Beaming over time signature changes

In doing my “morning engraving exercises” with Dorico, I entered a few pages of two iconic early 20th century pieces – I will not insult the collective wisdom of the forum by specifying which one they are :wink: – and in the process discovered certain conventions about beaming of which I was unaware. This is of very little importance at this point in Dorico’s development, but it would be wonderful if it could be addressed eventually. It concerns beaming over time signature changes.

In most editions, when notes are beamed over a TS change, the beam is placed as close as possible to the lower or upper staff line, depending on the placement of the beam. This can be seen in example PL-1. Dorico, in trying to keep the layout clean, places those beams a little further away from the staff line (PL-2). This makes for a completely unobstructed view of the TS, but looks a little awkward on the page. When those happen across a system break, Dorico breaks the beam and starts it again on the next system. It does so beautifully, as can be seen in examples PL-3 (the original) and PL-4 (Dorico).

In another work, we can see more of Dorico’s approach in many sections such as HdS-1 and HdS-2. They are strange to behold (esp. HdS-2), because this is a repeated pattern and one would assume that all instances of it should be engraved in at least a relatively similar fashion. Now: the Russian edition follows the common convention of bringing the beam as close as possible to the staff line (just as in PL-1). However, the old Chester edition solves the problem by breaking the beam exactly the same way as if it were drawn across a system break (same as in PL-3 and 4). This can be seen in examples HdS-3 and HdS-4 (I apologise for my pencilled-in Désormières symbols). It looks and read much better!

It would be wonderful to have that engraving option in the future. It is an aesthetic choice, to be sure, but aesthetics do affect legibility.

Keep up the great work!

I suspect the culprit has to do with the fact that they haven’t yet implemented “whiting out the background” for these types of things… FWIW, I actually like the way Dorico does it currently better. While the stems are unusually long, the beaming convention you present is hardly standard (to my knowledge) and I find the unbroken beam easier to read than the examples you cite in HdS. Nevertheless, they will no doubt cover these options with aplomb when the time comes. :slight_smile:

It is definitely intentional that Dorico should prevent a beam line from being drawn within a quarter of a space of the outermost staff line, and not something we are likely to change in the near future.

However, I agree it would be ideal if you could specify that a time or key signature should cause things like beams, ties, and slurs to be broken so that they can pass through without needing to go around. We’ll certainly do this at some point in the future.

Deep down, I agree about number 1, even though it’s what I tend to see in printed material. However, I’m glad that you agree the breaking of certain objects at key signature and time signature changes. I know it’s been mentioned about ties before, but I had never realised that it affects beams as well until a couple of days ago. Thanks!

Hi Daniel.

Do you know when this will be implemented?
Thanks a lot for your great job with Dorico.
Roar Kvam

I’m afraid I can’t say for sure. We’ve done some work in this direction with the features to erase the background behind text items in Dorico 2.0, but I’m not sure when we will be able to tackle this area.