Force Measures to a System

• Jan 15, 2018 - 14:44

Is there a way (other than stretching the measures) for force a group of measures to one system? I'm writing something, that is 16th note based, and set the score for 4 bars per system. however, it sometimes puts the new line at 3 bars and won't put the 4th bar in the same system even if I shrink the measures as much as possible. If there isn't another way to force a group of measures to one system, it would be a great update.


In reply to by mike320

In the meantime, this is where I found the keyboard shortcut of the left brace { is convenient.
Select the bars or measures that need to be on the same system and successively type { until that happens.
(As has been mentioned later in this thread, any user-applied 'hard' system breaks in the area need first to be removed.) Braces { } in MuseScore are like brackets [ ] in Microsoft Word: you can successively adjust the size of the selected type in Word and immediately see the effect. In Word, you'd do this sort of thing to establish your styles. Perhaps Styles in Musescore can be used to tame unfettered use of this feature (assuming that presentation suffers from varying degrees of ad-hoc de-stretch.)

It's not just about scaling and stretch, it's also about the minimum note distance in Style / General / Measure. That's one reason it could be awkward to provide an option to force measures onto a system there are actually multiple ways to go it, and ideally you should be able to choose the one that works best for your particular situation - no way MuseScore can know which of the different approaches would be most acceptable to you. That said, sure, an option to do this (by having MuseScore guess and randomly pick some combination of settings) could be nice some day - but I wouldn't recommend people use it if they care about the appearance of the their scores.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi. I used to work with Finale a decade ago, and there was this forcing option to group a selection of measures into one system. It automatically spreads the notes, rests and any other things in the score to fit the line with the requested measures.

This was a really useful option to layout my score as I want.

I would definitely be grateful if this option could be added to a next version of MuseScore !

Anyway, thanks to devs for such an amazing free tool, that's an incredible work!

In reply to by Jonathan Lafarge

Automatically spreading the notes and everything to fill a system is easy. Enter a system break on the last measure of the system/staff and it will automatically fill the system. The tricky part is forcing more measures onto a system that will fit with the current settings. MuseScore does not automatically shrink measures to make them fit on a system.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I can't find Style / General. Maybe it changed in MU4. There is Style / Bar which does have 'Minimum note distance'. What's the story behind Measure --> Bar in the nomenclature?

Well what do you know changing 'Minimum note distance' did get rid of the problem of a single bar on the last line.

I then put in a line break that I wanted, and got a different 'one bar in a line' problem. So yes, I fixed that with more tweaking of 'Minimum note distance'.
Now my original 'one bar in a line' problem' problem has resurfaced. So, more tweaking, and that finally got the whole score working, with the value right down to 0.10sp. —Luckily it's only a one-page score ...

However, I don't see why Musescore can't do what I tell it when I say 'Put all these bars together on the one line'.

In reply to by griffin25

Measure is the more common US word for what UK calls "bar". Also, there is indeed no more "Style / General", it's now "Format / Style". This didn't change at MuseScore 4, though - it changed at Musecore 3, five years ago, shortly after this discussion.

Anyhow, most likely your problems are actually caused by spurious system breaks - that would explain why bars are ending up on their own. Probably you just needed to remove them. if you attach your score, we can understand and assist better.

MuseScore doesn't have a command to say "put these bars together whether they fit or not", so that is why it doesn't respond to whatever you are doing in attempt to do that. Just as word processors don't have commands to say "put these words together whether they fit or not". They have commands to control size and spacing and to add breaks. and it's up to you to use them as necessary make things fit the way you want - the program can't decide for you when to reduce size, when to reduce spacing, when to reduce minimum note distance, etc.

In reply to by griffin25

Here is my score. It has three line breaks to accommodate (1) Introduction (2) Verse (3) Chorus.

As you can see there are ugly bars at 14 and 24.

By reducing the Bar / 'Minimum note distance' to 0.10sp, everything now works fine. See version 2 of the score.

Luckily the score remains very readable even when the notes are crammed together a bit.

However, 'Minimum note distance' will apply to the whole score. Other sections of a larger score may not fare as well. This is why a command more focussed on the particular problem might be better in this case.

Regarding word-processor analogy, Marc,
(a) In MS Word, we do have a setting, 'Keep lines together' which will apply to a selection of text. This will keep the lines together on the same page. —This is sort of similar.
(b) A hard line break in justified text can result in an ugly line with a small number of words justified. This can be fixed by changing that line only to be left-justified. This is similar to the case in music of one bar spread over the one line.

I am not saying (a) and (b) support my case, but it is interesting to explore the analogy.

(c) The arrangement of bars and lines of music is critical in music. But in text we can have ragged line lengths and it can be quite acceptable. In music, justification is for the most part de rigeur.

On the other hand, in text we cannot change the kerning once it is chosen, I am surmising. Whereas music is extremely tolerant of whether notes are squashed together or not.

In summary I believe it is useful to see if word-processing (a very mature technology) can provide concepts that can be applied to music notation.

In reply to by griffin25

A few things to observe here:

  • "Keep lines together" is about vertical spacing, which is different. A "non-breaking space" is more similar to what you're trying to do here, to force more words on a line. But that's still not going to allow more words to fit than actually do given your settings (at least in most word processors) - it's just going to influence where the automatic breaks go but not otherwise fit more to fit than is physically capable of it. For that you need to adjust kerning or other spacing settings indeed.

  • You can change the spacing for just selected measures, using the "{" and "}" commands (also found in Format / Stretch. So normally you don't ever need to mess with global settings in cases like this. And indeed, that works perfectly in your example - just select the measures you want to squeeze closer together than your default settings allow and press "{" one or more times.

  • Minimum note distance is global indeed, but assuming you add system breaks, it's completely harmless to set it small. The automatic breaks will have too many measures, but when you add your own based on your musical judgement, the result will be identical to what it would have been with a larger setting, on those systems where the measure would have fit either way.

  • Justification is indeed standard, which is why there is not even an option to disable it except for the last system (although you can use horizontal frames to get that effect for special purposes like educational materials).

  • I think your chorus would look better spread across three systems, FWIW. While it's possible to squeeze them onto 2, it doesn't look good.

Anyhow, bottom line, I think once you get used to using the stretch commands and adding system breaks, you'll realize you already have the tools you need and rarely need to mess with style settings, but when you do, that will also work well.

In reply to by griffin25

It worked perfectly for me. Be sure to select all of the measures you want to reduce the width of - for instance, bars 11-14 - and press "{". Or use the width setting in Properties. A single notch reduction does the job here. To force bars 15-24 onto only two lines will take several presses (three for me), but it does work.

please add a command to force a certain number of measure together. the stretch thing does not work.

see the following score: I want 4 measures on the first line and six on the second. if I use stretch it will make 6 measure move to the first line and two on the second line. same for adding a page break.

am I missing something here?

Attachment Size
Anthropology.mscz 12.7 KB

In reply to by mike320

ah so the format>add/remove system breaks>remove current system breaks command is the key to having control of your formatting. I will mess with it a bit more on other scores. If this is the secret then it seems that this needs to be promoted more because I don't recall seeing anyone talk about that command.

In reply to by

To be clear: it's line breaks that are the key to having control of your formatting. By default measures "wrap", just like "word wrap" in a text editor. And just like in a text editor,
line breaks
are the key
to making a line stop
where you want.

You can add or remove these breaks however you want - using the palette, hitting the Enter key, selecting and deleting them normally, or using the Add/Remove System Breaks command to do this in batches.

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