Note spacing with very tight voicing

Variation 29 in BWV 988 looks like this in the first edition of 1741. I’m making an engraving closely based on it. It was very common to use individual voices for chords for various reasons and I want to preserve this.


Without any tweaking Dorico does this:


Since there are several pages of this, how can I get the tighter spacing of the voices as per the original without having to adjust every single note in Engrave mode, which would not only be tedious but you’d never get the spacing the same over mutiple pages of it?

I don’t think it’ll be possible to obtain that result automatically in Dorico. Not only is the intra-voice spacing much tighter than Dorico will typically allow, but it would also require the stem lengths for each note to be varied in a way that Dorico doesn’t know how to do automatically. You can’t set a per-voice default stem length, for example.

So I’m afraid if you want to reproduce this faithfully, there will be a fair amount of graphical tweaking to be done.

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Thanks. I have to give up and use modern conventions for that variation. It’s a pity but it will have to

Not even worth a feature-request. It’s an obscure case and probably nobody else will ever want it.

Here is my attempt to obtain tighter spacing without making any note spacing changes in engrave mode:


Each note is a quarter note inside a 4:1x tuplet. I used the Swap Voice Contents command to put the upstem voice 1 notes on the bottom and upstem voice 3 notes on the top. I created a playing technique with the 16th straight flags above glyph (U+F412) reduced to 75%. I then assigned this technique to each note starting with the bottom notes and adjusted the position of the techniques and the length of the stems in engrave mode.

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@johnkprice Thanks., that’s very skilful. but it does not go far enough. The are still diagonalised, whereas the manual engraving from 1741 they are very close to being vertically stacked chords.

It was not just Bach did this. Most 18C German composers did the same. Not for all pieces by the way, just in works where there is a particular emphasis on the counterpoint structure.

The reason I won’t do it in Engrave Mode like this is that there are two large pages worth of this and adjusting stem length and spacing for such a large set you can never get them exactly even, and the eye picks this up (darn it, our eyes are too good :slight_smile: ).

But your approach may be useful for my other work in the future.

Well, until Dorico can bend stems, I don’t see how this could be even remotely possible without some degree of diagonalization.
Screenshot 2023-01-06 at 9.20.21 AM

I like counterpoint as much as the next guy (I’m an organist, after all) but I’d find all those excessive stems irksom, if I’m honest. And don’t get me wrong: I love Bach’s manuscripts. They are gorgeous and have so much life to them, and yet are crystalline in their clarity at the same time. It’s absolutely fascinating to me.

As a last resort, could one set up one measure and then reproduce it as many times as necessary and then use Lock To Duration to play in the desired notes. Since I am not familiar with the variation (credit my poor piano training :grimacing:), I am only guessing this might be a solution.

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This is what I came up with. I don’t have a font to simulate the flags, clefs and other glyphs and as Romanos mentioned you can’t bend the stems but I was able to get the notes close together by using 3 staves superimposed on each other. It was actually quite easy to do. I added the notes in each staff, nudged them over then brought the staves together. You can copy the bar to the next bar and it will retain the adjustments.