Center syllable between multiple notes

• Sep 23, 2018 - 12:33

Hi, I know that you can press underscore to extend a syllable over multiple notes, however this leaves the syllable at the first note and puts underscores below the rest of the notes. This can be very unappealing at times, for example refer to the following example. In the follwing Musescore screenshot I used underscores, but it does not look very nice.

What I want to do is something similar to the following screenshot:
I want to just center these syllables between the notes, I think the underscore is very out of place here. To be honest, in this screenshot the "von" is still not centered perfectly, but I think the "kord" shows pretty well what I want to achieve.

Is there any way to achieve this in Musescore?


not automatically, but you can change the sylables' horizontal offset (via Inspector), or set them to left-align rather than center (via right-click/Text properties)

Maybe I'm missing something, but the example you posted of what you want to achieve is not centered at all. The syllables are left-aligned with the first note, exactly as the standard rules of music notation require and exactly as MuseScore does by default. It's possible your example was engraved in a century when melisma lines were not commonly used and that is why they are missing. Today there are practically universal, so I wouldn't go out of my way to omit them - today's musicians are mostly accustomed to seeing them - but if you want you can simply omit the underscore and then set the syllable to left-aligned, as suggested. I wouldn't recommend trying to center the syllable between notes - and the example you attached does not do that either - but if you want that effect, you can always use manual adjustments.

For MuseScore 3, there is already a style setting implemented to set the minimum length for the dashes, but there doesn't seem to be anything quite the same for melisma line. Probably there should be, and then in principle you could set it large enough to get the effect shown here while still showing it for longer melismas if you like. In the future, I could also imagine an Inspector setting on lyrics that says "hide melisma line".

In reply to by oloi

If you mean to skip the melisma line as shown in the original example, I highly recommend doing that - itwill confuse the designers who are accustomed to seeing it in modern editions even if older ones sometimes omitted it. But I think the OP was confused, it is never appropriate to center the lyric between notes in those cases, and the example posted definitely does not show that.

Centring the lyrics under both notes is wrong notation and bad. Note that even the example you provided doesn’t do that. The underscore is right in the example you’ve given.

The printed exemplar achieves lack of the underscore by tightening the spacing of the beamed eigth notes. You can do that in MuseScore, and the extent of the lyrics underscore will automatically follow. (You can also use a font with wider letters or increase font size, although that won’t have as large an effect before looking bad.)

Ok, adding an option for minimal melisma length could definitely help here (at least to avoid short lines appearing as questionable 'dots', which may also appear in other circumstances). Why not also an option to hide melisma altogether... But according to (see also #305594: Minimum melisma length ), these options would requires little change to the underlying data structure, and is thus unlikely to appear before quite some time.

It appears to me that there is a better option. Actually, this option was almost fully operational in musescore 3.2.3, but the latest versions (at least 3.6.2) seems to have slightly regressed in this respect (maybe because the corresponding usage was not properly identified as a feature and documented). If the solution to the question at hand here is to correct the alignment of the text "kord" and "von" from 'central' to 'left'-aligned under their first assigned note, what seems to be missing is a simple way to do that change of alignment easily. Of course, this can be done manually through the 'text formatting' interface (c.f. ), but that is precisely not convenient. A simpler way is to simply start a melisma, by typing underscore '' at the end of the word, and interrupt it by not typing another underscore '', but rather a space ' '. In musescore 3.2.3, this has the effect of not displaying a melisma, while correctly 'left'-aligning the syllable. This behavior is not present anymore in , but I imagine it should be rather simple to (and it should not break the data format).

Note that one bug that was remaining in musescore 3.2.3, is that while the text was correctly left-aligned (this can be checked after typing with the help of the inspector), this property was not saved into the file. Again, I imagine it should be quite straightforward to save a left-aligned text as left-aligned.

In the example below, we see that the effect of using '_'+' ' is identical as what we get by left-aligning the corresponding syllable, i.e. 3rd and 4th lines are identical (here in musescore 3.2.3).

Bonus: by comparing the left-side of this example with its right-side, we can see a limit to left-aligning a syllable without knowing how many notes are concerned with its text: when the second part of the notes it is meant to be attached to is deleted, the text remains left-aligned instead of being restored into central alignment mode. This contrast with the 2nd line in this example, which uses melisma, for which this is properly handled (although a small dot remains in this ...). But the right way to fix this probably involves some data structure change, so it could be left for a major musescore update.

Attachment Size
Automatic text placement.png 111.56 KB
Automatic text placement.mscz 13.84 KB

In reply to by jaghel

I'm definitely in favor of having options to automatically suppress melisma and/or specify a minimum length. Usually, though, I simply skip the melisma line if I can see it won't be visible enough to be worthwhile. That seems a pretty common solution in published music.

Not sure what you mean about something that worked in 3.2.3 and doesn't anymore, though. Csan you give precise step by step instructions to reproduce the problem?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Sure! So the full type-setting that highlights this is written down in the musescore file I attached to the earlier comment. Basically, the difference lies in the third line with music (the line using the '_', ' ' sequence), it suffices to consider the first two measures of that line, measures 10 and 11.
- When typing the text above this line as lyrics to the notes that are in these two measures (Add->Text->Lyrics), musescore 3.2.3 left-aligns the 'jours' syllables.
- When doing the same in musescore 3.6.2, every text item, including the 'jours' syllables, are center-aligned.

Wondering if it would be possible to restore the musescore 3.2.3 behavior here... (and additionally make sure that the alignment created in this way gets saved into mscz files; that part was not working in musescore 3.2.3 unfortunately)

In reply to by jaghel

I think I see what you are saying - there was some weird quirk in 3.2.3 where if you didn't complete your melisma, it decided to treat it as left-aligned, whereas 3.6.2 treats it as centered. Seems to me the 3.2.3 behavior might have happened to be useful in certain cases like this, but might seem different if the lyrics were shorter? Better to me would be to simply have settings for minimum length of the extender, and/or threshold above which it is suppressed (as there is for dashes). Then people wouldn't also have to happen upon the workaround and apply it everywhere needed, it would just work.

Meanwhile, the recommend workaround is to omit the melisma entirely and simply set the alignment to left. I'm not sure if you are saying you still see an issue with that in 3.6.2, but I don't.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Great, so we agree!! Indeed, the best for now is simply to omit the melisma in this kind of situations, as it seems you also do routinely, and to set the alignment to left!

This is precisely what I'm talking about. My proposition is simply to have the a keystroke combination for that, namely '_', ' ' (i.e. underscore followed by space). In this way, lyrics can be typed and formatted in just one go! It's very convenient to use! Also, it doesn't break any of the existing format, and doesn't change dialogs, so it can be implemented readily without having to wait for another major release like musescore 4.0!

In reply to by jaghel

Yes, that would be one way - but then you'd have to predict when you'd need it and do it each and every time. Is there some reason you prefer that to a solution where it just happens automatically based on a setting?

There aren't currently any plans for additional releases between now and MsueScore 4, so I wouldn't use that possibility as a reason to prefer the more manual solution.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes there are situations where the space allocated to a melisma is identical, but we can predictably desire to left-align text either with a melisma, or without it. For such cases, it is pleasant to have a way of encoding these two situations while typing the lyrics, instead of having to edit individual lyrics properties by hand (which is of course always possible). One example is a syllable going from one eight note to another eight note, were we might not want a melisma even if enough space allows, in contrast to a syllable going from one eight note to a half note, where it makes sense musically speaking to have a melisma to emphasize that the sound should be kept for the whole duration of the second, longer, note.

This being said, if MuseScore 4 is the next release, and if it includes minimal melisma length as an option by default, I agree that it is already a big improvement, and something that will already help a lot in most cases.

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