Choosing where to show different system objects

In a lot of editions of chamber music, especially with a single instrument or vocal line and piano, I’m used to seeing immediate tempo markings only above the top staff; showing them above a top staff as well as immediately below it above the piano part is redundant and can look cluttered. Tempo changes like rit., accel., and even a tempo, on the other hand, are often shown at the top and above the RH piano staff. Unfortunately Dorico considers both immediate and gradual tempo markings to be system objects and they are treated the same as to where they’re shown. Is there a way to get Dorico to do what I’ve described above without having to resort to a workaround?

No. It’s not considered to be current practice. You’ll need a workaround (presumably using staff text).

That’s what I was afraid of. But… ‘not considered to be current practice’? What?! Take a look at practically all standard vocal and instrumental repertoire that involves a single staff plus piano. It’s almost always notated this way in pretty much every edition I’ve looked at.

With the caveat that Gould is not the only god (though she’s usually right), what she has to say on the matter is:

“Tempo indications are printed in bold roman type and are usually larger than other text so as to be very conspicuous. The only exception is when a rubato marking such as accel. or rall. refers to a singe line (e.g. a soloistic passage in an ensemble piece) and is not a general tempo change for the whole ensemble. Such an indication uses small italic type, as an expression mark would.”

“Place all tempo indications above the uppermost stave, and above all other performance instructions.”
“In orchestral and ensemble full scores, tempi are usually repeated lower down the score.”
“In orchestral scores, tempo markings appear above the top stave, and also above the string section, below and vocal or solo lines.”
“In small ensemble scores, place tempo indications once, above the top stave. Where a keyboard player will be playing from the score, and there is more than one intervening stave between the tempo indication and the keyboard part, restate the tempo indications above the keyboard as well, so that they are sufficiently conspicuous.”
“Where a singer is to read from a full score in which the vocal stave is positioned in the middle of the system, place additional tempo markings above the vocal stave.”

Most of that’s page 182, some of it’s on page 520 (in my English copy). I cannot find any mention of gradual tempo indications being treated differently to absolute tempo indications.

Yes, I own and regularly refer to Gould, as well, but I would look upon the endless reams of music of all periods and published by all kinds of editions as being more definitive as to what should be considered common or perhaps even current practice than a single reference work. I don’t generally make a habit of using ‘they all do it that way’ as a valid argument but, in this case, it most certainly is is what practicing musicians are used to seeing. Practically speaking, immediate tempo markings in large, bold type are easy to notice, whereas gradual markings, traditionally in smaller, non-bold, italic type, are easy to miss. One could also claim that it’s current practice to set gradual tempo markings in large, bold type, as well, but those of us [keyboard players] who are used to seeing these markings on the grand staff can miss seeing them there. And for a program like Dorico, which caters to musicians of all walks of musical life, this should perhaps be a setting. Just to be sure, I checked my extensive library of repertoire for piano plus a single voice or instrument and this is almost invariably the way it’s done. Sorry, pianoleo, sorry, Gould.

I agree with Vaughan (as obviously, we work in the same field). I was quite surprised at first to see that the default of gradual tempo changes was bold and not italics. It looks to me as if there is an attempt to create a new “tradition” based on consistency.

I don’t have any idea what’s in your collection, Vaughan, but just taking a brief look at the scores currently on top of my piano, they pretty much all seem to either have ALL tempo markings above both the solo instrument/voice AND the piano staves, or all tempo markings above just the solo stave.

For the record, I’m looking at
Bartok: Contrasts (Boosey, 2002)
Glazunov: Saxophone Concerto (Alphonse Leduc, 1936)
Milhaud: Suite (Salabert, 1937)
Dvorak: Cello Concerto (Peters, 1975)
Schumann: Liederkreis (Bärenreiter, 2015)
Rodney Bennett: A History of the Thé Dansant (Novello, 1994)
Wolf: Italianisches Liederbuch (Dover reprint)
Some miscellaneous Schubert songs, Breitkopf

The only exceptions I can see here right now are:
Prokofieff: Sonata No. 2 (Boosey, 1946) which has absolute tempo markings printed above just the solo (violin/flute) stave, but a few italicised gradual tempi printed on multiple staves
Jolivet: Chant de Linos (Alphonse Leduc, 1946) which is a bit of a mess, really - all tempo markings are printed once, sometimes above the flute stave and sometimes above the piano grand staff.
Wolff: Mörike-lieder (Peters, old but not sure how old - price is pre-decimal so certainly pre 1970) - has most tempi italicised but only appearing on one stave. Absolute tempo marking at beginning of each song is a regular Roman font.

Obviously this is an entirely unscientific sample, but virtually all of it falls into the category of

It’s most certainly not almost always notated the way you’ve described.

…and yes, the top of my piano’s a mess…

In due course we do intend to make it possible to have gradual tempo changes appear on every staff and be drawn in italics, as is still often done in vocal scores. But there’s no good way to achieve this at present.

I wouldn’t trust a pianist whose piano wasn’t a mess! :wink:

I could come with a list of editions which does do it the way I’ve outlined but I don’t have the time and besides, who cares? :laughing:

As Daniel wrote, it still is often done, and not only in vocal scores but also instrumental works. I can indeed imagine its being difficult to implement at present, though. Perhaps with a new category, i.e. splitting the Tempo category in two. Looking forward to it, however it gets implemented.


Jumping on this old thread, how might I have tempo markings appear above the second piano part in a two-piano score? They’re only at the top of system.


Go to Layout Options/Staves and Systems/System Objects. Here you can include the second piano.

Dear Vaughan, how would you do that? I think a workaround here is necessary… In setup mode, use the change instrument function for one of the pianos, choose harp (grand staff instrument but percussion one), then you can select the percussions and keyboards in Staves and systems/System objects — and rename the harp as a piano.

That works great, thanks! Though surely this should be the default, without requiring a workaround?

It’s an area where I’d certainly like more granular control. I feel like some fairly ordinary scenarios haven’t been considered, such as piano duet music, double-choir stuff etc.

Sorry. Indeed, I’d forgotten that it’s only possible for instrument families and that a workaround for this rather common scenario is necessary.