Change in layout of one flow destroys layouts in subsequent flows

I have a score with fourteen flows, each a song within the show. I had to add a few bars to one of the flows. That addition caused layout changes to that particular flow, as I expected. What I did not expect was for all my layouts in every subsequent flow to get wrecked. Do I really have to re-engrave my entire score every time I make a change to a flow? Is there a way to lock the flows so changes to one do not effect others?

What exactly do you mean by “wrecked”? Are your System / Page Break settings somehow being overwritten?

If it’s just a collection of individual songs I’ll enable Layout Options / Flows /Always Start On A New page and, as far as I can remember, have never had a problem with layout changes to a particular flow having a knock-on effect on other flows.

If Layout Options / Flows / Allow On Existing Page is enabled, all subsequent flows will obviously be affected by adding / deleting bars, although System and Page Breaks should remain intact.

I have various system and frame breaks and assorted adjustments to staff and system spacing. I can’t say what exactly is happening, but when I scroll through the rest of the score I see spacing adjustments on systems I never touched, and spacing adjustments missing from systems where I applied them. Yes, I have “always start on a new page” already turned on.

If your changes mean the page number of subsequent flows gets changed (e.g. they now start on p6 where before they started on p5), that will affect all subsequent staff spacing overrides, as they are linked to pages.

I think as of 3.5 Dorico tries to preserve more staff spacing overrides than previously (when they would be removed if the page number or bar number changed, e.g. if a system now starts with bar 5 not bar 6) which might explain why overrides are now appearing on different systems than initially. It may be simplest to reset all staff spacing and start again, as unappetising as that may be. The advice generally is still to wait until your music is done before using manual staff spacing, as much as you can.

If your changes can be contained on their original page(s) - that is, squeezing your new bars onto the existing pages that flow originally occupied - then it might all still work OK, but you’d probably want to fix that before adding bars to prevent knock-on changes. To do that, add frame breaks at the top of each page for the affected flow, and set “wait for next frame break” - that means any new material will be forced onto existing pages, and you can shuffle it around from there.

That definitely sounds like what’s happening.

Having to wait until “the end” is impractical for anything that may change frequently during rehearsals. The musicians need well layed out, legible scores during the entire process, not just on opening night.

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I do sympathise of course, but if you can use the layout options for staff spacing to get as close as possible, that at least gives you a reasonable “back-up” or default for those cases.

It’s impractical, but it’s a fact of how Dorico currently works (and always has done. I think I first moaned about this over three years ago, here - not exactly the same scenario but the same underlying cause - things like staff spacing are tied to the page, not the music). It’s clearly not an easy thing to fix.

There are too many staff elements that Dorico ignores when laying out a page for me to get “close enough”. Staff attached text being my biggest problem. I use it for stage directions and dialog and Dorico ignores it when positioning systems. Most all of my system adjustments are for this reason.

It seems that, unless you are a publisher doing an absolute final copy of something, flows are more trouble than they’re worth. I’m going to have to export all my flows to separate files so I don’t have to deal with this again. It’s a shame, because I’ve found it to be a good organizational tool.

It’s not necessarily the flows that are the issue, but the casting off - this would also potentially happen if you inserted 5 bars in the middle of a flow, for example.

The flows are only an issue, as I expected them to be more first class citizens. I did not expect changes in one flow to alter the layout of another.

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That hadn’t occurred to me, but yes, of course: Dorico doesn’t account for text above the top of a system when deciding where to put the first system on a page. It plunks the top staff in the same position consistently.

I’d be interested in seeing if my manual staff spacing changes were reduced by a setting that considered Shift-X or Shift-Alt-X in deciding where to position the top system on each page.

I also would enjoy the various Flows being real first-class citizens. I often do film score orchestrations each cue is a Flow, and I’ll need to add cues in the middle as they get delivered to me. If stave positions could be calculated per-Flow, it would make the whole Flow-thing more powerful.

Or, if there were a way to “freeze position” of staves on a page (on a page-by-page basis), that might be even better.


I’ve also noticed articulations on bass notes on the bottom system running beyond the bottom page margin.

The top/bottom music frame margins set the distance between the frame edges and the outermost staff lines, they don’t automatically take very high/low notes or other items into account. You can change the padding of individual music frames if you don’t want to change the music frame margins throughout a layout.

You have a few options:

  1. assign each flow it’s own layout (this keeps all the flows in the same project)
  2. only make graphical edits to the score once all note input is finished (easier said than done, I know all too well).
  3. export each flow to its own project as you mentioned

As for text above, while it might exceed the music frames at the top, you have a few options here too:

  1. Change the default value at the top of the page (if text is regularly going outside the margin and this is the issue)
  2. there are also settings to decide whether or not shift-X text “avoids collisions” by default or not. It sounds like perhaps you have this option turned off by default. Perhaps enabling it would allow Dorico to better space things by default.

My current project is an anthology of 60+ songs (voice & piano). Unfortunately, the page order is not yet finalised, nor can it be until everything has been typeset. I have resorted to adding each new song/flow at the very end, then exporting it to PDF and recording the staff spacings onto a spreadsheet, knowing that the pagination will change before publication.

I would welcome the ability to freeze the staff spacing within a music frame or, better still, lock the entire page.

It sounds like it might be best to engrave each flow, export the PDFs and reorder the pages (and then apply page numbers outside of dorico) elsewhere.

I think the reason musicus has to wait until all songs are finalized is that he intends to use some songs to fill out the pages of those that do not finish at the end of the page. If so, that would make the PDF approach an unlikely solution although I would certainly consider it myself if I am wrong about musicus’s intent.

Indeed. You’re probably right. I often stick to the “start each new flow on a new page” option specifically because it avoids these headaches. This whole issue really is one of the achilles heels of this program.

InDesign (or something comparable) is still the best option here at present.