Custom notehead width

I have a “chanty noteheads” notehead set that I use for “chanty” music (i.e., stemless chant). One of my custom noteheads is two black notehead glyphs stuck together, which I’ve set for the quarter note. Since it’s almost twice as wide as a typical notehead, I frequently run into situations where the spacing is mucked up:

The double notehead ought to have about the same amount of space after it as the others. I’ve tried a couple ways to fix this, short of manual tweaking. Moving the glyphs to the left in the Notehead editor works, but only serves to encroach on the space to the left of the notehead in the music so it’s not actually a help. Just now I tried adding another invisible glyph to the right end of the notehead in the editor, but Dorico intelligently refuses to allow that glyph to affect the spacing, which I don’t want. Is there any way to automatically add space to the right side of a notehead?

It is possible to hide stems - this also hides any beams. The option is available in Properties > Notes and Rests, but only when in Engrave mode. As far as I can tell, spacing is maintained according to note values.

In the picture below, the second staff illustrates the effect when I copied and pasted the notes from the first staff and then applied Hide stem.

Yes, I’ve got the stems hidden well enough. My problem is that the notehead in question is wider than the others, and so encroaches on the space between the notes. Is there a way to automatically put more space after wider noteheads?

Change your note spacing ratio in layout options. Soften the ratio (1.1 or 1.2) and it should space more evenly.

Alternatively, just enter everything in as single noteheads, including two right next to each other and then just condense the space between the two you want to touch. (My preferred approach) I just do everything as quarters and halves. Makes it simpler.

@Coranglais16 I thought a quarter note is a crotchet. What do you mean here then? What is the meaning of the double head in this chant notation?

I would interpret this chant notation to consider the single black noteheads to move similar to 8th notes (quavers) and the double-notehead to be twice that length, or similar to a quarter note (crotchet).

In chant it is very frequent that a longer note value is represented by multiple noteheads. Some schools of chant pulse these additional notes very lightly. Sometimes there are two, but in other cases there can be many more. (This last reason being why I don’t bother with pre-made combos, but rather just add as many black single noteheads in succession as I need while transcribing.)

For example, this:
Turns into this:

If you want your double notehead to have more space than a single notehead, the simplest way would be for the note itself to have a longer duration. If it should have twice as much space as a single notehead, it should be four times longer, e.g. if the single black notehead are eighths (quavers), write your double notehead as a half (minim).

@dspreadbury hence my question! Thanks!

Yes, ok that makes sense. That’s what I have, I think: my double noteheads are all quarters and my single noteheads are all 8ths. But the difference between them is less than what I need, perhaps owing to the spacing settings I have:

Default space for quarters: 2 1/2
Minimum space for short notes: 1 space
Spacing ratio: 1.00

I went with these settings because they seem to give overall a very even, smooth result, except when one notehead is wider than all the others. But maybe they’re sabotaging me?

Also, to experiment, I changed the width of my double notehead to something absurd. Here’s the result in a couple of cases:

In this case the spacing reflects the width of the notehead (remember it’s technically a quarter note), but leaves a very tiny minimum amount of space afterwards. Ideally this space would be equal to that between the (8th) notes on the word “long”; but maybe the ratio is messing that up.

Here’s what happened to the next chant:

It’s like noteheads have a tucking index, and when one is very wide it can overlap as many of the following rhythmic columns as necessary. Is there a way to influence or to turn off this behavior?

Dorico’s default spacing ratio is such that a note needs to be four times as long in order to have twice as much space, which is why I said:

However, I think James’s approach is actually better than your approach of using custom noteheads, and is even closer to what is really going on semantically. I would suggest you always use single black noteheads and a consistent note values (eighths, say), but at the points at which you want the doubled noteheads, create a note spacing change where the default space for a quarter note is set to zero, then have another note spacing change that resets the original value on the last of those noteheads. That will bring the noteheads very close together (though they won’t touch).

You could always bring them closer together still using manual note spacing adjustments, also as James suggests.

How about this?

With the note spacing options set to the factory defaults, all of the notes are eighth notes except those with the double noteheads, which are quarter notes. My version of the “chanty” notehead set has the unfilled notehead for an eighth note and the double-filled notehead for a quarter note. So the eighth notes with filled noteheads are not using the custom notehead set.

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There’s an easier way to do this. Make them all quarters, and simply add a note at the interval of a unison: Shift-I, 1, Enter:



Ooo this is clever. I wonder is this limited to two though? I’ll have to test it in the morning…

Sadly you get this:


Not when you remove the stems. As many as you want in unison.

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Also, three is possible if you add a voice and put the third notehead in that voice, then change the Voice column index in Engrave mode. You will probably need to play around a little in Engrave mode > Note Spacing.

You don’t even need to do that. Just keep adding unison notes to the same voice!


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When I add more than one unison to a quarter note, the noteheads do not touch, and when I hide the stems, it becomes impossible to tell which beat the noteheads belong to.


In addition, the OP wanted the same amount of space around his double notehead as around a single notehead. But using a unison interval does not accomplish this.

Double Notehead 2