Deleting pick-up bars

(This question is more about trying to learn how Dorico thinks, rather than how to perform this operation.)

Thanks to this (older post) - Remove/convert pickup meaure without moving music - I discovered that I can delete a pick-up bar in (at least) two different ways:

  1. Click on the opening time signature (ie, at the beginning of the pick-up bar), and enter the number of beats that would constitute a full bar in that time signature (eg, “3” in 3/4); OR

  2. Same as above, but enter “0” beats.

In both cases, the pickup bar disappears – the system track numbers the starting bar as “1”, not “0” – and the number of remaining bars seems to stay the same as before. In other words, the pick-up bar is deleted entirely, and not transformed into a new, complete bar, regardless of whether we’ve added or deleted beats in that pickup bar.

How is it that both adding beats (to make a full bar) and deleting beats (to rid the pickup bar of any beats) produce the same result?

Thanks, in advance, for your help!

I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying, sorry. You’re editing an existing time signature, e.g. a 3/4 time signature with a one quarter pick-up, which will appear in the popover as 3/4,1, and you’re replacing that text with just 3 or 0? Neither of those inputs are valid for the popover.

Hi, Daniel;

You’re editing an existing time signature, e.g. a 3/4 time signature with a one quarter pick-up, which will appear in the popover as 3/4,1

Yes and no: I’m trying to delete a pick-up bar that I no longer want, and – since I couldn’t find any other way of deleting it – I came upon this way of doing it, with the two variants that I describe.

I found that if I changed the pickup bar’s number of beats to 3 (because of the 3/4 signature in this case), the pick-up bar was of course transformed to a regular bar of 3/4, which solved the problem. (And, now being “bar 1” rather than “bar 0”, I could easily delete it, if I wished, via the system track.)

I also found that the same thing happened if I changed the pick-up bar’s number of beats to zero.

But there was an illogical result: Whether I made the pick-up bar “complete” (by adding “3”) or reduced it to nothing (by giving it “0” beats), I was left with exactly the same number of bars. I would have expected that adding ‘3’, rather than ‘0’, would leave me with one more complete bar.

Does this help?

Just delete the unwanted pickup bar via the system track. You might be thinking too much :wink:


Thanks, kb!

In fact, that was one of the first ways I tried to delete my pick-up bar, but – for some reason that I no longer remember – it didn’t work. Prompted by your reply, I tried it again – and voila!

So much easier!

One wrong move and there go several hours . . . :worried:

Hmm . . . this is embarrassing: I’ve tried to duplicate this with a new project, but - once again - I am unable to delete the pick-up bar via the system track. . .

Some screen captures:

  • Pick-up bar created [shift-m,3/4,1]
  • 3 bars added (shift-b,3]
    Pick-up bar created, system track showing it as bar “0”:

*Select system track for pick-up bar
*Click ‘trash’ icon:


Result – pick-up bar still there:

However, this is what the flow in which I was able to easily delete the pick-up bar looked like (before deleting the pickup bar):

Here I simply selected the system track for the pick-up bar (“0”), and hit the trash icon, which instantly deleted the pick-up bar.

What am I missing?

**hmmm. . . ** The difference is that there are notes entered in the one that worked, but only rests in the others. Is that what deleting a pickup bar via the system track depends on?

Here’s a scenario: I begin a flow, thinking that I will use a pickup, and create an empty one. On second thought, I realize that I don’t want a pickup bar. Does this mean that I still have to then enter some unwanted notes into the pick-up bar, just so that I can delete that pickup bar via its system track?

For me, using the system track does not work in any of the cases you describe.

The best way I have found, is to first add a new time signature as a “stopping point”. and then using either the system track or shift+b “-1” to delete the pickup. In the example below I use the bar popover.

No, the reason it worked is because you have a repeat sign right after the 4/4,1-pickup, that works as that “stopper thing”.

Thanks, LAE – for confirming the problem, for pointing to the real reason why I was able to delete the pick-up bar in my last example, and for sharing your workaround!

To which I’d like to add a few observations:

  • Adding that “stopper” – in this case, a time signature – now also allows one to delete the pick-up bar via that bar’s system track, even tho’ it is still called “bar 0”.

  • My earlier workaround — click on the opening time signature, and write either “0”, or [the number of beats in a complete bar of that time signature] — does not work when one has created that “stopper”. It still does work without any stopper.

Which brings me back to my first question, for Daniel:
Referring to “my earlier workaround”: Whether I made the pick-up bar “complete” (by adding “3”) or reduced it to nothing (by giving it “0” beats), I was left with exactly the same number of bars. I would have expected that adding ‘3’, rather than ‘0’, would leave me with one more complete bar.

Also for Daniel:
I realize that a pick-up bar is regarded as being “bar 0” because it is almost universally recognized that the real bar one is the first bar after a pick-up bar. Is this the reason that – without a “stopper” — the system track “trash” will not delete that pick-up bar?

Either way, the problem described in this thread would seem to call for some change in the code, so that future users can delete an unwanted pick-up bar without having to employ a clunky workaround. If this were Finale, I wouldn’t bother bringing up a request like this — it would be a hopeless pursuit, and today’s workaround would be yet another among a hundred workarounds required. It’s because Dorico is so intelligently made that the need for this workaround seems so out-of-place.


There is no need for a “clunky workaround”, but deleting a pickup bar is a two step process:

  1. Edit the 3/4,1 time signature so it’s just 3/4.
  2. Use the System Track to remove what is now beat 1 bar 1.

When you use the System Track you’re not redefining the time signature. The time signature says that there has to be a one beat pickup, so even after clearing the contents of that bar with the system track there will still be a one beat pickup.

Wow, that was fast! :smiley: Thanks, pianoleo!

You’ve now explained why my own workaround (click on the time signature and add “0” or the required number of beats for a complete bar) works. You’ve also described it precisely :wink: .

I still regard it as a clunky workaround.


Until such time as Dorico ‘fixes’ this issue, it might be helpful to add your directions for deleting a pick-up bar (above) to the Operation Manual. I know it would have saved me some time and effort.



Hmm. . . Just duplicating this, and I’m finding that there is no need to do your step #2:

First stage: I create three bars in 3/4 time:

Second stage: Using [shift-m+3/4,.5], I add an 8th note pick-up bar:

Third stage: Deciding that I want to delete that pickup bar, I click on the time signature, and delete everything after the “3/4”:

As you can see, this eliminated the pick-up bar completely, bringing me back to my original three bars of 3/4 time. No need to use the system track to remove anything.

@Lillie_Harris If I’m correct here – and I realize it’s likely that I’m not – would you consider including this in the operation manual, under “pick-up bars – how to delete”?

I’ve made a note to look at this area and see if there’s something useful that can be added. I would also recommend spending some time getting familiar with how Dorico approaches rhythmic position (which I think I’ve linked you to in a previous thread?) and also how that relates to notes and rests. In your latest example, you’d probably notice more of a difference if you had a stream of notes filling the space so you can see the barlines move around them more clearly.

Personally, I tend to think about time signatures in Dorico as being like cookie cutters that you press down over the music, which is the dough rolled out underneath in one continuous roll. You could use a large cutter and fit 3 iterations along the roll, or use a small cutter and fit 20, but the underlying amount of dough is the same. “Undo” the cookie cutting, and you’ve got a smooth roll again. Aka, time signatures fit around the music, not the other way around.

Thanks Lillie!

Yes - in relation to dynamics and their placement, if I remember correctly. I will look at Rhythmic position some more.

I’ll try that – thanks.

Great analogy :smiley:. For me, though, meter is created by the music, and we use time signatures as a way of making that ‘visible’, on the page, for the reader/performer, who is not yet familiar with what they are reading. So, - for me, at least - it’s the dough that speaks, and I repurpose those cookie cutters as ‘signage’. :wink:

You’re welcome to think about it however makes sense to you :slight_smile: I really would recommend inputting a bunch of simple notes, and then inputting a variety of different time signatures “over” them without changing the notes. Include a mix of quarter notes, 8th notes, half notes etc and watch how Dorico moves barlines, re-groups notes into ties, re-beams notes in different groups according to the time signature. Use square brackets to specify the beat grouping without showing that in the time signature, e.g. [2+3+2]/8 for a 7/8 time signature grouped in 2+3+2.

Thanks, Lillie. I’ve been observing that over the past few weeks, but I’ll look into it more.

I was talking about a situation in which the pickup bar contains a note or notes. In this situation the contents of the pickup bar would be pushed to the first beat of bar 1. (And everything subsequent would also be pushed on by a beat).

Hi, pianoleo;

Unless I haven’t understood, I just found that there was still no need to use the system track, even if one wishes to push its contents back to bar 1. What I did:

  1. Created 3 bars of 3/4, with three quarter notes entered into bar 1, and one quarter note entered on beat 1 of bar 2:

  2. Using [shift-m+3/4,1, I created a pick-up bar of one quarter-note duration:

  3. To delete this pickup bar, and simultaneously push its quarter note back into bar 1, I simply clicked on the time signature and deleted everything after the “3/4”:
    Voila: everything accomplished in one operation, without having to touch the system track.

Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood. . .

We seem to be at cross purposes. My assumption was that if you’d written a bunch of music and wanted to lop off the initial pickup bar, you wouldn’t want to hang onto the initial pickup note, offsetting the subsequent music as far as the next time signature by whatever rhythmic value the (deleted) pickup bar used to take.

Dorico can’t mind read, though, and by the sounds of things you and I expect to be able to do different things with time signatures and the System Track.