In her music notation reference Behind Bars, (how many times do we begin a sentence that way?) Elaine Gould says, “When outer notes have opposite stem directions, move the slur at the stem end towards the noteheads so it does not tilt contrary to the direction of the pitches.”
But anyone using Sibelius’s default slur settings is treated to this abomination:
Fortunately, you can manually adjust the position of any slur in Sibelius. But who has time for that in today’s modern society?
In thinking of ways to spend fewer hours adjusting slurs and more time watching cat videos, I happened upon the settings in Appearance > Engraving Rules > Slurs — specifically the ones in Slur near note stem > Vertically:
The settings in a Sibelius default document are set at -0.25 spaces beyond the stem and 0.25 spaces beyond the the stem for eighth notes or shorter. What if we adjust those settings to -1.5 spaces apiece, like so?
We get this result:
Much better! But there’s the last slur in the example, which is touching the beam.
Fortunately, there’s another setting at our disposal. It’s in Layout > Magnetic Layout > Magnetic Layout Options.
By changing the settings for Beam > Avoid Collisions > Minimum distance around object to 0.25 spaces for Above and Below, the last slur in our example has enough breathing room once again:
Now, it should be noted that changing that last setting will have other ramifications besides slurs; other objects near a beam, such as technique text, will be repelled an additional 0.25 spaces. Perhaps you could split the difference with a slightly smaller value, such at 0.16 spaces.
Ideally there would be an additional setting in the Engraving Rules > Slurs to handle the space from beamed notes separately from that of flagged notes, instead of relying on the duration, so that adjusting the Magnetic Layout Options would not be necessary. Right now the Magnetic Layout Options for the Beam are propping up something that would otherwise look very strange:
But since Magnetic Layout is a fact of life in today’s modern notation software, I’m OK with it carrying us across the goal line here.
What do you think? Have you been manually adjusting slurs for years? Is there a potential downside to this approach that we haven’t considered? Or are you now celebrating all the free time you’ll have by using these new automatic settings? Please let me know in the comments.