Choral Particularities

Greetings all,
Much in the vein of the “Organ/Keyboard particularities” thread, I thought it might be helpful to start something similar for choral writing.

FR for D4: I would love it if there was an option to automatically center lines of lyrics between condensed SA/TB staves when there is only a single line of lyrics. It can look terribly odd when the vertical spacing calculations are made and then the single line of lyrics are floating conspicuously high (under the altos) thus being quite far from the tenors. I think most people would agree that the second version (bottom) is preferable.

Fortunately this is easy-enough to fix with the now adjustable baselines (I really use this so much… I’m so happy to have it!). I’ve just run up against this particular issue multiple times in the project I’m working on today.


I have nothing to add or ask today other than I’m glad you started this conversation. I’ll visit it frequently.

FR: I would love it if there was an option for “has extender line” in the properties panel so you could manually activate extender lines in cases where the soprano might not require one but the alto does. It is very common to show an extender line rather than cluttering a condensed stave with too many slurs.

You can fake this by switching to the alto voice for just that lyric, but it can pose other hazards such as inadvertent verse numbers or even misalignment depending on what precedes.

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Also, for anyone discovering this thread in the future, if—prior to any proper implementation—you have a lyric that needs to extend into a second ending, you can simply turn the last word/syllable prior to the second ending (that is in the first ending) to syllable type = “middle” and then drag the extender line into the correct place.

A huge +1 for the extender line functionality.

And I suppose while I’m at it, I’d also love it if there was an option for a double-whole note that was flanked only by a single line. Many published psalm books that I have use single, rather than double, lines and I think it looks a lot cleaner. Sadly, using the squared version isn’t practical at all for chords (IMHO). (For single-line chanting, yes; chords, no.)


For anyone who needs it, there is a toggle for stemless notes.

Nice thread.

It is very common to show an extender line rather than cluttering a condensed stave with too many slurs.

or any slurs.

There should be a special place in hell for those who would use dotted slurs here.

Off the top of my head, I have at least two or three things that would be helpful. They’re slightly nitpicky and have either in-Dorico or out-of-Dorico workarounds that do well enough for the time being, but a good amount of time might be saved by having them addressed someday.

  1. For those of us who sometimes need to put many lyrics under a single note (for e.g. chanting), it would be nice if there were an option (perhaps in the properties panel of a lyric? an engraving option?) to tell Dorico that any given lyric must be fully contained within the bar and barline. In the attached pic, you can see that Dorico doesn’t do this by default. For normal lyrics for most other vocal music, I imagine there’s a good reason for this, but I would love to be able to adjust this quickly when it’s not desired. As it is, at the moment, this can be achieved with a note spacing change, but this is fussy, often requiring trial and error, and when having to do many of them, especially multiple adjacent ones, it can become fairly time consuming. I’d love to be able to flip a switch and have it automatically adjust.

  2. Mensurstriche present some problems at the moment, essentially because of the way Dorico calculates when and where to draw them. Some of this may have been pointed out before, but at the moment, it’s not possible to do, for instance, double (or otherwise multi-) choir music properly, as Dorico draws mensurstriche between all staves that contain underlying virtual barlines, including the bottom staff of choir 1 and the top of choir 2. Deleting the virtual barline locally on either the choir 1 bass or choir 2 soprano would get rid of the barline between the choirs, but it would also get rid of the barline on the other side of the staff as well. So, as far as I’m aware, fixing this requires out-of-Dorico editing in a pdf editor, which is never ideal.

Furthermore, anything besides standard mensurstriche is generally out of the question, for the same reason. If for instance, I wanted put together an edition of a piece of early music that mixed in a little bit of modern barlines or dotted barlines on a per staff basis to help a non-early-music-fluent choir read or grasp the music a little better, it doesn’t work out too well (for the record, I have indeed wanted and tried to do this. It didn’t work out too well :laughing: ). For instance, you can’t draw a dotted barline within the staff at the same position mensurstriche are drawn outside of it. I realize this is probably totally niche, and some of it might be addressable using the new line tool (as long as it is either currently or eventually possible to draw lines between staves and line them up exactly with barlines and set their appearance so they visually match up with barlines), but I figure it’s worth mentioning as it would save lots of time to not have to manually do each one. I rarely presume to give advice as to how the team might address a certain issue, but I could imagine a little section in the far reaches of the property panel where one could set the appearance of different segments of the barline (above, within, and below the staff) to either solid, dotted, or invisible (and even double, final, and most of the other options too, I suppose), all independently of one another and all on a per staff basis. This could be used to address the double choir issue, the above-mentioned mixing of styles issue, as well as perhaps some other unforeseen issue that is relevant in some other sorts of notation (Schenker perhaps?). (Funnily enough, it would also fix an ossia w/ vocal staves issue I was complaining about several months back, fwiw).

I suppose while we’re on mensurstriche, I should point out that a document that is set to use them probably shouldn’t rightly have barlines in the parts. Again… very niche, but I have had occasion to do the parts as well as the full scores, and while it’s not much of a hassle to fork my saves (if memory serves correctly, I think I had trouble when I tried to do this in separate flows for whatever reason, though I could be mistaken), it would be nice to not have to.

And there’s, of course, the hope that one day, one will need not force durations (or add extra space in the case of temporary homophony) to get rhythms to play nice over the barlines. Along those lines, it’d be nice if by default when using mensurstriche, the note grouping is set so no ties are drawn, or at the very least, have it as an option in the note grouping to never use ties.

  1. I’m fairly certain this has indeed been mentioned before, but I’d like to register my support for the ability to change staff/instrument order on a per flow (or even perhaps mid-flow) basis. On one of the same pieces that I came across all of my mensurstriche issues, I needed to have a single movement with the choir reduced and reordered (the Benedictus of a Victoria mass only used SATTB instead of SATB-SATB. Technically speaking, SAB of choir 1 does not sing in the Benedictus, but for a modern edition that is to be used by modern choirs, the choir 1 SABs do appreciate having something to do). The solution there is either to have an additional tenor section that sings only in the Benedictus or to just leave the ordering as SATB-SATB with a bunch of blank staves. The former creates issues if you’ll be needing parts (obviously not tremendously common with choral stuff, but definitely could be necessary in other things) and the latter takes up space that could be put to better use.

So yeah… just a few things off the top of my head :wink:

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Oh, one other item I wanted to mention:

I find myself needing often to deal with hymns and, subsequently, often wishing there were a little more flexibility in editing the appearance/formatting of verse numbers and/or attaching items to them on a per verse basis. Attached are a few pics that demonstrate things that come up. Some of them are common enough conventions; others probably not so. I don’t know if there’s a true satisfactory solution to making these sorts of things easier, but I do know that editing and moving these things by hand can be tedious, especially in bulk.

On the subject of asterisks (and not related to choral music necessarily), I have always had this pipe dream that notation software might someday deal with annotations/footers/etc. the same way a word processor does (ie automatically generating a linked footnote when inserting a citation in the text body and subsequently keeping both on the same page even as things move around). I think this would be super handy and it’s probably the one thing I’ve mentioned in this thread that might have somewhat wide appeal :laughing:



All good ideas. I’m especially intrigued by the footnotes idea. Also agree about the chant issues. I partly help this issue by using square double-whole-notes for long chanting tones. It leaves more space by default which helps. Doesn’t work well for anything that’s chordal though. The underlining thing is another pickle I deal with all the time (also for hymnody). I’ve started using shift x and turning off collisions and alt clicking it around the score after I’ve adjusted the first one. Saves time but it is cuddly nonetheless.

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Yes, indeed, I do the same thing for the special underline. I don’t think there’s really a better way at the moment.

Turns out I’ve got another another item :smiley:

I love that in divisi for for vocal music the little divider arrows show by default, and it’s great that this is in the engraving options menu to turn on or off. The issue I’ve just come across is that I have a document that needs to sometimes show it and sometimes not show it (it should show when a section is dividing into smaller sections, but it should not show when adding a staff for a soloist). I’d love a toggle in the properties panel to turn it on or off case by case.

I do realize that there is a workaround—anytime a soloist is needed, add a full extra player and hide empty staves (ie don’t use the divisi function) OR for less hassle but extra jank, just throw a blank text box over it with “erase background” invoked, my method of choice for the night :laughing: —but it’s a shame to have to go this route when all the functionality is there, just inaccessible given the menu options.

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Can anyone tell me how I can get the alternate version of the double whole note ( “uniE1D0.salt01” as my notehead? I’ve gone into the notehead editor but I cannot figure out for the life of me which category it lives under, and it’s not under “noteheads” and there is no noteheads supplement/alternate category. I’ve already checked umpteen other categories but I’m at a loss now.

The rounded/squared double whole note is an Engraving Option.


It doesn’t look like noteheadDoubleWholeAlt is listed. (Nor the Small alternate, either.)

Looks like you’ll have to make a custom font with your dream single-winged breve!

While disappointed, I’m glad I’m not crazy. We’ll just have to consider this a FR then. Perhaps in future it could be option iii in the engraving options shown by Derrek.

That alternate notehead is currently at code point U+F40E in Bravura, so you should be able to find this in the music symbol editor by specifying the explicit code point in the controls on the right-hand side.

Great post!

Woohoo! Thanks, Daniel!

(PS–That particular code isn’t listed on the SMuFL github directory. But I’m glad to know it now!)

Hey folks, keep on with those excellent proposals, I need all of these (especially the extender line functionality), even if I didn’t know before, that I could need them …