Understanding the inter-system gap

First, a picture:

My goal is for the systems to be justified (so: for the ‘Justify distance only between systems’ option to kick in; in the picture you see that the ‘justify distance between staves and systems’ option kicks in for the page which is less than 80% full), but not so far apart: there’s just too much space between them. I can make the option kick in by lowering the appropriate percentage [though I’d really want this to be flow-relative], but then I’m left with too much whitespace in the middle of the page. I thought I could use the ‘Ideal Gaps → Inter-system gap’ Layout option, currently set to 10, but no setting seems to work. In fact, changing this setting does not seem to influence vertically justified systems at all. If that’s the case, how should I reduce the inter-system gap?

When only systems (not staves) are justified, the gaps between staves within each system come from the “Ideal Gaps” set for the layout. Therefore, the gap between systems will be determined by the space leftover after calculating the height of each staff plus the gaps between staves.

Perhaps you could create a custom page template for these pages, where the top of the music frame is lower on the page and the bottom is higher (i.e. pushing the systems closer to the middle of the page but without justifying the staves). Or, if you’d want that for all pages in this layout, increase the music frame margins.

Alternatively, allow staves and systems both to justify, and increase the inter-system gap (to apportion a larger amount of space to the gap between systems than between staves within each system).

“When only systems (not staves) are justified, the gaps between staves within each system come from the “Ideal Gaps” set for the layout.”

Thank you very much, but this doesn’t seem to be true in my case. I chose a single page where just the system (not staff) justification kicks in. Then I’ve just checked that gradually mofidying the Ideal Inter-system Gap from 10 down to 8 has no influence on the actual inter-system gap, which the Engraving Mode displays as 60.9 mm… so it seems there has to be some other factor determining the size of the gap. What could it be?

I meant the ideal gaps set for all the variations of staves, not the inter-system gap. Essentially all the stuff that goes into determining the height of a single system.

(I think of this like building up a burger: you’ve got the buns (staves), high/low notes (patty), extra notations like dynamics (tomatoes), and then the ideal gaps are the extra padding to make sure everything sits comfortably (lettuce).)

The most obvious scenario is that you’re muddling up the two percentages in the Vertical Justification section of Layout Options. If the first value is breached, staves and systems are justified (meaning that the spare space is allocated between both staves and systems).
If the second value is breached, the spare space is shoved only between systems.

I had similar issues recently with choral music. I left the vertical justification system at the defaults, 60 & 80%. With a 6.0mm staff size, for the ideal gaps in the layout options I had 5,5,5 for the first row, 6, 6, 7 1/2 for the 2nd row (the last being the inter-system gap) and 4,6,6 for the last row. That allowed me to put 4 staves, one with lyrics in one system and put two systems on the page with the gap not being overly wide between systems. With what you are doing I think you should be able to get what you’re after by playing with all of the various gap settings. Just keep reducing them until you get what you are after and it looks good.

One question for Lilly that may be of help to new users. In the Layout settings flow margins section it says “The top margin for a flow will only take effect if the height of the flow margin is less than the default system-to-system gap…” Unfortunately, nowhere else in the layout options is the term “system-to-system gap” used. I assume that is actually the “inter-system gap?”

Thank you, but I’m aware of the two values. I would like to keep the staff-staff distances as they are, and only justify the systems, but with a smaller gap than what Dorico is giving me. As I’ve mentioned, the inter-system gap setting does not influence this, hence my conundrum.

The only way you can both reduce the inter-system gap and ensure that the page is still fully justified is by increasing the gaps between the staves themselves.

Again, with only systems justified, the only place that Dorico’s allowed to distribute spare space is between systems.

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Alright, thank you very much for the definite info.

Tbh, I’d really appreciate if such Layout Options could be flow-relative, since I might need different values in different flows… I’m fine with all the previous flows, they are exactly as I want them, and if I start playing with the distances now I have no idea what will happen in those sections of the score…

Of course the alternative is to set the justification percentages in such a way that both staves and systems are justified, even when the page is a little fuller.

From your picture, what I would do is:
decrease the Ideal Gaps between staves;
increase the Ideal Gap between systems,
and then reduce the vertical justification percentages to 75% and 100%.

Three of your pages have far too large gaps between the systems; and the other has too little.

Thank you all very much for the replies, I will slowly try them today / tomorrow, checking whether they don’t break anything in other flows…