• Mar 14, 2011 - 00:07

I think in MuseScore, there could be two modes: Manual or Automatic.

Whenever you apply something in automatic (markings and symbols, etc), it would have the correct, precise, neat, tidy and even positioning with nothing (exception to things like gliss perhaps?) overlapping the system (the hairpin, in particular), or looking out of place. The system and staves would accommodate whatever you do (eliminating the general need for spacers. Maybe exception cases - available in manual?). Other than select objects perhaps (accessible by double click?), nothing should be movable (note stems/flags, bar lines, dynamic markings, etc).

This would all be useful if you are limited with time. For example, you no longer require the extra space that accommodated imposing objects (since changed/removed). You also wouldn't have to waste time moving other things that are blocked (though I can't think of anything directly, other than things correctable by the spacer).

Overall, the score would look more professional standard release quality (the kind you see in commercial manuscript).

For those who prefer their scores to appear more personalised, there is the manual mode. If you choose to restore a singular object to its original 'factory' position, you could right-click it and reset position.

I'm hoping to start a discussion to gather opinions (if there are no objections) and have it presented properly to the developers.


I think the ultimate goal is to have markings and symbols appear in the correct place. In reality the goal is to get it as close as possible automatically, and allow manual adjustments to reach perfection.

Could you explain why you want to introduce a new mode?

In reply to by David Bolton


Things including the majority of items in the palette (lines, dynamics, symbols, arpeggio & glissando, repeats, fingering, articulations & ornaments, breaths & pauses) and tempo text, generally do not automatically locate themselves correctly when applying them. Often (it depends on each one), they land themselves on the note/bar (e.g. you have to move fingering to the top), or somewhere not necessarily neat (or perhaps correct).

I'd rather you select the note and drag (or whatever) the item over, so that it anchors to the correct place and isn't moveable afterwards (things that appear to do this: tremolo, accidentals, clefs, key signatures, time signatures).

Some things that do apply themselves correctly, are still movable (such as a ulongfermenta).

It could avoid situations where someone has problems interpreting something that was relocated roughly.

As far as I know, you shouldn't need manual adjustments to perfect it - the system will usually (if not always) do a better job of that?

Lasconic however, expressed that he likes freedom and wants things to be moveable. To suit both kinds of users, I felt this proposal would be ideal.

In reply to by chen lung

Not everything is positioned correctly all the time. To take your example of the fermata, if you apply the fermata to a note that is on many ledger lines then the fermata is not positioned correctly (it overlaps with the note). There are also occasional examples of when accidentals need manual positioning to avoid overlaps.

What I'm getting at, I think your suggestion is already implemented. Generally speaking, adjustments that are quite rare require a double click to manipulate (such as horizontal movement of accidentals). Items that almost always require manual adjustments (such as dynamic markings, fingerings, etc.) can be moved without a double click. Notes can be dragged vertically (since this manipulation is common) without a double click, but moving an individual note horizontally requires a double click and arrow keys.

In reply to by chen lung

The part I don't get is, why two modes? Why not have ask for better automatic positioning in the one mode that current exists? What's the advantage of having a special mode that has good automatic but also locks out changes?

I'm all for better automatic positioning, and I have seen real improvement in this area in the nightly builds. The only sense in which I could see wanting two different behaviors is an option to control whether distance between staves/systems is automatically increased or not. Right now that is done for lyrics, and it's a nice thing, really, but it also catches me by surprise and sometimes I'd probably want to turn that off. Also, chord symbols can get pretty long, and I'd want an option to control how overlap is handled - just nudge the symbols themselves, or actually create more room in the music. But I'd expect to need to adjust things manually anyhow, which is why the idea of having items be locked out does not appeal to me at all. I want great automatic positioning, *and* I want the ability to adjust manually. I'd hate to be forced to choose between the two.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I think you're actually right Marc - just better automatic positioning :).

Regarding the distance in staves, I checked in nightly build 4089 and inputted a lyric on a set of down-stem beamed notes - there was no extra space generated. If it is being implemented, then that's great!

In reply to by chen lung

I don't mean that the lyrics themselves are given more space to account for notes below the staff - although that would be a nice option. I mean, the space *between* staves is increased to make room for lyrics. Each new line of lyrics you add increase the pace between staves accordingly. It's already that way in 1.0.

I would put it another way: keep manual adjustments of the presentation separate from the content, and allow manual adjustments to be toggled, both for selections and for the entire document.

In other words: say I have an A minor triad (A440, C, E), a quarter note, in the piano part, with an accent over it. That's the content, the musical nugget that's independent of the notation. We hope that the software will lay out the presentation as we like to see it without manual adjustment, and in most cases we get that result very effectively. The presentation of the chord could vary in automatic mode, for example if we put a different clef on the staff. MIDI output is just another presentation of the same musical content, to an audio rather than visual medium. Using a different font for the notes would also be a presentation change, one which would be specified at a global level (typically for the document) and then applied automatically when presenting the notes.

But sometimes we have to adjust things manually. There will always be some things the software just won't handle automatically. For example, composers sometimes want a particular appearance for a score which has nothing to do with the musical content or legibility, just a piece of visual art. Even if the software handles the functional content with no flaws, it won't handle such extended presentation.

So in my simple case, we might for example want to flip the stem, or flip the notes around the stem, or adjust the vertical position of the accent. (Of course we generally don't have to make these particular adjustments; I'm just using a simple case for discussion.)

Suppose I apply several such manual adjustments and I'm not sure I like them. I could right click on the note and pick "suppress manual adjustments". Then I could undo/redo repeatedly to compare. (So either this command should be in the undo stack, or perhaps it would be better to have a single key to "toggle manual adjustments".) If I decided to abandon the manual adjustments, I could right-click and pick "remove manual adjustments".

I could do the same thing for the entire score. Here's an argument for a single keystroke to toggle: if nothing is selected when I press that key, toggle the global application or suppression of manual adjustments. (Manual adjustments suppressed on specific selections would remain suppressed even when manual adjustments were enabled globally. Thus the global change is a separate flag, not a matter of setting or resetting the flag on all elements in the document.) I might make a lot of manual adjustments to try to get a work to fit the way I want it, and decide the sum total is a pile of crap and remove all the manual adjustments. Making this decision would be facilitated if I could easily toggle it globally.

Global settings (system spacing and the like) would not be considered manual adjustments.

Another really big reason for this is that the software improves, and will probably continue improving for a long time. I may have to make a lot of manual adjustments using the current software version. That score will always be OK as a static object. But if I transpose it, extend it, add another line of lyrics, copy part of it into another document, even just change the margins or want to print on A4 instead of letter, then I may have to revisit all those manual adjustments, This is part of the reason that notation software is so valuable. So if the next time I go to modify that piece the software is two versions up, I would very likely want to try the automatic mode again to see if I can toss all those manual adjustments and the associated maintenance effort. Being able to say "toggle manual presentation adjustments globally" would accomplish this.

I'm sure this would be a large change, so I realize I'm presenting a goal which might never be feasible. I think it's worth discussing even if just for what might come out of the discussion.


In reply to by paleolith

Do note there is already Layout->Reset Positions (Ctrl-R) to reset manual adjustments for selected items (including the whole score if that's what you've selected). I'm not sure it always does *exactly* what one would want according to the seapration you describe between content and appearance, but it's definitely in the right ballpark. So I'd say maybe the focus could be on figuring out where it *doesn't* do what one want (like if there's something it doesn't reset that it should, or vice versa) and then maybe fixing those issues, or perhaps adding options to control which things get reset.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Ah, interesting -- because this means that manual adjustments are already identified in the document, which was a lot of what I was thinking might be a big change. As you say, it may not make the separation perfectly, but it's certainly on the right track.

Right now, Reset Positions is not undo-able. That's probably just an omission.

So this means that what I'm suggesting would be just:

1) Allow suppressing manual adjustments without actually removing them. (This is analogous to making things invisible.)

2) Allow suppression of manual adjustments for the entire score (as distinct from suppressing manual adjustments on all elements).

3) Make the new toggle command shortcut-able.

4) It would probably be a good idea to disable making manual adjustments on elements where the display of those adjustments is suppressed, or on the entire document when adjustments are suppressed globally. Probably also a good idea to pop up a warning when the user attempts a disabled adjustment. Otherwise this would amount to a hidden mode and could be very confusing.

I notice that "select all" appears to mean "select all measures", because ctrl-A ctrl-R does nothing. It seems that the only way to select all elements is to zoom out until you can see the entire score, and then shift-drag over the whole thing. In my proposal, this would generally not matter, since one would normally toggle suppression for the document rather than for all elements.


The aim of the topic I'd aim for now is: Better automatic placement of objects/lyrics. If you do wish to adjust something, you can double-click.

The reason I originally considered the word maintenance was because of collisions (things such as spacers are used to avoid this - manually though). Not everyone would be happy with an automatic spacer (as Marc has said about it taking him by surprise). Perhaps the spacer could be applied manually (so you can apply notes further into ledger lines) - once finished, you click something that will correct to the proper proportions (ensure there's no excess space, or indeed not enough). The green line would still appear at the side to indicate a spacer has been applied - turns blue if it doesn't exceed the normal space.

I agree about standard tool such as 'flip direction' - it should remain (I never considered it for change either).

With regards to collisions with objects such as rests, you may not feel the need to move those as the program improves in the future (unless you intervene should it become difficult/not possible to determine automatically). Until then, manual is still indeed relevant.

In reply to by chen lung

The matter of improved automatic placement of score elements can be a good candidate to focus on after the release of 2.0. The 2.0 release is about making MuseScore more feature complete and preparing it for mobile platforms. This came with huge code refactoring, so we will need to spend a lot of time and effort on making things stable again.

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