Marc Sabatella

Honey, I shrunk the score!

publishedabout 1 month ago
2 min read

Hello! As discussed during the Music Master Class last week, I'll be coaching interested students in analysis of the first movement of Brahms' first symphony. I'll be highlighting this work from time to time in coming weeks during the Music Master Class sessions. If you'd like to take part in the project, please become an all-access member, and we'll see you in the new Form & Analysis space in the Community!

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, we take a look at ways of making your score smaller - not just the physical size, but other strategies for fitting more music onto fewer pages.

The MuseScore Café is live on Wednesday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

Tip of the Week

One of the very simplest things one can do to fit more music on a page is to simply make the staff size smaller. People are often hesitant as it might make the music harder to read, but realistically, this is often a necessary first step if you want to avoid overcrowding the page. In most cases, a combination of approaches is needed, and that's what we'll look at on Wednesday.

But meanwhile, if you've never seen the control for making your music smaller (or larger), it's the Staff space setting in Format / Page Settings. This is literally the size of the space between staff lines, and almost everything in your score (anything measured in sp units) then scales with it.

Staff space setting

The default of 1.750 mm for a staff space works out to 7 mm for the full staff (1.750 per staff space times four spaces per staff). That's actually fairly generous; anything from 6 to 7 mm is standard for instrumental music, and choral music is normally a bit smaller (5 to 6 mm) since it is typically read from a shorter distance. On the other hand, jazz lead sheets are often a bit larger, and music for children larger still.

By the way, even for those of us based in the US, I recommend keeping the Millimeter button checked here, as it's really hard to judge the size of numbers as small as what this turns into when measured in inches (0.0something). Also, note that the spin box for Staff space is difficult to type into. You need to select each digit individually to type a new digit. An annoying bug that appears to be fixed in current builds MuseScore 4, so, something to look forward to!

Music Master Class

This week I will be looking at music written in response to the events in Ukraine. We'll discuss pieces by Trevor Sabourin, humble new music, and Dean Hamill.

The Music Master Class is live on Thursday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

In Theory

For anyone interested in taking part in the Brahms analysis project, here's what appears to me to be an excellent MuseScore edition from user jayW:

The opening is a brilliant bit of contrary motion, with violins and cellos ascending (toward the tops of their ranges), violas and almost everyone else descending, with the parts staggered rhythmically but also set against pedal point in the bass instruments, for maximum tension:

excerpt from Brahms score

What an opening volley! Check out the score online or a recording to hear for yourself:

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