Breaking Barlines for Lyrics on Non-Vocal Staves

I have an instrumental work where lyrics are added to a lot of parts. I’m finding that, in the score, the lyrics are conflicting with the grouped barlines (as you can see in the screenshot below).

I’ve chosen the “break barlines on vocal staves” option, but it doesn’t appear to apply to instrumental parts (ergo the name I’m sure…).

What do you recommend then for making these lyrics look clean and unobstructed?

It only works for actual Vocal ‘instruments’, e.g. Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass.

If you’e putting lyrics onto a Clarinet part, it won’t work.

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You can manually remove these by adding a bracket and barline change in Engrave mode.

Ok. So is there any way to do it then?

Ok…let me see what I can do. Thanks @dan_kreider

Ah yes: just deleting a grouped barline will cause all subsequent barlines to be not grouped. You’ll have to change it back afterwards.

And to our Dorico developer folks, consider adding this as a feature request! I know lyrics in instrumental parts aren’t super common, but it shows up in a lot of my pops scores…usually just “oohs” and “ahs”, but sometimes…!!!

Can I get specific enough to remove it from just the barlines that need it in a group?

So, for instance, that example above is on 3 flutes of a 7-stave flute ensemble group. I’d prefer to only remove the barlines under the staves that overlap with words—not every staff in the group.

So in this case, I’d just remove it from Fl 1-3 and not from the piccolo (above), alto, bass, and contrabass flute (below) parts.

Yes, of course. You can add or remove joined barlines from any staves at any point using the manual change.

I’m having trouble figuring out how…could you point me to a link in the manual? Thanks for the bother!

I think you’d have to unjoin the whole group, and then re-join Flutes 4 - 7.

Here’s a start: Deleting barline joins individually (

To add a joined barline back, select something in the top and bottom staves, then click the icon on the left:

Ok, thanks both of you! Its not working for me yet, but I’ll keep playing with it and come back if I’m still stuck.

I would urge the programmers to fix the spelling in the example from Lakmé by Léo Delibes used for the screenshot “Barlines on vocal staves”. Correct spelling is “Dôme épais”.


Are barline changes fixed to a given staff region? What I’m finding is that, if I change a barline for one measure across a staff group, then that whole system takes on the change and any adjustment or reset doesn’t kick in until the next system.

This is hard to put into words, so here’s a graphic…

So what I’ve done here is…

  1. Delete the group barline after measure 1 connecting all six of these staves together.
  2. Then I regrouped the top three staves together. Notice both these changes affected all measures going forward?
  3. Then I attempted to add a new group barline back through all 6 staves after measure 2, but it just reinstated the 6-staff group for the entire 6-staff system here. I ended up right back where I started…
  4. Graphic of step 3 below, but all it shows is that all 6 staves are connected again—instead of the bottom 3 staves being ungrouped for 1 bar like I intended.

So my question, maybe more succinctly, is, are barline group changes stuck in any given system? If this is the case, then I can’t edit them to get out of the way of the words like in my original post. At least, I can’t find a way…

If you want to break the barlines between staves for only part of a system, a different approach is needed. Here is an example in page view:

And here is the same example in galley view:

This example has two single players, each of which has a non-vocal instrument and a vocal instrument. To maintain the barline between staves before measure 4, the changes to the vocal instruments occur in measure 5. Note that this example has no bracketing changes in engrave mode.


Here is my attempt to recreate your example from post #16 in page view …

… and in galley view:

Each single player with lyrics has both a non-vocal instrument and a vocal instrument. In galley view, the staves for the vocal instruments must use the same clefs and key signatures as those used by the corresponding non-vocal instruments. I broke the barlines after the first and third measures by moving the notes and lyrics for the words parks and wondrous to the staves below, transposing the notes in the vocal staves if necessary, and hiding the instrument change labels.

If correct playback is needed, the sounds and expression maps for the vocal instruments must match those used by the corresponding non-vocal instruments. In addition, it may be necessary to transpose the pitches for each vocal instrument by changing a setting in the VST or by editing a copy of the expression map. If all this seems too complicated, you could use a hidden staff playing the non-vocal instrument throughout and configure the corresponding staff with instrument changes to be seen but not heard.


Complicated and a bit tedious, but I think you’ve found the only way this is possible right now!

Well done, and thanks so much for the effort you put into this!!

Side note: I’m hoping the devs think this is worthy of a feature request. I’d love to see a setting that auto-hides just the portion of the lines under lyrics so you’d still see some of the grouping, but the text would be unobscured. And I’d hope it would work regardless of instrument.

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If you have Dorico Pro and are not using dashed barlines in your project, there is a simpler way to selectively remove normal barline joins to a staff. First, give that staff an independent time signature. Then insert an independent dashed barline wherever you want to remove the normal barline joins to that staff:


Finally, make the dashed barlines look like normal barlines by changing the Gap length for dashed barlines to zero spaces in Engraving Options>Barlines>Design.