To reduce or not to reduce?

I realize this isn’t an ‘Notation Best Practices’ forum. If this isn’t appropriate here, I’ll understand.

For those who score for pit orchestras and other pros, please see attached. My Layout is 9 x 12 and example 1 shows a chart which fits onto 4 pages. When I print, the text and notes are very legible. Now, I have another chart that’s about 8 pages and when I use Layout–> Page Setup–>Page Size to shrink that one down, I can save an entire page. Things are more cramped but there are no collisions and it looks reasonable on 9 x 12.

My question is this - for Example 1, which is 4 pages, I can’t shrink enough to get it to 3 pages. Example 2 shows the same ratio of shrink and I end up with 3.5 pages. 3 pages just won’t happen on 9 x 12. Would a pro pit reader rather see more information on a page, or if there’s no full page to be saved, would I just leave it as-is in example 1? I’m assuming that if I can save a full page, pros would rather see one less page than 1 extra page with big fonts and notes etc?

(Please ignore any collisions or positioning anomalies in Example 2, I just whipped it up and posted here for illustrative purposes).

Example 1.pdf (107.9 KB)
Example 2.pdf (108.4 KB)

I would much prefer #2. But if I were you, I would also compress that spacing. Reduce your hyphen minimum gaps to 1 and 1/2 in those two value boxes in Engraving Options–Lyrics, and reduce your note spacing.

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Sorry, but I find both difficult to read.

Consider using brackets. Perhaps rehearsal marks in circles to differentiate from boxed text?

No way should you ever need just one bar per system with this style of music.

Is this a part or a score? If it is a part, then consider cue-sizing?


Please don’t be sorry. I’m a professional bassist, not a professional transcriber. I have much to learn and your input is valuable.

  1. You mean bracketing every system that has more than one stave?

  2. I’ll try to do my own research. I googled cue sizing and the first hit was for billiards. You mean the rhythmic cues?

The person who asked me to do this has a small budget and wants one chart that a combo could read. It’s not a part, it’s meant for vocalists and a rhythm section to read but she doesn’t have the budget for a complete charting of everything
Brackets and Circled Rehearsal Marks.pdf (110.0 KB)

Dan, I found the ‘Minimum gap between lyric and hyphen’ which was at 2. I set it to 1 1/2 but weirdly it didn’t seem to do anything. I could see the chart behind the dialog box and watched as I clicked but the hyphen spacing didn’t seem to change! You mentioned 2 boxes - which is the other one?

Set that to 1, and the next box that’s set to 1, set that to 1/2. I don’t recall what they’re called.

It might not do anything, but it might. Also, reduce note spacing. And “minimum space between lyrics.”

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Personally, I’d just create a score showing everything. Why is number of pages so important?

Dorico’s defaults will do a pretty good job of laying things out pragmatically, once you set the basic space size.

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The number of pages is what I was wondering about - I don’t know if pro pit players care about the number of page turns, or whether they’re like me - switched over to iPad or electronic charting for live shows.

I’m working from a sort of crappy recording of a UK version of this musical theatre piece. I can’t lift all the parts note-for-note given the budget.

Anyhow, thanks for the suggestion about brackets, it’s obviously better that way.

Is it possible that you already have some system breaks lurking in there? Make sure that View > Signposts > System Breaks is ticked. If some purple signposts show up, select and delete them. Then see if Dan’s spacing settings make a difference.

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To be honest I think you will work faster if you just make a score and parts for all players. Do not do it note-for-note but give slashes if possible. The way you work now you have to make a lot of adhoc desicions. That means thinking, that means time. If you just make a score you can work with the general rules to make a part and a score.If you don’t know how to do that, it will take time to learn that but after that it will be faster I think and with a better result.

It will save you also a lot of rehearsal time I think.

To make this parts and score fast you should not focus on playback I think because that will take more time.

This is what I think but I can be wrong. :grinning:

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Leo, stick with me for a post or two? I want to see if I can make Dan’s change happen. In the particular chart there were no system breaks but a couple of frame breaks. I may have to do this process for a bunch of charts. Here’s what happens, and I wanted to ask about this anyway but hesitated because it seemed like a dumb question.

Generally when I have system breaks and frame breaks and then delete them, I end up with a situation where many bars are all scrunched up on one page, just a mass of black. I then have to go through and find the handles and manually move them apart again. Is there any way to avoid that when deleting System/Frame breaks?

When you use Make Into Frame or Make Into System, what Dorico actually does is this:

It places two System/Frame Breaks, one at the start of the passage and one at the end, and it turns on the Wait for next System/Frame break property for the first of these. This property does exactly what it says on the tin: it continues squishing music on to the system or frame until it encounters the next Break.

The most likely reason for a mass of black on your page is that you’re deleting all of the breaks apart from the first one - the one that’s set to wait for another one. Locate that first break and either delete it or turn off its Wait for next property.

If you’re in Dorico 4, there’s also now a Reset Layout button in the left panel of Engrave mode. This deletes all the System Breaks and Frame Breaks within the layout (and doesn’t reset anything else).


Thanks so much as always Leo. I’ll have a look. I use Cubase Pro and had some issues with audio recently. Steinberg support surprised me by telling me that my processor isn’t supported by Windows any more. My rig isn’t that old! But I’m guessing I should upgrade my computer before switching to Dorico 4 as I’m sure it’s the same deal. There’s a lot in Dorico 4 I need, badly!

EDIT: Yes, that improved things a lot. Very valuable tip if I have to reformat some of these charts.

Another note… trying Dan’s suggestion, after deleting all system and frame breaks, adjusting ‘Minimum Space to Allow For Hyphen’ makes a difference, but adjusting ‘Minimum gap between lyric and hyphen’ does not. The left panel is open, the one that says ‘Pages’ and ‘Master Pages’. It flashes but no changes happen. I’ll continue to play around and see if I can get that adjustment to work.

If you started mucking around with note spacing manually, go back and remove all those manual adjustments (if the little box above a note is red, click in the box, then Delete). That will restore the automatic spacing.

Also, what is the Layout | Notespacing set at? I think the default is 4, but I set it at 3.5 or even less – that makes a huge difference. You may still need to check lyrics for collision though.

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Hi dw

Yes, I’m trying as hard as possible not to start thinking like I’m back in Finale - trying not to manually adjust notes. Thanks for the tip.

Yep It’s set to 4 default. I’ll definitely try 3.5.

It’s a Friday night, and I’m a couple of Negronis in, but I completely agree with Janus. I don’t want to offend, but both pdfs are basically unreadable.

  1. Is this a score? Or a “master rhythm” part? If this is a “master rhythm” part, it’s not legible and certainly needs system dividers at the very minimum as it’s impossible to follow the staves and systems accurately.
  2. If this is a score, much work needs to be done to increase legibility. If there are only 4 instruments/vocalists, consider displaying all and having the score a couple of pages longer. It will make everything more legible.
  3. First system - wut? Tempo should be left-aligned with meter. Rehearsal mark way in the margin is inappropriate.
  4. Chord symbols are a touch large IMO, and I prefer the slash style where they share a baseline for alternate roots.
  5. As others mentioned, your boxing scheme is a bit unconventional. Several of your boxed texts would be expected to display as bold. This is certainly a bit house-style dependent.
  6. Keith has a treble clef at the top, but an octave transposing clef at entry? Unnecessarily ambiguous.
  7. Folios too small in relation to music.
  8. Multibar rest symbol is too thick and the heavy black line is distracting.
  9. Chord symbol accidental and superscript alterations are not well balanced.
  10. What is going on at m35? Bass is a transposing instrument, they should get key sigs as well.

Hi Fred

Don’t worry, I can take it. As I mentioned, I’m not a pro. The playwright and MD got quoted in the high thousands to do these charts. I’m a friend of the MD and she asked me if I could help. Of course I don’t want to provide them with crap. I’m trying my best. I sincerely appreciate the critique. Can you stay with me and suggest anything else you feel is industry standard that I’m messing up? Please see attached

  1. These are like Master Rhythm charts, and attached is how they look after I put brackets on each system.

  2. I actually have the rehearsal mark in this position for many other charts. This one I was trying to shrink it down, somehow it moved. See attached. Better?

  3. I guess this is because in my jobbing life I’ve had way too many charts plopped in front of me with tiny chord symbols. I felt the pianist would have to be reading a lot of symbols so I made them this size. Style is Dorico default

  4. I’ll try bold for all boxed items and do a test print to see how it lookss. If there’s something in particular that should never be boxed, please let me know.

  5. I imported much of this stuff via Music XML files that they had. This is maybe an artifact of that process. I missed it though.

  6. I may as well be honest, not sure what you mean by ‘folios too small in relation to music’. If this means that the 9 x 12 size is too small for the content of each page, let me know as this defeats the purpose of this thread which was to see if these looked better on 9 x 12 with more information in each page.

  7. This was the Dorico default, I made it thinner

  8. Here also using the defaults that Dorico presents.

  9. I’ll have to go through every chart. I assumed that if I changed the key sig for one stave of a system, they’d all change. Very bad assumption.

Do you have a pdf example of a Master Rhythm chart that you like? I have many but they’re all hand written

Again, thanks for taking the time to type all that out, it helped.
2 Where Are We Now 9 12 smaller.pdf (110.8 KB)

A few more comments on the revised version:

  1. Instead of a “master rhythm” part, I think there is enough detail here to actually create a Rhodes/Synth part. On the first system you could cue the Jennifer part in the RH of it.
  2. The systems are just way too close together to follow, and constantly changing. If you are sticking with this format, try using system dividers under Layout Options:
  3. … or just include all the staves and make a traditional score. The page count shouldn’t really be an issue for a score here.
  4. For “folios” I meant the page numbers and positioning. They still are a bit small. I personally like to distinguish page-attatched items like page numbers from music-attached items a bit more. This can be done with fonts, size, positioning, etc. Others prefer to keep them consistent with music-attached items.
  5. The chord symbol root alterations should be more balanced IMO
  6. Getting pretty geeky now, but some of your beam angles are a bit unconventional too. For example, Ted Ross (pg 109) prescribes straddle-sit for the A-F# above as I have it in my default, but you have hang-straddle. Not many musicians go down the rabbit hole enough to care about this sort of thing, but you asked for feedback, LOL
  7. Positioning of letter E is wonky, and F is colliding with the staff above.

Thanks again Fred. One note about geekiness. I have some geek in me and geeking out on something as rabbit-hole as beam angles is exactly the sort of thing I like to do. I just don’t have any time for that at the moment. Indeed, this is the first time I’ve heard the term ‘straddle-sit’ in reference to beaming. I’ll look into it : )

I think it’s unfortunately too late to start re-working the project as one where each player gets their own part but I’ll think about it.

So your comments about page count are also applicable to Master Rhythm-type charts, I’m guessing.

The system dividers look cool, I’m gigging today and tomorrow, will look tomorrow evening.