Note spacing

Hi all,

I’m trying to manually move certain notes in my score further apart, in order to accommodate the expression and tempo text I have going along with it. I go into Engrave Mode, select the “note spacing” button in the toolbar thingy, and all the little squares appear for each note/rhythmic item, but when I click on them or try to click and drag them nothing happens. What am I doing wrong? Thanks.

Select them with the mouse and use cursor keys to move them. You can’t drag them with the mouse.

Could you show a screenshot? There might be an easier way to move the text without adjusting the note spacing.

Alt-arrow for small movement, Ctrl-Alt-arrow for larger movement.

Or set the note spacing for that section in Engrave options.

I would definitely follow Derrek’s advice to use a Note Spacing Change rather than to resort to manual respacing of notes. Another nice thing about the NSC is that it’s easily editable and also copyable.

Thanks, all. I don’t think it says anything about using the cursor keys in the Dorico Help document, in case anyone out there cares to know that. Here is a screenshot. I’m mostly focused on the lower system, but as you can see the whole thing is a bit of a mess visually. Perhaps I just need to narrow down on what I really want to happen tempo/expression-wise. Formatting/engraving is always my least favorite part of this process.

Oh geez. That is a mess.

There are some things you’re doing right now that are fighting the way that Dorico does things. Automatic collision avoidance and spacing can really help if you use score elements correctly. I used to hate this part of the process in Finale, but Dorico is infinitely better.

Would you be willing to share the file here? I’d like to take a look at some of these things in the file itself. I think we can help you enjoy this part of the process! I’d be happy to fix some of those things and show you what I did.

Here’s the online manual on manual staff spacing, which describes the key commands. Here’s manual note spacing. You occasionally need the former, and rarely the latter.

I’d recommend using the most up-to-date manual for Dorico 3, which is here for note spacing (the dedicated step-by-step task, which mentions that you can’t use the mouse - the ‘general description’ page that introduces the 3 different ways you can affect note spacing admittedly probably has a bit too much info, which makes it appear to be complete; this is already on my list to review) and here for staff spacing.

(When you search online, the top results might well be from earlier versions of the manual, namely v1 or v2 - you can see this in the url. Pages with “/v3/” are the most recent ones. The manuals team is looking into a way of making it more obvious when you land on an older page)

Haha, yes, indeed, it is a mess, Dan. And Lillie, FYI, I was looking at the “Dorico Help” thing under the “Help” dropdown menu in Dorico itself.

Wow, enjoying this part of the process sounds like a dream, Dan! So, yes, I’ll share here. I’ve really just finished the note-input process and I certainly am capable of shaping things up and making them look better, but I wish it wasn’t such a struggle everytime – might be part of the reason why I don’t consistently use the software, which then leads to less familiarity/comfort with it. So I’d certainly be open to tips/suggestions (as you’ll see, the top part of the page I screenshotted is AT LEAST as big of a mess. I was hoping to fit it all on one page since it’s such a short/simple piece, but maybe that’s not realistic. It’s me putting into notation a piece I have played on and off for years in a semi-improvisatory style, so figuring out how to express what I’m looking for has been a challenge on multiple levels.)

However, I just tried to attach it and it said .dorico is an invalid file extension…

You need to zip it first. Or just add .zip to the file name extension.

OK, thanks. Here it is.
2020-04-24 18-46-43_B Major (481 KB)

Checking it out now; stand by!

Ok, here are some suggestions:

  • take off staff labels
  • indent first system (if you wish. I recommend it for this genre)
  • note spacing change isn’t needed here
  • too many instructions that are superfluous. This is a common problem. A pianist can’t decrescendo on a long-held note!! And I understand instructions like “warm,” but it’s too much. Just tell them what tempo, what dynamics, what general feel. They’ll express.
  • I reset lots of dynamics and text. Not sure why they were askew.
  • dynamics should be attached to the top staff, which will place them between the staves.
  • I recommend taking off extender lines for gradual tempo changes (like accel and rit). I did these locally, but you can set them globally in Engraving Options.
  • I recommend inserting expressive text as a suffix to an immediate dynamic, with “erase background,” when possible

File attached. I adjusted only the first flow. I would say many of your layout challenges were a matter of unnecessary details. I took some freedoms or rewriting tempo and dynamic marks, which of course you may keep or change as you wish. Just suggestions.
2020-04-24 18-46-43_B Major Sashay (481 KB)

Agreed about the superfluous “purple prose”. At the end of the day, the piano is a very simple instrument. You press a key down, it makes a noise. That’s all there is to it (he says, after playing it for more than half a century). Everything else is just smoke and mirrors :slight_smile:

A couple of technical nit-pick: I assume the “distant murmur/growl” in bar 13 is intended to be a tone cluster, but it is black keys, white keys, or what? You actually wrote one white and three black. If it is actually a 4-note chord as written, why the different note heads? And what does the asterisk mean?

Also, bar 16 could be a bit clearer as to how to actually play the notes - i.e. in the tuplet, which hand plays which notes, and is the last chord really the same duration as the first five? In practice, it won’t be played that way - so why not try to write the rhythm you intended?

Thanks all for taking the time to give me your feedback. Really appreciate it! Busily prepping for a concert on Saturday, but will look forward to responding in more detail afterward. Thanks again.

Thanks again for your feedback, Dan and Rob. As I alluded to earlier, this is a piece I’ve been playing, on and off, from memory for several years, and so I have very particular tactile/emotive ideas about how it is/should be played, which is a primary source of my perhaps overly particular prose. Since there isn’t a ton happening note-wise in it, I see those nuances as key to what makes it what it is. But I suppose that some of those subtleties are so subtle and in my head that even if the performer didn’t do them “just so” the actual result for the listener wouldn’t be that different. And there’s certainly something to be said for “letting the piece go” to an extent and leaving it to the performer’s artistry. With that said, just a couple responses/follow-ups to your points:

–When you mentioned that a pianist can’t decresc on a long held note, are you referring to, for example, mm. 1-2? Do you see that the top notes in each hand do change (i.e., not all the notes are tied)? Does that affect your opinion there? And, in fairness, I do believe Beethoven has been known to have crescendi on held piano notes, for what it’s worth! :slight_smile:
–what do you mean when you say you “reset” text and dynamics? And when you did that, did that fix issues such as the collision of the decresc. and the notes in m. 6, or did you do something else to accomplish that?
–I generally do attach dynamics to the top staff, but in measures 9-10 I attached to bottom because I only want the crescendo to occur in the bottom/bass notes. However, since that’s the only thing “happening” at this point, I guess it doesn’t matter either way.
–Never knew you could attach anything as a “suffix” to dynamic marks! I’ve been basically doing all manner of added text by hitting shift-x, and then manipulating the size, style and placement of the text in various ways.

–Indeed, the “growl” is meant to be a cluster of all pitches from B1 down. The asterisk was connected to a footnote I wrote explaining that which, as always seems to be the case, got pushed off/disappeared somehow. I think the best way to show this would be to have a solid black block(?) rather than actual noteheads, but this was the closest I could come up with.
–for m. 16, all notes in the upper staff are to be played by RH. I struggled with the rhythm quite a bit trying to find how to express exactly what I typically do there, but the results were insanely complicated and still didn’t sound quite right. And although if someone played the rhythm as written perfectly in time, with no rubato, it would not sound right, the rhythm on the page, along with some way of showing the push/pull of the tempo (hence the accel – molto rites.) seems to be the best solution. And the last note of the tuplet is meant to go more or less directly into the next note without slowing down – it creates sort of a “spliced” effect of a flash of sound and then a very abrupt shift to a calm, gentle chord.


By the way, I should have mentioned that I have not finished putting in pedal markings (talk about something that could also get complicated), which play an important role in creating the effect I’m looking for.