Elementary: drag one note to a different pitch?

This is super-elementary, I know. I’m in Write mode. I’ve written one monophonic instrumental stave. Then I copied the notes in that stave to a second stave, where I want to alter the notes. (I’m creating a harmony, but it’s not a linear harmony that can be handled easily by Transpose.)

What are my options for changing the notes in the second stave?

I tried simply dragging – doesn’t work. I tried double-clicking then dragging. I get a ghost of the note, but it doesn’t move to where I want it to. What’s the correct process for simply grabbing a note and changing it to another pitch?

Or – clicking a note, then playing a new note on the MIDI keyboard and having it replace the old note? (Note: I tried this, and it does insert the new pitch, BUT it requires me to re-select the duration for every note – in other words – it takes just as long as inputting it from scratch.)

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Select the note (one click), then press alt/opt & up- or down-arrow. Add the shift key to move by a semitone.

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Thanks a lot for this. This works, but is a bit tedious when I’ve got to move many notes by a significant amount, since I may be hitting alt/opt-arrow up to 12 times per note. Are there any other options? Any drag-and-place the note options, which would be faster?

If you’re using a Mac, alt/opt & cmd & up-or down-arrow will move the notes by an octave (I think the Windows equivalent would be to add the ctrl key).

Also, you can select more than one note and move them all at the same time.

If you find the full manual somewhat overwhelming when trying to find information, there is a First Steps Guide available at Dorico Pro 3.5 Documentation .

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If you go into note entry mode (invoke the caret) and then press L, the caret will be dashed. Now you can change the pitches and keep duration, articulations etc. it’s called Lock Duration and is very useful.

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There are a variety of options available when it comes to changing the pitch of notes –

  • Using key commands – particularly useful for small changes, like up/down a semitone or octave
  • Repitching notes – keeps existing rhythms/note durations, just changes the pitch
  • Using the add intervals popover – a keyboard-based method; full reference for the popover here
  • Using the Transpose dialog – offers a more in-depth and precise method, arguably, and is probably most useful on large selections or even entire flows

(Re the First Steps guide – that’s intended as a walkthrough tutorial for new users, and while it covers quite a lot of functionality, it’s by no means comprehensive in the way that the Operation Manual is, or at least aspires to be.)

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Repitch is what you want. With the caret active, press L, then play the notes. The pitches will be changed but the rhythms retained.

And to give some more context: Dorico is deliberately designed to not be able to just drag things around. That’s why we have engrave mode for moving stuff graphically, and that’s why neither the rhythmic position nor the pitch can be altered with the mouse (or in fact with simple arrow keys).
This is to prevent unwanted changes which happen way too often, and honestly: if it wasn’t for that fact, I would seriously doubt if I had messed up a score or my client just didn’t input the music correctly over 100 times.

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like I used to do frequently in Sibelius - I’m all for the way Dorico does things in this respect

Thank you all for the replies. The “L” trick will work well for me.

Part of me wants to apologize and part of me doesn’t: it seems like when I point out something simple in Dorico – oftentimes the most direct, simple solution to the problem, the response is, “No, Dorico doesn’t do it that way, and here’s why it’s smarter.” This is pretty representative of @klafkid’s response:

And to give some more context: Dorico is deliberately designed to not be able to just drag things around. That’s why we have engrave mode for moving stuff graphically, and that’s why neither the rhythmic position nor the pitch can be altered with the mouse (or in fact with simple arrow keys).
This is to prevent unwanted changes which happen way too often, and honestly: if it wasn’t for that fact, I would seriously doubt if I had messed up a score or my client just didn’t input the music correctly over 100 times.

I’m sorry, but I must disagree. Being in Write mode, seeing one note, and dragging it from its current pitch to a different pitch is the very definition of intuitive design and WYSIWYG. I guarantee that 99 out of 100 first-time Dorico users will try to change a note by clicking and dragging it. I can’t buy the “This is to prevent unwanted changes” – what’s unwanted about a user clicking on a note and dragging it to be a different note? (Every program has ways to alter the content, and ways users should not be altering the content.)

The “L” trick will work for me, but I hope my point (which, of course, is just one person’s opinion) is made that I feel like the majority of my experience of Dorico has been, “No, you don’t do it the obvious way; you do it in this roundabout way using a key you wouldn’t have thought to look for or search for, nor would you have even known this feature existed, but here’s why this is the smartest possible solution, because we wouldn’t want to be like the other programs which do it in such a dumb way.” Which ultimately is a pretty condescending way to treat the user. All I ever wanted to do was change a C to a D.

I say this with the greatest respect to the Dorico team, who have created a fabulous program, one which I consider superior to the competition. I’m now on my sixth or seventh Dorico score, and I am starting to get the workflow, starting to get faster at it, starting to learn all the workarounds for things that I think should be obvious, but every day still gets me running to Google, forums, multiple manuals, etc. just to find the answer, and it’s disheartening. I want to endorse it and post on social media and make YouTube’s about the things I love about it, but it is NOT an easy climb, and I persistently feel like it could be easier.

It’s not my intention to create controversy here; I’ll refrain from any further back-and-forth commenting since the original question is now solved.

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You can drag pitches up, down, left and right in Play mode if you see fit. Assuming Dorico 4 looks similar to Dorico for iPad when it’s released later this week, a piano roll representation will be available within Write mode in addition to Play mode.

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I didn’t want to sound condescending, and I apologize if i came across that way. I just wanted to give rational to the underlying logic.

Your opinion is of course a valid one, and maybe you find it comforting that many many users (including me) found it a very steep climb as well, but ultimately found that it was a climb worth taking.

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@user450 if you’re still settling into Dorico, I would recommend giving our First Steps guide a try. It’s a step-by-step walkthrough of creating a short piano piece, with lots of tips and insights into how and why Dorico takes certain approaches along the way.

For instance, this page giving tips that might come in useful while finishing the rest of the piece unaided includes the shortcuts for raising the pitch of a note by a step, like C to D. Alt/Opt-Up Arrow is almost certainly the easiest way to achieve this, of the ways that Dorico has for changing the pitch of notes.

We also included this page with a variety of tips for “onward travel”.

I’m sure that at some point in the future we will add the ability to drag a note up and down in Write mode, since I agree that it is definitely something many users will try because it is something that other music notation software has tended to allow. But I would consider it a kind of “training wheels” setting, because on the whole it’s pretty dangerous to allow musical semantics to be changed just by clicking and dragging.

AGH! thank-you for that, the “add shift key” was one I didn’t know.
I will go to sleep a tiny bit less stupid tonight :slight_smile:

I’m sure that at some point in the future we will add the ability to drag a note up and down in Write mode, since I agree that it is definitely something many users will try because it is something that other music notation software has tended to allow. But I would consider it a kind of “training wheels” setting, because on the whole it’s pretty dangerous to allow musical semantics to be changed just by clicking and dragging.

Not sure I’d agree with “pretty dangerous” since there’s plenty of ways in which the program allows people to change things by clicking and dragging. (For example, most of Engrave mode is based around clicking and dragging, and that’s not considered dangerous.)

But sure, I’d love to see eventual note dragging. Perhaps some kind of modifier-key behavior would help protect it, e.g. option-drag to change a note’s pitch, option-shift-drag to change ALL the selected note pitches, cmd-drag to change note duration, etc. (This isn’t a perfectly-thought-through approach; I’m just spitballing here.) But something like that would be a great power user tool for when you just need to alter the pitch or duration of a note.

Another reason to consider this behavior: every DAW has a MIDI editor which allows simple note dragging. No DAW shuts you down from this because it’s “dangerous” to change one note to another. Maybe that’s why it feels like the #1 most intuitive way to me.

I have an anecdote of an accidental error during part preparation, which was not a proud moment admittedly but is related to the sorts of accidents that Dorico tries to minimise:

Whilst working on a film music project in another notation software, I selected something on a staff and pressed W to open the part layout. As I pressed W, my finger slipped and also caught the 2 key, resulting in (unnoticed by me, to my shame) a major 2nd being added above the selected note, which happened to be in the middle of a long tie chain.

Cut to the recording session, and the orchestrator asked who was persistently playing that wrong note in bar 3. Had to own up to the error, but thankfully it was quickly resolved.

When the topic of “just pressing 3” to add a third above existing notes come up, I must confess I remember that incident and feel on the whole I like working in Dorico these days.

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I suppose. Yesterday while working in Dorico, I double-clicked in a staff to place the caret, then began inputting notes with one hand playing MIDI notes, and the other hand on my numeric keypad to select durations. My eye was on the note durations on the left side of the window, since I’m still getting used to the numeric keypad shortcuts. After inputting several measures worth of notes, I looked at the score only to discover that I had accidentally placed the original carat one eighth note into a measure, meaning that all my note entry was off by an eighth note. Not really Dorico’s fault nor even anything I would have expected it to protect me from; I just have to keep an eye on what it’s doing, which is vital for any type of page layout software.

In that situation, you can of course select the material that’s an eighth note out, make sure the rhythmic grid is set to eighth notes, then press Alt/Opt-Left arrow to move them rhythmically to the left. Because of the way Dorico by default handles note grouping, the notes will automatically update to be correct for their new positions (e.g. becoming tied notes over a barline if they now span a barline).

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  1. That’s because it’s a separate mode in which you can change only the position and appearance of things, not what they are. And changes can easily be seen and their defaults easily restored. If you accidentally change a note, there is no default to restore it back to. Do you get the difference?
  2. Some things in Engrave mode require keyboard commands, or digital changes in Properties, to move. It’s not designed around click & drag generally, and it’s not even intended to be needed constantly.