Dorico for pop/rock/etc bands?

A couple of years ago I posted a similar message in the Sibellius forum but never got reply. Many people playing in a band just tend to notate the chords to be play without any staves, notes, etc, for which I typically use Microsoft Word. (like the example below). Very compact notation.

But once in a while I would also like to write out specific licks, solo’s, phrases, voicings, for specific bars. As far as I know this is not possible in Dorico?

I know that I can have chord symbols in Dorico but not without the staves? Or only staves for selected bars?

Any thoughts on this?
Would perhaps open a complete new group of customers…



| C#m | % | A | % | 2x

Couplet 1
| C#m | % | A | % | 2x
| B | F#m | B | F#m | B | F#m | A | would it be possible to have a stave/notes only for this bar |

Chorus 1
| C#m | A | E | B |
| C#m | A | E | B | B |
| C#m | % | A | % |


I can certainly offer you a reply, though it may not be comprehensive. You can’t hide the staff lines, short of making them so thin as to be invisible, but that would be a global setting.

You might be able to make a Text frame for the text bits and a music frame for the actual notation.

I seem to remember that this has been asked before, but I can’t find it.

Dorico does not have any dedicated features to produce chord/lyric charts with no staves shown, but we do hope to provide features to support for this in future versions. It’s not something we’ll be adding imminently, however.

For this type of chart, an “arranger” feature would be helpful also. Many DAWs have such a capability to define sections of a song to be played in arbitrary sequence. Within each block, perhaps there could be an option to use simple “staff-less” notation for certain layouts. In other words, it would be the “arranger” structure that would trigger the “2X” indications. Hopefully the arranger blocks could have labels such as “Intro”, “Outro”, “Pre-chorus”, “Chorus”, etc.

See for example

Thanks for all replies…

I’ve often done simple pop/rock chord charts on various notation programs, inc Dorico, but I’ve always maintained the 5-line stave, and just used rhythm slashes, with the chords written above. And not necessariy any actual notes at all. But this give the option to add rhythmic elements/accents/melodies/riffs wherever necessary. Much like a Real Book jazz standard chart. It’s easy to do, and looks a lot more professional than the example in the op.


That is my preference too, but the system Antoine described is very, very common. If you have a band that uses that system, they will likely just give you blank stares if you hand them something that resembles a lead sheet.

There is one band I write for fairly regularly where the piano player can go either way, but the bass and guitar need the Word Doc style and the horns need traditional staff notation. I do the charts with staves and the piano player cranks out the Word doc for the guitar and bass. It is no big deal, but if I could easily create the non-staff layout, that would cut out one extra step.

And just to emphasize, these bands play STRUCTURE, not notes. They think in terms of intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, outro. That’s why I say if and when we get this style of notation, it should come along with the “arranger track” capability. I’d think of the arranger blocks as “sub-flows”. People writing traditional pieces would typically have a single flow and no sub-flows. People doing hymnals or symphonies would have multiple flows. People writing for Contemporary Christian or rock bands would usually have one flow divided into a bunch of sub-flows controlled by the arrangement diagram.

Nicely summarized… Thanks

I strongly support this!!! Structure is a very important factor, and to have some sort of Arranger(track) capability would be really helpful. Cheers

Here is a nice video that shows how the Arranger track works in Cubase. It is pretty much the same thing in all the DAWs that have a similar feature.

This is just the thing for Beethoven, whom I suspect was paid by the measure, so he tended to repeat a lot of material. :slight_smile:

If they are moving towards iPad use (can it be done in Dorico so that it exports well with music XML? (My wife has stacks of 3 ring binders with paper charts which are a pain) - Sure a PDF works, but it would be very cool to be able to transpose them quickly if needed in a rehearsal like at least one of the apps (Newsic, spelling?) allows you to do? It would also let the player decide which they want to see.

The thing about charts - lots of the players sing some harmony but get NO help other than “sing something”. Be nice to chose chart only or chart with vocals. Not much use of Nashville numbering in my limited circle, but lots of people with some vocal training in a choir, etc.

To be fair, dear gdball,
I do use Newzik, and yes, you can transpose. But only xml files! The pdf quality output of Dorico (which I use on 100% of my files in Newzik) is really on another planet. I see the xml capacity more like a very convenient way to get a (cheap) playback in order to check some notes, rather than a real way to read music.
But having a “mini-Dorico” reader in the iPad is a much expected thing that will require computing power and a lot of hours from the dev team. I would not expect it for the next two years (my assumption based on nothing but my experience here, no kremlinology implied).
Newzik is, however, a very pleasant pdf reader with nice features for rehearsal (adding notes, markings…) and concert (pages management).

Hello Marc - call me Greg

I’m not expecting or looking forward to a “mini-Dorico” really. PDF and music XML seem right for a musician to have music sourced from wherever. I definitely get what you are saying about the quality of a PDF versus musicXML, and the value of carefully crafted parts for page turns, cues etc.

But in this one corner of music where a lot of people don’t read music well, where rehearsals are minimal and the charts are pretty quick and dirty, anyway: I see the ability to transpose on the fly and personalize the view as being significant quality of life improvements. (JMO) I can’t stand the cheap playback sound. :slight_smile:

My question though - and I’m sorry if I buried it - is whether music XML actually accommodate the display of these kinds of charts? What would it look like in Newzik?

An arranger function in Dorico would be an absolute dream for me. My approach to writing is to get a few ideas down and start making variations, stitching them together, smoothing transitions, etc. And Dorico is nice for that – each idea goes in its own flow, I export to PDF and go back to the piano to see how the ideas work together. Back to Dorico, copy and paste data from flows into a new flow and edit…

But being able to sequence flows into a larger structure (and critically, be able to create multiple structures like this so I can compare them), and then flatten into a single flow when I’m happy… that would be truly amazing for writing.

My trick today is to export flows as audio, and sequence them in Reaper to experiment with how to combine flows.

FWIW, it is pretty easy to do something like this in Dorico:

A few obvious issues:

  1. The staff line can’t be hidden or set to white or something. Even when set to 0 spaces, a hairline minimum staff line thickness is still displaying as shown here. It would be great to have a thickness of 0 actually be 0.
  2. The staff line width affects the entire project so decreasing the width isn’t useful in situations that use this notation in some parts, but not in others. It would be very useful to actually be able to use a 0-line staff for situations like this. This isn’t possible now is it? This is quite easy in Finale as it has an option for a 0-line staff.
  3. You can actually set a negative staff line width value. I’m not sure of the point of this. This input should stop at 0.
  4. The one-bar repeat for chords here is faked with Shift-X text. It would be great to see this as an option in regular chord symbol input. Simply typing “%” into the popover would be a useful method for this IMO.

When you set the staff line thickness to 1/1000 spaces, the line disappears.

I like the way you think. :slight_smile:

And please note that all the arranger track DAW implementations (as far as I am aware) include the ability to “flatten” the arrangement. That is to say, once you have the arrangement sequence the way you like it, you click one button to “through compose” that arrangement. That gives you the opportunity to go back in and touch up transitions where needed. And of course, it is pretty easy to remove measures from the flattened version to create repeats, endings, DS-Coda or whatever so that the thing doesn’t run to 12 pages. Heck, maybe the Dorico arranger track would allow us to set properties on each arrangement block to indicate if the “flattened” version should no be completely flattened, but instead be a repeat with or without endings.

I can dream, cant I?

Unfortunately (for you) that is how the PDF specification says zero-width lines are supposed to be treated. They are displayed as “1 pixel wide” - i.e. the minimum width that the device or printer can display an even-looking line even if it is at an angle.

I suppose they could have invented a “hairline” property instead, but they didn’t. After all, an invisible zero-width line is sort of pointless for graphics output - all it does is make the PDF bigger.

However Adobe acrobat rounds small but non-zero widths down to zero and then treats them the same way as zero width lines, which is arguably wrong. (But hey, they invented PostScript so they can do what they like…)

I guess Stefaan has found a small non-zero thickness that doesn’t get rounded down and seems to work, at least for the software and printer drivers he is using. It’s possible the “1/1000 spaces” magic number depends on the rastral size, though, since the PDF only knows about points (1/72 inch) not staff spaces.

Interesting! I had no idea about the inner workings of PDFs, but there definitely is some logic there. The 1/1000 of a space does work for me too, but simply allowing the user to create a 0-line staff seems like it would be a better option if there’s a way for this to be implemented in the future. I haven’t used it often, but the 0-line staff in Finale has been quite useful on occasion.

A normal 1-bar repeat region will now work too if used this way (after altering both settings under Chord Symbols/Vertical Positioning)

Fred, with both values of the vertical position set to zero, I don’t manage to get the chord symbols as low as you do in your example, is there another setting you’ve changed in addition?