FR: Casting off / Layout options

So I had a big band commission due yesterday that turned out to be fairly long, 302 bars, 117 pages of parts. The basic structure of the tune is also sort of odd with an 8-10-7-8-10 form for the basic tune, but then the chart goes to 7, half time, and other places later on. With a big band chart the layout has to make logical sense with the phrasing so most of the time I need rehearsal letters at the beginning of the system, or if not there in the middle. Definitely no orphan bars allowed before/after a letter.

I decided, perhaps erroneously, to go with Staves and Systems/Casting Off/Fixed number of bars per system: 4 as a starting point figuring it would work with the 8 bar sections, I could either bump a bar off of the 7 or combine all 7, etc. The 10 bar sections mostly ended up 5-5 or 6-4. In any case I ended up using Make Into System way more than I typically do.

  1. I know I and others have brought this up before, but in 117 pages of parts, I never once actually wanted to split a bar across systems. It would be great if there was a way to completely disable that feature and only use it with some sort of override if desired. Make Into System is an especially maddening tool to use when clicking because you have to click the notehead exactly, if you select the stem or other element instead you end up with a split system.

Notehead, works

Stem, oops, split bar

Sure you can click the barline too, but when zoomed out looking at the overall layout, it’s a fairly small target. I’m not really sure what the underlying logic is here, why selecting the note should get a complete bar, but selecting the stem doesn’t. (Drag-selecting everything seems to work the best in any case, but clicking should produce more logical results than it currently does IMO)

  1. Creating a music spacing change is a useful tool, but it would be great if there was a way to create a casting off change too. For example in this chart there is an extended section in 7 notated as 4 and 3. Just to cut down on # of pages, this section can be logically laid out with 6 bars to a system, but still must be done manually as below.

It would be great to select the whole section and apply a casting off change of 6 bars with one click, like Finale’s Ctrl-M Fit Music command. (The double bar at a repeat sign bug shows up here at letter X as well.)

  1. This isn’t really a new request either, but it would be great if there was a setting to have Propagate Part Formatting not create Frame Breaks where they don’t currently exist. To save time I’ll often do the basic layout of a rhythm section player who is playing most of the time then propagate that layout to the other parts just to have a better starting point. My next step though has to be selecting all the break signposts and converting them all to system breaks as Dorico has propagated a bunch of frame breaks that don’t exist in the original source part. Selecting all the breaks in the source, switching to Write, then Alt-clicking them works better, but this then again has to be done in every single part, not a 1-click solution like Propagate Part Formatting. As different parts are going to need different page turns etc, but may share the same basic structure requirements in a jazz chart, being able to just copy the system breaks all in one go, but not frame breaks, would definitely be a time saver.

Just a few layout requests after repeatedly knocking my head against them for hours all afternoon yesterday. Thanks for considering!


I definitely agree that it’s odd and frustrating every time you accidentally get a stem and it doesn’t split the same. This is particularly maddening when you’re sufficiently zoomed out and it’s difficult to get the note head since the stem bounding box seems to trump the note head.

1 Like

Only happened to me about 100 times yesterday, grrr!

1 Like

+1 for casting off change.



I guess I shouldn’t have called the double bar - repeat sign thing a “bug” but rather a limitation. Still it creates a situation where the score and parts don’t match which is certainly not desirable.

I’d put money on being able to get the results you want with Spacing changes more easily than with Breaks.

While you can create subtle effects with the spacing ratio, changing the quarter default space has no effect on the casting off at all if you’re using Casting off/Fixed number of bars.

Indeed. I’d argue that unless you consistently want four bars to a system, setting the Layout Option for Casting Off to four bars per system is a hindrance rather than a help.

1 Like

Yep, you are likely correct. In my initial post I said I did this “perhaps erroneously.” As there were many sections that would need to be cast off 4 bars per system, I thought it would speed things up. Simply going through from start to finish and using System Breaks would likely have been faster than having to use Make Into System overrides for this score.

In Cubase you can change the number of bars on a staff with a couple of clicks - select the staff, select number of bars per staff, click and the change is made! It would be great if Dorico had the same flexibility.

1 Like

That’s more or less how Finale works too. In addition to other casting off options, you can drag-select any region and change the number of bars per system in one click with the Ctrl+M Fit Music command.

1 Like

I would love that functionality too …
it’s even more than a +1