Music spacing

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StevenHashimoto
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Finale Version: 2012 Mac

Music spacing

Post by StevenHashimoto » Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:57 pm

Is there any way to independently space separate parts in a score, or a multi-staff document? I have a piece that has a vocal line in staff 1 and a guitar part in staff 2. Much of the guitar part is in slashes, and when I space the vocal line the slashes are spaced irregularly.

Re: Music spacing

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Peter Thomsen
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Finale Version: Finale v26.2
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Re: Music spacing

Post by Peter Thomsen » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:15 am

Finale is doing what it is supposed to do.

Normally entries that happen at the same time, should be aligned under each other on a vertical line.

What you want (= mis-alignment between parts), is do-able in Finale.
It can be done with the Note-Mover Tool.
But I would not do it, for two reasons:

1) Mis-alignment is no help for the conductor who reads the score.

2) Creating mis-alignment is time consuming.

As an engraver you get paid for doing what your client wants.
Are you sure that your client will pay you for creating mis-alignment?
Mac OS X 10.14 (Mojave), Finale user since 1996

StevenHashimoto
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:45 am
Finale Version: 2012 Mac

Re: Music spacing

Post by StevenHashimoto » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:11 pm

Peter, I thought that would be the solution, I was just hoping there'd be a faster way. This isn't technically a score, it's just a lead sheet that I've written for a rhythm section, but with the vocal melody notated for the singer's benefit as well. Most of the guitar part is chords with slashes, with maybe 4 or 6 bars with actual notes written, so having a conductor read the score isn't an issue here. I get what you're saying. Generally, when I write a real score (for instance, I just copied five pieces from The Birth Of The Cool, where the client had the score but didn't have the individual parts) I would definitely keep the default spacing, and I know that when I generate the separate parts I can space those. I would suggest to Coda that this might be a desirable feature for a future release, though, the ability to unlink staves or parts or groups and space them individually.

dgatwood
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Re: Music spacing

Post by dgatwood » Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:41 am

I hate to bump such an old post, but I was looking for the answer to the same question, on a very different scale, and although I understand the reasons behind vertically aligning beats, in my opinion, there's a huge gulf between theory and practice here. In theory, aligning the beats makes things more readily scannable by a conductor. In practice, it balloons the page count to the point that large scores become unmanageable.

What makes large scores really problematic in Finale is that complex counterpoint can severely limit the number of measures you can fit on a page. When you have different parts moving at very different times, you get into situations where there's a sixteenth note run in one part that makes the first part of the measure wider, and a similar run in a different part that makes the last part wider, and suddenly you have a measure that you can't readily shrink without causing collisions or awkwardly inconsistent spacing everywhere.

Adding to this problem is the inclusion of lyrics, which severely limits how much you can compress certain lines without syllables ending up on top of one another. I find it very easy to get into a situation even in choral octavos (SATB + piano) where Finale throws up its hands and puts three measures on a page because it can't shrink the music any further without either getting note collisions in the piano part or lyric collisions in the vocal parts. That just isn't practical. It isn't usable for the singers, because nobody can turn pages that quickly, and it isn't readily printable because a four-minute piece is spread across forty pages. Reducing the size of the staves would make it harder to read, so that isn't a great option, either.

When you combine even a single choral line with... say thirteen instrumental lines, you end up in the worst of both worlds—complex music with lots of fast notes that need to be spaced in one way, combined with choral music that needs to be spaced in a different way to accommodate the lyrics. At that point, there's just no way to keep the score to a manageable number of pages without manually dragging notes around in the vocal line to make the lyrics readable.

I'm also not convinced that strict vertical alignment really matters. I mean sure, it is useful when you have three or four staves. By the time you're at 22 staves, or even 14, it barely matters whether the bar lines are precisely vertically aligned, much less the individual notes. You can't usefully look at the top of a measure stack that tall and see the bottom or vice versa anyway, much less recognize whether the beats line up precisely. And the farther apart the lines in question are, the less the alignment matters.

In my view, allowing the music spacing to be at least semi-independent on a per-staff basis would significantly reduce the page count of large scores, with minimal loss of readability. Ideally, I'd like to see user-tunable limits on how much the beat positions in each staff can slip relative to the previous one, and maybe limits on the total variance (with the default maxima being proportional to the number of staves). That would produce some truly spectacular scores from a readability perspective, allowing you to fit more measures per page turn with far less effort.

With that said, I'd settle for an option to make the music spacing within a group of staves be independent of the other staves in the document. That way, the vocal lines (the bane of my engraving existence) could be spaced independently of the instrumental lines, avoiding the fundamental tension between fast runs in the instrumental lines and readable lyrics in the vocal lines. It's a compromise from the theoretical perfection of vertically aligned beats, but it would make life much easier, and I don't think it would compromise readability noticeably for the conductors.

Thoughts?

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Peter Thomsen
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Re: Music spacing

Post by Peter Thomsen » Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:55 am

Interesting thoughts.
I suggest that you also post your thoughts in the forum on MakeMusic’s web site.
dgatwood wrote:… manually dragging notes around in the vocal line to make the lyrics readable …
It might be better to move the syllables horisontally (rather than the notes).
Mac OS X 10.14 (Mojave), Finale user since 1996

dgatwood
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Re: Music spacing

Post by dgatwood » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:31 am

Peter Thomsen wrote:Interesting thoughts.
I suggest that you also post your thoughts in the forum on MakeMusic’s web site.
dgatwood wrote:… manually dragging notes around in the vocal line to make the lyrics readable …
It might be better to move the syllables horisontally (rather than the notes).
Not a bad idea, assuming they're off by a small enough amount that it doesn't become confusing. I'll keep that in mind.

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