Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1282
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by John Ruggero » 11 May 2016, 02:20

Knut, the spacing at the ends of the measure in your beautiful engraving is tight, but doesn't bother me much. However, I crave more space at the beginning of the measures. I feel the same way about Measure 3 in your example from the original edition: the sharp at the beginning of the measure is too close to the bar line. The previous measure in the original edition is fine, however.

Knut wrote:
I agree with all your points, which makes me think we have somewhat different views on what constitutes extra space at the end of measures.
I think we probably agree to a very large extent on good spacing, but may view it in a slightly different way, i.e. I don't naturally think in terms of spaces and half spaces etc. but rely mostly on my eye and instinct. (I probably need to change that if I am going to be more efficient and exact in my engraving.)

OCTO wrote:
I think that her explanation is so broad and so perfectly clear, that if used by a professional engraver it can result in a superb output, and in hands of amateur it can be a disaster.
I couldn't agree more. This is one of those cases where the comments are easily understood by someone who already knows what the explainer is saying and thus doesn't really need them, but are not so helpful for someone who is inexperienced and really needs more specific help!
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

Knut
Posts: 867
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 18:07
Location: Oslo, Norway

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by Knut » 11 May 2016, 06:45

John Ruggero wrote:Knut, the spacing at the ends of the measure in your beautiful engraving is tight, but doesn't bother me much. However, I crave more space at the beginning of the measures. I feel the same way about Measure 3 in your example from the original edition: the sharp at the beginning of the measure is too close to the bar line. The previous measure in the original edition is fine, however.
Thanks, John!

Since you seem pretty flexible with regard to the space allotted to the last note of a measure, I can see why we would appear to have different views on this. My goal here, however, was to illustrate the practices of plate engraving as a means to explain my own viewpoint. I further disagree that there should be more space before any first measure accidental in this particular case. It's pretty clear to me that, traditionally, extra space is not allotted to these when the spacing is relatively tight (the second measure in the above example is an exception in the original edition and should be viewed as a mistake, in my opinion). If the spacing is looser, however, a bit more should be added to maintain balance.

The fact that Finale by default does not distinguish between notes with or without accidentals when adding space after a barline (1 space is added in either case), and the fact that it does not add any extra space before the next barline when this is appropriate from a traditional standpoint, makes me think that this may have become the new standard for how these cases are treated. Considering my love for, and familiarity with, scores from the 'golden age' of plate engraving, I am reluctant to adopt these modern standards, I guess.

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1282
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by John Ruggero » 11 May 2016, 15:20

Knut, these discussions are very helpful in causing me to look in a more analytical way at engraving. I will look more closely at many old editions to see what you are describing.

Until now, my approach has been based on a concern about the bar line being a barrier to be jumped, as in a steeple chase. For that reason, I haven't want to exaggerate the problem by having too much space before the bar line. But after the hurdle (bar line) has been crossed, a little extra space is OK. That may be why even the considerable extra space after the key signatures in the Ravel Sonatine doesn't bother me. And thus the Finale default settings (your "new standard") have been fine with me.

It may be that an extra .5 space—0 space is the acceptable range for me at the ends of measures, thus our agreement at times and disagreement at others.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

Knut
Posts: 867
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 18:07
Location: Oslo, Norway

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by Knut » 11 May 2016, 16:50

John,

I completely understand your reasoning, and I'm glad you find some of my opinions somewhat thought provoking. :)

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1282
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by John Ruggero » 12 May 2016, 13:44

There is nothing better for clarifying one's thinking than a discussion among thoughtful people, which is why I value this forum so highly.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

MJCube
Posts: 130
Joined: 15 Dec 2015, 13:32
Location: NYC

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by MJCube » 12 May 2016, 15:51

Helene Wanske wrote:1. Spacing should follow the rhythmical structure of the music.
Can we discuss the very first rule a bit more? The wording suggests to me linear spacing, which I never like to see unless an entire system has constant notes of the smallest duration (as in this current Ravel example). In other words, a :6 doesn’t take 16 times the width of a :2 unless the music is all :2s.

But the more I think about it, the more it seems I am misreading. Perhaps the rule was meant to say only that simultaneous notes line up vertically. This is another example of the “simplest possible terms, but not simpler” principle.

Knut
Posts: 867
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 18:07
Location: Oslo, Norway

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by Knut » 12 May 2016, 19:28

MJCube wrote:
Helene Wanske wrote:1. Spacing should follow the rhythmical structure of the music.
Can we discuss the very first rule a bit more? The wording suggests to me linear spacing, which I never like to see unless an entire system has constant notes of the smallest duration (as in this current Ravel example). In other words, a :6 doesn’t take 16 times the width of a :2 unless the music is all :2s.

But the more I think about it, the more it seems I am misreading. Perhaps the rule was meant to say only that simultaneous notes line up vertically. This is another example of the “simplest possible terms, but not simpler” principle.
I don't think this point necessarily implies linear spacing, just that rhythms should be spaced based on a specified ratio or scaling factor to ensure readability and consistent alignment.

User avatar
OCTO
Posts: 1084
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by OCTO » 12 May 2016, 20:45

Correct.
Music spacing is very elastic. There are many different ratios that we could apply on the beat-, measure-, system- or entire piece-level.
The most important thing is legibility and absolute meaning of graphic representation.
Just to give you an example. A friend of mine wanted to have a very easy-to-read performance material. He made "bigger" parts, wider noteheads, bolder accidentals etc. The result was opposite. I hardly could read it, since it takes to much space to read complex music. In this case, a bigger accidental means "to much force, which obscures other elements".

Un-even spacing is very hard to read, as even simpler example.

Vaughan
Posts: 46
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 12:37

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by Vaughan » 30 May 2016, 09:46

Interesting discussion! Very good engraving example, Knut. I agree that a slight amount of extra space before and after the barlines yields a slightly quieter Notenbild (is there a good word for this in English?), although too much interrupts the flow of the music. With few exceptions I would generally avoid inserting extra space in an attempt to show where the music breathes or has a break: a good musician won't need it and a bad musician wouldn't notice it anyway. At any rate, it would be impossible to express all necessary nuances in written music. John's remark, 'I have used this edition for many years and the spacing has never called attention to itself' is an excellent one and corresponds with my experience with this particular edition. The rest has to be left up to the insight, experience and musicality of the performer.
It's interesting to notice that the considerable extra space at the beginning of each system (in Durand) enables the first notes of each system to line up vertically, regardless of whether or not there are ties (as in some hymnals). IOW, the tie ends take up some of the extra space at the beginning of the system but don't add to it.
I actually prefer breaking the secondary beams all the way to the 8th beam as in the original. To me, it reads slightly more easily. On the other hand, I've never really liked French beaming, with the stems not going through the 16th and 32nd note beams.
Another point about the note-spacing of the original: if you look closely at the distance between the C# and the G# in the lower voice of the RH, you'll see that the distance between those two notes in the original is slightly greater than the distance between the next C#. This means that the spacing doesn't only take the noteheads into consideration, but also the distance between notehead and stem. In the Finale version, the first C#'s notehead seems slightly too close to the stem of the G# as well as there being slightly too much space between the G# and the following C#. I can imagine that this kind of true optical spacing is something a program like Lilypond would do better, although with a lot of extra work it would be possible in Finale. Do you notice this, too?

Knut
Posts: 867
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 18:07
Location: Oslo, Norway

Re: Music spacing definition by Helene Wanske

Post by Knut » 30 May 2016, 17:55

Thank you, Vaughan!

I agree about the beam breaks. Honestly, since this was about spacing, I just let the plug-in do it's thing and didn't notice the discrepancy.

I also agree with all your points about the spacing. My own settings for space after the preliminary are actually based on Durand's conventions (although not nearly as much as in this particular edition), precisely to better accommodate slurs and ties following a system break.

Similar cases of optical spacing has been discussed in another thread. In this particular case it is very subtle, because of the tight conditions.

Post Reply