Unexpected visible/invisible ledger lines depending on visible/invisible notes

• Feb 13, 2016 - 14:36
Reported version
S3 - Major

Using Musescore 2.0.2

When hiding notes, the ledger lines only get hidden if there are no other notes in the chord that use ledger lines. In the picture above, you can see that because the bass note E uses a ledger line, the hidden notes C and G still show their ledger lines.


Also, see the above picture. When the program does hide ledger lines for hidden notes, visible notes also get their ledger lines hidden.

Also, the stems should shorten to just the visible notes when hiding notes, instead of extending all the way to the invisible notes.


Getting it "right" will probably be tricky. I guess the first step is to consider ledger lines above separate from below that solves the first case. But the "right" behavior for other cases with mixed visible and invisible notes is not always obvious. Depending on your reason for making the note invisible, you might want the ledger lines invisible or not, and you might want the stems shorter or not. In the cases where you actually want the chord to appear as if the invisible notes weren't there at all, it could be argued a separate chord in another voices is really the better way to do this anyhow - after all, then those invisible notes could have independent rhythms as well, which might well be part of why you are having them there. So for example, in the top picture, simply selecting the two notes above the staff and sending them to voice 3 via Ctrl+Alt+3 (or presisng the voice 3 button) immediately solves the problem.

Meanwhile, if there is some case where for whatever reason putting the invisibe notes in another voice isn't a good option, another good solution is to force the notes to display on staff despite their pitch - use the Fix to line" control in the Inspector.

Marc, I don't see what you are trying to say. Surely, we can agree that the current defaults are not "right"? Then I suppose the problem is this: what should the defaults be?

"Depending on your reason for making the note invisible, you might want the ledger lines invisible or not, and you might want the stems shorter or not."

Then what are reasonable defaults / what is expected?
From what I see, it seems that the expected behaviour is that the invisible notes should affect the chord as if they were never there (ledger lines: comment #2; stems: shorter).

Since stems are already customizable, ledger lines should probably be customizable ("selectable") so that the defaults may be overridden.

Let me try to explain a little differently.

I would suggest there is no "correct" here. Standard music notation has no concept of an invisible note, so there is no standard standard engraving practice for how to engrave invisible notes. If people use invisible notes, it is normally to get some sort of *non-standard* behavior - either playback or display that is somehow different from the norm. And depending on the specific reaosn one is chooisng to use this particular workaround, there could be different expected behaviors.

For instance, what if you wanted to create an image of a staff with ledger lines above it but no stem and no head - perhaps for some education materials where you are demonstrating how ledger lines look, or for some sort of experimentation notation. In this case, you might expect that placing a note above the the staff then marking it invisible would leave the ledger lines intact. There are probably people right now already wishing we *didn't* hide ledger lines for this reason.

The other use case I can think of is if you want a note to sound for playback but for some reason don't want it to display. Maybe because you are tryng to create accurate playback for harmonics, or for some sort of ornament, or for some passage where the notation uses slash notation for improvisation but you want to provide something for playback. In these cases, you'd expect hiding the note to basically hide all evidence the note was present.

There are probably use other cases with other expectations. I think it's important to understand the real world use cases before making aribtrary decisions about how things "should" work.

Regarding the playback example, my observation is that this particular use case is better handled by using hidden notes *in a different voice* (or even on a different staff). Not just because of ledger line or stem length issues, but because in two of the three specific examples I gave (ornaments and improvisation), you would generally need the hidden notes to have a different rhythm than the visible ones, so combining them in one chord doesn't make sense. So it seems to me that simply not hiding ledger lines at all could potentially the right solution here - except there are doubltess people depending on the current behavior whose scores would then look incorrect and will thus complain.

No matter *what* change we make, there will be people depending on the current behavior and thus will be unpleasantly surprised at any change. That's just a fact of life when changing behavior in any situation where there is no absolutely crystal clear right and wrong answer. So it's crucial to understand the different use cases and what expectations actually are for each of the different before making any change designed to iptimize only one use case but perhaps making things worse for another.


"So it seems to me that simply not hiding ledger lines at all could potentially the right solution here - except there are doubltess people depending on the current behavior whose scores would then look incorrect and will thus complain."

Yes, and that is why any visible change should be in 3.0.
It would make sense to not do anything at all (not hide ledger lines and not shorten stems) and instead allow the user to decide what to do. Do you suppose this would be okay as the default?

In general, I suppose that ledger lines should be selectable, and maybe there should be another option under "Chord Automatic" in Inspector for visible ledger lines?

to put it as succinctly as possible:

I don't think any of us developers should be making any such decision ourselves without first posting on the forum and asking for feedback from real users to understand the different use cases people have for making notes invisible.

It's the same position I held when the subejct of ledger line color came up recently, and the same opinion I hold in general whenever something comes up where it feels like we need to make some sort of compromise betwene competing needs we as develoeprs don't full understand because we are not ourselves people who encounter the particular use cases where the issue comes up. Always you will hear me suggest we get feedback from actual users - not just the one or two who have already suggested a change, but the others who might actually be *happy* with the current behavior, or would want to see a *different* change.

I am simply not in any position to tell what others want in cases like this where there is no clearly defined right and wrong. It's based on user expectation, so we need to hear from more actual users.

FWIW, a better way to get that effect is to delete the invisible notes but instead simply extend the stem & apreggio symbol (double click & drag).

As @Fyrult suggested in his comment to yours, the correct (and beautiful) playback is one of my main reasons to use MuseScore for composition and educational material. The render quality of good sound fonts (I have some) into audio files is very good with MuseScore and thus really useful.

Title Hidden note bugs: Ledger line problem still not fixed, Note stems don't shorten. Unexpected visible/invisible ledger lines depending on visible/invisible notes
Severity S4 - Minor S3 - Major
Reported version 2.1 3.0
Frequency Few
Regression No
Reproducibility Always
Workaround No

Changing the title to only include the issue of ledger lines, this is a bug while the problem of stems is a different issue, is debatable and with workaround.

In reply to by Howard-C

I see these issues (ledger lines and stems remain visible when you make noteheads invisible) have existed for a few years. I can confirm it hasn't been fixed yet (version 3.5.2). Since its been a few years, does this mean it was decided not to fix these issues? Obviously, with the issue of no cross-staff arpeggio allowed, this issue become relevant when you do the cross-staff arpeggio workaround.

Have you read the previous responses here? As explained above, there is simply is no one "correct" interpretation for how a notation program should handle cases of invisible notes, since different people use invisible notes for different purposes and might reasonably have different expectations. If a consensus ever develops that one particular set of expectations is the most common, we can implement it, but we would need to see the result of forum discussion of the topic with multiple people all agreeing on what they think the behavior should be.

I'm not sure how cross-staff arpeggios play into this, though. I guess it depends on how exactly you are trying to work around it. But the ways I'd be thinking of doing it (eg, a chord in a separate voice) would have me making the entire chord invisible - stems, ledgers lines, and all - not just individual noteheads within a chord. Feel free to discuss this on the forum as well, but it's kind of a separate topic.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Marc. This issue doesn't play into the cross-staff arpeggio issue directly, but since Musescore doesn't allow cross-staff arpeggios (playback, not just visual) you have to do that awkward workaround by making notes invisible, but the stems and ledger lines remain visible.
Marc, my issue is not how people are using invisible notes. Its about a chord with a stem long enough for 5 notes, but only has 2 (visible) notes. Please give me an example where someone would want the stem to be twice as long as necessary with no notes (notes are invisible) attached to it. I have never seen music written this way. Is it some kind of novel notation device that is used in very avande-garde, esoteric music? The same with ledger lines. I have never seen "naked" ledger lines above/below the staff that actually has a meaningful purpose for reading/playing the music. Maybe as a teaching device(?), to show students what a ledger line looks like, but that is a stretch.
Maybe I am off-base here, but your response seems to indicate to me that you are unaware of the workaround you have to do when you want to playback a cross-staff arpeggio. I know this has been discussed 2-3 times recently and I am pretty sure you were part of the discussion.

As I said, the ledgers lines and stems do disappear if you make the entire chord invisible, so that's the better workaround for arpeggio playback. The issue here is about a broader topic than one specific workaround for one specific problem, but what should happen in all the cases where people might want an invisible note - and in some of these case, making the whole chord invisible is not an option. That's why I am saying it is not black and white and thus needs more discussion - preferably in the forum, where more people will see it.

As for cases where someone might want a stem but no notes, yes, there are any number of modern notations where this could be used, and I gave the example of educational worksheets above as another. Somehow all of these need to be supported. And that's why further discussion is needed. It's not good to break existing use cases just to provide yet another workaround for cross-staff arpeggios when the existing multi-voice workaround already works well. It would be nice to get that second workaround to also work well, but only if it can be fit into the bigger picture here.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks. Marc, you said, "It's not good to break existing use cases just to provide yet another workaround for cross-staff arpeggios when the existing multi-voice workaround already works well." You will have to ejicate me on how to do multi-voice arpeggios because that is another issue with Musescore - It doesn't naturally do multi-voice arpeggios. I am not familiar with a workaround to do multi-voice arpeggios. If there is a workaround for multi-voice arpeggios, then I would agree with you; that would allow me to do cross-staff arpeggios AND make the whole chord invisible.
You also said, "It's not good to break existing use cases just to provide yet another workaround". Couldn't this issue (people wanting avante-garde notation methods) be handled with a plugin or "mod" instead of having to accommodate 1-2% of the musescore users by making 20-30% of users have to do an awkward workaround.
Every software company makes decisions on what features to have and what you leave out.
If you remember, Microsoft - in the 80 and 90's - tried to please everyone all of the time by bloating their OS to put every little feature that 1% of people will use. Happily, they stopped doing that with WIN 7 (though it is still more bloated than Apple OS).

Again, this is a conversation better suited for the forum, but I'm not talking about an arpeggio that spans multiple voices - I mean, just put the entire chord on a single staff in a single voice that you aren't using, and make it invisible. Or if you'd rather use invisible notes in a visible chord, you can use the "fix to line" setting to avoid the ledger lines as mentioned above.

Both of these methods work just fine. If we make changes to better support multi-staff arepggios, we should simply support them completely and directly, not break a perfectly good use case just to provide a third workaround in addition to the two perfectly good ones we already have. We don't need more workarounds, especially not ones that break things. We ultimate an actual solution to the multi-staff arpeggio playback problem. Meanwhile, you can continue to use the existing workarounds.

So, if you have further questions about multi-staff arpeggios, please ask them on the forum, and let's keep this issue focused on the general question of invisible notes, not enumerating yet more workarounds for an unrelated playback issue that already has good workarounds.

Shouldn't take any more to use multiple voices - have you tried it? But the fix to line solution also works.

Again, for further discussion of this topic specifically, best to keep it on the forum.

This thread has been open for years so apologies if the community has decided on something. However, I see no reason why we can't let the user decide what the "correct" interpretation to be. For example I want ledger lines to be shown up to any visible note but not beyond that if there are any more invisible notes. See my image - I expect a ledger line to be shown up to E4 but nothing more. That seems like the obvious and sane choice to me, yet Musescore doesn't do this, nor is there any option to let me do this.


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