Algorithms of accidental spacings

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OCTO
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Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by OCTO » 17 Oct 2015, 19:17

I wonder if there is any interesting review of accidental-spacing.
What I am interested in is:
  • spacing to note
  • spacing between accidentals, AND:
  • if there is a diversity of accidental-spacing (I mean, is really spacing the same),
  • how does note-spacing affect accidental-spacing (if it does?)
This is definitely something to think about, particularly because the conventional methods of digital engraving are not implementing this variations of spacing (=it is always fixed).
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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by Fred G. Unn » 17 Oct 2015, 19:49

I'll investigate a bit more tonight, but there is a definite difference between how Finale and Sibelius account for this. I believe Finale somehow incorporates the accidental into the spacing and Sibelius does not unless required to avoid a collision or minimum distance. I'll try to post some comparative samples later, but that's what I recall off the top of my head.

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OCTO
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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by OCTO » 19 Oct 2015, 07:19

What I mean is accidental-spacing in general. I will investigate it as well. Good that we have IMSLP!
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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by Fred G. Unn » 19 Oct 2015, 14:16

Here's a example of a few bars of a Guy Lacour etude from the original Lephonse Leduc publication, Sibelius, and Finale:

Image

(Beams are a little pixelated, but I figured a jpeg would be better than a PDF. Full PDF is below.)

I scanned the Lacour mostly because it was convenient as it was sitting on my stand, had quite a few accidentals (no sharps though) and since it was all 16ths, I thought no other spacing factors should come up. I really hate the Sib default way of not allowing extra space after the previous note and before the accidental. I guess they are trying to maintain even spacing of the noteheads here as much as possible, but with my proofreading eyes, I keep looking back at possible collisions and it actually ruins a natural L to R reading flow for me. Music Spacing/Avoid Collision of: Ledger Lines sounds like a good thing, but in practice you can get uneven spacing like beat 3 of the 2nd bar in the Finale Default example. I wish Finale had a setting like Sib's Note Spacing Rule/Minimum Space/Around leger lines. I could use a bit more space in the "My Default" example, but not as much as you get by turning on Avoid Collision of: Ledger Lines.

I don't think the Alphonse Leduc is particularly great either. Odd extra space between the last 16th of beat 2 in m1 and the first 16th in beat 3, the third bar looks unnecessarily crowded, etc. Unrelated, but I'm not a fan of French beams either, although I assume that was an innovation to avoid wedges. I don't recall Ross writing about that though.
Attachments
Engraving Comparison.pdf
(549.84 KiB)

Vaughan
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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by Vaughan » 19 Oct 2015, 16:26

I agree with you completely, Fred! I've complained on the Finale forum as well as to MM about the excessive amount of space allotted by Finale to ledger lines, which often creates unpleasant, inconsistent spacing. I often turn off spacing for ledger lines and tweak where necessary. Sibelius definitely does this better, with its setting for minimum space around ledger lines. On the other hand, Sibelius' lack of space before accidentals, including the distance between barlines and first accidental, is pretty awful. In addition, there are plenty of examples (not in your excerpt) where two adjacent notes span a large interval and the accidental of the second should be tucked under or over the first. Neither Finale nor Sibelius does this properly. Lily Pond can and Daniel Spreadbury's new program will be able to.

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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by Fred G. Unn » 19 Oct 2015, 17:06

Vaughan wrote:I often turn off spacing for ledger lines and tweak where necessary.
Yeah, that's generally what I do too. Once I'm to the layout phase and I've done some global spacing, I uncheck Automatic Music Spacing and tweak things by hand. For a really tough bar, sometimes I've had to turn on Avoid Collision of Ledger Lines, and run music spacing on that one bar alone.

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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by Vaughan » 19 Oct 2015, 18:31

Occasionally the TGTools Add/Remove space in measure can help. Unfortunately it sometimes makes things worse.

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OCTO
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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by OCTO » 19 Oct 2015, 19:11

Fred G. Unn wrote:Here's a example of a few bars of a Guy Lacour etude from the original Lephonse Leduc publication, Sibelius, and Finale:
Actually, your example looks best to me. I see you have emboldened lines, haven't you?
Vaughan wrote:I often turn off spacing for ledger lines and tweak where necessary.
Thanks for that, I wasn't aware of it at all.
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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by Fred G. Unn » 19 Oct 2015, 19:25

OCTO wrote: Actually, your example looks best to me. I see you have emboldened lines, haven't you?
Thanks! Yeah, they are a bit thicker than the default. Barlines and ledger lines are 25% thicker than the staff lines or something too. Most of those settings I haven't changed in a really long time though, probably over a decade. Some are result of trial and error based on my printer, paper, and musician feedback. I think the thin default line settings seem to almost disappear when printed at a high resolution and read by elderly eyes or in low light. It differs a bit from what Gould and some others recommend, but I've gotten good feedback from performers with those settings and it works with my Ricoh SP 6330n printer.

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Re: Algorithms of accidental spacings

Post by erelievonen » 20 Oct 2015, 12:51

Thanks for the comparison, Fred.
It very obvious here that Finale's default staff lines are too thin. They changed the default thickness somewhere between versions 2007 and 2010. Before that the default was of a good thickness. That was definitely a change for the worse, and I wonder why it was done. Is it because the thin staff lines are just fine when printed with an inkjet printer? On a laser printer they're definitely too thin.
I also have Finale's spacing of ledger lines turned OFF, always.

Now back to topic:
Fred's own spacing looks the best of them all, except for one point. The accidentals in the key signature are by far better spaced by Leduc and by Finale Default. I see no reason why accidentals in a key signature need to be so widely spaced as in the other examples. Specially when the keysignature has 6 or 7 accidentals, it takes unnecessarily much horizontal space (and thus unnecessarily much attention).

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