Beam angle question

I observed that while we have many options to change Dorico’s default beaming system, there is one thing which cannot be altered: sometimes Dorico changes the beam angle, however it shouldn’t - considering the common rules according to staff line positions.

I’ve made 3 examples (using fixed upward stems):

1.) The two eights at g’-a’ get a different beam angle.
2.) The two 16ths again at g’-a’, and another at a’-b’ and b’-c’’.
3.) The two 32ths have the ‘normal’ angles (i.e. according to rules) only from e’-f’ to a’-b’, then they get a bigger angle for b’-c’, then return to the natural stem lenghts as they go out of the staff.

  • Important note: there is no difference in this respect whether the “Use natural stem lenghts” option is turned on or off in Engraving Options. It seems that something happens when Dorico switches from inside-the-staff beams to above or below the staff beams. (And of course, the 32ths look odd even inside the staff.)

As I understand the rules, in this case the beam angles should not be altered, only their positions should be adjusted to staff line positions: one position when the starting note is on the staff line, and another when it’s in a space. Or am I missing something?

The changes in beam slant in your example occur when the beam is positioned on the outermost staff line. A beam line can sit on the outermost staff line, but Dorico will disallow any slant that would cause the beam line to be positioned within half a space of the outermost staff line, to avoid wedges.

We do plan to add some exceptional cases, particularly for beam slants of a quarter of a space, that would allow this rule to be broken in certain circumstances.

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the clarification! Indeed I forgot that other beam slants would cause wedges. However, I would suggest three exceptions which don’t go againts the rules (at least I think):

The first and the second examples can be solved by somewhat longer stems. The third is a tricky one, so I would allow a horizontal beam exceptionally. But of course one might find a better solution to this place in old engravings…

What do you think?


I suggest you wait and see what our own planned exceptions do, and then we’ll be glad to receive further suggestions.

I’m very much looking forward to the implementation of these planned exceptions, as well. The situation with 16ths should be possible to fix as an exception to the outer staff line rule but the problem with the 32nds can only be solved by allowing the beams to be slightly farther apart. There is a setting for this now but it only works in limited cases and the distances are too great, causing an inconsistent look.