Breve note

Is there an alternative note to the default rectangular breve note? I am finding it difficult to read when playing as it tends to merge into the stave lines. I am also more accustomed to reading the semibreve with two vertical lines either side, so there could be a bit of unfamiliarity also. I can’t recall ever seeing the rectangular one in the past. It looks particularly strange to me when it has an accidental against it.

I would like to use the semibreve note with vertical lines if possible.

I agree — the default breve note in Dorico is great, but it would be good to have the alternative as an option as well. Dorico’s default breve note looks a bit funny with an accidental next to it, to my eye.

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but it needs a bit of additional infrastructure to support properly. For now, I’ve made a project that uses the rounded version of the breve notehead, which I’ve attached here. You should be able to copy and paste your music from your existing project into this one (after setting up appropriate players and instruments, of course), and you should find that your breve noteheads then become rounded.

Alternatively, you could attempt open heart surgery on your existing project, though this you do at your own risk! If you change the file extension from breve-noteheads.dorico to, you can uncompress the Dorico project using whatever unzip utility you normally use, and in the unzipped folder you will find a file called scorelibrary.xml. You could make a copy of your current project, then do the same procedure to that, i.e. change the file extension to .zip, then unzip it. Replace the scorelibrary.xml file in your own unzipped project with the one from the project I have uploaded. To remake a Dorico project that Dorico can open, select the four files and folders inside the folder that was created when you unzipped your project, not the folder containing this files, and make them into a zip file again. Change the file extension from .zip back to .dorico, and now try opening that copy of your project. You should find that your project opens up with round breve noteheads. Note that if you do this, any changes you’ve made to things like font styles, master page definitions, etc. will be lost and you will have to make them again. (60.7 KB)

Thanks for this - just what I needed!

Yes, thanks Daniel - I will try it on the next project that I need breves.

So, in a file created in 1.1.1, you get .dtn files, not .xml. Same technique no longer works. Any updated trickery?

Unfortunately not, but I could potentially do the surgery for you if you send me your project.

With all due respect, Daniel (and that’s a LOT of respect), you have enough to do without surgically altering all our breves. I believe this needs to be addressed in the next update, either as a “Double-whole (breve) notehead appearance” parameter in Engraving Options, or a switch to rounds as the default. Square breves are a cute nod to early vocal/choral, but they make chords utterly illegible and are therefore undeserving of default status. 2¢ deposited.

I agree that of course this should be an option in the program, but I certainly can’t guarantee that it will be an option in the next update. In the meantime, I am happy to try to apply this change to an existing project upon request.

Re. “square” breves becoming unreadable in chords, here’s a via media I haven’t seen anyone here mention:
Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 3.44.46 PM.png

  1. Does this follow engraving best practices?
  2. Is this something Dorico could be told to do automatically? It already is smart enough to move clashing unisons/2nds/cherry-stemmed notes into different columns; could that ability be extended to breves? That would solve the readability problem in chords without requiring the team to go through the rigamarole of enabling circular breves.

I can’t say I’ve seen this in a published score anywhere, but I find it perfectly readable.

Unfortunately, the square breves seem to confuse a lot of players — I’ve so far had two rehearsal mishaps because players misread these.

It is certainly easy to read as far as I am concerned. Chords with breves are printed like this in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (reprinted by Dover) – particularly found in final bars.

The original engraving of the Storace extract reproduced above uses a vertical stack, but the notes are smaller and do not touch. When I edited this in Shh-belius, it came out as:

Which seems the easiest solution to me.

(By the way, the dotted barline in the original example is not part of the original engraving, which has an unavoidable system end, not implying a barline.)


Has this been changed in the successive versions? If so, how can the squared notehead of the breve be changed to a rounded one in the settings options?

Yes, this is easily changed in Engraving Options—Notes—Noteheads.


Great! Thank you so much!!