Noob engrave mode questions

New user here, and I’ve been writing down all sorts of impressions and notes to bring to this forum when I have some time to flesh them out.

But of course I took on a giant, ambitious professional project as my first Dorico adventure, and the performance is next week, and right now I just need some help!

Let me start with this attached example. Three pages of one flow, but one of them has radically different staff spacing. I don’t think it’s because of anything I did… but if it is, I don’t know how to reset it. Obviously I could get in there in staff spacing mode and drag some staves around but I’d like to know how to avoid this problem. It’s happened elsewhere in the score too.

Also, how can I change the size of everything in just one flow? For instance, I might have an awkward six-page flow that would fit very smoothly on three pages if it could be shrunken just 5% smaller.

Thanks much

Put a system break on the first note of the flow — it should not change anything in your layout.
Click the break signpost (make sure in view menu that you show signposts), check the properties and input manually a new space size (when you enable the property, it will automatically be filled with 1.75, which is useless and way too big. Replace this number with whatever you need — 1.4 or else)

Pages 1 & 3 have triggered the Vertical Justification threshold, page 2 has not. This can be Adjusted in Layout Options > Vertical Spacing > Vertical Justification. By default is it 60%.

Welcome to the forum @Brent_Arnold!

For an ensemble of that size, I’d recommend trying out at least what it looks like using a smaller staff size in general for the layout, so that most pages have 2 systems on them. That will probably allow for a more pleasing balance of system height vs number of bars in the system. If printed on A3/Tabloid for a conductor, I’m pretty sure it would still be perfectly reasonable.

Dragging staves around in Engrave mode should be your last resort in Dorico, for a couple of reasons: 1) there’s almost always a better way of achieving that by tweaking the vertical spacing settings, the page margins, the staff size etc; and 2) because staff spacing overrides are locked to the page rather than the music, so you risk losing those adjustments if you later come back and add a title page at the start of the layout, say.

If you’re new to Dorico, you might find this chapter in our First Steps guide helpful by way of demonstrating the tools available at a higher level to control how music fits on pages (follow the links in the bottom right of each page to move to the next page in the chapter).

There’s also this great demonstration of staff spacing by my colleague John Barron that’s worth putting on and watching with a hot beverage of your choice:

Incredibly helpful, everyone, thank you! I’m about to dig into this stuff but let me ask one additional question: how can I reset all of the staff spacing changes I might have made while I was poking around?
Thank you

You can also reset all staff spacing changes within selected systems, frames, or all staff spacing changes in the layout by choosing one of the options in the Engrave > Staff Spacing menu.

See here: Removing individual changes to staff spacing

I’m still learning Dorico too, apparently! I didn’t know there was a global option to reset all staff spacing. Excellent.


Thanks, everyone. @Lillie_Harris , your suggestion of a smaller staff size was fantastic.
Ok, new question that I can’t find an answer to – and it could be that I’m searching for the wrong term.
In just one flow, I need for the bass part to also show the E.Piano part, on its own staff, so that the bass player can see what’s going on in order to accompany properly. I tried using the cue function but that’s not what I’m looking for.

You can right-click and add a staff below at the desired spot, then end it when it’s no longer continuing.

Edit: probably not the best choice here. Instead, you could add a new electric part, assign it to the bass layout, and only assign the one flow to the new electric player. Make sense?

Hmm, thanks for the ideas. But I tried both of these… each is a bit wonky. For instance the 2nd option means that my instrument is now called E.Piano and Contrabass.

I’m thinking that a better idea is to make a new part that contains E.Piano & Contrabass, to give to both players. Anybody know if there’s a way to make that happen for just one flow? If there’s no way then I’ll just have to make it separately and give it to the players as an insert.

Correction, I guess the term I’m looking for is create a new layout (not part).

You’ve got a few options, including:

  1. Assign the two players as they are to the same layout, then use manual staff visibility in each part to show the staves you want to show just in those places.

  2. Have a second electric piano player that only has music in this flow; put it in its own group in Setup mode so it doesn’t get numbered “E. Piano 2”; assign both e. piano players to the relevant layouts. If you make sure the 2nd player only has music in this relevant flow, they should both automatically be hidden/appear where required.

Additionally, you can control the name that appears in layouts (e.g. in the top left of the first page) by renaming the layout. Here’s a breakdown of the associated names with instruments/players/layouts. Additionally, here’s a page about the relationships between players, layouts, and flows.

Setup screen:

Make a new part layout

Select that layout in the layouts panel on right

Deselect the flows you don’t need on bottom panel

Deselect the players you don’t need in left panel.

Double click your new layout name and rename to hearts content