Note Spacing: How can i prevent note collision without manual intervention?


is there a way to avoid note collision automatically without going into engrave mode and manually edit the spacing?
I tried with Layout Option-Note spacing but wasn’t able to do so.

Any suggestions?


The system is quite simply too full. Dorico’s spacing engine is excellent, but there’s obviously a limit.

Bump a measure to the next line (which has room for it), or else you’ll need to adjust manually. It certainly can be done manually, but it’ll still look pretty tight.

You could try reducing the spacing of quarter notes in Layout Options and see if that has a ripple effect on the collision.

If collisions are happing in multiple places, you could also try reducing staff size slightly. That’s a more drastic intervention, of course, but a small reduction might not be that noticeable.

Delete your system breaks, THEN use note-spacing to get your desired spacing.


And depending on the work, you can play with the note spacing ratio too. I have found for most things, I prefer a less-aggressive ratio, and the default quarter note spacing of 4 is too large. Obviously, there is an element of personal preference here, but as @Craig_F says, take out a system break and then try changing the settings. Also, you can insert a note-spacing change in specific places if the rest of the score looks good already.

Thanks all for the help.

For my own reasons i want to have the measures as in the example and either delete the system breaks or reducing the size of the staff is not a viable solution.

@bobk @Romanos I that’s exaclty what i wanted to avoid, start to play around with the default spacing for all the score just to fix one or two collisions.

I did a quick import in Sibelius and as you can see the spacing is quite ok out of the box.

Looking at the two pics, there are two areas Sibelius is gaining spacing.

The system length is slightly longer. Can you make a small adustment to the margins?

The gap after the Time Signature is smaller in Sibelius. Unfortunately, this is the one parameter there is not an engraving option for. Maybe try nudging that gap in Engrave mode and see if the rest falls into place better.

Sibelius also conveniently has the unnecessary rests collide with the notes…

Also, are you sure these are the same rastral sizes? If you used a smaller rastral size in Sibelius then that would explain the difference.

You can add regional Note Spacing changes from the Engrave menu. That’s much the best way of making changes.

Those limitations are boxing yourself into a corner. Personally, I think that first system looks too crowded, and the second system too light by comparison.

Wow! I did’t know about that feature. Looks great.

Thanks @benwiggy

This is why I said

Off topic, but are those “Socal Call” chord changes? Love that tune! (First chord is B13 in original though instead of Fm7-5)

@benwiggy Thanks for the suggestion!
I did not know it was possible to to that, might be the best way to go without manual editing for each note and without changing the whole score.
This is quite handy in other bigger projects i have!

@Romanos Sorry, from your comment I did not understand there was a “regional” function available

Yes same 7.0 mm

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@FredGUnn Well spotted! Yes, I’m transcribing it from the Benaki record, and in there the first two bars are Fm7b5 / E9 / - Ebm7

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At the end changing the default space for quarter note to 3.5 do the trick (i removed one dotted quarter from the pick up bar but does not make any difference) and hope a “Find collision” - “Fix collision” function will be taken into consideration by the team to be developed in the next releases.

Thank you!

Forgive me for being so ignorant of the jazz harmonic lexicon, but in which musical universe does an E9 chord contain a Db?

Is the 13th of the chord, typical of Jazz extensions on chords e.g. 9th, 11th and 13th, in any case the correct ‘theoretical’ extension is a C#, however in this context the E9 is a simple passing chord (tritone sub of a Bb7b9 where the Db would have function as a #9), the tune is in Db, therefore to remain relevant to the original Key and facilitate reading, is notated as Db.
Hope it clarify the choice. :slight_smile:

Having said that, the Cb and Gb in the third measure, third beat could (or should?) be noted as B and F# as these four notes on the Ab7b9 are part of the A melodic minor scale but that’s where notating Jazz solos get tricky, should one remain more faithful to the theoretical convention or facilitate the reading by misspelling scales notes?

Sorry, it doesn’t clarify at all. If it’s really a 13th of something surely the symbol should reflect that? But, hey, I freely admit I’m totally ignorant of jazz notation.

No, is not needed, there is a certain harmonic freedom allowed in jazz (within certain parameters of course), and good Jazz musicians know that and they can choose to play the same chord with different extension based on their taste, the context in the tune and the sound chosen by the soloist, so is quite custom to notate chords in Jazz standards in a simple way.
In this case even E7 would do, a good Jazz piano/guitar etc. player would play it with the right extensions.

You can make a similarity with the notation style of Baroque music, there are quite a lot of assumption on voicings and interpretation that are not written in the score, but well known by musicians.


Another way to put it is that sometimes in jazz, “incorrect“ enharmonic spellings are used for ease of reading.

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