Tightening and loosening note spacing

Here is an overset situation required by layout requirements in which, in Finale, I would go at it with a plug-in setting and/or beat spacing tool. I am hoping that Dorico can tighten up the appropriate empty areas and loosen the 16ths less painfully.

I tried selecting the whole system with the select cursor and tried various settings in Engrave>Note Spacing Change. But nothing seemed to happen although sometimes a flag would get thrown up about a spacing change. Then I selected a single note and nothing happened. Then I spanned a single measure with two selected notes, and it changed the entire page layout for the worse.

After reading the manual and googling etc. I am stuck and would greatly appreciate a nudge in the right direction. If this is best done by hand, so be it; that I can “handle”. Thank you everyone for answering my many questions.

Because the system itself is overfilled, short of using a smaller space size, one is pretty much stuck with manual spacing changes where possible for that system.

Theoretically you ought to be able to get a better result via a Note Spacing change (which would typically throw up a small dialog with values you need to edit), but I’m not sure there’s a way around quite how overfilled the system is. Note Spacing Changes only handle the gaps between notes, and those are very tight already.

Where would you borrow space from? Beginnings and ends of bars get you some way, and possibly the first partial bar, but given ledger lines and accidentals Dorico doesn’t have much it can do automatically.

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I deal with a lot of these. There’s room there. The trick is manual spacing changes. Find the handles in the columns that have space, select them, and nudge to the left.

In some cases, I would use the circular handle to move only a note here or there, but that’s a last resort.

Can you share the file?

Thanks, Derrek. Then I will go at it the old-fashioned way.

I do wonder why Dorico doesn’t make use of the space to be gained at the beginning of the measure to bring down the % of overfilling. By “smaller space size”, do you mean an adjustment to the overall spacing of the file?

Step 1: Reduce the default note spacing in the layout.
Step 2: Use note spacing changes to adjust note spacing from specific points onwards.
Step 3: Use the Note Spacing tool in Engrave mode for individual rhythmic positions.

Outlined in the manual here, with further information on each aspect in the related links at the bottom:

Because of the note spacing minimum values set that are in effect at this point. Reduce the minimums set for the layout in Layout Options first. You can always spread music out by inserting system breaks etc later if you want. It’s easier to spread out than squash together.

No, the size of staves (and correspondingly notes, stems, beams etc).

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Yes there is “plenty” of room there, pianoleo and dan_kreider :slightly_smiling_face: and I deal with it a lot but not in Dorico, so thank you for the offer of help. If I have issues, I will definitely pipe up.

I’m sort of surprised that no-one thus far has directly answered your point about why the beginnings of bars aren’t being adjusted, to which the answer is that this is controlled by Engraving Options > Spacing Gaps and can’t thus be overridden via a Note Spacing Change.

I do think that manual fiddling is the best way round this one.

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Thank you Lillie_Harris. I will investigate those possibilities. I definitely don’t want to do anything that affects the entire project because this is the only system in the entire very long piece that has an issue. Changing the note size is something that that often works as a last resort and I assume this is possible in Dorico, but I have never changed a staff size. It might be too noticeable. I’ll experiment.

Pianoleo and Lillie_Harris. I am sorry that I didn’t express that correctly. I am just wondering why the first measure is so wide. That is where all the needed space resides. I thought at first that there might be a minimum bar width in effect, but from what I read, that doesn’t happen in Dorico.

Yes, sure, the default minimum space for a quarter note is 4 spaces (by default), and is certainly adjustable via a Note Spacing Change (and then another Note Spacing Change when you want to restore the defaults).

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AH! Setting the quarter note to 1 improved everything, Pianoleo. And now Dorico doesn’t consider the system overfilled! And I agree. Not much more hand work to do.

So I think I get it. Dorico wasn’t making use of the that space after the quarter note because of the quarter note space setting. And that was adjustable as opposed to the 16ths because Dorico considered that there was available space to contract after the quarter note.

But when I again select that first quarter note and go to Engraving>Note Spacing Change it says the Default space is 1 and the “current value” is 4. I find that counterintuitive.

If you add a Note Spacing Change and then try to add another one at the same location, all you’re doing is editing the existing Note Spacing Change. The fact that “Change” is selected on the left hand side indicates that you are changing the default value to 1 until either the next Note Spacing Change or the next flow. The “Current Value” refers to whatever is to the left of the Note Spacing Change, which, if your Note Spacing Change is at the very beginning of the flow, is whatever’s set in Layout Options > Note Spacing.

I see. What I would have expected was a single Current Value box that would show what the current value actually was on the selected note and could be modified to what one wanted it to be. I don’t understand why there are two boxes, one of which can be modified and one can’t. And if it is desirable that the previous setting be seen to call it “Previous”.

The current value is a timesaver for those situations where you have a Note Spacing change three pages back that you can’t be bothered to double-click. It lets you know what’s in place at the moment in order that you know whether you’re increasing or decreasing the spacing.

I know that in your case you’re thinking of a Note Spacing Change as something that applies to “one note”, but in the orchestral world (particularly on short deadlines) it’s a jolly quick way of squeezing a few extra bars onto a spread in order to make a page turn viable.

Yes, I can see the utility of knowing that. It was just the labels that threw me off. In any case, I am very happy about the the various spacing possibilities that are an integral part of the program, which should make such things much easier.

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