Various Line Settings

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David Ward
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by David Ward » 13 Dec 2015, 21:59

I've just had laser-printed to both B4 & A4 the Act I draft of a piece I'm working on (although the definitive conductor's full score might need to be A3). I've applied my own approximation of the various line settings listed in this thread (and also the suggested hairpin opening). To my composer's, although hardly pro-engraver's eye, these settings all look good on the printed page.

However, I've noticed two further line thicknesses that appear to need modification from the Finale default (and which I imagine pro-engravers probably do as a matter of course). The tuplet brackets are almost vanishingly lightweight as are the word-extension lines.

That apart, I was surprised to discover that the A4 score was quite easily legible, for desk study at least, despite the fact that the B4 staves (maximum 42 to a system, I think) were in two of the three scenes as small as 3.5mm, so the A4 staves must be very decidedly small. I use Finale's Engraver font, in which even grace notes seemed to be readable on the A4 page, although tiny. I favour a slightly (not much) larger font than usual for the libretto in the score, which may help, although the italicized stage directions seem just a tad less easy to read than the sung words which are in a Roman font (for now Finale's Lyrics font, although I'd vaguely intended to use Minion Pro).

I never used to notice these things (beyond complaining if I couldn't read something), but perhaps it's good that I do now, as long as they don't become a distraction …

Vaughan
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by Vaughan » 14 Dec 2015, 12:19

Interesting discussion. I think that lines should vary between guiding the eye (staff lines) and catching the eye (stems, beams, ledger lines). The former shouldn't be too thick, as they are constant and therefore don't need emphasis. As such, I find ± 0.1 spaces for staff lines to be a good thickness (I agree that Finale's default of 0.075 is a bit too thin). Any thicker and the staff lines look emphasised to me, almost like someone in an ensemble who has a held note and plays it continually too loudly. Once such a note has been established, it's usually a good idea to recede slightly in volume: the ear will continue to hear it anyway. The other lines, e.g. stems, beams and ledger lines, are the changing ones and, as such, should be emphasised, as they need to catch the eye. That's why I prefer a slightly thicker stem (0.12) and a thicker ledger line (0.14). Having said this, the point Wess makes is a good one: these values need to be taken in the context of staff size and resolution (and make!) of the printer. I look upon a minimum of 1200 DPI as being essential for good music printing, with all its slightly skew lines and [gentle] curves. A high printing resolution also minimises the effect of digital rounding up/down errors.

Vaughan
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by Vaughan » 14 Dec 2015, 12:37

Good heavens, while I was writing the above (and, admittedly, eating lunch), there were more than 6 posts added! Lively discussion! The idea of adapting line settings to size reduction is excellent and very much in the spirit of hundreds of years of good engraving. As such, John's settings are very useful. Many thanks to him! I know this has also been discussed elsewhere on this forum, but this can also apply to glyphs like clefs when reduced, as well as elements like notehead size. I generally like Engraver, although I find the noteheads a bit crude, so I reduce their size to 22 points. For smaller staff sizes, however, I'll occasionally set the noteheads to 24 points.

Peter West
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by Peter West » 14 Dec 2015, 13:33

David Ward wrote:... although the italicized stage directions seem just a tad less easy to read than the sung words which are in a Roman font (for now Finale's Lyrics font, although I'd vaguely intended to use Minion Pro).…
With some fonts it may be advisable to use 1 pt bigger for italic text. If you change everything to Minion Pro it should not be necessary. (This is currently the standard font for Durand Salabert)
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Vaughan
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by Vaughan » 14 Dec 2015, 15:43

Minion Pro is a favourite of mine, as well. As elegant as classic Garamond but a bit more modern.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by John Ruggero » 15 Dec 2015, 15:37

This thread suddenly heated up again! Thanks to David for his suggestion about tuplet and lyric lines, which I will investigate, and his confirmation that the settings are satisfactory in a real world situation. Thanks also to Vaughan for his own settings and suggestions which I will also ponder and Peter for his additional suggestion regarding font size.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by John Ruggero » 16 Dec 2015, 02:56

tuplet line = lyric extension line = staff line thickness for all staff sizes? That is, .1, .125, .125, .133 for 7—4 cm staves?
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Knut
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by Knut » 16 Dec 2015, 14:18

John Ruggero wrote:tuplet line = lyric extension line = staff line thickness for all staff sizes? That is, .1, .125, .125, .133 for 7—4 cm staves?
To me, thats too Thin. I generally use the same setting for all line items which are not part of the staff, be that hairpins, tuplet brackets or octave lines. My setting is closer to the barline thickness, 0.14s to be exact.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by John Ruggero » 16 Dec 2015, 23:16

After experiment, including printing, Knut's equation of tuplet = extension lines etc. = hairpins seems good to me. I will therefore change my setting chart to read "other lines" for: hairpins, tuplets, extension lines, solid lines, dashed lines, octave extension lines etc. most of which are set in Finale>Smart Shape Options>Line Thickness.

For a .7 cm staff:
Staff line: 0.1 space
Ledger Line: 0.125 space
Barline: 0.15 space
Stem: 0.1 space
Other lines: 0.125 space

For a .6 cm staff:
Staff line: 0.120 space
Ledger Line: 0.150 space
Barline: 0.14 space
Stem: 0.120 space
Other lines: 0.150

For a .5 cm staff:
Staff line: 0.130 space
Ledger Line: 0.160 space
Barline: 0.135 space
Stem: 0.130 space
Other lines: .0.160 space

For a .4 cm staff:
Staff line: 0.130 space
Ledger Line: 0.166 space
Barline: 0.133 space
Stem: 0.130 space
Other lines: .0.166 space

For the combination of .7 cm. + 5 cm. staves:

Staff line: 0.11 space
Ledger Line: 0.15 space
Barline: 0.15 space
Stem: 0.11 space
Other lines 0.125 space

Hairpin opening for all sizes of staff: 1.33 space
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John Ruggero
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Re: Various Line Settings

Post by John Ruggero » 16 Dec 2015, 23:52

Vaughan, I use Maestro noteheads for the reason that you mention, the Engraver noteheads look crude to me. When I reduced them to 22 points, I noticed that they do not touch each other when on lines a third apart in chords. Even at 23 pts there is a space. Does one simply accept the space?

And honestly, I don't care for the Engraver quarter noteheads even at 22 pts. I think that if I used Engraver, I might change out the quarter noteheads to Maestro; the Engraver half note heads do look nice to me at 22 or 23 pts, however.

Perhaps this should be the start for a new thread on notehead shape?
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