I hope you can understand what I am grappling with.

In reply to by Gordon H Taylor

Even though music is indeed more complex than text, it's actually still the case that the bulk of what you ordinarily need to do is done with exactly the same controls one uses for text. And in particular, it was definitely true for the original question you asked about fitting more on a line - that much is exactly analogous. But it goes beyond that example - quite a bit more about music formatting derives directly from concepts established with text. So, far from being unhelpful, it's incredibly useful to know that your accumulated knowledge about how text works can be applied to music as well! And indeed, often with the same terminology. So don't assume your existing text knowledge will be worthless with music - it won't be, I promise!

In your score, the extra white space I can see is mostly about the margins above and below the lyrics - would you agree? So, just as a word processor give you control over the margin above/below a paragraph, MsueScore gives you control over the margin above/below lyrics. See Format / Style / Lyrics. For music like this where the lyrics actually apply equally to both staves, you probably want equal margins (the larger lower margin makes more sense in music where the lyrics only apply to the staff above and so you need additional separation between them and the unrelated staff below.

Setting lyrics margins above/below works pretty much exactly like text, but some of the other things going on here are more music-specific, so then you need to get into other techniques. For instance, maybe you could reclaim some space by shortening the stems on some of the alto notes that extend below the staff, or the tenor notes that extend above. Or maybe move a slur closer to the notes or flatten it. With text, that's not usually an option - you can choose the just shorten the descender on a "j" to save space. But you can with stems.

Aside from that, I go back to concepts from word processors - page margins, header footers, etc - that are carried over with some slight modifications. Right now you have a 15mm bottom margin. That could certainly be reduced. You can also safely reduce the "music bottom margin" in Format / Style / Page. The default of 7 sp is designed to allow for more markings below the staff without encoaching on the page margin or creating a ragged look from page to page. But in closed score vocal music like this, most markings are between staves, so you don't need so much extra space, and if the goal is to have one page only, ragged bottom margins won't be a concern. So you can actually lower that value a lot. You can also reduce the size of the title frame.

You also have disabled vertical justification of staves, which is quite counterproductive - it prevents MuseScore from distributing space between staves more intelligently/professionally. Set that back the way it was, but also reduce the min system distance in that section of the dialog as you did the other.

Do these things and you'll see MuseScore intelligently fill out the page for you, but gives you extra room to work with, so you can easily add two more lyrics verses, and MuseScore re-space the staves automatically.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Interesting that you thought I was meaning excess space above and below the lyrics. I was actually referring to excess space within the staff, i.e. between notes and the distance from bar lines. Your comment on 'vertical justification of staves' is interesting, because I never understood what that phrase means, or 'Factor for distance between systems'. I turned off the vertical justification of staves, as it appeared to be linked with the excess space between staves, but I have followed your suggestion of turning it back on and reducing the minimum system distance. This helped, and with the use of system breaks I have a much better balanced layout. I can juggle with the space above and below the lyrics if I need to when I add the extra lines of text.
Thanks again for your help.

In reply to by Gordon H Taylor

Vertical justification of staves is more terminology borrowed from word processing. Justified text means, text that is spread out to reach the right margin - extra spaces added between words or even micro-spaces between letter withins words to make the right margin even. This is always done in music of course - notes are spread as necessary to reach the right margin. "Vertical justification of staves" is the same thing applied vertically. With it off, MuseScore will add space between systems, but not between staves within systems. This leads to awkwardly wide gaps between systems, artificially large spaces within systems, and also ragged bottom margins. Vertical justification fixes all that.

As for horizontal space within measures, it would help to know where in particular you are seeing this. Perhaps you are noticing that the first and last syllable of a measure won't overlap the barline? That's pretty standard and also pretty necessary usually. And since lyrics are also normally centered (except for melismas), this means the first and last note of the measures often need to be moved further from the barline than the default. For very long syllables, you can fudge the positioning to avoid wasting space, just move them horizontally as desired (relative to their note). For instance, in the first bar, it's the word "bounds" forcing the first note so far from the initial barline. If you wish to tweak that, select it and nudge it right a little (two or three clicks of the Right cursor key, say).

You can also globally decrease the "note left margin" - the space between the barline and first note - and/or the "note to barline distance" (same for the last note). This is the same setting that controls the amount of space between the barline and the lyric attached to the note, and the default for notes without lyrics is probably bigger than needed for notes with lyrics.

This reminds me - you are also creating potential problems by extending the barline between the staves. Closed score vocal music wouldn't normally do that - it breaks up the lyrics too much. I guess that's because you created this as a piano score instead of a vocal score? It's not too late to at least partially fix that, though - just select one of the barlines between the staves and drag it up. But you've also got the wrong kind of bracket - should be square, not the curly brace of piano music. In the future, better to specify the closed score vocal template instead of the piano template, as it sets these things up for you and more as well.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I’m sorry you had to comment on my use of piano score rather than vocal score format. This was because I had to change my original plan yesterday after setting up all the hymn tunes in arrangements for piano accompaniment. I had to add the lyrics to what was essentially a piano score because I could not transfer the musical notation from PDFs into a word document, as I intended. So, because time was short, I had to adopt a plan B and put the lyrics into the score. I do know how to change the bar lines and braces, if I get time to do it, but I may have to leave it now, and make some other compromises in order to get the song sheets ready before my deadline.
For all your helpfulness, many thanks.

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