Spacing with chord symbols

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jan
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Spacing with chord symbols

Post by jan » 23 Aug 2017, 08:42

And another spacing issue that I am working on for my plugin ... what is your preferred way of spacing chord symbols?

Here are four screenshots with critical spots marked:
1.) Finale's default spacing without chords enabled
2.) Finale's default spacing with chords enabled
3.) Plugin solution 1 ("Loose"): Chord spacing only when it collides with other chord symbols or barlines
4.) Plugin solution 2 ("Strict"): Chord spacing when it collides with other chord symbols, barlines or when the chord symbol covers the next measure

1.) Finale's default without chords enabled
fin2.png
fin2.png (397.2 KiB) Viewed 2165 times
2.) Finale's default with chords enabled
fin1.png
fin1.png (403.62 KiB) Viewed 2165 times
3.) Plugin solution 1 ("Loose")
fin3.jpg
fin3.jpg (158.65 KiB) Viewed 2165 times
4.) Plugin solution 2 ("Strict")
fin4.png
fin4.png (513.78 KiB) Viewed 2165 times
Any comments welcome.
Jan
https://elbsound.studio

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John Ruggero
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by John Ruggero » 24 Aug 2017, 10:16

Wish I could help, jan, but I haven't used a chord symbol since my hand copying days of the 70s, so take this for what it is worth, which is probably not much. Solution 1 looks more natural to me, but it does seems strange when a chord symbol runs into a resting measure. And is "C min 7" now standard instead of "Cm7" and "C 7" instead of "C7"? And are chord symbols really placed between the staves in keyboard music? These things seem to be creating spacing issues. Also the font used for the chord symbols is a on the wide side. Wouldn't narrow be better?
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jan
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by jan » 24 Aug 2017, 10:49

>it does seems strange when a chord symbol runs into a resting measure
A good aspect! So one could even differentiate between the Cmin7 in measure 2 and in measure 6. Haven't thought of that.

As for the other things:
I didn't mention it, because I thought it was obvious that is just a test score for demonstrating possible chord collision scenarios (chord/barline collision, chord/chord collision, chord/end of system collision, etc.)
Instead of Cmin7 you could use Csus7 to get the same chord width problem.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by John Ruggero » 24 Aug 2017, 19:04

jan wrote:
24 Aug 2017, 10:49
I didn't mention it, because I thought it was obvious that is just a test score for demonstrating possible chord collision scenarios (
I understood that, jan, but is it possible that the constant use of wide symbols creates a worst case scenario that might give a false picture?
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,
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jan
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by jan » 24 Aug 2017, 20:02

Maybe the score looks untypical because you have so many collisions on just a few measures, but this is typical for a test score that demonstrates a problem. Still the problem is the same when you only have one collision per page: you have to decide what to do with the spacing.

And if you look at a jazz score (and that's what this is about), you may have plenty of these chords and even longer ones in just a few measures. Look at typical symbols like F#13, Bbm9, Eb6/9, F#sus7, Abm7b5, D#+7, C#Maj7, Gb7#11, Bb7/9b, ... depending of course on the chords' house style.
Even worse with alternate bass notes: F#m7/C# - a spacing killer if not written in two lines.

Here is another one that shows the problem of Finale's default chord spacing and an optimized (though not yet perfect at the end of the measure) spacing of chord symbols and slash notation: the slash symbols now all have the same distance, except if they have a chord above that would collide with the next chord. It is much easier to read than Finale's default where each slash depends on the chord above
(And no, I didn't design the chord symbols, I just used an existing file for testing).
chord spacing.jpg
chord spacing.jpg (73.67 KiB) Viewed 2123 times

erelievonen
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by erelievonen » 25 Aug 2017, 00:24

John Ruggero wrote:
24 Aug 2017, 10:16
it does seems strange when a chord symbol runs into a resting measure.
I don't see any problem with a chord symbol hanging over into a resting measure. Per definition, chord symbols remain valid also during rests, and chords might indeed be played during notated rests of a melody line, unless "No chord" is explicitly specified.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by John Ruggero » 25 Aug 2017, 03:45

In connection to what Ere said, if the rests always mean free improvisation, then version 1 seems fine. If there are situations where the rests mean an actual silence without a "no chord" indication, then the user might want the option of version 2.

The plugin appears to me to be a excellent improvement in the real world example with the slashes.
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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by Fred G. Unn » 25 Aug 2017, 22:06

I have to deal with chord collisions all the time, and I do it a variety of different ways. In Finale I almost always start with chord spacing turned off, as it generally looks like crap. On very rare occasions I'll turn in on for one measure or something. One of my favorite ways to avoid collisions though is to simply add a bit of space to the entire measure using the Measure Attributes Add: to width dialog box. Sometimes just adding 48-60 EVPUs to the whole bar is enough to avoid a collision after Finale respaces the system with that extra bit of space incorporated into that bar. I suspect it would with your D7sus - D7 collision, and then you have the bonus of keeping the slashes all even throughout the bar, which is musically what they are. Of course, they aren't even throughout the system, but they aren't with your plug-in or with Chord Spacing turned on either.

Also, even though I always left align chords, sometimes if there is an accidental in another part in the score, you have a little bit of wiggle room to work with on that beat and that is often enough to avoid a collision with the subsequent chord. The first chord of a system always has a bit of room to the left too. As there's no previous note, there's no confusion as to what note it belongs to if you need to move it a tiny bit left.

FWIW, I too have no problem with a chord symbol hanging into an empty measure. Pre-Finale 2008 the redraw routine drew the chord on top of an expression so it was easy to tuck a blank opaque expression behind the chord symbol to break the barline in the case of your Cmin7 in the 4th bar. Post-Finale 2008 they changed the rendering order and this no longer works. (And it incorrectly draws pre-Finale 2008 files too, bummer.) A case like that I might just create the chord as an opaque expression to break the barline.

I'm not sure if you can consider these possibilities with your plug-in or not, but just a few other chord options.

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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by Fred G. Unn » 25 Aug 2017, 22:16

erelievonen wrote:
25 Aug 2017, 00:24
I don't see any problem with a chord symbol hanging over into a resting measure. Per definition, chord symbols remain valid also during rests, and chords might indeed be played during notated rests of a melody line, unless "No chord" is explicitly specified.
This is true for a lead sheet, but not for an actual arranged part. I have no issue with a chord hanging into a bar with rests either way.

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Fred G. Unn
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Re: Spacing with chord symbols

Post by Fred G. Unn » 25 Aug 2017, 22:41

Just to clarify, here's your example with some extra space added to the bars with collisions:
ChordSpacing.jpg
ChordSpacing.jpg (736.1 KiB) Viewed 2094 times
System 1 is default spacing.
System 2 has 144 EVPUs added to the bars with collisions.
System 3 has 96 EVPUs added and then the colliding symbols were moved a few clicks away from each other, but not enough to cause any confusion, and probably not enough to even be noticed by the reader.
System 4 is default spacing with Avoid Collisions of Chords turned on.

It's interesting to me that in System 4 Finale adds 38 EVPUs to the measures that had collisions, and then spaces the beats unevenly. Personally, I usually opt for something like System 3 where all beats are clear, expanded measures are not overly so, all slashes are even within a bar. Once the slashes are uneven, as in System 4, I almost do a double-take to make sure beats 3-4 aren't dotted quarter - eighth. System 2 is fine on a deadline, but the expanded measures are just a bit too much for my liking.

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