Can't do system break mid-measure in Dorico 4

I installed Dorico 4 and found that I can no longer do system breaks mid-measure. Previously, Dorico could insert system breaks at any rhythmic position. However, in Dorico 4, when I do a system break at beat 4 of a measure, the system break occurs on beat 1.

System Break Bug

System Break Bug.dorico (466.5 KB)

There’s an option now for this. Read the Version history or watch Anthony Hughes’ video about Layout.

There’s now an option for whether it should ;snap’ to the nearest bar somewhere.

You should still be able to move the Break using Alt - arrows, along the duration grid.


Here is the relevant page in the manual for this option.


Great, thank you. That worked!

I’m not sure if this is a Mac-specific or recent update thing (just did a fresh download yesterday) but I’ve unchecked the “Snap system and frame breaks” option, clicked apply, and it still continues to break at the barline instead of mid-measure as expected. Any help?

Does the same thing happen in a brand new project?

Yes, I just tried the same thing in a brand new project and made sure the Snap System option was still unchecked and it still is moving the whole measure containing the selected note to the next system.

Using . or , or Move to Previous/Next will always move the whole bar. Select an item in the bar then use Shift+S to create a mid-measure System Break.

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Thank you! Worked like a charm.

While this certainly works as advertised, I think the place in the settings is rather counter intuitive and hard to find. This was the second time I had to resort to Googling to find the proper place. The place where most people will probably look is under Notation options or Layout options, and not Preferences (iPad). Just my 2 cents

Also, if it were me, I’ve had it default to the older setting.

It doesn’t make sense for it to be in Layout Options or Notation Options, because everything in the five main …Options dialogs all affect the project retrospectively, i.e. changing any option in those dialogs will cause the layout to change immediately, or the way the music is notated to be changed throughout the affected flows, or cause playback to be recalculated, etc.

However, there’s nothing for Dorico to do when you say, “I want to allow system breaks to be created in the middle of a bar”. There’s no retrospective edit Dorico can make to your project in response to changing that setting.

So it’s not an option in the way Dorico defines it. It is rather a preference, something that you set that specifies how your own interactions with the software will work.

I realise this is subtle, but it’s an important distinction and one that we consistently apply for the application as a whole. Once you have understood it, it will help you to know where to go looking for different kinds of options and preferences.


I just ran in to this issue and don’t understand why the default is set to disallow breaks in the middle of a measure. Someone who doesn’t want breaks in the middle of a measure would quickly see that they should select something at the beginning of a measure. Someone who wants breaks will be bewildered as to why they are not happening.

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Actually, depending on your workflow and the content of the music (think all notes at the beginning of the system are tie chain ends) it can be very convenient not to make sure you select the right object — especially if you alt click the break from somewhere else in Write mode…


Sorry that I didn’t express that very clearly. I agree and am glad that the option is provided for those who find it helpful. But I’m not so sure that an option that is a convenience for some should take precedence (that is, be made the default) over an option that is an essential function for others.

I guess whatever the decision they take (to make 1 or 2 the default preference), half of the people (according to an American study — joke included) will be dissatisfied :person_shrugging:

I’d suggest that breaking bars is “not what is wanted” for 99.999% of the times that people want to add a break. Spitting the bar is an ‘edge’ or ‘niche’ case, for bars that are excessively lengthy for one reason or another.
(Awaits examples to the contrary…)

As I mentioned earlier, even with the preference OFF, you can still ‘nudge’ a System Break along the Duration Grid with Alt Left/Right in Write mode.

Something has to be the default, and the most common usage should involve the fewest steps, and the rarest usages require the most. You’re not prevented from splitting bars: you just have to change the default.

Otherwise, you end up with an interface where everything takes an inordinate amount of effort, regardless of whether you’re doing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, or a Penderecki symphony.
(Mentioning no notation apps for which that is the case…)


I’d agree with that reasoning in most cases, but this default seems to run against the non-bar line-oriented premise of Dorico.

Awaited example: They are relatively rare, but not that rare in piano solo music. While I normally avoid them like the plague, I just had to do 6 different broken measures within 12 systems: Var. 31 of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations because of the very long figurations. And there was another one in Var. 32 that was the best solution to a difficult page turning problem.

If I remember correctly, there was a significant amount of user feedback suggesting that automatically putting breaks on barlines, wherever in the bar the user had selected an item, would be much desired. Particularly in the recording session preparation world, where parts need to be turned around on very tight deadlines, and virtually never require system breaks mid-bar.

Dorico has options to allow you to customise it for your needs. For some options, the choice of factory default may well be six of one, half a dozen of the other.

People are very welcome indeed to share their ideas about whether they prefer having the system/frame break preference default to “barlines” vs “allow mid-bar”; the split of opinions would be of interest to the team, I’m sure.

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