Aligning Lyrics Under Notes

• Nov 10, 2014 - 14:55

Using MS 1.3, is there an easy way to change the alignment of the lyrics underneath the notes? Lyrics appear to default to the center of the notehead. In hymn scores, it's traditional to center to the notehead in the middle of phrases, but then left-align the lyrics of all the verses together at the beginning of a new phrase. I've tried right-clicking on a word and changing the alignment under "text properties" but it didn't seem to work for me. Maybe somehow I need to change the reference point that the alignment feature is using?

I know can just grab the word and move it, but then where it lands is quite dependent on the steadiness of my hand with the mouse. I don't always get great results. But if that's really the only way, I'll switch to decaf when I'm working on this!


First, nstead of the mouse, it's much more accurate (and less caffeine-sensitive!) to move things woth the keyboard. Double click, use the arrow keys. Arrow keys by themselves move in 1sp increments, or with Ctrl to get finer motion. This applies not just to lyrics but to many other elements.

Second, what *should* work is right clicking a syllable, text properties, and setting the alignment to left. However, this doesn't work in 1.3 for lyrics, so I think manual adjustment might be the only way (unless someone knows another).

In 2.0, things should be much better. For one thing, the arrow key method of moving things applies to virtually all, not just some, elements. For another, text proerties does work on lyrics. And for another, the alogirithm to automatically determine when to left align syllables is better. Not sure it will catch the you are talking about - not sure what constitutes a "new phrase" in this sense - but it does the right thing for many situations where it did not in 1.3.

2.0 is not released yet, but if you wish to try out the improvements and give feedback, see the Download link at the top of the menu at right, and get a Nightly build. Just realize this is still experimental; I wouldn't switch to it for real work yet.

In reply to by chen lung

Sure. Here is the finished hymnal page. Notice how the lyrics of each verse align together at the beginning of each poetic phrase, but otherwise lyrics are centered on the notes. This is standard practice in hymn layout, but I could find no way to do these alignment changes automatically in Musescore. It did work to just adjust necessary lyrics using Ctrl + arrows.

(Note that the tune "Love Unknown" is still in copyright outside the United States.)

Attachment Size
My_Song_Is_Love_Unknown_final1.mscz 3.57 KB

In reply to by bwv582

Huh. That is not really standard as far as I know - I've never seen any published guidelines suggest it, and other scores I've seen don't do that. So it's not the sort of thing we're likely to automate. Still, it will be potentially easier in 2.0 to get this - use text properties to left align and apply whatever offset you want. You could even define a custom text style for this - left algined but with a -1sp horizontal offset, say. Then you could select all the syllables you want to apply this too and apply it to all at once. But manually adjusting works too of course and realistically is at least as easy unless you are doing this dozens and dozens of times.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That's interesting. Made me curious, so I did a quick survey of the hymnals I have in my office. Ten of them did as I described, aligning lyrics together flush-left at each new phrase in the poetry, but three of the hymnals did not. So you're right, it's apparently not any sort of publishing guideline. It's just what my eye is used to.

Interestingly, I noticed that in the hymnals that do line them up the way I did, there are cases now and then where the alignment isn't quite perfect. It'll be a point or two off, as if the software used in publishing those hymnals couldn't do it automatically either.

In reply to by Shoichi

I've never used stave text like this, but there are a lot of tricks to musescore that I don't know. I have to say it's the best free music scoring program that I know of-- by far.

In reply to by bwv582

Yes, and I think hymnals are perhaps a special case where I could easily believe you would see it more commonly there than in other situations.

What *is* common and standard is left-aligning melisma and left-aligning the first syllables of each *verse*, and that's what we do in 2.0. Obviously, we can't know what constitutes the begining of a "line". But the text style method I think will be the way to go in 2.0 if you're trying to (re)produce an entire hymnal.

In reply to by Brer Fox

That's interesting. The only UK hymnal I have is from 1919 and it's not a good reference because none of the lyrics are printed with the music-- all are underneath. The formatting of lyrics in hymn publishing is clearly a stylistic choice made by publishers, and is not as uniform as I first thought.

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