Add lyrics before melody?

Hope I didn’t miss somewhere. Couldn’t find this question answered anywhere. Half the time, my preference is having the flexibility to first write the melodic line then the lyrics, BUT just as often I write the lyrics first THEN the melodic line or alternately the chord progressions.

Other notation software I’ve used (Sibelius, Muse) REQUIRE users to enter notes first. I hate that restriction. While entering lyrics after the melodic line, finds the software correctly re-spacing the notes, the reverse should be just as possible: entering the melodic line would correlate with the lyrics.

QUESTION: Will Steinberg Dorico allow users this flexibility?

Thanks for your question.

You can’t currently enter lyrics first and then add the music afterwards in Dorico. Can you tell me a little more about how you think this might work? The way this is commonly done makes sense to me because it’s obvious where the lyrics should go relative to the music, but how would the lyrics be displayed in the music if there were no notes to go with them to begin with?

If the OP knows the rhythm desired, entering the rhythm all on one pitch and then the lyrics, would make it possible to then Lock note values and change the pitches later…

…but I’m not sure that would be noticeably more efficient than typing the words into a word processor (either hyphenated or copy and pasting via a web hyphenator) and then copying and pasting lyrics one syllable at a time onto the notes once the melody exists.

Thanks Daniel…the way I often prefer working is, while knowing the rhythm of the lyric line, in the same sense that scansion renders a line of say, Shakespeare. So I often (though not always) write out a line with pencil on staff paper, then sit at the piano working out chord changes and melodic line. I was hoping to dispense with the paper/pencil and be able to work directly in Dorico.

You’re right…I got your intent…as you wrote, “…makes sense to me because it’s obvious where the lyrics should go relative to the music, but how would the lyrics be displayed in the music if there were no notes to go with them to begin with?”

Ah…here is where I am hopful there is a way in Dorico to set the lyric across empty bars, then work out chords, then melodic line. Derrek’s opening remark is on it.

For example if the lyric were, say… “To see the blue of sky in sea” across two empty bars in a basic rhythm of 4/4 quarter notes, then when I later enter the pitches, Dorico would (could?) line up the pitches with the lyrics. Might there come to be a Dorico menu item: “Enter lyrics in empty bars”?
Dorico might have the menu item spoof the computer screen by having the software enter “invisible” quarter notes to accommodate lines of lyric. Not perfect, but possible?

Or I will have to stay with paper/pencil. Someone told me there are notation programs that will enter invisible notes for the lyric first user. Dunno


I was a little wary of embarking on Lyrics in Dorico at first - especially as I had some poetry ‘pre-written’.

Actually diving in, though, soon showed that it’s been thought out well (hyphenating, extending, verses, itals etc). I did find myself modifying text as I went along. But it was the better for it.

May i suggest that you give it a go - with the method Derrek suggests - and see how it goes? Good luck!

Derrek’s suggestion is a good one. You can always enter your rhythms in on a single pitch. Add your lyrics. As you work along, click on the “note” in question and then simply change the pitch. If you figure out a whole melodic passage, all you have to do is switch on the lock duration option and it will go right down the row changing pitches but not rhythms.

I envision the system as follows: Dorico has a clipboard with text that will be redistributed in future notation, and it is anchored to the first note that will have a syllabe. Then, using automatic syllabification - it distributes the words on to notation as the notation is written, with extending words on slurred passages and so on. It only unravels the part of the clipboard that fits the music already notated.
It could have an indicator of how many syllabes is left in that particular clipboard.
If the user changes the rhythmic structure of the music, the text is reflowed.

That would be magic!

PS. The remaining clipboard could be seen on the right side of the screen, somewhere in the vicinity where the next notes would be, to inspire the engraver/songwriter, and to refresh his memory.
PS2. The system could adopt overrides to the automatic reflowing, to accomodate spoken text between rhythmic notation and fringe cases, signalled by signposts.