Measure spacing inflexibility

Measure spacing seems to be governed by parameters set for Layouts and Flows. This is not how music works. Sometimes more space is needed. Or less, on a bar to bar basis. This is particularly irksome for generated parts. In this respect I’m still craving the malleability of Finale.

I don’t know how Finale works in that regard so I can’t make a comparison, but are you aware that there are note spacing changes in Engrave mode, as well as manual adjustments in horizontal spacing.

Dear spheres,
Can you provide an example of the problems you’re facing, if you wish to be helped in some way (workflow, features…)? There might be some solutions you’ve not used, and Dorico’s way to apprehend things is really very different from what used to be the norm, so maybe exchanging points of view can be interesting for other people on this forum.

There is a greater level of control over rhythmic spacing in Dorico than in Finale. This page in the Operation Manual introduces you to the various tools available to you.

Yes, Dorico is much more sophisticated than Finale here. You can change Note Spacing values at any point in the score, e.g. for a change in time signature; and you can manually move things around in Engrave mode, for old times’ sake.

And what is more, Dorico won’t reset all your manual work when you least expect it.

But I’d be intrigued to see a piece that needed constant changes to the spacing.

I’ll gladly follow up any suggestions but firstly, my issue is not note spacing but measure spacing.
I.E. Depending on the note density (or page turning requirements for example), I would like to control the number of measures to a system. Please correct me if I’m totally wrong (and apologies for misrepresenting the program) but it appears that measure spacing is controlled by the Layout preferences which are attached to a Player and a Flow.

No, layout options are (cough!) attached to layouts.

The right hand panel in the Layout Options select which layout(s) you want to change.

You might have been confused by the fact the Setup Mode display is about the relationships between Players, Flows, and Layouts, but the Layout Options dialog is independent of that.

You can open the Layout Options dialog in any mode with the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+L, and the same is true of Notation Options, Note Input Options, and Engraving Options.

However, unless you really want a fixed number of measures per system or a fixed number of systems per page, this is probably the not the best way to do what you want. If you want to force page turns, insert Frame Breaks in Engrave mode. Then use Note Spacing Changes to let Dorico automatically expand or contract the music on each page, if the default doesn’t look good.

Dorico isn’t Finale (or Sibelius) and it doesn’t work the same way. Often you can force it to work the same way by manually overriding what it wants to do, but usually that isn’t the most efficient way to use it.

In addition to the casting off and note spacing options mentioned already, you can force system breaks and make selections into systems wherever required. Likewise for forcing frame breaks and making selections into frames (=pages, when using the default master pages where each page contains a single large music frame).

Hi Lillie,
Thanks for your response. If I then go into a part, I can force any number of bars into a system. Great.
However, must I then do that for each system or is there another trick for forcing differing numbers of measures per system for larger scores. I’m specifically talking about parts at this point. For example, there may be 20 measures for which a spacing of 4 bars per system works well. Then there may be a complex bar in which only 2 bars will fit on a system, then going back to 40 bars in which 5 bars per system would be required.

Also, how can I avoid very short systems at the end. (e.g. 1 bar in length)?

I apologise for the lack of clarity in my quest for advice, although I fear your need for condescension has prevented you from seeing the real nature of my questions.

Sorry, but if you said “… the Layout preferences which are attached to a Player and a Flow,” which is completely wrong, I don’t see anything condescending about correcting that misunderstanding.

Knowing how players, flows, and layouts interact with each other is fundamental to understanding how Dorico works.

“Also, how can I avoid very short systems at the end. (e.g. 1 bar in length)?”

Layout Options-> Note Spacing -> Only Justify Final System…


Thank you. However, I’m left with one bar that is now spread over the whole page. This is even more unsightly. If I try to force extra bars into that last system from above, the “Make into System” command doesn’t seem to work because it relies upon selecting a note in the next bar, but there is no next bar.
If you get my drift.

The trick behind “make into system” is that for the first system break, it activates the property “Wait for next system break” in the Properties panel. For the last system in a flow, I’d suggest it might be easier just to insert a system break where you want the last system to start, then activate the “Wait for next…” property if required (and delete any subsequent system breaks between that point and the end of the flow if necessary).

That said, you should be able to use “make into system” in the last bar in the flow by selecting the last note as the end point, as described in that topic.

There isn’t currently a way to set variable casting off (e.g. first 8 systems: 4 bars; systems 9-21: 5 bars etc) so I’d recommend setting casting off to the number of bars that’s used most frequently, and use system breaks for everything else. I personally hardly ever use “make into system”, but instead work from the start onwards and insert system breaks where needed, then use the “Wait for next…” property as required.

My advice is just to let Dorico’s spacing algorithm set the measures. It will do this much better than an arbitrary set number on a system. I might need a couple of system Breaks at the end of a Flow, but otherwise Dorico doesn’t need manual intervention on every system, unlike other notation apps.

Thanks for all the good advice. In respect to Dorico’s spacing algorithm, for me so far it seems to work well on a score but less so on parts. In fact my initial inquiry was a result of the automatic spacing given to one part in one flow. The first two flows worked well. The third needed a lot of correction due to a couple of measures having some intense activity. This sort of thing was very easily fixed in Finale (which I’ve been using for 30 years!). In Dorico, it has required another stage of learning.
Up to this point I find Dorico to be a very powerful program with many advances on the competition and I feel positive about the switch. I’m yet to be convinced however that the spacing (note, measure, system) issue is treated as well as it could be and I do still miss some aspects that Finale does very well.

I’m coming from Finale and felt the same way initially. After two years of daily use… believe me, Dorico is superior.

If you attach the project, or a cut-down version of it (e.g. make a copy and delete all the instruments except the troublesome part) somebody will probably suggest a good way to get what you want in Dorico. It shouldn’t require “a lot of correction” if only two bars are causing spacing problems.

You have to wrap the .dorico file in a .zip file to attach it to the forum. If it is too big, try setting the playback template to “silence”.

FWIW I first used Finale about 25 years ago, though I used Sibelius more. There are several other long time Finale users here.