Any way to solve these spacing quirks?

Hi! I am working on a relatively intricate choral score (though it’s all standard notation) and I have encountered a couple of small quirks in the way Dorico lays out the music automatically. In both cases, I know how to either force or fake the result I want, but I am hoping that some wiser soul than me on this forum can give me a hint about how to do it natively.

First, for horizontal spacing: in the attached image, the break in the hairpin is far too wide because Dorico makes space for the time signature and accidentals, and only continues the hairpin after the dynamic marking. This looks odd when there would be no collision anyway, especially on staves that don’t have any accidentals. I would like the left half of the hairpin to extend all the way up to ‘f’.

Second, for vertical spacing: if staff 1 has elements below it and staff 2 has elements above it, Dorico seems to think that it’s OK to interleave the two if there are gaps, in order to bring the staves closer together. (In the attached example, it interleaves lyric syllables on the staff above with dynamics on the staff below.) Of course I know I can correct this by changing the spacing between staves either individually or as a layout setting, but I shouldn’t really have to – is there any way to prevent this kind of interleaving behaviour?

The first of your examples concerning the hairpin is a corner case of the approach Dorico uses to show an immediate dynamic in the middle of a gradual dynamic, because as you know, in fact, Dorico is showing two gradual dynamics rather than a single one with the immediate dynamic “knocking out” part of the middle. Dorico doesn’t handle the case that the immediate dynamic coincides rhythmically with a change of time/key signature, so it stops the first gradual dynamic too early. I’ll make a note of this.

There’s no way to disable the interleaving of items on adjacent staves, and that’s not an option we are planning to add. I’m not sure it is an absolute rule that you should not allow something on the staff below to poke into a gap in lyrics below the staff above. In general I would advise setting the smallest spacing values you would be willing to accept when a page is under a great deal of pressure, but if you really want to avoid this, I suggest you add 2-3 spaces to the staff-to-staff gap on the Vertical Spacing page of Layout Options to account for the height occupied by the lyrics.

Thanks, Daniel.

It didn’t occur to me that it might sometimes be ok to have lines of lyrics interrupted by objects from the staff below. I can’t think of a situation when this would look acceptable, but that may be my failure of imagination! In any case, it’s certainly not appropriate for a dynamic marking from a different staff interposes itself between two syllables – as well as not looking good, this risks giving the wrong impression to the singer reading the upper staff that the dynamic applies to them.

BUT! It didn’t occur to me that adding more spaces to the staff-to-staff gap would simply ‘account for’ the lyrics; I think I assumed that it would be added to whatever space the lyrics took up. I now see that this isn’t the case, so great; it (almost) solves the issue. But not quite: instruments without lyrics, such as a piano, will end up with overly wide gaps too. Either way, something will need adjusting manually, but that’s OK.

Several years ago I put in a request for staves with lyrics allowing a larger space under them than is allotted to all staves by the vertical spacing algorithm. Visually, the lyrics actually form part of the staff, and the ideal vertical spacing should actually be measured from the lyric baseline and not the bottom staff line. I sincerely hope that a future version of Dorico will add a setting to take lyrics into account. Personally I find the vertical spacing in Randy’s second attachment unacceptable, with a mf belonging to a lower staff appearing between two lyric syllables in an upper staff!


You shouldn’t have a larger gap between the piano staves if you change the staff-to-staff gap, because that distance is controlled by a separate option (the braced staff-to-braced staff gap).

That’s only part of the story, Daniel. When setting opera scores, for example, one needs to be able to treat the vertical justification of the vocal staves with lyrics differently from that of the instrumental staves, not only within their respective groups but also between the groups. Generally in opera scores, the vocal lines are placed between the winds and the strings, meaning that the lyrics from the bottom vocal staff often become intertwined with the first violin lines which often are quite high. This is just one example.

I don’t disagree with your request, Vaughan. I disagree with the assertion that changing the staff-to-staff gap alters the gap between the braced staves of keyboard instruments, because it doesn’t, and I’d prefer the information on the forum to be accurate for the sake of helping other people who might stumble upon this thread later.

Fair enough, I picked a bad example… then substitute “piano” with the name of any instrument which uses the staff-to-staff gap instead of the braced staff-to-braced staff gap :slight_smile:

Indeed. In fact, I never mentioned keyboard instruments at all. In my example of setting an opera, I’m referring to the distance between the staves within the vocalists’ group and within the instrumentalists’ group, which should be different by default, as well as the distance between different groups, i.e. the distance between either two instrumentalist groups or between an instrumentalist group and the top staff of a vocalists group should be less than that between the bottom staff of a vocalist’s group and an instrumentalist’s group. This may sound picayune, but it becomes quite obvious when setting scores involving staves with lyrics together with staves without, as well as in purely vocal scores. As I already mentioned, which Romanos highlighted above, the lyric baseline should be the measuring point for vertical collision avoidance, and not the bottom staff line. It’s just not visually acceptable for material belonging to one staff to encroach upon the lyrics of the staff above it.

Don’t get me wrong. Dorico’s collision avoidance is, with few exceptions, excellent. This is just a matter of going that extra 1.6 km. :wink: