How to spread music evenly across systems?

I used Dorico to retypeset this piece of music in g minor, which has worked great so far:
However, I have a few questions, the most important one being: How do I get Dorico to spread the music evenly across the two systems? I know there is a way to force it to spread the second system across the whole page, but that does not look very good, of course. Or should this be left as is from an engraving point of view? (The original edition has it spread out evenly across the two systems.)

Of course, I could achive this by inserting a manual line break, but hopefully there is an automatic way? (I cannot remember ever having had this problem with Lilypond, btw. Seems Lilypond does this “right” by default.)

Other questions:

  1. Why are the breathe marks so close to the following note? To me, this looks awkward especially in the bass line. Or is this common engraving practice?

  2. I have created a frame with the “EG 421” text, which I have lined up to the Title frame. Is there a way to edit the text inside without having to move away the frame first? The frame seems to be z-layered below the Title frame, but I would not need to adjust the z-layering if there was a way to “click-through” the Title frame. Am I just missing a modifier key or something?

Dear Tobias,
I would say that the easiest way to achieve what you are looking for would be
• untick the justify last system in Layout options, Note Spacing category
• change the space size in Layout options, Page Setup category

You can apply after each change of value, to make sure the result pleases you, and then close.

Hi Marc,

Thank you for your reply! I did not think of changing the actual size of the notes, which is an interesting approach nonetheless. Unfortunately, it is still manual, and thus not really satisfactory. I was hoping for an automatic solution. (Maybe just a checkbox I had been missing.)

I will probably just insert a manual system break then.

Ok, I just inserted a manual system break in the same position as the original edition of the piece, and another odd thing is happening:

The half notes are not split into two tied quarter notes in order to distribute them among the two systems. This looks rather weird to me. Should Dorico not do this automatically? How can I fix it manually?

Dorico puts the system break where you told it to do it. If you want the system break to occur one quarter before or later, select the right note (the first note of the second system you wish) and shift S in Engrave mode.

I can replicate this issue Tobias (and Marc, if you read carefully you’ll see it IS an issue). My guess is that Dorico’s not splitting the half notes because there isn’t an explicit barline at the end of the system. The workaround, of course, is: go to Write mode. Delete the half note. Turn on Force Duration using either the clamp icon (above Tie on the left side) or by typing O. Enter a quarter note followed by T (for tie) and then another quarter note. Rinse and repeat.

Thanks, Pianoleo, I admit I did not try, and I never write this kind of unmeasured music. I hope Dorico’s team will provide an answer to this problem :slight_smile:

Dorico doesn’t split notes in the middle of the bar across a system break. I’m not even sure this would be considered a correct thing to do by default.


In regard to #2 in your original post, I believe the latest version of Dorico has improved capability to toggle through different frames by simply using the right and left arrow keys. Also, I was able to achieve what I think you wanted by putting the system break at the note for “kein” and putting all the remainder of music on one system. (Sorry - couldn’t achieve all the German letters in this quick input trial.) I believe the Alto part is missing a quarter note beat.

I agree that breath marks seem to crowd the following note and look orphaned from their assigned note. They can be adjusted in Engrave mode to look better. I am not sure if this is on a case-by-case basis or if they could all be tweaked a certain amount at one time. Anyone care to chime in on this aspect?

You can nudge breath marks around in Engrave mode, and you can also change their default position relative to notes on the Holds and Pauses page of Engraving Options.

Thanks to everyone for your numerous suggestions!


Good thing it’s possible to adjust the breath mark placement manually. But what do you think about Dorico’s automatic placement in my score? Does it look right to you, or is this something that will have to be improved in a future version?

Also, are you saying that not splitting the notes at the system break looks correct to you in this very situation?

@musicmaven: The arrow keys do indeed let me toggle through different frames. But how do I edit the text contained in the “EG 421” frame? Is there a keyboard shortcut for it? As soon as I try to click into it, the title frame is selected again.

In the forthcoming update, you’ll be able to edit the contents of the selected text frame by hitting Enter, which will I hope help a bit.

Regarding breath mark placement, you can alter the default position for yourself in Engraving Options, so it doesn’t really matter whether I like the placement: if you don’t like it, you can change it.

Yes, being able to enter text edit mode by hitting enter will certainly help! It would also be nice if double-clicking the currently selected frame did the same, instead of selecting the other frame, though. I just think using the mouse is more intuitive in this case. (It took me a while before figuring out that pressing enter didn’t work either. :wink:)

You’re right, I can adjust the default position of the breath marks, which is great. But I don’t consider myself a music engraving expert. I bought Dorico in the first place because of its promise of doing this kind of things just right by default. And from your Making Notes blog, which I have been following for the last few years, I got the impression that you certainly are a lot more of an engraving expert than myself, which is why your opinion on this issue does indeed matter to me. If you are saying the default breath mark placement in this particular instance is fine to your eyes, and you’d expect it to look like that in actual published music, I’ll think twice about changing the default setting.

Personally, I do think the breath mark is in more or less the right place: perhaps it could move to the left just a shade, but I think it’s important that it appears closer to the following note than the preceding one, because the breath is supposed to be at the end of the duration of the previous note, rather than halfway between them. Putting the breath mark too close to the previous note might encourage your singers, however subconsciously, to cut that note short. However, there’s rarely a single answer for this kind of situation, so if you prefer the breath mark more centred between the notes, you should put it there.

I was very happily surprised by the positioning of the breath mark when I first entered one in Dorico. The positioning is just what I would expect and not something I could achieve without manual positioning in my other notation software.

This is most excellent. (and also an interesting example of why I like to read all the threads even if they don’t see to apply to me! :stuck_out_tongue: )