Dorico selects wrong horizontal eighth note beam option. Bug?

In Engraving Options>Beams>Vertical Position>Horizontal eighth note (quaver) beams within the staff. Dorico selects option above “Snap to staff line positions” in factory default state. However, the actual Dorico’s beam behavior is showing option below “Use natural stem length”.
Also, if I change the option to “Use natural stem length” below, then Dorico’s actual beam behavior shows “Snap to staff line positions” which Ted Ross recommended.
The option which Dorico selects do not match the actual behavior. Aren’t the positions of these two options upside down?
Dorico selects wrong horizontal eighth note beam option

Dorico selects wrong horizontal eighth note beam option…dorico (363.3 KB)

There is a complex interaction between the Horizontal eighth note (quaver) beams within the staff setting on the Beams page and the Stem shortening for beamed groups setting on the Notes page, which means that a straightforward comparison of these two images is not instructive.

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Thanks for a reply, @dspreadbury.
I’m not comparing of these two images. Please pay attention to the meaning of selected option’s title “Snap to staff line positions” and the explanation written below images in engraving options. It says

"Ted Ross states that for horizontal beams for stem-up notes positioned in the staff, beams cannot sit on a staff line; for horizontal beams for stem-down notes positioned in the staff, beams cannot hang from a staff line. To follow these rules, choose ‘snap to staff line positions’. "

When “Snap to staff line positions” is selected, Dorico generates beams sitting on a staff line for stem-up notes and beams hanging from a staff line for stem-down notes which Ted Ross forbids, no matter which the “Stem shortening for beamed groups” setting on the Notes page is selected. (See my GIF attached below.)
dorico generates sit and hang beam

Doesn’t this behavior contradict with a explanation for “Snap to staff line positions” in the Engraving Options? Why choosing “Snap to staff line positions” in Engraving Options generates these beams which Ted Ross forbids? That’s my question.

I vaguely remember this being discussed before. I don’t remember the official explanation, but at least with the rest of my settings, I think I just decided it was a typo and picked the other setting there. I’m getting all the correct settings that Ross specifies here anyway:


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Thanks for a reply, @FredGUnn .

I agree. I think it’s a typo where the two options are in opposite positions.
If we change the option to “Use natural stem length” below, then Dorico’s actual beam get “Snap to staff line positions” behavior which Ted Ross recommends, like you did.

If it’s a typo, I want Dorico team to fix it.

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I think there are other settings in play here too. I’m not getting the sit/hang settings for the E4/F5 like your lower image regardless of whether I select “Snap to line positions” or “Use natural stem lengths” with my settings. I’ve changed a lot of my Engraving Options, but here’s what I get:

It does seem like an error that the option the window states to select for Ross-style beaming is the one that produces the wrong result, and the other one produces the correct result. Perhaps other settings in combination make it work correctly, but it seems like the description states to select the wrong setting.

The factory default settings are actually even worse if you are trying to do Ross-style beaming. Here’s what I get resetting Engraving Options to factory:

In any case, “Use natural stem lengths” in combination with my other settings produces “correct” beaming according to Ross, so that’s what I’m sticking with for now. I do remember quite a bit of trial and error configuring this when I first started using Dorico.

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I corresponded with Daniel about this some time ago and it seems as though it’s not yet been sorted, understandably so as I think it’s pretty complex and niche, shall we say.

Another aspect that’s particularly odd is those pictures and their captions in Engraving Options. The upper picture is labelled ‘Snap to staff line positions’, yet the other option also does this – one would hope that in all circumstances beams are attached to staff lines, as indeed they seem to be, so I’m not sure what is meant by this phrase. Perhaps it should just be labelled ‘Ted Ross stem lengths’.

In the lower picture, described as ‘Use natural stem lengths’, none of the stems have what I would assume was meant by ‘natural’, namely a length of 3.5 spaces. I’m not sure what effect this option is meant to achieve – perhaps consistent stem lengths of 3.5 spaces (or whatever is set as Default stem length in Engraving Options/Notes/Stems) are indeed intended, and only the picture is wrong.

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I don’t think this problem is pretty complex. Rather, I think it seems to be a simple bug or typo that can be easily fixed.

From factory default setting(Reset to factory), please change “Stem shortening for beamed groups” on the Notes option page to “Shorten beamed stems” in the left, and go back to Beams option which we are now discussing. Then, when we set this option to “Snap to staff line positions”, we get exactly the same result as a picture of “Use natural stem length”. And when we change this option to “Use natural stem length”, we get exactly the same result as a picture of “Snap to staff line positions”. (Please see my GIF below.)
opposite beam result Ted Ross
opposite beam result Ted Ross.dorico (363.8 KB)

As we can see from these things, Dorico’s behavior is simply the opposite as far as this option is concerned. So I think this issue can be fixed by simply reversing the up/down position of these pictures and their captions in this option.

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I was revisiting some of my beaming settings and was reminded of this thread. As you pointed out, the images appear to be reversed here once “Stem shortening for beamed groups” is applied, but it’s also interesting to note that neither image is possible using the factory settings. That can’t be very helpful for a new user.

For that matter, most of the other beaming illustrations are not reflective of the factory settings either. It almost seems like there was a major change to the factory beaming settings late in the initial development after the graphics had already been created.

The below images are with factory settings, with only the selected setting changed.

(For the above, note the stem length for the lower eighth notes do not match either illustration.)

I’m not sure exactly why so many beaming illustrations aren’t reflective of the factory settings, but it probably would be a good idea to update them. With so many settings in play with beaming, it’s hard enough to figure out how exactly everything interacts without users wondering why they can’t reproduce the results depicted in the illustrations.

You copied an E as the last eighth note instead of D. But I tried recopying the illustration myself and I got a matching beam angle, but still my stems are longer (even set for Use natural stem lengths).

I agree that it would be much less confusing for the user to have carefully maintained examples in the settings dialogs. Some of the ones under Ties are actually stretched horizontally; obviously replaced at some point without regard to the dimensions of the container.

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Dang! Thanks for pointing it out. I just edited the post and fixed it. The stem length is still long regardless, although I’m not sure about the beam angle anymore. That could have just been my screw up.

The beaming settings are a really complicated mix of the Beams and Notes/Stems settings. I consider myself to be reasonably experienced with Dorico at this point and I’m still having difficulty figuring out how exactly these settings interact. For a new user who clicks the beaming settings and can’t reproduce any of the images shown it must be very frustrating.

Pie in the sky: Probably never going to be possible, but wouldn’t it be great if the illustrations in the dialogs could dynamically reflect all current settings? I mean, if any software can draw music exactly the way Dorico does, it’s Dorico.

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For your second example, the Dorico’s result is matching the upper illustration. If dorico would select the upper illustration, it would match with the result.

I agree.
Below is an example of “32nd note (demisemiquaver) beams” in Dorico 2.2.20. The result and illustration were completely consistent.
ver. 2.2.20. 32nd beam

The following is an example of Dorico 3.1.10. Here we get a discrepancy. And the factory setting’s result is a little different from the current version 3.5.12.
ver. 3.1.10. 32nd

Thus, Dorico has changed the factory default behavior several times. But illustrations, on the other hand, have probably remained the same since Dorico 1.0. I think these reasons are causing some discrepancies between the option’s illustrations and the current factory setting behaviors of Dorico.

I agree it is better to update these illustrations, as you suggest. Or, if the illustrations remain the same as they are now, it would be more helpful to have captions in options dialog about what other options are interacting to reproduce these illustrations.

Do you know what other options should be combined to reproduce this left illustration “Widen gap between beams” in current Dorico 3.5.12 ? I still can’t reproduce this.

Screen Shot 2021-10-08 at 13.02.41

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That’s interesting! I hadn’t noticed that the illustrations were consistent with the actual beaming in 2.2.

I can’t either. I suspect Dorico doesn’t widen the first group because no wedges are created with the staff lines, while the second group needs widening to get rid of the wedges created with the center line of the staff. That explanation doesn’t completely make sense though, because if I increase the beam slant for a 2nd to 1/2 space, I get the opposite which looks pretty bad:

I obviously haven’t tried everything, but I haven’t found a combination of settings that will result in the first image shown, where both groups are modified. (The 2nd image can be reproduced by unchecking “Preserve ideal quarter-space slant for 32nds” and increasing the slant for a 2nd to 1/2 space.)

Also, when widened as of now Dorico only allows center beams of 32nds to sit, straddle, or hang when on a staff line. This results in some beaming with really large gaps between beams.

As a feature request, if Dorico had a setting so the top and bottom beams could sit/straddle/hang and the center beam could quarter straddle, I think it would often look better than a full space between beam settings.

Here’s an example with a quarter straddle for the middle beam that was created by using the Patterson Beams plug-in for Finale:

There are no wedges and the gaps between beams aren’t quite as large while still maintaining a quarter slant. When widened in Dorico, I get this which seems less desirable IMO:

Thank you for a reply.

In this case, despite 1/2 space slant setting for a 2nd interval, it’s strange that the result of the second group is not being widen-gap beam with 1/2 space slant like the first group beam.

I lowered the “Default stem length” on the Notes page to 3 3/8 spaces, and unchecked two options in “Quarter-space Slants” section on Beams page. Then results become pretty close to the two illustrations in “32nd note beams” option. However, it is not exactly the same as the illustrations, because the vertical position of the widen-gap beam of the 1st group is different by 1/4 space from the illustration.

32nd beam default stem length

I too hope a quarter straddle 32nd beam feature in a future Dorico!

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