custom key signatures and custom instruments

Hello Daniel,
Just trying out Dorico for the first time and a big congratulations to the whole team. I’m probably going to take a while to get to grips with using it but the forum is answering lots of questions already and I look forward to updates to the software that already seem to be in hand.

I can’t find a way to search the forum for threads by topic so apologies if this has already been asked.

I frequently use custom key signatures for scordatura viola d’amore notation and this can only currently be done in Finale not Sibelius. In Finale it is very tricky and time consuming to understand. Drove me mad. Dorico has an excellent custom key signature tool. However, there seem to be rules (based on conventional key signatures I suspect) that limit options. In treble clef (and others) a sharp, for example, can only be placed on F in one octave not both ocraves and the lowest it can go is the A space. I can see the reasoning behind this but it limits what I can do as I sometimes need an F sharp on the top line and an F natural in the octave below as one example.

The other limitation is that I can’t seem to apply it to only one instrument but I think there is probably a way around that that I haven’t yet discovered. If this isn’t possible I’m sure there will be an update at some stage.

Is there going to be a “Create custom instrument” function in the future?
Best wishes,

To make a key signature apply to only one instrument, make sure there is nothing selected in the score, then click the key signature you want to create in the right-hand panel, and hold the Alt key as you click into the music: that will create the key signature on only the staff on which you clicked.

Our custom key signature feature has not been designed with scordatura in mind, I’m afraid, so it does indeed have some limitations for that usage at the moment. Our internal representation of a key signature doesn’t allow the same pitch name to have a different accidental in a different octave. I will certainly log this as something for us to look at in the future.

We do plan to allow the creation of custom instrument types in the future, definitely, though probably not super soon.

Many thanks for the quick reply Daniel. I do understand that it is very complicated to do. I suppose it would require the custom key signature to be independent of the normal rules. Thanks for the answer re. how to create key signature on one staff only.

Where do I find the aforementioned “excellent custom key signature tool”?

Look in the Key Signatures panel in Write mode, and click the little pencil icon to edit the chosen tonality system at the top. Be careful – in the initial release a few operations in that dialog can crash the program, like clicking the button to add a new accidental without first ensuring you have an accidental chosen in the list above. But editing the key signature should be relatively safe, and once it’s created, it’ll show up in the Custom Key Signatures section of the panel when you confirm the dialog.

Aha! Thanks, now I can do those wonderful Balkan modes that are nearly impossible in F****e!

Hello, long time Sib user here. I have a question that relates to this topic: Is it possible to use quarter tones in custom key signatures? I would have tried this myself but need to upgrade my OS first…
Many thanks :slight_smile:

Yes, it’s possible to use quarter tones in custom key signatures. Start from e.g. the 24-EDO tonality system that is defined in all Dorico projects, and then define a new custom key signature using it.

Ah, thanks very much for the quick reply.
Very interesting.


In the latest update I cant customize keys that includes naturals?

Best R
Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 19.29.15.png

No, you’re right, Lars, but this will be allowed in the next update.

Ok, thank you!
Best R