[Elements] Text facilities and constraints

What can/can’t one do with text in Elements 2, absent the full blown Engraving Mode and Text Flows of Big Dorico?

  1. Project Info dialog allows the full range of Dorico score annotations to be entered, but only a subset of those are displayed: title (but not subtitle or dedication); lyricist, composer, copyright. The big issue here is it seems you do not get to choose the typeface. The displayed text items cannot be selected in Write Mode by mouse click. Multi-line text does not appear possible. Thus the common convention of printing songbooks with at right “Words and Music by” and the writer(s) underneath is frustrated.

  2. Lyrics, including multi-line lyrics, between staves are perfectly feasible, with optional verse numbering, etc. The Bottom Panel is functional for properties - and there one finds a pleasant surprise: custom font size scaling (and color, if you like that)! A drawback is that selecting lyrics for adjusting the scaling can only be done, it seems, on a per-line basis by a mouse marquee – a tolerable workflow, IMO (unless you have to set Milton to music :wink: ). But you don’t get to choose the typeface of lyrics.

  3. Staff text and system text is possible (Shift+X, Alt+Shift+X). The good news here is that one has a full set of typeface and font and alignment options, including the possibility of multi-line text, and different attributes for individual characters in that text. This makes it conceivable to try to fudge something similar to the songsheet convention mentioned above, and (with more desperation) a multi-line copyright notice at page bottom. However, these text items are anchored to a note or rest, so reformating the score may throw the positioning awry.

Staff and system texts can be repositioned to some extent by selecting and using Alt+Left/Right Arrow keys. The extent of movement is limited to the horizontal in Elements 2 – vertical adjustment does not seem possible. You also cannot relocate horizontally further to the left on a staff than the leftmost extent of whatever content is in the first bar in the system – text is either moved to the previous staff, or stuck over the first note in the first system. Because multiple staff/system texts can be anchored at the same point in the score with collision avoidance to prevent overlaps, there maybe some possibility in tricksing things. YMMV.

I may have overlooked some text features, or got the above wrong in some way(s), as I’ve been playing with Elements 2 for only a couple of days. Please correct as necessary.

In brief, tho, Elements 2 does not quite yet meet both an intended audience of songwriters and the claim of “publication quality music” (Compare the Versions of Dorico: Elements & Pro | Steinberg), if the latter is interpreted broadly to include published songbooks and music rather than merely the staves and dots therein. OTOH, as noted, there are many cases where delivery of a score to the general public is not required, including my own requirement for a musical notepad with polymeter support, so the constraints I find on text are in no way paramount.

Two questions, then:

  1. Have I overlooked any important and useful text facility in Elements 2?

  2. Do Dorico devs have any plans to de-restrict some of the constraints on the text facilities in Elements 2? For example, to include something like a much simplified version of page-based text frames of Big Dorico.

As for selecting lyrics: try to make a block selection (or select just everything) and do Edit > Filter > Lyrics. I guess the filters are not excluded from Dorico Elements, I’m not sure though because I don’t have it.

All those text formatting options you miss (including adding more elements of the project info dialog to text frames) are located in Engrave Mode in Dorico Pro so you’ll probably have to make do without them.

Unless upgrading to Dorico Pro is an option for you I suggest that you export your scores as pdf and add the additional text elements with another program. Perhaps Inkscape? It’s a free editor for vector graphics. I often use it to make small adjustments to my scores that surpass the abilities of the engraving software. I imagine this would be less frustrating than adding a copyright note with a text object that you can’t even properly move.

Come to think of it: if you post a picture of what you want your first page to look like, I or someone else here on the forum could make a template with the necessary frames and project info tokens for you. Perhaps the developers would even include a template that fits your needs in a future version.

What would be the point of doing this and lost time instead of simply not using Dorico Elements but another program that allows to do it?
This is either way frustrating too.
Can’t wait to try and see how it could be frustrating or not.

Well. Good point.
Actually, I wasn’t aware of the fact that Dorico Elements is so restricted in terms of text handling before I read the OP. This is certainly a major disadvantage.

I believe that it should be at least equal, if not better, than MuseScore2 to make it worthwhile, don’t you think?

Hm. I suppose I do.
And many things certainly are better than MS. All the underlying algorithms, the spacing engine… Then again… I can’t see myself spending 100 € for a notation software where I can’t freely add and position text frames. No way.

But surely one of the points of Dorico Elements is to persuade people to buy Dorico Pro?!

Some would say the only point! Nearly every “Lite” version is a gateway drug to the full product. The limitations are always arbitrary, and when you hit the limits, your only choice is to move up to the Pro product.

From the original post:

In fact, you can: in the Preferences dialog you can choose the default text font for new projects, so if you change that before you start a new project, all of the text both in frames and more generally around the score will use the text font family you choose there.

To the extent that these things would require the addition of Engrave mode to Dorico Elements, the answer is no: but it may become possible to do some of the other things that you mention (e.g. adding carriage returns in the various fields in Project Info) in the future.

Good call. It appears Elements retains most if not all of the filters of Dorico.

Yes, useful suggestion, and something I already do when sending out manuals for professional printing.

This is true, but one must set the typeface before starting the new project; once under way, there seems no way to choose something different for that project. This will bite people, as it’s not the expected behaviour for editor software.

I appreciate your need for product differentiation.

However, Elements allows extensive typeface attribute selection for Staff and System text. I wonder if this facility could be leveraged? As these items presumably have location coordinates in their underlying data structures, my thought is that permitted items from the Project Info dialog (such as title, etc) could be treated as a type of System text object albeit with unique private virtual location identifiers. Their uniqueness would allow for them to be painted at specific places only; their privacy would ensure an end-user couldn’t hijack them to simulate Big Dorico’s text flows; and their virtuality (?) would distinguish them to the layout engine.

I think we probably are being unnecessarily restrictive in preventing you from simply double-clicking on the text items in the fixed frames for title, composer, lyricist and copyright and not allowing you to edit these directly, even if you can’t create new frames or move the current ones around. So I will look at allowing this kind of editing in Write mode in the next little bug fix update, which will be coming relatively soon.

Hey Daniel, honestly that would not be luxury, those limitations seems a bit frustrating to me but thank you anyway for taking part to the discussion and thinking about it.

I’m not suggesting it would be luxury, but Dorico Elements is not meant to be a luxury product! However, with that change you will at least be able to have total control over what text appears in the key areas of the page (the title area, the header/footer, and the upper left/right areas for composer, lyricist, and so on).

Can I have Elements use Petaluma Text for the music font instead of Bravura Text?


Not at the moment, because I believe the Music Fonts dialog is not currently included in Elements (it’s in the Engrave menu, which is not included in Elements, obviously enough), but we are thinking about making the Music Fonts dialog available in e.g. the Edit menu so that you can change between Bravura and Petaluma easily in Elements.

Does this mean that for now in Elements we can’t change or add any texts or chords symbols ??

No, you can still add text with Shift+X, system text with Shift+Alt+X, and chord symbols with Shift+Q, just like you can in Dorico Pro.

Thanks Daniel for letting me know.
Could you please tell me how can I switch from a D# to a E? I have loaded a melody from one of my Cubase project to first try Dorico, added the key signature, Gmin, but still all Eb and Gb notes are shown as D# and F#, I can’t figure how to select and simply move the sharp notes one step up on the staff ??

There are controls to rewrite the enharmonic. It should br Alt+[whatever key you press to make # or b].
To move the pitch in Dorico it’s as easy as pressing alt-arrow (up or down)