How crowded a SSATB score should be?

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lucas_r_r
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Joined: 26 May 2020, 12:56
Location: Portugal

How crowded a SSATB score should be?

Post by lucas_r_r »

Hello fellow engravers. As an inexperienced engraver, I’m posting this question hoping I learn more from more experienced ones like you. I’m learning one thing at a time while I publish some of my arrangements for jazz choir.
My main question is about how to layout a page for an SSATB choir. Since I live in Europe, I’m laying music out in A4. I’ve already published an arrangement like this, but which had a soloist part. In this case, being 6 staves per system, the choice was clear to me: 2 systems per page. However, with this other arrangement of “Shine on you crazy diamond” I don’t have a soloist stave, so it’s 5 staves per system. It’s meant to be played acapella, so I don’t have a piano accompaniment, but I’ve chosen to provide chord symbols for rehearsals and for the sake of flexibility. I’m using a 4.8mm stave size, the lowest recommended by Gould for choral music.
This makes laying out music a bit tricky. 3 systems per page looks fine then there is not many info on the page, typically when there are few dynamics, not many lyric extender lines and not so many chord changes. But adding gradual dynamics, chord symbols and lyrics makes it very cramped, specially in sections with many ledger lines and slurs on them. Some pages would need a lot of adjustment and still would look barely legible.
So I need to make a decision before starting nudging things around! This example is before making any adjustment, with just some general adjustments to slurs positioning, chord symbols and lyrics spacing in Engraving rules in Dorico, so a lot of collisions occur. I’ve tweaked some of Dorico’s defaults, but I haven’t gone too far in that regard. Page 2 is very cramped, has a lot of collisions and solving them would make the page layout very unbalanced.
Pages 2-3
Pages 2-3
WhatsApp Image 2023-06-25 at 11.51.33.jpeg (366.33 KiB) Viewed 24037 times
However, some other pages look fine to me (pages 5 and 6)
Pages 5-6
Pages 5-6
WhatsApp Image 2023-06-25 at 11.53.03.jpeg (344.9 KiB) Viewed 24037 times
Lastly, an example of a 2 system per page layout.
Sparse
Sparse
Captura de ecrã 2023-06-25, às 12.37.07.png (182.54 KiB) Viewed 24037 times
Thinking in practical terms, 3 staves per system would make it fit in 6 pages, whereas 2 staves would make it 9. From a rehearsing point of view, would it be preferable to make it in fewer pages but cramped or sparse but in more pages?
Cor anglais 16
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Joined: 16 Jan 2018, 16:59

Re: How crowded a SSATB score should be?

Post by Cor anglais 16 »

I think page 2, the most problematic in what you’ve included, is actually rather good/a good starting point, albeit you’re right that there needs to be more space between the systems. In Dorico in this case I’d start by reducing the amount of space between the dynamics and staff in Engraving Options. I think that should allow the staves to come closer together and allow for more automatic padding between the systems.
lucas_r_r
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Joined: 26 May 2020, 12:56
Location: Portugal

Re: How crowded a SSATB score should be?

Post by lucas_r_r »

Thank you for your reply! Yes, I think if I can solve page 2, it's worth to make it 3 systems per page. Maybe I can be strategic about system and page breaks, or just micromanage that page. I might "cheat" and reduce slightly staff size just for that page.
Thank you for your comments!
Schonbergian
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Re: How crowded a SSATB score should be?

Post by Schonbergian »

Older scores would often place the dynamics on the stave to solve this sort of issue. I believe it is a very favourable solution.
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OCTO
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Re: How crowded a SSATB score should be?

Post by OCTO »

Schonbergian wrote: 28 Jun 2023, 16:15 Older scores would often place the dynamics on the stave to solve this sort of issue. I believe it is a very favourable solution.
I have seen even hairpins placed on the staves, when angled. Can't remember now what score it was.
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benwiggy
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Joined: 11 Apr 2016, 19:42

Re: How crowded a SSATB score should be?

Post by benwiggy »

The page header region is pretty large, by comparison with the rest. You could reduce it slightly.

What staff size are you using? I tend to use a 15pt staff (3.75pt space), which is slightly smaller than Size 6. Choral music can be written quite small -- in fact, the often-seen schoolboy error is using too large a staff. As long as the lyrics are legible, of course!

I'd agree with the comments about trying to reduce the space that Dorico uses to avoid items between staves and other objects.
lucas_r_r wrote: 25 Jun 2023, 11:46 Thinking in practical terms, 3 staves per system would make it fit in 6 pages, whereas 2 staves would make it 9. From a rehearsing point of view, would it be preferable to make it in fewer pages but cramped or sparse but in more pages?
Remember that a booklet will always be a multiple of 4. So 6 pages leaves you 2 blank pages; while 9 leaves you with 3. You could use these for title page and blank pages (page 2 and 12.) Alternatively, you may be able to get the music onto 8 pages if you reduced the Note Spacing a bit.
lucas_r_r
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Joined: 26 May 2020, 12:56
Location: Portugal

Re: How crowded a SSATB score should be?

Post by lucas_r_r »

Thank you all for your answers!
benwiggy wrote: 30 Jun 2023, 08:40 The page header region is pretty large, by comparison with the rest. You could reduce it slightly.
Noted! Thanks!
benwiggy wrote: 30 Jun 2023, 08:40 What staff size are you using? I tend to use a 15pt staff (3.75pt space), which is slightly smaller than Size 6. Choral music can be written quite small -- in fact, the often-seen schoolboy error is using too large a staff. As long as the lyrics are legible, of course!
I’m using the smallest size Gould recommends, which is 4.8mm, which I think is smaller than what you suggested.
benwiggy wrote: 30 Jun 2023, 08:40 Remember that a booklet will always be a multiple of 4. So 6 pages leaves you 2 blank pages; while 9 leaves you with 3. You could use these for title page and blank pages (page 2 and 12.) Alternatively, you may be able to get the music onto 8 pages if you reduced the Note Spacing a bit.
I didn’t think about the booklet question. Since it’s for amateur choir, I expect they print the sheets and store them in a transparent sheet (I don’t know how these are called). So I actually thought about engraving it to be printed in 3 spare sheets.
Schonbergian wrote: 28 Jun 2023, 16:15 Older scores would often place the dynamics on the stave to solve this sort of issue. I believe it is a very favourable solution.
Good point!

I think I’ll work from here, with 3 systems per stave and setting up engraving rules so I reduce space to header and space for dynamics. This and slurs are the ones eating up space, together with lyrics, although I don’t know if I can do a lot about them without breaking the horizontality.
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