Condensing choral lyrics weird overlap?


I am seeing some weird lyrics overlap in a condensed choral score that I’m not sure how to solve (example below is extracted from an existing SSATB score with the issue).
Note: I have configured condensing to condense Soprano 1, 2 and Alt together.

The condensed version (with overlapping lyrics on “kiss” and “this” )

The original uncondensed bars:

And the Dorico file:
SSA-lyrics-overlap.dorico (453.8 KB)

Background: the original sheet music is of bad quality so I am trying to both produce a new PDF and also prepare for audio rehearsal tracks (which requires the separate SSATB parts). The original arrangement has 2 staves (female and male voices) so I am trying to use condensing to produce the 2 stave version of the PDF.

It looks as though the lyrics are looking for a note to continue on to, hence the lyric extender. Re-enter the word “kiss” and then press Space and you will see how it disappears. You just need to go through the lyrics and follow this procedure.

Then, copy/paste the lyrics from one staff to the next where possible.

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@japj, I am not at the computer to check your file, but you could try to delete kiss and this from all staves, re-enter them into the Soprano and use copy and paste to staff below to be 100% sure the lyrics sit at the same place. Does this make a difference?


It seems I forgot to setup a time signature in the example.

I tried the following in the updated screenshots (but it didn’t seem to improve anything):

  • copied the first bar to the end and ‘shifted’ kiss an eight note (since kiss is passing the middle of the bar it is displayed as 2 eights and I wanted to check if that had any influence)
  • copied S1 to S2 and Alt
  • transposed Alt a 3rd below (it has different notes, but the exact same note lengths and lyrics information).

SSA-lyrics-overlap.dorico (930.1 KB)

Interestingly, if I condense S1 and A (or S2 with A) I get:

So even though S1 and S2 are identical, it gets confused by it if A is combined with S1 and S1

Japj, it’s a bad habit to shift lyrics if you want to use condensing.
Always best to input the text once your notation is final - and copy/move to the other systems. That way you can be sure the lyrics are exactly at the same rhythmical spot. And that’s the basic condition for condensing to work.

to clarify: I did not shift the lyrics, I moved the quarter note (kiss) in the last bar to not be on the middle of the bar to see if that improved anything. This was in reaction the kiss “_” remark (looking for note continue). that does not seem to happen in the last condensed bar (the last screenshot).

In order to rule out anything being different w.r.t duration or lyrics I copied all bars from Soprano 1 to Soprano 2 and Alt (and transposed the Alt a third down).

So in the updated screenshots, all the note duration and lyrics are exactly the same for Soprano 1, Soprano 2 and Alt. The only difference between the staves is that the Alt is a third down.

The weird thing is that:
S1 and A are condensed perfectly,
S2 and A are condensed perfectly,
S1 and S2 are condensed perfectly
But condensing S1, S2 and A together gives problems.

Unless one plans to print the SSA staves as separate staves in some score, putting the lyrics only on S2 in the sections intended to condense would allow them to condense without a problem.

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Alternatively, if you’re not going to present the parts on separate staves in any other layout, it’s probably just as easy to use different voices on one staff.

In this case I need the separate staves for creating rehearsal files per part.

Thanks! removing lyrics in some sections might be a good (and in hindsight obvious) workaround!

Do you mean audio tracks? You can still create separate audio files for different voices.

Actually rehearsing from parts would make things much harder for the singer! :rofl:

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This is not unusual practise: from the 17th to the 20th century choir singers used to sing from parts (and not from scores). This needs and encourages a different awareness to the other voices.
Just like a string quartet, they do perform from their own parts.
As a performer myself, I dislike colleagues waving around big scores… it is better to trust your ears and train your antennas, learn the other parts by listening to them. It’s not that difficult.
This reminds me of musicians waving around their tuning machines, as if their own ears don’t work any more. Also it is true that a lot of people are giftet with perfect pitch and never trust themselves.
Totally OffTopic of course, like this viola joke
Q: What is the definition of perfect pitch
A: if you can throw a viola into the trash can without touching the rims

Yes, I know a little about choral practice in previous centuries… And actually, I’d say that scores were much more prevalent by the late 19th century, with the arrival of better printing technologies.

Of course singers need to listen, but they also need to know what the other parts are singing – not least for pitching their next entry.

Singing 16th century music from partbooks is one thing (frequently done down the pub); but for music of any harmonic complexity, singers need to know the context around them.

I’m mixing audio rehearsal tracks in Logic (using midi export).
That is multiple mixes per part (e.g. part-only, mix with specific part louder/rest softer, part on the right and rest on the left).
I prepared a Logic template where I can just drop in the midi for each part and create the different mixes in one pass.

I think different voices on a stave will just end up on the same midi track, so I’m unsure how you could create seperate audio tracks from Dorico instead?
That is while also taking into account that alto might need to sing the same notes, e.g. voice 1 and 2 would sometimes need the same content to get a proper audio track for alto?

Independent Voice Playback may help.

Nowadays it is hard to believe but it is just good to know that a lot of very good musicians for centuries never saw a score when performing. Even continuo players of early music specialist ensembles always play from scores nowadays, when they never did back then. The figured bass numbers were not just harmony figures but also hints to the other voices.
I imagine being a tenor singer starting on a g just one beat after the basses sing an f. Do I need a score for this, or will I remember and recognise it when singing the passage again? … just saying…
There are situations in rehearsals where instrumentalists ask for a score to mark the entrance of the singer / who is just standing next to them, singing loud and clearly (and beautifully)…

Fortunately I do not live in the middle ages, nor do I expect my singers to.


Well, in the days of partbooks, you didn’t usually get a rehearsal! The score will tell me that information the first time.

We all live in the past - I have just learnt from Einstein - but not that far back :slight_smile:
I would just again like to compare with the best string quartets of the world. They learn and perform from parts and not scores, even very complex pieces. Pocket scores are nice if you are not with your instrument - as a good night reading. It’s like reading a map for the next trip, it’s for the planning. On the trip itself you rely on other things.

Yes Ben, it seems like a paradox. Nowadays you give singers scores to save on rehearsal time…