Best Practice: Avoiding a System Text / Page Number Collision?

I’ve been trying to “up my layout-formatting game” (studying tutorial videos, Notation Central podcasts, etc.) and follow best practices (i.e., avoid as much manual dragging/changing as possible).

In that spirit, I put the following scenario to the collective wisdom for your advice about avoiding a system text/page number collision:


I have an admittedly rather cumbersome block of system text (which needs a bit more internal alignment) in a jazz chart which shows ensemble members the order of solos in a repeated section:

As you can see, the text runs atop the page number. Would the best response be to

  1. move mm. 128–129 to the next system?
  2. manually move the repeat bar line to the left followed by whatever manual dragging of the system text renders a decent result?
  3. change the music frame’s upper boundary on this page?
  4. other?

I would start with trying to reduce the width of the multi-rest bars first (so, point 2).
If this doesn’t help, proceed with (3) but also arrange your text better (should it stay so much to the left of bars 128-9?)
If all fails, then yes, (1).

1 Like

Thanks, @Michele_Galvagno1

True, I don’t love much about that text block! The idea is to have the instruments listed in a visual column. Right-justifying obviously doesn’t work. Maybe what I should do instead is two separate system-text blocks? (Though, that will cause problems with breaking multi-bar rests in other parts. Hmm…)

Why would you be using System Text? Is this something that all players need to see?
The text blocks I see are as follows:

  1. OPEN for SOLOS: TROMBONE (finishes)
  2. (others/trading?)
  4. backgrounds on cue

Is that correct?
Is this an Alto Sax player also playing Trombone & Tenor Sax?
All context you can give will help.

1 Like

Why would you be using System Text? Is this something that all players need to see?
The text blocks I see are as follows:

  1. OPEN for SOLOS: TROMBONE (finishes)
  2. (others/trading?)

Yes, this is for all players in the ensemble to see, so that they know what’s happening.

  1. backgrounds on cue

those are separate, playing technique indications shown only on the relevant parts.

I see.
Depending on when in those multirests these are happening, you may need to split those bars to get more space, and have the music restart on the following system.

1 Like

It is also possible to use the note spacing tool in engrave mode to widen the bar to accommodate the width. Making any adjustment fixes the system in place with breaks, but you can delete them afterward and the bars will wrap normally again by their widths.

I would try to estimate how many extra spaces the text needs, add that many to the bar’s width, delete the breaks, and see how it comes out.

1 Like

Using a combination of:

  1. reformatting the awkward system text block
  2. adjusting the music frame boundary

here’s what I came up with. How does it look to fresh eyes?

Judd, may I just ask, which font are you using? It looks really pretty.

1 Like

NorB Sans for all of the text, bar numbers, playing techniques, etc. I really like the look too, @k_b . It’s easier for me to read than Petaluma Text, etc. Glad to know others do as well — thanks!

1 Like

Layout looks great!

1 Like

At the risk of upsetting some people: I think the quantity of bar number references is excessive and just clutters.

1 Like

@Janus, I assume you’re referring to the measure spans for the multi-measure rests plus the individual numbers? My understanding is that it’s good practice to include all of those.

They look pretty much unnecessary, they don’t add anything to the player.

My understanding is that being able to find, say, bar 123 in the middle of a multi-measure rest when the conductor calls for it in rehearsal is a helpful navigation tool.

Bar numbers under multi-rests, bar numbers as rehearsal marks, bar numbers under every bar… I know different genres have their traditions, but this all seems a bit excessive.

OK I’m old fashioned. I come from a classical world where bar numbers, if they exist at all, are discretely placed at the start of each system and rehearsal marks (preferably letters) are the main navigational tools.

I certainly appreciate that the delicate balance of clutter-vs.-helpful is often a tricky one. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and perspectives, @Janus and @Sergei_Mozart. I’ll be sure to ask the ensemble leader what he thinks before “going to press” with this project.

I’d probably do something like this:

  1. Bar numbers at systems and multibar rests - yes. Bar numbers on every bar - no, unless really needed. (Musical theater, nonsequential #s due to cuts, 128a, 128b, 128c, etc.)
  2. Honestly the “TROMBONE solo” text is unnecessary as it will probably be obvious. A simple word cue with “(Tbn.)” will suffice if you really want it, but I would omit it here.
  3. After “Open for Solos” if space allows, just list them sequentially as it takes up way less room vertically. “Finishes” is unnecessary as that’s already obvious if Tbn. is listed first. “???” is a shorter way of denoting “others” and trading would be addressed by the conductor, probably by holding up fingers. Listing the last soloist is helpful as everyone will know to go on after the backgrounds are cued behind that soloist.
  4. Assuming there are backgrounds in other sections too, I’d put “Bkgds. on cue” at the beginning of the chorus, and a simple “(on cue)” reminder at the first entrance in any part if other than the first bar of the form.
1 Like

Do you really need to specify all the solo instruments? In my experience, band leaders like to choose soloists themselves, based on who they’ve got in the band and their abilities, and how long they want the solos to last.

Though it can be very helpful, as Todd has said, to specify the last soloist.

1 Like

More context:

There are multiple solo sections in the chart. The co-leaders who commissioned the piece specifically asked that I include trombone, tenor sax, and bari sax solos. So I’ve pegged them into sections where (1) the instrument will work nicely (to my ear) with the tempo/groove; and then (2) written harmonized backgrounds around them accordingly.

However, they also asked that there be room for others possibly to solo, so what I’ve done is to write SOLO as a cue for the “definites” and (solo) for the “optionals.”

@FredGUnn, I love your suggestion of Bkgds. on cue / (on cue) — thanks!

1 Like