Is there a way to force measures to line up vertically with fixed measure numbers?

I’m recreating several fakebook leadsheets, and one thing I can’t do easily is make the measures line up vertically. Is there a way to set that as a preference somewhere?

Ex:
This:

VS this:

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Is there a way to force equal measure widths? - Dorico - Steinberg Forums

Yeah, I saw that one but the answer seems to involve note spacing which is not what I want to achieve since different measures will have different number of notes.

I haven’t tried the recommended solution though so I will see if that does the trick. I’d be great for it to be a preference option for times when we do need it as opposed to a global setting.

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I agree… a simple forced-equal-spacing would be very nice. I understand that some of the notes may become crunched in some cases… but in certain cases, this would be HUGELY useful. Sibelius has this feature in a script. I use it all the time.

We have no plans to introduce such a feature at the present time. It’s (in my opinion) really bad practice and makes the music less legible rather than more legible. I imagine this practice arose from hand copyists ruling all the barlines for the page up front because they had their straight edge in hand and wanted to work as quickly as possible, rather than because they believed that having every bar precisely the same width is actually desirable.

Having barlines aligned at the same horizontal position across the page makes it a bit easier for the player to get disorientated as they read each system, so having the systems looking a little bit different in terms of their spacing and density helps the eye to follow the flow of the music. Not to mention that, fundamentally, you don’t want the note spacing ratios changing on a bar-by-bar basis, which is what would be needed to make bars with different rhythmic contents the same width. Such music would look very uneven and without decent proportionality in spacing, the music will appear “lumpy” to the person reading it.

I know that there is music out there in the world that is laid out this way, and you can achieve it in Dorico with a bit of manual work, but (in my opinion) it would not be a profitable use of our limited development time to try to make Dorico’s layout and rhythmic spacing “worse” for these kinds of layouts.

Sorry for the disappointment!

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Blockquote
Having barlines aligned at the same horizontal position across the page makes it a bit easier for the player to get disorientated as they read each system, so having the systems looking a little bit different in terms of their spacing and density helps the eye to follow the flow of the music. Not to mention that, fundamentally, you don’t want the note spacing ratios changing on a bar-by-bar basis, which is what would be needed to make bars with different rhythmic contents the same width. Such music would look very uneven and without decent proportionality in spacing, the music will appear “lumpy” to the person reading it.
Blockquote
I know that there is music out there in the world that is laid out this way, and you can achieve it in Dorico with a bit of manual work, but (in my opinion) it would not be a profitable use of our limited development time to try to make Dorico’s layout and rhythmic spacing “worse” for these kinds of layouts.

@ dspreadburry

Please have a look at the traditional german supplier “star-notenschreibpapiere”
https://www.star-notenschreibpapiere.com/

You can find there all kind of notepaper with several systems number, page format and so on and … notepaper with barlines.

https://www.star-notenschreibpapiere.com/papiere-blocke/notenschreibpapiere.html?notenpapier_merkmale=112

As I studied music I made use of such pre-barlined-sheets as also did people around me.
It was very usefull if you had to write ochestral works or arrangements.
This kind of score written on pre-barlined-paper were of course also performed by musicians who were able to read and play the music.
My point is that even if, from a certain point of view, it may not look as pleasant as perfectly balanced notation, this way of notating music has its tradition and its legitimation.

A second point is that in my view a vertical aligned barline structure can help to get fast an overall view of the structure of certain music pieces.
This is really usefull with songs but sometimes in any other music genre.
Music notation is not only about nice or beautifully written noteheads, clefs, proportions and what not but also about understanding the music. And sometimes such a thing as equally spaced barlines over a whole page can help to better see the structure of a music piece and thus better understand the music.

Daniel I must confess that though I really appreciate your work and your engagement with notation software and though I like a lot of features in Dorico I do not appreciate at all the underlying basic attitude to teach the world what is right and what is false.
(I could not find a better word for the very neutral german word “Grundhaltung” than “basic attitude”)
In my view there is not a right or a false way to notate music, but there are different tasks, different needs, different people, different views.

It’s great if Dorico offers what the developper find to be the best way to notate things, but I would really like when the user best way could be also considered as equally legitimate.

I would then also plead for an easy direct way without additional manual work to get equally spaced barlines as seen in the example of the Real Book in the first post.

Dorico has no problem casting off pages to four measures per system via Layout Options. The question is whether Dorico should then adapt these four-measures-per-system to force them all to the same measure length. My understanding is the same as Daniel’s on this, that barlines vertically aligned on subsequent systems make keeping one’s place at least marginally more difficult.

I did not want to write on this topic, because I knew it could go wrong…
Don’t blame Daniel for being right, here (because he is). Blame Mrs Gould for being right and for writing it : (Behind bars p.489)

I thank the team for making this kind of Layout (the one with the same bar length) achievable, but with more knowledge than what’s necessary to make a nice layout (with different lengths, according to Gould). And strongly believe that the tools we use should help us do things better instead of the opposite.

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I had an interessting experience two years ago. I was playing a trombone trio. I only had an old copy, which was not very readable - especially the ledger lines where hard to read. The piece is out of print, so I decided, to type it into Dorico. The original setting was a typical jazz handwritten style with equal bars in every system.
I personally think, that the new version is much better to read, but the bass trombonist, who mainly plays big band and other jazz ensembles, liked the old version much better.
I think it is just a matter of what everyone is used to read. I think Dorico should not neglect the last 50 years of music notation. This is, what most of us grew up with and got used to read as a musician. There have always been reasons in history, why people were setting the music in a special way - either due to technical limitations or financial aspects.
Therefore I think, that Dorico should be able to notate music in this Realbook and Jazz chart style.

All in all, I agree with every point you make. And it’s almost doable — we still don’t have invisible F clefs but it will probably be possible to mock up those charts in a near future… But isn’t it a good thing to make sure music can be laid out as perfectly as possible with as little effort as possible before you can do whatever quality charts you want?

Remember, folks, the question is not whether Dorico would “allow” any particular notation practice (as if the team is telling users what they can and cannot do, which users would understandably not appreciate), but deciding at what point the need justifies the development cost. That’s an evaluation that I’m sure is difficult to make. Want bars of equal length? You can do this in Dorico. Is it natively easy? No.

Remember the discussion of pitch-before-duration? There were no plans to add this feature, but there was such a widespread request for it that the team decided the development cost was worth it (and I’m sure that feature was significant work).

So the answer, I think, is not really to appeal to a change in philosophy, but to demonstrate through published examples and testimonies that a particular notation is indeed widespread and should be implemented.

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I’m surprised that this has (IMO) “devolved” into a thread about how notation “should” be done.

Look at those scores with circular notation and all sorts of weird ways of writing things. The point isn’t whether something should or shouldn’t be done, it’s whether it is done. Clearly there are thousands of examples of vertically aligned measures out there in the wild and there have been for decades.

As someone that grew up playing these kinds of charts, I will say that the main advantage of this style hasn’t been mentioned-the point of these lead sheets is not to be stared at while playing. The point is for a person to memorize the music and play it without looking. And in the case where a player senses they are about to get off and needs a quick reminder they can look at the sheet. Most of these tunes have similar forms (12 bars, 16 bars, etc) and so a player can instinctively quickly look at a specific part of the page to see that section that they need a refresher on.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with whether that is right or good seems irrelevant again IMO.

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I think there’s a big advantage to having lead sheets with evenly spaced bars in the jazz world - when improvising over the chart, the chord symbols are evenly spaced, which makes following the harmonic rhythm much simpler.

As Dan has said, it is not a question of whether one can accomplish this with Dorico but whether it is reasonable to expect them to implement this as an automatic function. The ability to arrange the layout you describe already exists; it just takes a little effort.

I won’t apologise for having an opinion about what is and isn’t worth our time to implement. As I’ve said elsewhere, although I am a strong believer in building consensus, ultimately whether or not something actually gets done is a binary choice: either it does, or it doesn’t. And, ultimately, somebody has to be the person to make that choice, and for better or worse, when it comes to features in Dorico, right now, that person is me. It’s a responsibility I take seriously, and I’m also not afraid to say when I’m wrong, if in the end it transpires that I am indeed wrong (it’s not uncommon).

I don’t dispute that there is plenty of hand-copied music out there in the world where the barlines line up on every system. I don’t consider it unreasonable that some (I believe a small number of) users would want to be able to reproduce this appearance in Dorico. However, I also don’t consider it unreasonable to say that this isn’t something that we plan to implement any time soon.

Actually achieving what is being asked for here is not easy, so it’s not a simple or small thing to implement. Making it such that you achieve the same width for every bar, regardless of its rhythmic contents, would basically turn Dorico’s approach to rhythmic spacing on its head.

However, even if it were trivial to implement, I’m not sure that would change the calculus, since in general it makes music less, rather than more, legible, and as such it’s an option that I would worry about users stumbling upon and thinking that it is in some way suggested as a convention by virtue of being included.

And, of course, as I have said many times before, adding options for things is not a zero-sum game: every option costs time and money to design, implement, test, localise, document, maintain, and increases the ongoing cost to maintain the software and build further features in the future.

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You can actually already get very close to that result, simply by changing note spacing ratio to 2:

If your music consists of mostly quarter notes (like in the autumn leaves -example), this will produce very even spacing of measures. This was also linked to the very first reply.

I think when it comes to jazz charts, it could actually be a good idea to change the note spacing value closer to 2 from the default setting. I have had to manually adjust note spacing quite often especially with drum parts, where you might have one bar of music and three bars of slashes. But changing note spacing ratio to 2 actually fixes this problem:

My feature idea would be that it could be useful if the note spacing ratio could be changed at a system break (the same way it is possible to change the space size)

Actually if also “casting off” could be turned on/off the same way, it could work very well with changing the note spacing ratio.

Anyway, I’ll definitely experiment with this the next time I need to write simple but clear looking jazz charts!

You can change the note spacing ratio at any position, using Engrave > Note Spacing Change.

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@ Daniel
I really do appreciate and also admire the way you are able to answer at all kind of critics.
Of course this is part of your daily work but not everybody is able to answer in a sovereign and not offending way.

It makes me then confident that a discussion can be maintained in order to exchange differents point of views.

The Real Book IS a monument of music history even if some do not realize it because they never played any jazz tune.
BTW it is interesting to see that the developper at Steinberg/Dorico knew that the Real Book style is at least so popular that it has to be in some way considered and Dorico comes with a Jazz font simulating the Real Book look.
But in my view, among the graphical aspects of the Real Book, the font is not necessarily the most important thing but rather the layout which provides a quite clear view of the song structure.
Not alle tunes have been layouted this way but aproximatively 90% of them.

As such a monument the Real book is an important reference which has to be considered.

On my side I find it a little bit sad that simply mentioning the Real Book is not enough to convince people how important it is, but well … so it is.

I tried again to layout a tune with vertical aligned bar lines and no, this is absolutely not easy to achieve even with the spacing value of 2 or any other value and there is surely no fast way to do this let alone if you want to create a whole song book!
This is much easier to achieve in Finale.
AFAIK in Finale setting the “Minimum Measure Width” and the “Maximum Measure Width” to the same amount allows you to achieve this.

A propos Finale, using different tools for different music notation tasks is absolutely not a bad idea.
One would never expect from Indesign to do the same as Photoshop or Illustrator.
Even if there is some overlap between these three apps they are all three necessary.
In the meantime I begin to recognize that this should be applied to music notation too.
Let say:
Dorico for esthetically beautifully and well proportioned music and Finale for everything else practical :wink:
(Please note the smiley)
Unfortunately the promotion department of music notation software always suggest that the software can replace every other tool and can achieve everything.

Daniel my question is, as it seems that the existence of the Real Book is unfortunately not enough for you to be convinced, would it help if I upload examples using this kind of layout?
I have found many examples in classical guitar music from publisher like Ricordi, Universal Edition, Schott and others. These are either didatic works as well as litterature work.
But as it is quite a lot of work to scan these examples and post them, I rather ask you before I do this if it would be of any help in the direction of convincing you that this kind of layout may be important and eventually worth to implement even if difficult?
If not, then I then rather save my efforts.

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I do not envy Daniel and the Dorico team in having to satisfy all the different ‘standards’ that are out there. One publishing house demands different results from another; the French differ from the Germans; the US from the British; Jazz, Music Theatre, Church, Education, etc, etc, all have their separate idioms.

The capabilities of software have informed styles and standards, as much as they have mirrored them, as did the previous music settings technologies, including pen and ink. Without doubt, the Real Book would have looked very different if the copyists had Dorico available, even if it could do equal bars.

One would assume (if not hope) that global communication, together with reference works like Elaine Gould’s, would cause standards to converge, rather than remaining fractured. Alle menschen werden brüder, and all that.

Apologies for rambling.

Blockquote
the French differ from the Germans; the US from the British; Jazz, Music Theatre, Church, Education, etc, etc, all have their separate idioms.

Isn’t it great?

Blockquote
One would assume (if not hope) that global communication, together with reference works like Elaine Gould’s, would cause standards to converge, rather than remaining fractured. Alle menschen werden brüder, and all that.

[philosophical mode on]
Why should Standards converge?
In my old days I realize that every one of us is unique, really completely unique.
This is amazing and beautiful.
Isn’t the diversity of all existences part of what makes this world so great and so rich?
Saddly this diversity is being continuously fighted and for some reasons there are strong tendencies to try to make everything equal.
Becoming “Brüder” does not necessary mean loosing one’s uniqueness.
[philosophical mode off]