Page layout concepts
MuseScore generally does an excellent job of arranging music and text on the page, but there are situations where you may need to adjust things—to make music larger or smaller, to add space between staves, to change the number of measures on a page, to move text closer to or further away from the staff, etc. In order to make these types of changes, it helps to understand how MuseScore works with respect to page layout.
There are a number of terms used throughout this chapter that you will need to be familiar with.
Spatium (plural: Spatia) / Space / Staff Space / sp.
The size of everything on a score, such as staff, note heads, note stems, accidentals, clefs etc., uses a basic unit of measurement called "staff space" or "sp." to maintains correct proportions.
One sp is defined as the standard vertical distance between the midpoints of two lines of a music staff (or one quarter of vertical dimension of a full five-line staff, assuming a hypothetical staff line thickness of 0).
When you create a new score, MuseScore tries to adjust the staff space automatically so that the staves all fit on the page initially.
This usually leads to 1 sp = 1.75 mm, which results in a staff height of 7 mm, which is a good staff height for most solo music, choral music, small ensemble scores, and individual parts. Lead sheets and children's music may benefit from a larger staff size. Large ensemble scores may often require a smaller staff size in order to fit all instruments on the page.
You may need to adjust this value further as you add music, if auto-place results in additional space being added between staves in order to avoid collisions.
Modify the definition of "staff space" itself in the "Page settings" window. See Score size and spacing chapter, the overriding options are also explained there.
You should know the concept of Musescore instrument too.
A staff is the set of lines and spaces on which notes are written. When the term is used in MuseScore, it refers to that set of lines and spaces for a given instrument throughout an entire score. In the following score for voice and piano, everything marked in yellow constitutes a single staff—the staff for the voice:
In music for piano and certain other instruments, two staves are used—one primarily for the right hand, the other for the left. This set of two staves is normally connected by curly braces and is referred to as a grand staff. In the following excerpt, the portion marked in yellow is a grand staff:
Like text, music is read left to right, top to bottom. Each line of music read across the page is called a system, and it contains the staves and grand staves for all instruments. In the following example, the yellow highlighted region represents a single system:
Even if a score has only a single staff for a single instrument, we still refer to a line of music read across the page as a system. In the following lead sheet, there is only a single staff but three systems:
Most text in notated music is associated with specific notes or measures. However, you may also need to place text that is not associated with a specific note or measure—the title at the beginning of a score, lyric verses placed at the end of a score, explanatory information placed between systems or even between measures. MuseScore uses elements called frames for this. There are vertical, text, and horizontal frames—each optimized for a particular type of use. Horizontal frames can also be used to create separation between measures on a system, with or without associated text.
A margin is an area in which MuseScore will not normally place music or other elements. The page margin is the area around all four edges of the page where no elements are placed. The music margin is the area between the top and bottom margin and the first and last staff. The staves themselves will not be placed in those margins, but notes and other markings above or below the staves may be.