Horizontal alignment of dynamics

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Jode
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Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:00 pm

Tom Gerou's and Linda Lusk's Essential Dictionary of Music Notation (1996) states that dynamic markings should be placed horizontally slightly before the note they belong to (image 1). Dorico, on the other hand, centers dynamics (image 2), as Daniel also told and showed on one of his great demonstration videos.

I don't have for example Elaine Gould's Behind Bars available to check what she says, and I'd like to know what the current standard of aligning dynamics horizontally is (and, if possible, "why and by whom").

I am busy composing a quite big work for female choir and piano, so this is important to me. Thank you so much. :-)
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Re: Vertical alignment of dynamics

Post by david-p » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:27 pm

Yes, I personally think your Ex.1 is much to be preferred. I have spent a lot of time moving dynamics in Sibelius! I find it a more musical placement and more readable than centering the dynamics on the note. Moreover, this style has been used by many distinguished 20th century publishers, though not in all cases.

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Re: Vertical alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:49 pm

david-p wrote:Moreover, this style has been used by many distinguished 20th century publishers, though not in all cases.
Yes and thank you.

Finale and Tom Gerou & Linda Lusk align the centre of a dynamic marking (be it p or ffff) to the left edge of the notehead. Dorico and - no surprise - Sibelius fully center the dynamics. Also I find it a bit hard to like the latter.

Really, lots of work to by hand move every single marking horizontally by hand. But if the standard really has changed, perhaps we then must adapt to it. ;-)
Last edited by Jode on Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by high5ths » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:51 pm

For reference, here is what Gould says (starting with the bottom of p. 102).
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:53 pm

high5ths wrote:For reference, here is what Gould says.
Thank you so much. This is exactly what I wanted to know. :-)

Other opinions/thoughts/arguments? :-)
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by jesele » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:12 pm

My take.

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:52 pm

We are dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of dynamics yearly. Are there really not more opinions and arguments? :o :shock:

Very sorry to disturb you, Daniel, but could you try to find some seconds to only very shortly tell us your thoughts? Thank you so much. :)
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Robby Poole » Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:58 pm

I have always been a fan of centering the dynamic under the note head.

In regards to Finale, I always thought Finale was close enough to the center of the note head, to be good. While Finale does use a point in the dynamic that seems centered, I always thought the point was a touch to the left of center, then Finale aligned this to the left of the note head. The displacement of the handle to be slightly left of center, gave the dynamic an appearance of being centered. At least to me...... Maybe others see it differently.


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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:38 pm

Robby Poole wrote:... While Finale does use a point in the dynamic that seems centered, I always thought the point was a touch to the left of center, then Finale aligned this to the left of the note head. The displacement of the handle to be slightly left of center, gave the dynamic an appearance of being centered. At least to me...Robby
Thank you, Robby. :-)

Knowing very well what you mean, and agreeing with you, I would not call it "displacement". :-) It is a very precise placement, the "centre to left edge" standard, which has been used all over the western world for a very long time (as also David states above). As I already said: "Finale and Tom Gerou & Linda Lusk align the centre of a dynamic marking (be it p or ffff) to the left edge of the notehead. Dorico and - no surprise - Sibelius fully center the dynamics." Please see the three attached PNG images (also Finale now included).

I have always liked this centre to left edge standard, and that is why I was actually quite surprised to see that Dorico is a centre to centre guy. And that again made me start this thread. Thank you, Jeffrey, for showing us that Elaine Gould agrees with Dorico. I then must probably get used to it, but I am not sure I like it. ;-) To me, fully centered dynamics look like being there clearly "too late", probably because the (correct) italics text style, which makes the dynamic "point" to somewhere after the note, not to the centre.
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by david-p » Thu Nov 10, 2016 10:23 pm

I should perhaps state that my perspective on this, as on most questions of notation, is that of a player and conductor. For me it is not what is supposed to be the "correct" practice that rules, but what makes the score easier to read (particularly to sight-read). For this reason I am not convinced that the tails should always point down in the case of a note on the middle line -- some times they look better up in the context, and I find that a dynamic slightly before the note (possibly that means centred on the left edge, as Jode says, but I am not sure) gives a musical flow to the look of the score. The Bärenreiter Neue Mozart Ausgabe, with its unmusical use of roman type for dynamics is not for me easy to read. By comparison, the Peters full score of Figaro has many dynamics ahead of the note and this and the italic font which leans to the right seem totally natural to me.

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Daniel at Steinberg » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:28 am

You can adjust Dorico's default approach to horizontal positioning of text-based dynamics using the Horizontal Position options on the Dynamics page of Engraving Options.

Dorico certainly does prefer centring dynamics on noteheads by default, and it takes a sophisticated approach to this that uses a carefully-chosen optical centre point for each dynamic. I think this is a good default starting position, though I certainly agree that there are many circumstances in which you might want to alter this default placement, and hopefully through the various controls in Engrave mode – i.e. both the Properties panel and the means of simply dragging or nudging a dynamic to the desired position – we make this reasonably easy.

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Thu Nov 24, 2016 11:27 am

Daniel at Steinberg wrote:You can adjust Dorico's default approach to horizontal positioning of text-based dynamics using the Horizontal Position options on the Dynamics page of Engraving Options.
As stated above, Finale and Tom Gerou & Linda Lusk align the centre of a dynamic marking (be it p or ffff) to the left edge of the notehead – see the attached image. I cannot find a possibility for that in Engraving Options – see the attached image. Only optical centre and left-hand side are available. What am I missing? Thank you.
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Daniel at Steinberg » Thu Nov 24, 2016 11:23 pm

Sorry if my previous reply misled you: you're not missing anything. Dorico doesn't currently provide an option for centring dynamics on the left-hand side of the notehead.

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:42 am

Thank you so much, Daniel. I dare hope that Dorico will support this one day. :-) Am I too optimistic? ;-)
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Daniel at Steinberg » Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:45 am

Yes, it probably wouldn't be too difficult to add an additional alignment option in due course. I can't promise when we might get to it, however.

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Mark Johnson » Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:31 pm

I would definitely use such an option. Thanks for considering!

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Re: Vertical alignment of dynamics

Post by wolframd » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:47 pm

david-p wrote:I have spent a lot of time moving dynamics in Sibelius!
I also agree, using the left edge of a notehead as centre looks best for me and is by all means common practice.

A hint for all users of the S-notation software: There is a plugin called position dynamics, very nice ;-)
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by steveparker » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:09 pm

I also centre dynamics to the left-edge of the notehead as default, or further left if cramped.

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by david-p » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:39 pm

The only problem I have encountered in moving dynamics to the left in Sibelius, apart from the time it takes, is that sometimes such dynamics move to the previous bar after reformatting, and I have even found them in the margin at the end of the previous page!

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:24 pm

Dorico_1.2_Version_History.pdf: "Alignment of text dynamics relative to the notehead. The Alignment of text dynamics relative to note option in the Horizontal Position section of the Dynamics page of Engraving Options has a new option: Align optical center with left-hand side of notehead."

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I am glad to see that in Dorico version 1.2, this issue has been addressed (see the attached image). Exactly what I was hoping for when starting this thread Tue 8 Nov 2016. Thank you so much.

Is there a way to have this option as default without a need of setting it every time when starting a new project? :)

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by pianoleo » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:34 pm

Jode,

Engraving Options > Dynamics > Relative to beats > Alignment of text dynamics relative to note:

Set as you like, then (bottom left of the dialog) Save as Default.
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:38 pm

pianoleo wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:34 pm
Set as you like, then Save as Default.
Oh, I did not remember that. Thank you so much, Pianoleo. :-)

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:52 pm

Jode wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:38 pm
pianoleo wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:34 pm
Set as you like, then Save as Default.
Oh, I did not remember that. Thank you so much, Pianoleo. :-)
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For some reason, does not work for me. After clicking 'Apply' and 'Save as Default' (having any new unsaved or old already saved project open), I get an error message (see the image), and no defaults are saved (within a file, the settings sure are saved). I guess Dorico is trying to save a 'settings file' containing the defaults, but is unable to do it. Ideas? :)
Last edited by Jode on Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by pianoleo » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:00 pm

There does seem to a problem here, too. On Mac I don't get an error message, and it does save to the open project but it DOESN'T save as a default for future projects.

I tried the same process for switching the appearance of "subito" and "sub." (at the top of the same dialog) and that seems to save as a default, correctly.
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Re: Horizontal alignment of dynamics

Post by Jode » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:06 pm

pianoleo wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:00 pm
I tried the same process for switching the appearance of "subito" and "sub." (at the top of the same dialog) and that seems to save as a default, correctly.
Interesting. So this new, warmly welcomed dynamics alignment option is some kind of a problem child. :lol:

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