Parts Layout - Changing Staff Distance

• Nov 30, 2015 - 17:57

I know this has been covered in many different ways with all of the Musescore versions, but I can't find the answer to my problem. I would like to keep all of the note, measure, and staff sizes the same and not change the Staff Space Scaling but make the distance between the staves increase. I have tried going to Style - General.. - Page and then changing the staff distance. This does nothing to the Part. There has to be a way to do this on the parts. What am I missing?


In reply to by aedsb

Yes, that is surprising at first - although actually, you would normlly only need to alter one or the other, depending on the effect you are trying to achieve. One of the things having two sets of numbers enables is that by changing only these two settings, you can have varying system distance on each page of your score according to how full each is. So for instance, if the first page has eight systems and the next two pages have nine and the last has only three, you can get good results on each page. Same if you have have lyrics and different numbers of verses on different pages, or are creating a condensed score so each system has a different number of staves. This would be impossible to accomplish with just a single global control, and while it would be possible, it would be unnecessarily difficult if each page had its own control you had to adjust manually. A global min and max does the job beautifully in all of these different situations. This is an excellent of the example of the type of thing that might take a minute to get used to, but once you do, you appreciate the powerful, flexibility, and simplicity of the design.

In reply to by aedsb

Not sure what you are finding not intuitive. It is very normal that a score would need different layout than the parts. In fact, virtually all scores for more than a small handful of instruments are published that way - score with small staff sizes, parts with larger, etc.

Note that when changing settings for a part, there is an "Apply to All Parts" button that often comes in handy. Also, you can set the *default* style for parts in Edit / Preferences / Score, or in a template for the ensemble you are writing for, so that it should almost never be necessary to mess with settings in parts after the fact - you can set it to be the way you like it right from the beginnning. it's quite a powerful and flexible system.

If you continue to have problems with page layout, feel free to keep asking questions here!

In reply to by aedsb

Right, but again, you aren't *viewing* the part, so I'm not sure why you'd expect something you aren't viewing to change. And as I have pointed out, most of the time, the score and parts *should* have different settings for such things. So if changing the score always updated the part, you wouldn't be able to create scores and parts that are formatted the way they normally are, with different staff sizes * distances for score versus parts. Anyhow, once you get used to how things work, I think you'll come to find it is an incredibly powerful and yet simple system.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Why do you keep saying that I'm trying to change the score? I'm not. I was in a part, I then went to style - general - page and tried to change the staff distance on the part - NOT the score. When I tried to change the min. system distance, nothing happened. It didn't matter if I made the number bigger (which I would assume would increase the amount of space between the staves) or smaller. Nothing happened. That is what did not make sense. If I change the minimum distance, something should happen. It wasn't until both the min and max were changed that something finally started changing on the part. Again, this was in an individual part - NOT the score. I have been using and teaching music notation software for more than 20 years. I understand the concept of parts versus score and that you want to be able to make changes on each. It's because of this that I was trying to change the parts - NOT the score. I'm fine with the score but I wasn't fine with the parts.

In reply to by aedsb

Sorry, it was simple misunderstanding on our part. Your original post wasn't so detailed, it just said you made a change and didn't see it reflected in the part, so we assumed you were trying to make the change in the score - which would be a common mistake.

Changing minimum distance *does* make something happen - it changes MuseScore's determination of how many staves it can fit on the page (lower minimum = more staves). But the minimum and maximum work together to determine the actual distance, for the reasons I have explained. it really does work extremely well.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

There is no substitute for being able to grab the end of the stave (staff) with the arrow and just moving it, as with "Encore". That way you can have completely individual spaces between all staves, allowing for varying amounts of material such as chord symbols, dynamics, lyrics etc. I really don't think that the existing MuseScore methods could be called 'powerful' or 'intuitive'. I have many years experience with various notation programs (and page makeup programs) but I've been trying for an hour now just to achieve the 'simple' task of adjusting stave spacing. It's pretty awful, really. I've tried adjusting both sets of figures, obviously.

In reply to by John Morton

If you are having trouble understanding how to do something in MuseScore, please start a new thread and attach the score you are having trouble with and describing precisely what you are trying to do. I'm sure it's quite simple to accomplish whatever you are trying to do, you just have to learn the MuseScore way of doing it, which is probably different form the Encore way. It's always hard unlearning habits that worked with one program when moving to another one. it doesn't mean either program is better or worse, just that change is hard.

Yes, Marc. I've been adapting my methods for years. I understand these things. There should be no reason to submit scores or to start a new topic. The online manual should give an explanation that those of average intelligence can understand. The text refers to 'staves' and 'staffs', sometimes on the same line. It also calls a band part a 'score' in places. Please refer me to a concise explanation, I can do the rest. Thank you, John Morton.

In reply to by John Morton

Until we understand what *specifically* you are having trouble with, it's hard to know which part of the documentation to steer you towards. The sections on "Layout and Formatting", "Page Settings", and "Breaks and Spacers" are *all* relevant, but that's a lot of information because it's a very big topic. So if you want a more concise explanation of hwo to solve the *specific* problem you are trying to solve, we need you to help us by explaining your problem in more detail. And it is always best to ask new questions in new threads - that's just how forums are organized and how people expect to work with them.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

You have a talent for missing the point. This is a simple job to do and it's infernally difficult. There is no possible justification for this and the one thing that people never, ever do, when they're writing explanative text (the Handbook), is to evade the issue. I used to write technical manuals and we always claimed that the onus is on the communicators to make themselves understood. We assumed the reader knows nothing. P.S. I've solved the problem. I've found that if I INCREASE the spacing it reduces it!! Please regard this matter as closed, thanks, JM.

In reply to by John Morton

Changing staff distance is *not* difficult to do. It is easy, *if you know how*. Right now, you simply don't know how, so of course it *seems* difficult, just as anything else does until you learn how. We would be happy to show you how if you explain in more detail what *exactly* you are trying to do.

I have no idea what you mean about increasing the spacing actually reducing it. That is *not* how MuseScore works. Sounds like you are misunderstanding something pretty fundamental. Again, though, without seeing your score and understanding *exactly* what you are trying to do, we cannot help. We are not evading the issue. We simply cannot help unless you explain further what problem you are trying to solve.

I'm trying to reduce the space between staves. I've read the manual and this forum and I still can't do it. With no sign of regret for this in evidence on your part I must give up the discussion. JM.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I've found that adjusting just the 'max system distance' works. The other boxes just don't appear to do anything. It's clear from the large number of comments online that this facility is very confusing to everyone and until the developers admit this there will be no progress. JM.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

It just doesn't make sense Jojo. Can't you see that? If I wanted to convey my meaning here I would put 'Spacing Adjustment' or something similar. To provide a command designed to adjust spacing and then to call it 'Max system distance' sounds almost deliberately obtuse. It's ridiculous. And the sheer weight of evidence stacked against you in the form of the many people who stumble over this makes your reluctance to accept criticism very worrying. MuseScore is a stable and delightful program in many respects but it has some serious faults. I intended to pay for the upgrade by now but how can I with responses such as this?

In reply to by John Morton

No, indeed I don't see this.

We have Min. and Max. System Distance, meaning how far apart systems are at least and at most, respectively. What terms would convey the meanings better?
These ain't commands by the way, but settings.

Pay for an upgrade? MuseScore is free.

In reply to by John Morton

"Space as required" is defined by min. and max. distance. What the heck is so difficult to understand about that?
You need it this way, I need it that way, another person needs it another way, there is no single need, nor a DWIM (Do What I Mean) setting.

I'm very sure there's no such announcement about paying for a better Version of MuseScore, but if there is, it is utter nonsense or Fake News (tm). Please tell where you found that.
You may be talking about and its Pro account. Or about the Android and iOS Songbook apps?

In reply to by John Morton

Well, I guess I have to accept it, but I don't understand it and I hope you can accept that.

See…, what in the handbook or the program could get changed to make it clearer?

Further up (much further up) you wrote:
There is no substitute for being able to grab the end of the stave (staff) with the arrow and just moving it
This indeed is possible in MuseScore too, by pressing Shift while dragging, see…

And just to be faster than you on this ;-): yes, this is pretty well hidden, I knew it is there, but it still took me quite a bit of searching to find it.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Have you ever lost your car keys? You search high and low and in desperation you start looking in the fridge and the dishwasher. That was my mindset when, after hours of trying to set the spacing, I tried the successful box. The one box both reduces AND expands the spacing so the max and min settings are doubly confusing. Yes, I can accept your opinion is different from mine but it isn't that simple. LOADS of people have struggled over this and your reluctance to accept that there's a problem (quote:"what the heck...?) isn't very scientific. Interestingly, when I INCREASED the figures in one of the left hand boxes the spacing reduced, but only so far. Further alterations did not work.

In reply to by John Morton

I am sorry you are finding this frustrating. Should you ever wish to receive help with this problem, we will happy to help you further. But perhaps now it is more clear why we keep asking for more information - a specific score and a more precise description of the problem you are having as it applies to that score. Then we can give a less vague and more specific explanation that would be easier to understand.

In reply to by John Morton

The reason the setting is called "Max system distance" is because that is what it controls. In MsueScore, you do not set a single distance for all staves. It would be a bad thing if MuseScore were that limited, as it means the spacing would have to be the same on all pages. That would mean the bottom margins would be different on pages with different numbers of systems, or if lyrics or spacers or other elements change the content from page to page. And that would be bad.

So instead of limiting you to just one setting for system page that is blindly appleid to all pages regardless of how appropriate it might be, we give you *two* settings - a minimum and a maximum. MuseScore then "floats" the actual system between those two values to keep a consistent bottom margin where possible. And that is why the two settings are called "min" and "max" - because that is indeed exactly what they are.

If you truly want the spacing the same on all pages, even at the expense of different bottom margins, then simply set the min and max to the same value. But normally, you would *want* them different, and the default values were chosen to handle a number of situations well.

The other settings ("staff" and "grand staff"), btw, *do* have effect, but not on *system* distance - only on *staff* distance *within* a single system.

Again, if you are having trouble seeing how this applies to your specific score, please attach it and we can show you more specifically, so we don't have to keep talking in vague generalities but instead can show you *precisely* how these numbers apply.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I fail to see the usefulness of this. It just adds unnecessary complexity. Music has widely differing amounts of material between the staves to such an extent that personal overseeing of layout will always be required. The job I'm doing at the moment (involving a songwriter's copyrighted compositions which cannot be shared with you, hence the 'vague generalities') is a good example. Sometimes a song will have to continue onto a second page whether I like it or not if I am to avoid unacceptable bunching together. Acceptable layouts require more than mathematics to achieve a good result. I might actually accept a wider margin at the top and bottom as a sensible compromise in rare cases. It only takes seconds to adjust these things and take a look. Anyway, if that's how the program works then that's how it works. At least I can achieve what I'm looking for.

In reply to by John Morton

The usefulness is, for a great many scores, this system produces exactly the right result with no need to manually adjust a thing. This really does work in a great many cases, and it is a truly wonderful thing to not need to resort to manual adjustments for these scores.

But of course, we also provide the ability to do manual adjustments in the cases where it is needed. So we provide the best of both worlds.

if you need further assistance learning how this works, feel free to create a "dummy" score - or even just delete the notes from the one you are working on if you have reason to think the songwriter would be opposed to your posting it here.

Anyhow, we are always happy to help.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you! A description such as this is needed in the manual. It was also needed earlier in this long series of messages during which conversations with Jojo were in danger of descending into a squabble.My main complaint is that I had been unable to understand how to do this by studying the manual. When writing explanative text we all approach the task with prior knowledge of how things work which will colour our judgement unless we assume a blank sheet on the part of our readers.

Re: selective editing, the option to shift/drag a stave doesn't work here. I've tried pressing the shift key both before and after clicking with the arrow.

I still don't follow what all the other boxes are for but that will come I hope.

In reply to by John Morton

Certainly works for me.

Hmm, in a 4 part SAATB (with a hidden Tenor) it works for Alto (and Tenor), not for Soprano. And not for Bass as long as Tenor is hidden.
In another score, Closed score SATB plus piano, it works for Tenor/Bass and both piano staves, but not for Soprano.

So seems there are bugs lurking, although in the latter case this might be OK, we're modifying staff distance here, and the top staff doesn't have this to a staff above, there it is system distance.

In reply to by geetar

It worked fine on the attachment. I understand about the top stave. I can't spend any more time on this. For such a basic task to cause so much trouble is beyond the bounds of all reason which is a pity because in most respects MuseScore is so delightful to use. I can get the job done with just the one Max box. Thanks to everyone for their time and trouble.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm trying to affect the distance of staves, in this case the spacing between staves of a song copy to allow for individual content. This can only be assured visually, not by typing in coordinates, because of the peculiar juxtaposition of objects. The line spacing in text is an example of this problem where lines with more ascenders and descenders will appear to the eye to be closer. Another example of visual control is the capital 'O' which is taken slightly above and below the line otherwise it will appear to be smaller than adjacent letters. I.e. the present problem isn't a mechanical process. The attached file 'Example' shows how each job begins. It was created as a template in MuseScore. Shift-dragging does not work. I have no trouble adjusting the vertical arrangement in orchestral and band scores under Layout>Page Settings, by the way, but this affects the size of staves also which will not work in the job in hand which requires uniformity in this respect. I can affect the spacing of staves with Style>General>Page>Max System Distance so I'm happy but, as I commented earlier, the description does not match this function.

Attachment Size
Example.mscz 4.99 KB

In reply to by John Morton

In that example there is only one staff, so staff distance doesn't really exists, but only system distance (min/max). And of course that means no Shift+drag.

As there is anough space at the bottom of the pages, it currently uses the max. System distance Setting. The min. system distance comes into play, when there is not enough space anymore (like here when adding more measures and more system breaks), so systems 'spill over' to the next page, once that min is reached
The text issues you mention are a know issue in 2.0.3, see #117191: [Windows] Font kerning issue with lyrics in 2.0.3 not present in 2.0.2

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

So, as I said earlier, there is no selective, individual, spacing in MuseScore.

Ignore the spacing at the bottom of the file. That will be filled by the other verses typed into text boxes when I drag the files into "Pages" as PDF's. This is why I need to be able to compress the image vertically in some cases, but not all. I can scale the images and move them about up to a point. I use EPS files usually, but I can't find that facility in MuseScore. PDF's work fine, though. It was not my intention to introduce the text problem into this but there is a problem with text in MuseScore, as you infer, both with spacing/kerning and selection.

In reply to by John Morton

The score you uploaded is empty - is that what you meant?

As noted above, this score has only one staff. So there is nothing for Shift+drag do. As I explained previously, Shift+drag is for changing the spacing of staves *within* a system. Your systems have only one staff.

Also, Shift+drag is intended to create additional space *score-wide* for the affected staves. Like, in a score for orchestra, you might use Shift+drag to create additional space between woodwinds and brass, so that additional space will be there on *all* systems throughout the score.

If you just want additional space between one *system* and the next - which is the only possible situation for your score, since it contains only one staff - then again as noted, you want a spacer. Add it from the palette and size it manually., It is extremely simple. The settings in the Style / General / Page dialog are for changing the spacing across the entire score; spacers are for changing the spacing just at that one spot.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Isaac, Jojo and Marc: I've used the spacers for years but the tool only EXPANDS the spacing, as far as I can see from the manual. Regarding the example submitted: yes, it was blank. To me, as a musician, it has five staves one above the other and I want to be able to selectively, individually, reduce the spacing between them. That is what all the messages over the last few days have been about. This task is blissfully simple in "Encore" where you can not only grab a stave and move it but, by option-dragging, you can space all following staves by the same proportion. (You can also move a bar line which is much better than the MuseScore method where, if you space the bar with Shift ] it annoyingly spaces the adjacent bars also, which is useless. You can't use the backspace key if you make a mistake in lyrics, either. The way lyrics work is really bad. Don't tell me, Another thread, OK.)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

But not letter-by-letter, which is where most typing errors occur.

For the benefit of all who follow can I ask the team to review the foregoing exchanges and to ask themselves whether or not we should have reached this point days ago. My meaning should have been clear enough.

In reply to by John Morton

This is why we always ask for a sample score and precise steps to reproduce a problem - so we know *exactly* which distance(s) you are trying to adjust and in which direction. As it is, we had to guess. Something to keep in mind next time you ask for help - providing an actual example makes all the difference in the world.

In reply to by John Morton

Not sure what you mean about barlines - you shouldn't normally be moving them in the first place. Whatever it is you are trying to do should probably be accomplished another way. That also should be the subject of another thread. And, as always, please attach a sample score and clear description of the actual problem you are trying to solve, so we can provide help more quickly and accurately.

But who was to blame, Jojo? See the original post from aedsb. Similar to my problem I think so you can't claim that my post originated this series of queries or that a lack of clarity on my part was solely responsible. But still we quarrel.

There is an important difference between staves and systems.

From the OP's (aedsb) original post concerning parts:
I would like to... make the distance between the staves increase.
For a single-staff part, one should adjust system distance, not staff distance.

From this post:
I'm trying to reduce the space between staves.
Again, staff or (actually) system?

Since most of the discussion here is about Min./Max. system distance, have a look at this attachment, and follow the two steps. Please open it in MuseScore with 'Page View' selected, along with 'Whole Page' or 'Two Pages' (toolbar zoom setting).

Increase min. system distance.mscz

To keep it simple...
Please note that this example displays a single staff instrument (could even be a part from a full score, as per the OP); so, in this case, a single line of music is considered a 'system' and system distances apply*. Also here, no notes, no lyrics, etc. are entered.

As you can see, the staff/system spacer (from the Breaks & Spacers palette) can only increase the distance. This asymetrical behavior will change in a future iteration of MuseScore. As Jojo wrote:until then, reduce the distance over all, and increase where needed.
In my experience, though, when using the staff/system spacer, I have had more occasions to increase the distance - usually due to high and low notes (ledger lines) on adjacent staves, ossia, etc.


*Multi-staved instruments (e.g. piano, organ) and multi-instrument scores (e.g. string quartet) must contend with 'Staff distance' (distance between staves in a system) in addition to 'System distance'.

P.S. Lyrics can also have an effect on spacing, which is why posting a score (or example) helps.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Thanks for that. As you will realise the present topic dragged on and on because I was referring to a band, song or orchestral part as having multiple staves whereas, technically, they have one - extracted from the score. Bearing in mind that I was enquiring how to have greater control over spacing (because of differing content such as chord symbols, lyrics, dynamics etc.) then, without regarding the staves a being separate, multiple items, the question of how wide apart or how close they are wouldn't apply. Obviously, one object cannot be in two places at once. I believe that my meaning should have been clear to anyone with a genuine interest in helping and I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the time-wasting that resulted. This isn't the first time I have encountered what I perceive to be obstructiveness on here, hence my present stance. Marc's response to my comment about bar spacing was the end for me. Life's too short and time is too valuable. Thanks again, John Morton.

In reply to by John Morton

??? I don't recall you asking anything particularly *specific* about bar spacing. I saw something about wanting to "move a barline", which as I said, isn't normally something you should do. You then said something about trying to "space the bar". But that is simply not enough information for us to understand what problem you are trying to solve or how exactly you are trying to solve it or what exactly is going wrong.

In order to understand how to help, we need to understand your actual goal, and that requires you to explain in more detail, which is usually easiest if you attach a specific score. That's just a fact of life, it isn't us trying to be difficult. Your mechanic can't reliably fix your car based on just a one sentence description of the symptom you are seeing - he will want to have the actual car in front of him, open the hood, etc. Similarly your doctor can't generally heal you just a one-sentence description of your symptom - he will want to actually examine you, run tests, etc. Otherwise, they are just guessing. Sometimes mechanics and doctors might happen to guess right, but often they won't.

If you don't have time to provide the information we need in order to provide good help, that is fine, but then please do not blame us for asking for the information, or for not being able to provide better help without the necessary information. We really do need this information to do better than guess. You are looking right at your score and know exactly what you are dealing with and so your short descriptions of the problem might seem obvious to you, but please realize they are *not* obvious to others, and *that* is why we haven't been able to sovle your problems more efficiently. Not because we don't want to, but because we are only hujman - like mechanics and doctors - and can help better given actual scores (cars / bodies) to work with and not just text descriptions.

You are right that life is short and time is valuable, and yet we are *volunteering* our time to help you here. Please keep that in mind as well. We do like helping, and don't mind spending time doing so, but we do appreciate it if the people asking for help understand if we can't always understand a problem fully at first and sometimes require more information.

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.