Centered beam anomaly

When I create the centered beam for the set of notes shown at A, I am not able to flip the stem of the following quarter note as at B because it reverses the stem of the previous 8th note as more clearly seen at C. Interestingly, this only affects certain sets of notes, although moving the set shown up one or two steps also produces strange results. I have tried various workarounds without success, but will keep at it, hoping that it is just inexperience that is causing this.

Hmm, that’s a weird one! Definitely seems like some sort of bug there, but I haven’t run into it before. Easy workaround is to put the downstemmed G in another voice though.

If there’s some setting that’s causing it, I don’t immediately see what it could be.

It seems to work correctly if you use the option “Custom Centered Beam” instead of the regular “Force Centered Beam”. Then you don’t need to resort to workarounds.

When using “Force Centered Beam” it seems to use the same default stem directions that it would use for unbeamed notes in the same context, which probably makes sense in most situations, but is not what you want here.

I think the issue in this particular case has to do with stem direction rules for unbeamed notes on the third line (i.e. normally downstem unless surrounded by upstem notes). Let’s pretend that all of these eighth notes in your example were loose, unbeamed eighth notes. At “A” of our imaginary unbeamed version, the note D is surrounded by other upstem notes both before and after, so it would decide to make it upstem. At “B” of our imaginary unbeamed version, the note D is preceded by an upstem note but followed by a downstem note, and so now the default would be downstem. Even though here there is a beam, it is a centered beam, and that seems to use the same rules as unbeamed passages for determining stem direction, which is why the D flips to downstem when you change the following note to downstem.

It makes sense to me that the default feature would have this behaviour as when you make a centered beam, you normally want the stem directions to change from what they would be for regular beamed notes. In most cases, using the same stem directions as you would for unbeamed notes in the same context would produce the desired result. In this particular case, of course, it does not. My feeling is that this is probably just by design, and is likely the reason that “Custom Centered Beam” is an option in the menu in the first place, so that there is a way to address situations like this, when the default behaviour produces an undesired result.

Thank you FredGUnn for a valuable resource that may come in handy in various cases.

Along the lines of mducharme’s explanation, if one sets the Default Stem Direction for Notes on the Middle Line to “up” in Engraving Options, even Force Centered Beam works correctly. Since much of the music that I edit uses up stems on the middle line, that might be the way for me to go. Time will tell.

If you set the default direction for middle line to up, you’ll get this though:

It’s easy to flip of course, but that’s “wrong” according to virtually every style guide or notation manual. Some, like Boosey & Hawkes, are particularly adamant about this:

I don’t see any logical reason why flipping a stem of an unbeamed note in completely separate bar should have any relevance on the centered beam functionality in another bar. This still seems like a bug to me.

I think you are right, FredGUnn. It’s probably a bug, but not such a bad one as they go.

As I mentioned, the music that I edit (mainly before 1840) has the opposite rule, as one can see from manuscripts and publications of those times, so it is an appropriate option for me. Otherwise I have to flip the middle line notes up all the time.

As you know, I do what might be called in current parlance, “historically-informed editions” that try to preserve as much of the original notation as possible and practical, because I have found that modernizing it can have very negative effects on the information communicated. In the initial example, the centered beam shows a kind of grouping of the last three eighth notes with the following quarter note. (I should add that the example is from the first edition where the first quarter note is actually an up stem note.)

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