Two measures refusing stretch

• May 6, 2022 - 15:38

Hi, I am reproducing a score from a handwritten one. On all pages the systems contain 2 measures, which is fine, there are only two measures which will not fit on one system, presumably because they contain too many notes (?). Stretching will not change this, in fact it does nothing on those two measures (m 15 and 16 in the example, which is an excerpt from the entire score).
But I would like to have them together, besides that I do not like the look of these two measures as they are now, they are much wider set than all other measures.
So is there a way to compress these two?

Attachment Size
Two_measures_system.mscz 38.86 KB


In reply to by Shoichi

Thanks, but then everything will be much smaller, and in fact too small!
I do not want to print on A3 paper, I always use A4 for paper scores, and an iPad 12" for digital scores. On the iPad an A3 score will suddenly have 10 systems per page which is simply too small to read comfortably, the A4 score 6 or 7 which is OK.

There are a number of things to try before you start messing with the stretch. I suggest you first go to [Format]>[Stretch] and Reset Layout Stretch. Playing with stretch should be your last resort if all else fails.

Then you could remove the superfluous accidentals. For example, you have flats on every B and G in measure 15 and there are a lot of Bs and Gs. There is a plug in available that will remove "courtesy" accidentals.

The next thing to try is reducing the size of everything by decreasing the stave space in [Format]>[Page Settings]. In the attached version I have changed it to 1.45 mm

Having done that, there were a few elements that were out of place. I used CTRL+A followed by CTRL+R to put them back into their default positions. You may need to tweak some back to where you prefer them. But you now have two measures on each system. Without removing the superfluous accidentals you would have to reduce the stave space even further. I think 1.2 mm would be necessary.

Two_measures_system 2.mscz

An alternative to reducing the stave space is to use a larger page size in [Format]>[Page Settings]. I will leave you to play with that one.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Also thanks for yor reply, a few things:
- in the original score is mentioned: accidentals apply only to the note, that is the reason to place the seemingly superfluous accidentals! That is a choice of the composer, and I do not want to change that.
- the same goes for the Ctrl-A Ctrl-R option, it was a deliberate choice to put the chords as they were notated, so again I do not want to change that.
- I wonder why to change the stave size, I think this is mainly a vertical size, but I do not want more staves on a page, I want to reduce the horizontal spacing!
Are there no parameters to change only the horizontal spacing of notes for a selection?
I searched for it, but could not find any, hence the question...

Much of the music I play is notated by hand, sometimes this is very hard to read, so then I try to digitize it, but one of the advantages of hand notation is that you are more flexible in the layout, and therefore it is more easy to squeeze the notes as they fit on the page in order to obtain nice page-turning moments.

In reply to by JeroenH1

The size of all musical elements - note heads, beam thicknesses, time signatures accidentals, text etc, as well as the distance between elements - are defined in relation to the space between stave lines. So reducing the stave space reduces the size of everything in proportion in both the horizontal and vertical directions.

In reply to by SteveBlower

OK, that is clear, the text balloon at the scaling is not very clear in that aspect, it says "distance betweem two lines" and that seems only vertical, so thanks for the clarification.
But still I wonder if there is a way to change only the horizontal spacing!
In text/font layoutprograms like Indesign that is very easy to accomplish, and offcourse you have to use it sparingly and wise, but then it can work really well in most cases. So that's where I'm after!

In reply to by JeroenH1

To be clear: it's the distance betwene staff lines - any two of the five lines of a staff. This "staff space" unit is the standard unit of measure in music notation - all sizes and distances are always expressed in "staff space" units (abbreviated sp in MuseScore), whether using notation software or traditional engraving plates. Reducing this doesn't force you to have more systems on a page; you can still add page breaks wherever you like.

It's normally bad practice to reduce horizontal spacing too much, as it often makes the music much harder to read. but sure, there are various settings in Format / Style / Measure to control the distance from the barline to the first note of a measure, the distance between clef and key signature, the minimum distance between notes, and more. Independent control of these is provided because as mentioned, simply compressing everything seldom yields good results. But depending on your specific score and the specific reasons you are trying to accomplish everything via squeezing things together horizontal rather than the more usual method of scaling things down a bit, it could be some specific combination of those settings might work well.

Currently you have an extremely large stretch value applied to those measure (over 8, as per Measure Properties. I would start by selecting the whole score ant using Format / Stretch / Reset Layout Stretch to get things back to a normal starting position. Then you can begin your process of trying to fine tune speacing from a more reasonable starting point.

As per my earlier comments, normally you don't get good results by forcing more measures onto a system than can comfortably fit while still allowing notes to have at least some separation. But there are settings to play with that can possibly produce OK results in some cases.

Here, after the reset of stretch, I'd next got to Format / Style / Measure and set Spacing to 1 (the minimum). This accomplishes the same as reducing stretch for everything, but in a simpler and more consistent way.

The measures still won't fit, nor will with any reasonable thing I could see to with both settings in Format / Style / Measure. But if you want to see how it would look, try selecting those two measures, clicking Notes in the Isnpector, then reducing "Leading Space" to -0.80 sp, or whatever small negative value is just enough to force them to fit on your system. Or play with doing this one measure at a time using different values, or even just certain passages. I'm not sure there is a way to make it look good, though. And you probably don't really want it much smaller. I'd personally recommend leaving it as is (but fixing the stretch and spacing settings as mentioned).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks again! Things are getting a little clearer!
I think the large stretch value was a result of frantically hitting the } and { keys in order to adjust things my way, and not resetting afterwards...
Now I think that by default this value is 1, and per { hit it is increased or decreased by 0,1 right?
Indeed playing with the leading space can make things look very different, though I do not quite grasp what exactly it does, when for both measures -0,8 they both fit on one system, but going on to (again) extreme values yields strange results, first the notes seem to get closer and closer to each other, then at a certain point (-6,2) they suddenly expand again, but in a very different way.
That leads me to the following questions:
- what is the difference between stretching and leading space adjustment, stretching seems very easy, but is not really recommended it seems, and what exactly does the leading space do and what exactly does stretching do
- are there general recommandations how to fine tune the spacing in both directions (horizontally and vertically)?
Most of the time Musescore seems to do a very reasonable job, but sometimes I want to have more control, for instance in order to get a good point for page turning, or some consistency in measures per system.
Sometimes you have to compromise between a beautiful looking layout and a practical layout for a performing musician. I always admired the Henle Verlag editions for this reason, they always had a very "elastic" layout which was both beautiful and practical!

In reply to by JeroenH1

Correct that the default stretch value is 1, and the { and } decrement or increment it by 0.1. The stretch value is then combined with (plain multiplication, I think but am positive) the Spacing value from Format / Style / Measure to determine the actual value by which the minimum possible non-colliding measure width (literally applying the minimum note width etc) is then multiplied to get the minimum acceptable width for the measure. Then MuseScore figures out how many measures fit, they are stretched further to fill the system (ie. right-justification). Understanding that process is occasionally useful in understanding the best way to circumvent it when necessary.

So, stretch is applied to a measure and is a matter of altering the calculation of the minimum acceptable width for the measure. Leading space isn't applied to a measure but to a note (literally, a segment - a vertical slice of your score that includes all notes/rests on that beat), and it's simply added to the amount of space allocated in front of that note.

The general& recommendation is to leave everything at the defaults :-). And FWIW, MuseScore 4 will have better defaults in terms of how it calculates horizontal spacing, and will often be able to fit more measures on a system than MuseScore 4. But there is no getting around the laws of physics here. That many notes and accidents can fit on a single line at that size without overlap, I think.

But my own recommendation for people who want more control is, set Spacing to 1 (the minimum) to get as many measures per system as is possible without overlap or other bad results, then add breaks from there. And if you can't get enough measures on a system even at Spacing = 1, consider a smaller staff size. Ir adjust your expectations. I suspect Henle Lerlag would place those two measures on separate systems as well. Although they'd probably also have more clout in suggesting those spurious extra accidentals could be removed, even if I can see why they were included here.

That reminds me, though, of one other quick thing you can try to force those two measures onto a single system - tell MuseScore it's OK to overlap the accidentals with the previous notes. So select the two measures, right-click one accidental, Select / All Similar Elements in Range Selection, then uncheck "Automatic placement" in the Inspector. Often, the collisions that result might be considered OK, like if it's only overlapping ledger lines for the previous note and not the note itself (as would be the case for all the F#'s int he second measure). But the situation is not so good with the first measure, so you might need to turn autoplace back on for most of those. But, that combined with some judicious leading space adjustment might do something reasonable.

Again, though, physics is a tough master - fitting that much "stuff" onto a single system at those sizes is going to look bad no matter how you try to force it.

But, another reasonable approach if you absolutely must have them on a single system is to forget all that and just make those notes (actually "chords" in the Inspector) small.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Again, thanks for the clarification!
I will take a better look at your suggestions and maybe change my defaults to something "better" based on these.
Meanwhile here is a part of the original file including these two measures, indeed there is some overlapping and I do not like the looks of it (that's why I digitized them). But what strikes me is that the two measures do not look much more cramped than the others before and after.

Attachment Size
Two_measues_original.pdf 100.63 KB

In reply to by JeroenH1

Not more cramped, no - because of all the collisions. No getting around that it looks pretty bad, though. Both this system and the next. Interesting that MuseScore was able to fit two measures in the next system without the causing sort of problems present in the original. Is it the same size for staves, page, and margins?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That last remark is exactly the reason why I posed this question! (sames size for everything afaik).
It is also a matter of changing tastes, I think that in the last decades there is a tendency to create more space (and consequently less notes per page), if you look at scores from earlier days they are sometimes filled to the brim which is very effective in sparing paper and copper plates (both expensive) but also in sparing page turns. It is always a choice between readability (and beauty) and practical matters.

In reply to by JeroenH1

Still, in any decade, you won’t very often find reputable publishers producing music with bad collisions all over the place like that example.

So, if it’s the same sizes, and MuseScore was able to avoid collisions in the second system, this tells me it does a much better job than who/whatever created that example. But again, it can’t get around the laws of physics. It was physically possible to layout the second system without collisions, but it simply is not possible to do so for the first.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

That's the difference between an algorithm like Musescore uses, and a human engraver who can think "what the heck I do it my way". Here an example of copperplate engraving: Forqueray gamba pieces arranged for harpsichord (18th century), which is pretty bad, but engraving was rather expensive, only for very reputable composers etc!
But really this is one of the worst cases I know of!

Attachment Size
Forqueray.pdf 2.66 MB

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