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

I think you’re confusing self-expression with communication. Being able to communicate with one another by no means jeopardises individual uniqueness.


This philosophical discussion is interesting, but I do not understand why this thread goes on. The question was : is there a way to force etc. The answer is “sort of : change the note spacing to 2 and automatic casting off to 4 bars per system”. You’re loosing a lot of Dorico’s spacings powers in the process, but if it’s what you need, so be it!


I’m not a fan of the evenly spaced barline style, nor do I like the one clef and one key sig per page style. These were all basically hand copying shortcuts. Heck, the Local 802 general price list still charges extra for clefs and key sigs, which seems nuts in 2021. These are undeniably established styles though. It also seems somewhat strange that Dorico goes to some lengths to recreate some outdated aspects of hand notation like including Petaluma (you’re not fooling anyone, it’s obviously a computer) and Hollywood style parts designed to mimic manuscript paper, but can’t easily mimic other aspects of this classic hand notation style. Obviously there is a development cost to be weighed here, but it just seems like an odd design choice to only go halfway here, when you might as well go all the way and include all the features necessary to reasonably recreate this style. As a jazz player and former hand copyist, I dislike all of these shorthand conventions and much prefer “correct” notation, but that’s just my $0.02 and obviously is not a universally held opinion.

In support of the OPs request, this is a very common convention in both scores and parts. Take a look at any of the Judy Green Music score pads. Half don’t include barlines, and half include evenly spaced barlines. For a composer, using a score with evenly spaced barlines when writing is obviously very common or half their offerings wouldn’t contain them. This is a style that composers are used to using and seeing. Here’s a page from an incredibly famous arrangement from 30 years ago (the W.H. staff should give it away :wink: ) and John Clayton is obviously using evenly spaced bars here, as well as the “who needs key sigs anyway” style.

For similar parts it was very common to create a “master” part layout on onion skin and duplicate it with an ozalid printer. These would have a consistent evenly-spaced layout. Looking through a few of my hand copying references, all of the following at least include examples of evenly spaced scores or part layouts, if not a direct endorsement:
Donato, Anthony. Preparing Music Manuscript. 1963.
Heussenstamm, George. The Norton Manual of Music Notation. 1987.
Mender, Mona. Music Manuscript Preparation: A Concise Guide. 1991.
Read, Gardner. Music Notation: A Manual of Modern Practice. 1969.
Roemer, Clinton. The Art of Music Copying, 2nd Ed. 1985.
Williams, Ken. Music Preparation: A Guide to Music Copying. 1980.
Wood, Dale. Hemidemisemiquavers … and Other Such Things. 1989.

It’s not my cup of tea, but this is an extremely well-established practice with hand copied music, and of course several generations of musicians that have come up learning through the Real Book are very familiar with it. It’s not just the Real Book either, lots of other underground fake books use this style too.

Jazz LTD

Thelonious Monk compositions (not sure who made this book)

That last Monk example is particularly illegible, but the fact remains that this is a very established style. If Dorico is going to go through the effort of having a hand copied font and Hollywood style parts, it seems like a reasonable request to support the one clef, one key sig style, and evenly spaced bars too.

Also, if you understand manual note spacing, it’s not difficult to do. You can select all the handles in a bar using Shift—Arrow and compress or expand that bar using Opt—Arrow. Yes, the other bars in that system will move slightly, but you shouldn’t need more than two quick passes. The entire process shouldn’t take more than a minute per page, max.


Blockquote: Dan Kreider
Really, the entire process shouldn’t take more than a minute per page, max.

And before anyone objects, my reply isn’t a “why would you do x.” It’s a solution to the request, at such little time cost that I don’t understand the hang-up, unless there’s something I’m missing.

Beside the fact that I am indeed not able in Dorico to achieve what you suggest in one minute per page, what is about a whole song book?
At which point would you consider that it may be a lost of time? 20 Minutes? 40 Minutes?
If there was willingness to offer such a feature it could be instant.
As I previously mentioned in Finale this is done most instantly.

If I recall correctly you are are sometimes asking for features to make the work in your music genre easier, faster, aren’t you?
I assume you have absolutely no use for this kind of feature, OK, no problem with this, but you surely notice that other people would like it.
On my side I do not understand the reason of your question.
I found your former example and suggestion in this very thread about pitch-before-duration interesting and if I understood it well you suggested that a “widespread request” helped to finally get this feature.
So here it is, this thread is about widespreading and explaining the legitimation of this request.
So may I ask you to help wide spreading this feature request instead of trying to stop ist?

BTW I still do not understand how to correctly quote a post!
Hepl is welcome!
Ah, I have found it!
I will post a better quote the next time then.

Sorry but I do not understand what you mean.

I’m not qualified to comment on how widespread this notation is, so I haven’t done so. It seems to be fairly common. I’m merely pointing out a solution, which shouldn’t be perceived as invalidating it.

But I can see how it came across that way, and I agree that’s annoying to get that reply to a request, so I’ll edit my previous reply.

1 Like

You’re right, it is, and really was the default for decades. Copying books up through the 1980s included this type of spacing. When I was still hand copying at the tail end of the NYC scene in the mid to late 1990s, I definitely would often do the layout first by marking in barlines to logically depict the structure before copying notes. I personally would never now use the fixed width bars and one clef, one key sig on a page style if implemented, but it’s only been 25 years since this was the default in jazz, studio date, and sometimes Broadway scenes. I’ve seen some beautiful examples of Dorico used to create mensural notation before (maybe by benwiggy?) and that hasn’t been the default for 300 years. Rimsky-Korsakov wrote in 1886 about the “now obsolete figured bass” and that was one of the major new features in 3.5. (from RK’s intro to his Practical Manual of Harmony) There is no shortage of examples of published music or style guides demonstrating the fixed bar width type of notation published up until fairly recently. It’s certainly not my preference, but it seems like something Dorico should be able to accommodate given the dominance of this style for decades. If Dorico is going to have “Hollywood-style” part options, then it might as well go all the way and include these aspects of it too.

(obviously just a reply, not directed at you Dan)

Dear Fredgunn,
I already stated this some posts ago : it is possible to have equally distant barlines, all it takes is change the Note spacing ratio to 2. And choose a casting off with four bars per system. These are layout options, they can be saved as default. The only problematic thing is to hide the F clef. Or am I missing something here?

1 Like

It’s still dependent on what’s contained within those bars, Marc. See the first screenshot in this post, for instance - Is there a way to force measures to line up vertically with fixed measure numbers? - #16 by SampoKasurinen - the barlines on the last three systems don’t align with the barlines on the previous systems.

1 Like

Leo already addressed this issue above, but if you look at music copied this way it’s often not quite so simple with the spacing ratios. On a time deadline a hand copyist really couldn’t mathematically lay out the positioning of every note on a system the way a plate engraver (or Dorico) would. It’s not too hard to get close to some sort of reasonable spacing ratio by eye though on a measure to measure basis with a fixed-width measure layout. A spacing ratio of 2 results in some pretty poorly spaced music. In practice the hand copyist would have a normal spacing ratio, but the spacing widths obviously wouldn’t be consistently applied across the system(s). Each measure would contain its own spacing logic.

If Dorico could fix the measure widths at a set value, it could still apply a 1.4 (or whatever) spacing ratio in each individual measure, which would be much more preferable to 2. There will still be measures that will look terrible of course if overfilled, but would more closely approximate this hand copied style.

1 Like

Actually, if you can live with the consequencies, taking off minimum spacing almost makes those bars with sixteenth notes align.

If Dorico had a setting for minimum/maximum bar width spacing, that could work very well also with continuation lines (e.g. with aleatoric textures). At the moment they can become quite compressed in parts if you don’t manually add well selected system breaks.

Yep, you can certainly get closer.
I retyped some of your example:

These are the Note Spacing settings:

And it has a smaller staff size, which is horrible for the slower-moving example at the top of the page but really the only way of squeezing the fast-moving notes in.

1 Like

A hand copyist would never space measures 12, 14-15, or 17-18 like that though. If Dorico wanted to really recreate that style, the bar positioning would need to stay the same, but the spacing would still need some sort of reasonable ratio in those bars.

Finally I did not wait for Daniels answer and I scanned a few examples where barlines are vertically aligned over a page.

As you can see from the description these are from well known publishers.
All are for classical guitar except Leavitt and Tedesco who wrote also for jazz.
Except Villa-Lobos studies these are mostly didactical works.
(Even if these works from Villa-Lobos are called “Study” they are very well known concert pieces too.)

I do hope this can help to demonstrate / prove / explain that beside of the Real Book this kind of layout has been and is very usefull.

  1. Heitor Villa-Lobos - Étude 1 - Éditions Max Eschig 1953

  2. Heitor Villa-Lobos - Étude 2 - Éditions Max Eschig 1953

  3. Heitor Villa-Lobos - Étude 10 - Éditions Max Eschig 1953

  4. Francisco Tárrega - Study 6 - Universal Edition 1969

  5. Emilio Pujol - Escuala Razonada de la Guitarra - Ricordi 1952

  6. Abel Carlevaro - Cuaderno No 2 - Barry 1967

  7. Matteo Carcassi - Gitarrenschule I - Schott

  8. Matteo Carcassi - Gitarrenschule I - Schott

  9. William G. Leavitt - A modern method for guitar - Berklee 1971

  10. Tommy Tedesco - For guitar players only - Dale Zdenek Publications 1979

Showing examples with identical rhythms in every measure is hardly a slam-dunk case. Where the rhythms on a line are not the same (#s 2 & 4) the barlines do not line up in the last systems.

And all of these could presumably be done in Dorico now.


I don’t expect anyone to change anyone else’s mind on this. I went to go see if this could just be put as a feature request and leave it at that, but I guess the new forums uses tags for that. So I’ve tagged this as a feature request.

I’ll just leave this here as well-it’s probably safe to assume that we ALL want clear and well written charts. Different schools of thoughts and different contexts require different things. As I said long ago in this thread, for many of us these charts are not meant to be sight-read. They are references that we refer to -often in the heat of the moment on stage in dim lighting with lots of pressure, etc. That difference should be acknowledged and appreciated. The idea that the only reason this convention exists is so that a score writer can quickly make charts by drawing all the measures in first is only seeing one piece of this.

1 Like

FWIW I’ve been using the Real Book for at least 25 years as it’s such a fantastic resource.
I use the Bb version and, since many of the charts are hardly legible transcriptions from the concert pitch version, I have found myself making my own copies over the years.
At first I tried to emulate the layout of the Real Book (including cramming first and second repeats into tiny spaces) .
But in recent years I’ve let the notation programs do the donkey work of managing layouts and I must say I don’t think I’ve lost anything by doing so, actually gained by having charts I can actually read in poor lighting conditions.
Several people I play with express concern with a chart spanning two pages where it was one the original Real Book but, where a tune’s structure is not straightforward I have, for my own purposes at least, written out a separate “chord region” for example if this makes the whole thing easier to deal with. After all, we have enough to do improvising over these regions without dealing with the stress of ambiguous and illegible charts and wondering if everybody else has the same structure in mind! :flushed:
Have a look at the Bb Real Book (5th Edition) chart for (sic) Dolphine Dance. QED!
I can’t say that I’m that much hung up on the “authenticity” of the layout at the expense of legibility and communication. And it didn’t make a lot of sense to me to fork out for a notation program that is capable of managing readable layouts, only to hobble myself to the limitations suffered by a (Berkelee music student?) 30 or more years ago.

1 Like