Dorico's problems with beam slant and flat beams

Since the forum only allows a maximum of three attachments, I’ll have to divide this post into two.
I’m a little surprised that, what with all its excellent attention to detail and extensive options for settings, Dorico determines one important aspect of its beam angles based on an incorrect assumption. This can be found in Engraving Options/Beams/Advanced Options and it has to do with when Dorico forces beams to be horizontal based on notes in the group being repeated. In situations as in the example ‘correctly flattened beams’, Dorico flattens the beam correctly to take the extreme notes (the 2nd and 7th eighth notes) into account. The fact that there are repeated notes in these groups is irrelevant: the 2nd note could be a G and the 7th note an E and the beams should still be flat. By default, Dorico flattens beam groups which contain repeated notes, but this leads to incorrectly flattened beams, as in the example ‘incorrectly flattened beams’ in which neither beam should be flattened. The fact that there are repeated notes in these beam groups is once again irrelevant. This setting leads to situations like in the example ‘inconsistent beaming’ which are, from an engraving point of view, simply wrong.
Continued in next post…
correctly flattened beams.png
incorrectly flattened beams.png
inconsistent beaming.png

Part 2:
If, in ‘Beams with any repeated notes’, I select ‘Allow slant’, then the beams are slanted correctly as in the example ‘correctly slanted beams’ but this then leads to situations like in the example ‘incorrectly slanted beams’ in which the beams should be flat. As it now stands, there isn’t a series of settings in Dorico which yields the correct results in each of these rather standard cases.
correctly slanted beams.png
incorrectly slanted beams.png

I’d be curious to read a response from someone on the Dorico team. Doesn’t this particular beaming inconsistency bother anyone?

It does bother me, but then again, I’m a just a humble user.

I’m not ignoring this thread, but I am travelling in the US this week and have limited time. I will download and examine all of the attachments (again, Vaughan, if you could please use a format that opens directly in the browser, I would appreciate it) and come back to you as soon as I can.

Out of curiosity, which formats do you recommend?

Just an FYI: all of Vaughan’s attachments open up in my browser. I’m using Safari with OS X. Might this be a browser issue?

TIFF is just about the most “non-standard standard” ever invented. It covers literally hundreds of different (and incompatible) variations - in one sense it’s not really a “format” at all, just a “container” for other file formats, including animations, multi-page documents, huge images split into many smaller pieces, etc, etc.

PNG is the best bet to work with any browser.

I’m sorry, I didn’t realise that TIFFs were a problem. As anningmay wrote, TIFFs have never posed a problem for me and it’s the standard format for the screen grab program I use, although it’s perfectly capable of saving in other formats. I’ll remember to save any attachments as PNG. I’ve converted and replaced all the above attachments.

Your TIFFs are viewable on my iPad Pro with no problem. But I haven’t used that format for years.

Well, I’ve unTIFFed the above posts.

Sorry to harp on this, as well, but several of us find this to be a problem and before it gets buried in the old posts, I’d really appreciate a reaction from the Dorico team.

Vaughan, please don’t repeatedly bump the thread. I’ve told you that I’ve been travelling and that I haven’t had time to dig into it. If I’ve told you that I will come back to you, which I have, then I will come back to you.

With apologies for the long time it has taken me to be able to look into this, there is actually a change in behaviour in this area in Dorico 1.0.10, but which I am fairly sure you will not find satisfactory. Take a look at this picture:

This shows the current defaults in a new project created in the pre-release build of Dorico 1.0.10, which includes a new option and a change in the default setting of the existing ‘Beams with any repeated notes’ option, which is now set to ‘Allow slant’ by default. The new option is ‘Beams with any repeated patterns’, which is set to ‘Force horizontal’ by default.

We have implemented rules that satisfy all of the requirements for horizontal beams outlined on pages 22 and 23 of “Behind Bars”, and provided you end up with identical stem directions (some of which differ by default when you type in the figures shown in Gould’s examples), you will end up with identical results to those shown in the book.

Can you provide a simple formulation of the rule that Dorico is missing? I will need to check with James, who implemented the beaming rules in the program, but I don’t believe there is a specific rule in place to handle “extreme pitches” in beams with repeated notes.

Thanks for your response, Daniel. A simple formulation for determining when beams should be horizontal is that the beamed group contains an inner note which is closer to the beam than the outer notes (what I refer to as an ‘extreme note’), or that one of the inner notes is of the same pitch as one of the outer notes on the beam side. Any departures from this rule can be considered exceptions and while it’s possible to create settings which take care of some of them, music contains so many possible combinations of notes and contexts that it may be fruitless to try to anticipate them all!

I’m glad that there’s an addition to the beam angle settings, as this will take care of the problems in my original two PNGs called ‘Incorrectly flattened beams’ and ‘Inconsistent beam flattening’. (BTW, my examples were all excerpts from bass clef parts so my note naming was incorrect if thinking in treble clef. Sorry about that.)
Unfortunately, it would seem than the example in ‘Correctly flattened beams’ will now be incorrect with the new settings and defaults. In the version of ‘Correctly flattened beams’ you created in 1.0.10, Dorico put the stems of the first group up despite the fact that the highest note is higher than the lowest is low. Was this the automatic contextual override for stem direction? In any case, with the new settings and defaults, and with the stems downwards, that group probably will not be flat because it’s not a repeated pattern, i.e. the third note is not the same as the first. This is still a wrong assumption, though, as is the example in the new setting ‘Force horizontal beams with any repeated patterns’, where the second group should also be flat. The deciding factor isn’t the repeating pattern but the extreme note. In the case of your new default setting, the second group should have a flat beam because the second note (b’) is closer to the beam.
In her description of when beams should be flattened, Gould refers (on pp. 22 and 23) to the deciding note in these cases as an inner note which is closer to the beam than one or either of the outside notes and this is a good point of departure. As far as I can see, even with the new beam angle settings in Dorico 1.0.10, there are still several of Gould’s examples which won’t flatten correctly (see above).
One of the only exceptions to the general rule about inner notes which are closer to the beam is the example in Dorico’s Engraving Options/Beams with any repeated notes: that’s a case of two equal pairs of notes and, as Gould puts it, ‘when there’s an equal number of each note, the beam may slope (emphasis mine). Alternatively, these beams may remain horizontal (this can look better in repeated figuration).’ I like the slight slant Dorico can give to a group when ‘Allow slant’ is selected, but that only goes for equal groups. If there were 3 notes (b-b-c, for example), then the beam should be flat. Gould describes this on p. 23 (two pitches only in a group or three or more notes).
Another case is included below where, in the second group, the ‘rules’ would dictate flattening the beam but in which a slanted beam might be more aesthetically and musically pleasing, although this might be one of the examples which should be left to the user to fix. Fortunately, it’s easy to adjust beam slope in Dorico.

Vaughan is the beam angle king!