Adjusting tracking in lyrics

I’m working on a project with severe horizontal spacing challenges in entering lyrics. Unfortunately, Dorico’s lyric horizontal placement algorithm isn’t sufficient for many of the songs. I’d like to be able to adjust the leading in individual words to make them narrower. Is there a way to do this? I do see an option for leading in text, but not lyrics in particular.

Welcome to the forum, Rachel. Leading is normally considered to be the vertical distance between lines of text; you can indeed change this on the Lyrics page of Engraving Options. If you’re also wanting to make lyrics more compact horizontally and reduce the amount of spacing around hyphens etc., you will likewise find those options on the Lyrics page of Engraving Options. (The Engraving Options dialog is only available in Dorico Pro, and is not included in Dorico Elements or Dorico SE.)

Great to see you here, Rachel! Please keep us posted on how your project is going.

I don’t see anything at all in Engraving Options about leading, and certainly not concerning individual words, only document-wide setting for the spaces between syllables and around hyphens. I’m sure you’re already aware of this but there are several options using condensed fonts. In the Minion Pro family, for example, the Condensed, Condensed Display and Condensed Caption give different impressions of leading, although one might argue that Display and Caption aren’t necessarily ideal at small point sizes. One could perhaps also argue that changing the leading for single words in a line of text yields inconsistent-looking results. At any rate, Dorico allows only two fonts for lyrics per document, the main one and a one for translations. You could set these to two different types of condensed font and you can switch between them on a per-word basis, giving the impression of a leading change. If you need more choices, you’ll have to split the project up into different files to overcome the two-font limitation.

I’m curious what kind of project you’re doing!

Only one point of clarification: you have more options than that. Chorus and Chorus translation, IIRC.

Obviously that’s only when there aren’t multiple stanzas involved.

IIRC the term for the distance between letters is kerning rather than leading, which, as Daniel said, is the distance between lines of text.

Indeed, Derrek!

Actually this is about tracking rather than kerning. Kerning is the business of optimizing the spacing of character pairs.

Thank you! Of course, I did mean tracking, not leading. (Is there a way to change the title of the topic so folks aren’t misled?) Right now I have the free trial of Dorico Pro 3. I haven’t been able to find a way to change the tracking under Engraving Options.

The project I’m working on - together with a few other folks - is engraving a new edition of The Sacred Harp, the mother-of-all shapenote tunebooks. The book has been continuously in print in 1844, with a number of revisions, and the pagination of songs is inherited from earlier editions of the book. Back then, they would cram as much musical information on each page of the book as possible, resulting in insane typesetting challenges like this: Original sacred harp : containing a superior collection of standard melodies of odes, anthems, and church music, and hymns of high repute : rudiments, retaining all valuable standard regulations, arr. with all modern up-to-date improvements : White, B. F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1800-1879 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive Singers are resistant to page number changes, so we can’t just move one of the songs to make room for the lyrics.

Unless we choose an extremely narrow font (and even if we do), we’ll need to compress some words or phrases. Sacred Harp singers are pretty tolerant of the sort of floating text going on in the page I pointed to. Still, it’s a mess. Sibelius does tracking, but its increments are not as fine-grained as I would like, and it also won’t let you set the lyric point size to absolutely anything you want. Dorico is allowing me to set the point size, but I don’t see how to adjust tracking.

Unfortunately you cannot, in fact, adjust the tracking of lyrics (unless I’m mistaken, which wouldn’t be the first time). As Daniel mentioned above, you can reduce the space between hyphens and the minimum gap between adjacent words, but the character spacing within words cannot be adjusted for lyrics.

For my part, I would dearly love to see this sort of functionality extend to lyrics: not only letter spacing, but font stretch. This is of course an extreme example:

…but I imagine it would require a total re-working of the lyric tool.

I really think a small-point condensed font would work for your case. I certainly hope you’re able to make it work! And considering the pace of development, greater character control may come in the future.

Dan’s correct that you cannot adjust the tracking for individual lyrics at present, and this is not something that is likely to be changing imminently, though I would certainly not rule it out for the future. Hopefully you can get by with judicious nudging of lyrics and adjustment of rhythmic spacing in the meantime.

It might be possible to replicate the example you’ve given using staff text (Shift-X) or text frames (if you have Dorico Pro with its Engrave mode). You’d then have more typographic control. I doubt it would be much fun though and it wouldn’t seem a very satisfactory solution.

Is it not worth going the whole hog and creating an edition for the next 176 years with modern standards for legibility? Unfortunately you can’t simply say each page should become one spread (though that’s what some pages need) but you’d be able to label each hymn according to its original page number.

Daniel, could you say if tracking of lyrics is on the list for the next version?

It’s certainly not going to be included in the next version, no.

That’s too bad. I think you’ve already said the there will be no more feature additions to v. 3, so I guess the earliest we might see tracking for lyrics would be version 5 or later, which I assume would be in 2022 or later. :frowning:

I could see where it would be very helpful to have tracking for lyrics for hymnbook publishing. Some of the syllables we have to fit under one note are very long, and some gentle tracking would make the score look better since the notes wouldn’t have to be so far one from another.

In a pinch, you can replace individual lyrics with Shift+X text items, though obviously that’s not something you’d want to be doing a lot of.

Thanks Daniel. The difficulty there is that when a lyric is deleted, the note spacing resets. It would be nice if all manual note spacing overrides could be preserved until they were selected and removed.

I echo Eric. Here’s an example I struggled with yesterday:

It works, but only barely, and the rest of the line is not great. Changing the font is not an option. The ability to adjust tracking, even just a smidge, would be a huge help here. I know you guys listen patiently to a thousand users’ demands; thanks for hearing this one out.

I fake this, from time to time, by entering the lyrics as best I can and then compressing them slightly and nudging them in affinity publisher. This might be an option for the OP. (I wouldn’t want to do this on every page of a large project however. But, based on the original archive example, it might just be easier to set the music, leave space for lyrics and handle them entirely outside of Dorico.)

Oh, that’s a great idea. Thanks!

Do you mean you edit a PDF in Affinity Publisher? If not, how do you nudge them in AfPubl? Thanks!