Shouldn't have to hand-align staves of scores for opposing pages

• Jun 6, 2019 - 18:01

In printed scores, it's pretty standard that scores which fill a page top to bottom will have their staves aligned between the left and right hand pages. Musescore obviously understands opposing pages through the two-sided option in page settings, but I can't find a way to indicate that staves should line up between the two pages. When a conductor tracks from a left hand page to a right hand page, she most certainly does not expect to find the trumpets an inch above where she was just tracking them. It'd be great if an entire score could follow this as well, but I understand that the logic for spacing the entire score would be far more complex than just the measures that take up two pages.

I know this has kinda of been addressed in forum topics such as but the answer always seems to be, "just hand align it." I don't wanna hand align it... but, if that's still the only option, does anyone have some good tips?


Not sure what you mean about staves being aligned form page to page being standard. Sure, if the page have the same number of systems, and each system has the same number of staves, and there are no markings on any staff that require extra space, and no additional text like titles etc to throw thing off, you'll expect them to align - and they will in MuseScore. But if any of those things are not true, you shouldn't expect them to align.

Since you mention a conductor and trumpets, I'll assume you are talking about a large ensemble score with only one system per page (which is not at all what the other thread was about). So, if you want things to align, obviously, don't use "Hide empty staves". ANd in that case, things should align pretty well except where extra space is needed between staves to avoid collisions. If you are seeing things not align, that must be because there was space added to avoid collisions, and if the space was not added, you'd have collisions. So the obvious solution there is to move the elements that would have collided to avoid these collisions, and then things will align, if that's the goal. But if you check actual published scores, you'll see things actually don't always align, because editors will add extra space between staves where necessary. They just try to find a good balance between doing this versus moving elements around to avoid collisions.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to see what things would look like if the extra space were not added, you can load the attached MSS file via Style / Load Style, which sets the undocumented "minVerticalDistance" setting to a large negative number and thus allows for more consistent staff spacing at the expense of collisions. Then you can decide whether you can live with collisions or whether you'd want to move things around to avoid them anyhow.

Attachment Size
minVerticalDistance.mss 160 bytes

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I guess I should have been more specific, yes, I'm talking scores whose systems take up a whole page, like a concert band or orchestral score... not an SATB score where the systems might be repeated on the page (which is why I had "kinda like" when referring to the other post, I was just trying to be clear that I had done some searching before asking the question).

While there might be some music where every note of every instrument fits inside its staff and has no collisions, that would be a horrible piece of music... but, you're right, Musescore would line the left and right pages up due to a lack of collisions. So, Musescore automatically does what I'm looking for for like 1% of all music. Unfortunately, I'm talking about the other 99% of music where Musescore has to adjust staves to avoid collisions.

I completely understand that different needs from the music on a page will require different spacing based on collisions. But, what is the difference between allowing for those collisions along one page worth of bars rather than two pages worth of bars (I mean, beside it obviously being twice as many bars ;) )? If a high flying oboe needs to push its staff a little lower and a rumbling tuba needs to push the snare drum part down... it does it for all the bars on a page, right? You don't see bar 6 fly up or down just because bar 5 had a collision... it accounts for the whole page worth of bars. Why could it not account for two pages worth bars? (I mentioned a whole score, but, as I said, that's a whole lot of more complex logic than just opposing pages) In turn, once the staves share the collision-accounted-for spacing between the two pages, then there should be no problem aligning the system underneath any interfering titles or text on either page.

As far as text boxes are concerned... if you try to fool Musescore with zero height text boxes and oversized top margins to make the tops line up, it makes a mess when you extract the parts.

The collision avoidance in Musescore is SPECTACULAR. Don't get me wrong... as far as I'm concerned, Musescore is amazing and watching you devs on Telegram makes my head spin. I'm just trying to let the computer do the computing... and Musescore does amazing collision avoidance. I've got a 27 instrument, thousand bar score with over 30k notes and I've only made like 50 manual moves (mostly on things like dynamics on low notes bumping them over a little bit). It's incredible. I'm just going for one more thing I don't have to do by hand.

Attachment Size
Opposing_Page_Alignment.mscz 37.42 KB

In reply to by John Asendorf

Maybe I'm missing something, but it's hardly the case that 99% of systems will have collisions. And when they occur, they are easily often easily resolved by moving one of the colliding elements left, right, up, or down. And in that case, the spacing becomes consistent again. So I'm not really understanding the problem - one way or another, you will want to move those elements, either to fix the collisions or to fix the spacing.

If I load the MSS file I posted into the score you attached, it works perfectly to fix the spacing, but then you get to fix the collisions. Most of it is dynamics, so that's easily dealt with, but there is not going to be any way to avoid the collisions involving notes high above/below the staff without adding spacers. As I see it, you'll probably need two of them, around the bassoon staves. You can if you really want add similar spacers to the next page just to get consistent spacing there, but really, I suspect any professional engraver would simply accept that the pages won't line up for this and not try to force the issue. I don't think I've ever seen that done, in fact. But feel free to submit an official Suggestion to the issue tracker so the idea doesn't get lost.

EDIT: BTW, thanks for the kind words, I agree things the collision avoidance is pretty cool! And FWIW, I did submit a PR earlier today to allow the min vertical distance to be set normally, in Format / Style - see #279416: Allow customization of minVerticalDistance (space between marking on adjacent staves/systems)

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