Barré chord fingering annotations for (classical) guitar

I have just started using Dorico for my classical guitar compositions, and overall I really like it! However, there is one common fingering annotation that regretfully seems to be missing or at least seems incomplete: barré fingering for the left hand. Traditionally, this is typeset as follows:

Screenshot 2021-06-26 at 22.42.57

  1. The ‘C’ character is often used to indicate it concerns a chord fingering, followed by an arabic number indicateing fret position. Alternatively, a roman number is used to indicate barré chord fingering.
  2. Barré fingering annotation can indicate a semi-barré (typically a “1/2” is prepended) or full-barré (default, covering all strings involved)
  3. The roman or arabic numerals that are used to indicate the fret position can actually be inferred automatically from the chord notes. (automatic prefil but with possibility to override would be awesome)
  4. An horizontal scope (dotted or uninterupted) line may be used to indicate which notes are in scope.

Being able to use the above would actually complete Dorico’s essential fingering feature set for (classical) guitar and increase the product’s attractiveness to guitarists.

You can easily achieve that with custom playing techniques:

I would just add that if you wish to indicate a specific fret, Roman numerals should be used. In the examples you post, the context and intent is clear, but the convention is to use only Roman numerals, as in the second one.

Hi @ludwignobel, thanks for the suggestion! I will have a look for this work-around. I did not look at “playing techniques” because this is really guitar fingering and not some (custom) technique, so I suppose there is much to say for having it show up with in the fingering sections (e.g. next to “Plucked Fingering” also “Barré fingering”) … but I see how I can get it in the end through Engraving Mode.

@rpearl , thanks. You are right. Without “B” (barré) or “C” (cejillo or capotasto) preceding the numeral it refers to just the fret position. I agree that Roman numerals are more prevalent, and sometimes also Arabic numberals are encountered (e.g. C5 instead of CV) in sheet music from some publishers (not many though; this example comes from Belwin-Mills (US)).

It’s not a workaround, but the Dorico way of handling this kind of symbols.
And you don’t have to go to engraving mode either, you can create and edit playing techniques from write mode.

Still, to reiterate, it would be useful to have a native Barré/hand position designating system that’s tied to properly realized TAB and possibly automated bracketing/fingering in the music staff.

Cheers,
Benji

'Custom" doesn’t mean unusual or non-standard -it just means we have the ability to add, extend or modify those that come with the product by default. As a guitarist (of sorts) I agree with you- I think it would be a very useful notation to have.

Hi dev__dorico.
I’m a classical guitarist using Dorico and created my own Playing Techniques for guitar barrés.
They reside within my Dorico 3.5 userlibrary as part of an xml file.
If you wish I could email you the file with instructions on where to put it (on a Mac - sorry, others will know where a PC puts it) and how to use it.

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I noticed the same thing and even if you can easily achieve what you need with custom Playing Techniques, but for the fret position we should create one PT for each fret position.
Moreover positions indicators are used by the strings as well, even though mainly in school books.

I think there is room for a small improvement adding a couple of options to the property tab for the
“C” (barré) playing technique:

  1. Show or hide the “C” (so that we can have just the numeral suffix and not the prefix, i.e. “II” instead of “C II”)
  2. Type of line: solid or dotted and with or without the inward hook.

Hi Beppe
I did that with my Playing Techniques - just different entries in the PT Popover.
p1 for 1st position; c1 for barré in first position; hc1 for half-barré in 1st position.
They have the optional continuation line and go up to the 15th fret.

Dear Andy, I’ve the same problems as described with my classical guitar notations.

I want to ask you if you would send me your xml file for guitar barrés. It would be a great help since I’m quite new to writing with Dorico. Many thanks in advance.

Kind regards
Michael Morenga

I’m not very good at figuring out forums!
I did reply to dev_dorico here …
https://forums.steinberg.net/t/re-barre-chord-fingering-annotations-for-classical-guitar/728114
I assume that this is still accessible?
My use of the Playing Technique editor may also be amateur - but this seems to work.
Also I edited the vertical line with the Lines Editor to get the arré with hook I wanted.

Andy, it looks like the messages that we exchanged (xml file and explanations) were “private”. I guess that if you click on a user’s name and then click on “Message” at the top right messages are sent privately. If you like to share the Playing Techniques you developed with everyone you would need to post it again here, so everybody can read/access it.

Other than that, thanks again: as guitarist and brand new Dorico user I was very exited to see that certain guitar features were introduced (I believe in version 3.5, and kudo’s to the Dorico team for that goodness!), but I got disappointed when I found out that barré fingering was not natively supported (but indirectly). However, your Playing Techniques work great and are an important reason that I am staying with Dorico since.

Forgive. a “noob” question, are the fingerings for tonal reference (i.e. to create a specific sound or tonality?) or as a learning method, or something else? I haven’t done much with fingerings, but I AM interested in writing classical guitar pieces. I wanted to see what the fingerings should indicate, just so I am more informed when I start on a guitar piece! Thanks in advance!

Since I’ve had another request and I replied privately last time, I’ll make this one public.
I hope this works OK for you …
Here’s an example of what it looks like and an image of where to put the file.
(It might be an idea to drag your original out in case you want to revert).

Now restart Dorico and you should be able to follow these instructions:-
Enter (Barré) Positions as follows:-
Click note or rhythmic position and press Shift and p
(For a continuation line, select the first and last notes relevant).
In the pop-up box enter …
for simple position indicators enter p n where n is the position number n .
for barrés enter c n where n is the position number n .
for half barrés enter hc n where n is the position number n .
Click return to exit.
The p n, c n and hc n entries are my own shorthand to bring up the relevant ‘glyph’.
It it easy to change the extension line to a solid one if you prefer within the Edit Playing Techniques dialog.
Choose category-> Guitar from the dropdown menu, select a position marker, change the continuation type and then click the little star that sets it as default…

and here is the xml file …
userlibrary.xml (246.6 KB)

I must say here that I am no expert with xml!
Cheers.

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The fingerings are put in the score for two reasons:
1.) for pedagogical clarity, and the ensure that the most efficient and effective combinations are being observed.
2.) The guitar has the ability to play the same pitch in a number of different locations, the same as any stings instrument. The context is one reason for using one fingering over another, and the tonal quality is the other reason - the same pitch on a different string will have a different timbre. That effect is multiplied with chords.

I would suggest if you are composing for the guitar, and are not sure about fingerings, to consult a professional to give you some advice as to what would be appropriate.

And, it’s not a “noob” question, but a smart one! It’s always good to know more at the outset than less, and even better not to make assumptions about how an instrument and its fingerings work.

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Thanks @rpearl! I do know someone who’s a pretty accomplished guitarist and teacher, so I will consult with them too! Thanks for the great info. I wasn’t sure if it was perhaps a training device or something more tonal (i.e. high notes on the low strings are different in tone color from the higher strings, etc.). Many thanks for the information! I will definitely look more into this!

Dear Andy, thanks a lot for your posting/upload/description.

I managed to install the file exactly as shown in your screenshot. :slight_smile:

After the restart and selecting the note (writing mode) I typed in as you described “Shift >P”, but to my “desperation” only a diminuendo sign shows up as well as the downstroke/upstroke-box …

kind regards
Michael

@MichaelD , I am not sure if it helps, but this is what you are supposed to see (I use Dorico 3.5) if it works and: (a) select the chord, (b) press shift-p, (c) type “c 5”, (d) press enter.