Untangling staves, and grabbing off-page ones

Following a MusicXML import, some pages of the score have intermingling staves, and when trying to untangle them I found that the lowest one had half-disappeared off the page:

Is there a way to force Dorico to do a sort of ‘Reset Staff Spacing’ operation? And/or, how do I grab the semi-submerged staff? I’ve tried creating a frame break to separate the systems, but for some reason none of the suggested methods for doing this work, which leads me to believe that I’ve pressed some key-combination at some point to lock everything in place.

In Staff Spacing mode, you can navigate between the staff handles with the arrow keys, that way you could get to the off-screen ones as well. Pressing Delete resets the selected stave(s) to their default positions. However, if this comes directly from an XML import there’s probably something funkier going on…

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Yes, assuming they have staff spacing overrides, you can use the reset staff spacing options (see the note at the bottom of that page).

Edit: the reason you can’t insert a frame break might be because in this screenshot at least it looks like you’ve got Frames selected in the Engrave toolbox? And therefore you can’t select anything in the music to insert the frame break, as that requires Graphic Editing to be selected.

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O wow, thanks. Forgive me for all my questions - although I’ve been using scoring systems since before Windows was invented, I’m finding the learning curve pretty steep!

No worries at all! Worth remembering that although MusicXML is pretty amazing all things considered, it often introduces quirks in Dorico that you would never encounter if you only worked in Dorico, which adds a layer of complexity too.

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Thanks, Lillie - all is fine now after I followed your instructions: resetting staff spacing did haul the half-visible staff back on to the page. Admittedly the operation did re-entangle the staves/systems, but an insert frame command (with the correct icon selected this time in the Engrave toolbox!) took care of that.

But in relation to your most recent comment, am I right in thinking therefore that Dorico would not in the normal run of things create a page with overlapping systems, and that the behaviour I’m seeing in my project can be put down to the vagaries of MusicXML? (I’m just curious, as I now know how to deal with this situation.)

No, not necessarily, Gareth. See e.g. here for some elucidation on this topic.

It is safe to assume that in general, under normal conditions and even importing XMLs, , Dorico’s defaults will take care of your vertical spacing and not let staves/systems overlap - as long as you don’t intervene! (Frequent postings describe problems, when the user - like you - have dragged individual staves around).
Initially, this may seem like a very complicated subject - I am still occasionally tripped up, especially with scores with wildly differing system sizes (Opera, Bach cantatas) - especially when you come from other notation programs, but mostly the solution turns out to be quite straightforward.
It is worth spending a lot of time experimenting with the Vertical Spacing Options in Layout Mode. “Ideal Gaps” etc., as well as the workings of different staff sizes etc in Page Setup for your various needs.
There are lots of forum postings on “Vertical spacing” and/or “Staff Size” etc., which you may Google and the manual has a lot of information, e.g. here.
@Benwiggy also has made a tuition sheet about this subject (can’t find it at the moment, maybe he will chime in).

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Many thanks for this. For the record, the entangled systems were there before I started dragging staves around, and they were ‘reinstated’ after the resetting operation, but the information about the algorithm and the associated options is most valuable and much appreciated.

That linked topic in the manual is useful particularly because the example pictures demonstrate the difference between staves and systems justified, vs just systems justified. There are also explanations of the other vertical spacing options here. John Barron also did a Discover session on staff spacing which is very good.

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Gareth, is it possible that you had casting off settings turned on that forced too many staves onto a page (ie- 3 systems instead of 2)? I’ve imported xml files dozens of times and I’ve never had Dorico entangle the staves. This only happens when casting off settings (layout options) is trying to force too many staves onto a page or the rastral size is too big for the layout. The only other thing I can think of is that all the multi-row text objects are asking for too much space and forcing their respective staves to move too far. You can select those text objects and turn off the property to “avoid collisions”. This might allow things to sit more naturally.

In fact, it’s always best practice with XML imports to select everything and reset appearance and reset position from the edit menu. This will tell Dorico it’s ok to handle all of these items natively via its own algorithms, rather than place them according to data from their previous environment.

Thanks, Romanos - I’ll double-check that I did all you suggest. There are so many options and settings that I might well have missed one or two.

If it were a fixed casting off issue, I would have expected the systems to overlap in the middle, with the bottom staff of the lower system still fitting inside the page and music frame margins. The fact they extend below the music frame suggests it’s primarily an issue with staff spacing overrides.

True. Good point.