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Spacing vocal music

From: David Feuer
Subject: Spacing vocal music
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 21:47:43 -0500

After looking (fruitlessly) through the manual, checking a bit through
the mailing list archives, and experimenting over and over, I think I
may have figured out the problem I'm having, as well as a hint of its
solution.  It appears that LilyPond sets horizontal spacing for vocal
music without regard for #'shortest-duration-space or
#'spacing-increment.  The result is (to me) ugly and difficult to
read, and utterly unlike any other vocal music I've seen.  If I am
wrong, or if there is a good way to work around this, I would love to
hear about it.

My thoughts on a possible solution (rough, because I don't know any of
the program details):

The natural space following a note in vocal music (the amount of space
it will have if ragged-right is in effect) should never be less than
the space calculated as usual using #'shortest-duration-space and
#'spacing-increment.  The current behavior could be obtained by
setting these to 0 in vocal sections (using a new spacing area), or
(probably better--see below) by using different variables to control
spacing in vocal and non-vocal sections.

If the lyrics font size is set to 0 throughout the piece, the music
should be engraved exactly the way it would be if there were no lyrics
(except for vertical spacing).

If possible, it would be nice for the effective
vocal-shortest-duration-space to be set based on something roughly
like the third quartile of the lengths of the syllables attached to
the common shortest notes, but never tighter than the user-set
vocal-shortest-duration-space.  That way, the text would be fairly
tight in faster parts, as it is now in all parts, and looser in slower

David Feuer

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