How to override horizontal alignment of different staves

Hi, I searched for the solution to this issue, but maybe I am not using the correct words as I am not finding related posts.

I am writing out some exercises going through all keys. There is a grand staff at the bottom and one instrument staff above. The grand staff is whole notes and the instrument staff is eighth note scales. When I got to a key with a lot of sharps, I noticed that the scale notes are pushed to the right in the bar, making it hard to read. I think that the accidentals in the whole notes moves the note heads, and then Dorico is aligning the eighth note heads in the instrument in the other staff with the whole note heads, which makes the instrument staff all compressed and hard to read.

Some options that I don’t know how to implement:

  • I suppose I could get the sharps that are in the grand staff with tighter spacing. How is this done? I don’t understand Engrave mode very well, so please be gentle!
  • Is there a way to break the vertical alignment? I don’t really need to see the scale’s note heads in line with the grand staff’s whole-note heads.
  • Maybe note size can be changed just for these bars? I don’t know how to do that surgically, and I don’t think it’s a good option as then I won’t be able to read it.
  • I’m working with 4 bars per line, and changing that isn’t an option. Adding a key signature is also not an option.

Any help is very much appreciated!

edit: not sure if it adds more info, but I’m seeing this behavior later in this same file

Your full-system screenshot suggests that this system is simply overfull: meaning there are too many notes in the system, given the available width of the page, the staff size, and the content that needs to fit. Accidentals require extra space, so in systems with lots of accidentals, you probably won’t be able to fit as many notes in.

Some things you can try:


So I figured out how to move individual note placement in Engrave mode. This was pretty cumbersome and I feel like I’m missing a setting somewhere or an operation/command in Dorico that could have done it faster.

Also, I couldn’t find a way to multi-select notes such that I could move groups. Even better would have been the ability to multi-select the notes and run a command or script to justify the notes across the bar. Does this exist?

Thanks Lillie, I will read those links, thank you! Let me check for understanding… and I apologize in advance for any misuse of terminology here…

Would your last option of adding a separate player ‘break’ the link between the staff with the upper staff and the grand staff below it, such that all of that space to the left of the first G# eighth could be used? Is that the idea with that option? Thanks again

No, staves in the same system will always have their note columns aligned. That’s how it’s clear where the beat is and how notes on different systems coincide, or don’t.

You can reduce that gap in Library > Engraving Options > Spacing Gaps, if you have Dorico Pro. Engraving Options and Layout Options are the go-to places to determine the minimum gaps between anything and everything, on either a project-wide or per-layout basis respectively.

Yes, moving the note column for every note individually is much more manually intensive than changing some the default settings I’ve recommended above.

In Dorico, as soon as you find yourself doing the same thing more than a few times, go looking for a more global option: chances are, there’ll be one.

Hi @D1Mobile , @Lillie_Harris gave you already many useful hints how to solve your spacing problems.

I would add:

-did you take into consideration putting the key signature at the beginning of the exercise, instead of adding every accidental? This would immediately solve the spacing issue (as Lillie wrote the accidentals take a lot of space if there are so many). And for the player/student this would also reinforce learning of thinking about tonality instead of reading many notes with local accidentals (just a suggestion).

-if you would share your project (or a cut down version of it) I would be glad to edit it for you to show the possibilities

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From the OP:

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opps I missed it… thank you Lillie :slight_smile:

Thanks @Christian_R , I may end up creating a second version of this with a key sig, but not for this go around.

And thanks @Lillie_Harris for your additional suggestions, I’ll give them all a try!

I appreciate the help, thank you!

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