Flexible staff height

Dear team,

When working with a big score, I find it often desirable to go to bigger staff sizes when the page allows it to, but reduce the staff size when a lot of instruments get involved.
For now, Dorico doesn’t change the staff size automatically, but I think it would be beneficial to reduce staff size automatically when Dorico thinks that it would come to collisions with the desired staff size for a certain frame.
Thanks for your consideration.

That would be “fun” to implement with hidden empty staves and/or condensing, because the number of bars in a system might depend on the staff size, and the number of staves might depend on the number of bars in the system…

Aside from that, I don’t think the typography would look nice if every page had a different “optimum” staff size. You would need to limit the sizes to a small number of choices somehow.

Doing it manually, I would probably work the other way round: find the staff size for the most crowded pages of the score, and then consider increasing the size for pages that look too “empty”. If the most crowded pages need a size that is too small to read, either you need a bigger paper size, a different strategy for condensing, or even split some staves onto separate pages (as in editions of Das Rheingold where the 6 harpists all need to see their individual parts, but a score reader doesn’t really care who plays which notes, since they are all playing “minimalist” continuous arpeggios of 16th notes based on the same chord).

I agree, that it might be computationally very hard, and that quantized levels of staff size might be giving better result.
I think, in the end, it would come down again to Dorico making an estimation.

Why I chose maximum instead of minimum is clear: while a human would never go unusually big with staff sizes, a computer needs to be told to do so.
If the orchestra comes down to only one Solist for some systems, it’s an aesthetic decision as to how big to get.
But the other way around is a technical decision : get all the systems on the page.
If it gets too small, I still would need to interfere with condensing changes, hiding staffs or layout size.
But usually the first page would give it away immediately anyhow.

This is perhaps something Dorico could do when you ask it to, for example, fit the music onto a certain number of pages, but it’s not something that I would expect it to do as a matter of course, nor indeed is it something that a human editor or engraver would do as a matter of course. Changing the staff size midway through a layout is a very special and rare operation that Dorico should, in my opinion, never do automatically.

Yes, i think I was also thinking about a special function that could be called “optimize staff heights” or similar.

Although I think that Dorico could propose a staff height when setting up a project once in the beginning?