Aleatoric notation/boxes/arrows/et al


I understand that Dorico is just not there in terms of graphic notation/aleatory. I’ve seen a few “work-arounds” to create arrows and the like (modifying hairpins, etc) but am less sure about some of the other notations…

• To make a box, I see that you can make a text frame in “Engrave,” but that it’s not ideal since it doesn’t move with the music and so needs to be adjusted at the very end of the project.

• To make an arrow I’ve seen that you can take a hairpin and change the aperture settings to make it a thicker line, and then add an arrow glyph at the end.

• To do a notation like the attached you’d probably need to input the repeat signs as text (opus font?) and situate those in “Engrave,” as well?

Do I have this all correct? Does anyone know if the latest update made any of these issues more manageable or is it on the docket for the next version?

Thanks for any and all advice.

Hello DSL!

Advanced notation for contemporary music is something that will be implemented in future releases (we don’t know how far, but we know the devs are already thinking about it)
Arrows and lines have appeared in Playing techniques in Dorico 3, so the workaround with the hairpins should no longer be necessary.
The only thing in your picture that requires a workaround would be the frame — I would add it after in a vectorial app. Repeats (like trmolos) are implemented since Dorico 1…

With regard to repeats, I think the OP means entering the repeat barlines on one staff only. Alt-enter will not work for this (at least in Dorico 2) so I believe his workaround is the only way to accomplish this, although I define a playing technique rather than use text. Repeat barlines are included in the Bravura font - no need to use Opus.

Repeat barlines work independently in Dorico 2 just fine, as long as you already have independent barlines. Having independent barlines is only achievable in the presence of independent time signatures, which may or may not need to be shown.

Absolutely correct. But one also needs to be aware that there can be serious playback issues with independent repeats if the playing of repeats is enabled in Playback Options. It is best to leave this unchecked as playback past those repeats may simply not happen, and the playback line will go back to a spot somewhere before they appear.

I guess that wouldn’t be the aleatoric effect intended then. :cry:

And also bar numbering will be independent too, so watch out!

Well this took me a good hour of looking through the forums, discovering some very savvy work-arounds (thanks xavierpages!) and figuring out some of the creating “playing technique” editing issues (that you can’t really use simple edit commands, but I’ve used Adobe software, so I can handle it…). All told between research, RTFM, and application through trial and error it took about an hour and a half to create the attached.

Everything moves as I go back and forth making adjustments–I imagine I’ll come to understand that behavior and learn to account for it. When using the new playing techniques of the repeat signs that I defined it said “an error has occurred” but still let me place them. I’ll add that I only want the repeat in that particular instrument, so it has to be entered that way.

For the arrow I used Xavierpages work-around and got to finding out how to use the arrow glyph after a bunch of trial and error.

The box I guess will not move with the music, so I may as well erase it until everything is entered and set.

I’ve been with Dorico since Dorico 1, and paid for upgrades each time. I’m beyond pleased with this forum and all of the help being offered, including by the lead developer himself, which I think is truly special. But the program in my case is just not fully-powered yet in all of the areas I need, and the implicit design of silos makes it much harder to make use of it in the way the user might want as opposed to what’s imposed on the user (eg you really have to get all of the music on the page, however it comes, and then go to a whole new environment to start making visual edits). Not to mention so much of the notational features are not customizable without getting into the work-around practice… it’s an old thread with lots of naysayers, but I still think I should get the tempo I type in the overhead box without it being “corrected,” or to be able to write “sub” without a period after it, just as I can write “Rit” that way…

So the short of it is for me that it’s an astonishing program with many very powerful features, but it’s still a ways off from being a tool I can simply and elegantly engrave my music on. This is now my second piece on Dorico, leaving my larger works for Sibelius still. I’m not doing anything wild here, just small works with common 20th/21st century techniques. I can’t imagine what goes into the planning and implementation of a music notation program, and this one is so impressive–I’m just sharing my point of view with the hopes that it will keep growing until I can get to a point where I use it in as flexible and intuitive way as I feel with Sibelius. Part of that is me, and a big part of that is the developing program.

Thanks everyone again for all of the help. It’s wonderful to see such community.

There is no question that not having the boxes is a difficult situation at this time for anyone requiring that feature. I also appreciate the care in which you express your concern and grievances. However, doing something for the first time in Sibelius was also time-consuming for me, although I understand that there are things implemented in Sib that are not yet present in Dorico. But since your example was made up of different workarounds that I have already used many times, I felt I should say that it took me all of six minutes to reproduce it, and that was including the creation of a playing technique requiring an arrow, but based on a text space and then moved in Engrave mode, where it will stay put using propagate properties. Now that the PT is created, the time to reproduce it would be considerably reduced. This is not to say that boxes are not required in Dorico, but rather to make sure that all understand that the time put into practising the use of any software is very valuable in saving time later on. I doubt that any software is immune to that. But please, do not interpret this as a dismissal of your post which I think is very valuable.

Thanks very much, Claude. I appreciate absolutely that “practice makes perfect” with these things, and that notation programs in general are software that require quite a bit of practice to learn.

If I’m honest, it’s important to acknowledge the head start other programs have gotten, but the biggest advantage of Sib in my mind–that it works very much like a word processor and allows dragging objects around easily and without switching modes–is somewhat lost here. Again, I know it will get easier as I learn it, but in 2019 I am hoping for better “out of the box.” It’s the third version, so my further hope is that much of these notations–which I consider to be pretty standard, at least–will be facilitated in this next version.

(and don’t get me started on the request for dynamics and tempi to be represented as I’ve typed them in and not how Dorico decides to be “correct!”)

But overall I’m grateful for the alternative and am sanguine about the future of the product.


I hope to find a way to use extension lines for aleatoric elements (often “mobiles”), with or without floating repeat signs (I prefer those over unwieldy box notation). Examples attached.

I have found the continuation lines in playing techniques, but none of those look good to me for this use, especially since I want it placed inside the staff, and ideally with the option for an arrow head.

In Finale I used a repeating tilde character sized at 24 or so and that works very well.

Thanks for any advice.

As a composer, I’m also frustrated that a lot of notations that are standard for at least a century aren’t considered in notation softwares. I wonder if the use of Dorico for contemporary music is that small. As a Finale user, I think Dorico is a very intelligent software that solved a lot of things I hated in Finale. Things like quarter tones, complex tuplets, tuplets crossing barlines or even beaming over barlines are a painstaking task on Finale, but easy as pie on Dorico. On the other side, you can’t create custom dynamics and articulations, or custom lines. It seems to me that all of those limitations are due to the software trying to make notation looks ‘correct’ for the user, and not due to technical limitations. I hope contemporary music is considered in a more significant way in future updates because I have to say, I’m very optimist about Dorico.

Having watched Dorico grow over the past few years, it strikes me that the developers have focused on implementing features that cater to the greatest number of users first, and appeal to the greatest proportion of potential switchers. I don’t think I’ve read any “no we’re never going to do that”-style messages regarding any of the things you’ve mentioned - it’s just that the development team have been busy working on other stuff.

It’s also worth noting that some areas of contemporary music are dependent on other areas: for example, until very recently Dorico couldn’t do non-standard lines at all. Now that the lines in Playing Techniques have appeared, it presumably opens the door to other areas.

The fact is that contemporary notation does not constitute the majority of scores today.

(Yeah, that’s largely unsubstantiated, but I stand by it).

That’s not to say it doesn’t matter—quite the opposite. And as Leo said, it’s certainly on the roadmap. But the team has to focus on features that are required by the largest number of users. Guitar was/is a big one…

I think my question got a bit sidetracked! :slight_smile:
I’m loving learning Dorico, btw. Can already see years of my life saved not fussing with positioning as much.

Maybe my question needs to be turned into a request for an option of repeating character (and font, fontsize) under “continuation type” in continuation of Playing Technique lines. (arrowhead as bonus!)

I found it IS possible to get the line I want using shift-x text (tilde, 24pt), but I’d have to have the right number of characters for each instance. And move it in Engave mode. However, the staff gets moved down to make space for the larger font, so I guess this doesn’t work.

David, is this not close enough?

(The only thing not visible in this screenshot is that I’ve scaled it up to 150% from the left end of the properties panel)

Beautiful! Thank you, Leo.

I assume you moved it in engrave mode?

Yes. If you look to the left of the line style property (in my screenshot) you can see there’s an offset. Chances are that if you go Edit > Propagate properties, it’ll put it in the right place (or pretty close) in the part.

Wow - some great hints for a beginner. Thanks again.

I can get it looking pretty nice in score at 250%. Tricky to adjust as the effect of dragging handles is then amplified. I did propagate properties, but it didn’t seem to work in the parts.

Hopefully the next update can make this sort of thing easy to do.

In Write mode you need to ensure that you attach the Playing Technique to the right place, which is measure 503. You appear to have attached it to the last beat of measure 502.
(You’ve also misspelt “independently”. Sorry; once a proof-reader, always a proof-reader!)