Copying lyrics from staff to staff

Since I work primarily with choral music, one task I do frequently is copying lines of lyrics from one staff to another. It often happens in homophonic choral music that there are small rhythmic variations between the parts, even when all four parts are broadly singing the same words at the same time. This inevitably means that, having copied the lyrics from the top line down to the others, there is some manual adjustment to be made.

When it comes to small niceties of how Dorico handles this, there are a number of things that it does very intelligently compared to other software, thus reducing the amount of manual adjustment considerably. I guess these niceties are really too minor in the grand scheme of things to bother mentioning in the official documentation, but having spent many years doing these tasks every day with Sibelius, Dorico’s handling really speeds up my workflow in several ways.

One is its automatic handling of lyric extension lines. Dorico automatically adjusts these lines to fit the notes in the material. In the example below, the lyric ‘read__’ was copied from staff 1 to staves 2 & 4, and on staff 4 the extension line was automatically lengthened to fit the rhythm. Whether this is a deliberate feature or an emergent function of the way Dorico distinguishes between syllables (positioned relative to rhythmic positions) and extension lines (positioned relative to notes), it really does save me time, so a big THANK YOU to the team for this small but important detail!

If I may follow up with a feature request, which is equally small in the grand scheme of things but would also save people like me a bit more time: wouldn’t it be great if the extension line was automatically removed when the lyric is copied to staff 3?

I’m glad that you find Dorico’s handling of lyrics to be superior to other programs. The majority of the work I do personally with Dorico (and in the past with Sibelius) is choral music, so I certainly felt attuned to some of the problems with lyrics. It was very important to us that wherever possible you ought to be able to fix problems with lyrics without re-inputting them, as you often have to do in Sibelius, hence the reason we exposed all of the various properties for each lyric item. This isn’t perfect yet, and in particular I would like to make it possible to extend or shorten the duration of a lyric with Shift+Alt+left/right, and there are further obvious workflow improvements for us to make, like pasting a series of lyrics from the clipboard, and so on.

We have discussed the idea of re-snapping lyrics when they are pasted to other staves, and it’s not as trivial as it might seem, but I hope we’ll be able to address this in future.

It would be good if lyrics would reflow taking into account slurs, when pasted. I often have situations where the lyrics don’t line up but are actually the same once slurs are accounted for.
Will Dorico ever have a lyrics window where I can input lyrics as a text block (as in the Finale implementation that often screws everything up)?

When we started we certainly talked about having a lyrics window, but I’m less sure about it these days.

Agreed! Though I haven’t yet discovered a way to remove an unwanted lyric extension line without deleting and reinputting the syllable. Am I missing something?

But I do find that I can shorten or extend a lyric’s extension line, if it has it, with Shift+Alt+left/right. (Sometimes I have to press several times to have a visible effect, as if Dorico is extending/shortening the line beat-by-beat “behind the scenes”, but eventually it always works.) The only thing I can’t do this way is to remove the extension line altogether – it would be wonderful if this became possible in future.

Yes, that’s what I mean: you can’t flip a lyric between having a duration at all (in which case it will show an extender line) and not having a duration at all (in which case it won’t) via Shift+Alt+left/right.

Fair enough. So is there a way to add/remove an extender line from a syllable? Until I checked today, I thought I remembered seeing a property that could be switched on and off, but I think I must have dreamed this – or else I am now overlooking it.

Double click on the lyric with the unwanted extension line, and press space.

Yeah! Thanks Ben!

What I like doing is clicking on a lyric syllable in one stave and then alt-clicking it into place on a different stave. You can do this for several syllables at once if the rhythm is the same. But what Dorico does, and what Sibelius doesn’t, is take care of all the lyric hyphens in between syllables, even when the rhythm is different.

If you do the same in Sibelius, you’ll find for example that the lyrics end up looking like this: “does- n’t match the rhy- thm”, and to fix up the gaps after the hyphens you need to go into each affected syllable and press the hyphen again, as many times as you need to till the caret reaches the note with the next syllable.

It’s more of a time saver than it sounds, because clicking and alt-clicking is very fast, and Dorico looks after how the lyrics should appear in their new rhythmic positions.

I wholeheartedly agree with all. I just finished some 4- and 5-part motets, and since the last update I have started to use alt click a bit less. I now make much use of the move or copy to next staff function. With shortcuts setup this is lightning fast. The small differences between staves are taken care of by selecting one ore more syllables and then doing alt+left /right (with the grid set to quarter or eighth).

This is the next evolution of my workflow that I need to develop! Good tips.

I still get from time to time a strange behavior when I try and copy lyrics from one part and want to copy it to multiple parts. It is as though Dorico copies accurately what I want, and adds another (unwanted) copy INSIDE the section I’m copying into. The result is I get cluttered lyrics on some notes. I found that selecting less lyrics and making this a two or three steps action gives me the result I want, but I keep wondering why that happens. Did that happen to anyone else here ?
[Edit] Here are two pictures before copying/after so that you can really see what I mean.

I can provide the file if needed.

Strange. Was this with cmd+c cmd+v? Do you get the same result with the way I talked about above, copy to next staff?

Yes, I have also experienced this.

Dear LAE, I did not try “copy to next staff” because that would imply doing it three times, and I’m always trying to optimize ! I should work, though. I don’t know.

Dear Marc,
I think the solution might be that you should only select the starting note in the three systems before you make the paste - then it should work. It seems in your screenshot that you have selected all the notes that you want to have lyrics, that seems to be the mistake.

And by the way, (always fun to count keystrokes etc…!), I think it is almost equal between the two ways in this case with three staves to copy to:

1 marquee select source
2 filter lyrics

3a ctl c
4a marquee select target
5a ctl v


3b shortcut for copy to next staff
4b idem
5b idem

Five actions in both ways. For me the advantage with b) is that I have to use the mouse once instead of twice.

Ditto, ditto, ditto to all of the aforementioned kudos and affirmation!

AND while we’re on the subject, are there plans to implement pasting lyrics from the clipboard? I dearly miss this feature. I work with lyrics nearly every day and my preferred workflow includes proofing all the punctuation, spelling, hyphenation, etc first. To the point, that if I have a ton of lyrics I’ll do my first draft in Sibelius just to get the lyrics in, then export to D.

I do hope that feature requests and implementation soon find an equilibrium that allows Daniel and team to work healthy hours, get a sabbath, see their families and all that stuff!

Dear LAE,
you’re probably right about everything, thanks! I had all the notes selected because I just happened to filter and delete the lyrics of these notes (bad ocr from my xml import), and then paste was simply cmd-v… I’m too lazy ^^