Engraving of lyric extenders with commas etc.


sometimes I see lyrics with melismas written like this:

To be___________, or not to be___________!

Is this the way it “should” be?
If so, is there a setting for it in Dorico that I did not find?



I’ve often seen extenders with the punctuation after them, as you put in your post. AFIK the accepted convention is that the punctuation comes immdeiately after the word and before the extender (see e.g. Gould “Behind Bars”, and thousands of scores from estanlished publishers). I think this is because the punctuation belongs to the word rather than the notes, and I can say as a choral singer (for a bit more than 50 years) that it’s certainly clearer for the singer and helps with e.g. knowing where to breathe.

However, if people really want to do it the other way, it is possible by typing the word in the popover, then the right number of spaces, then the punctuation. The punctuation will need to be on the last note of the melisma. It will probably look fairly nasty at that stage, but the extender and punctuation can be tweaked in the Engrave properties panel.

Michael Aves

Thank you Michael for your substantial answer!
Would you now if the same rule goes for punctuation marks and elisions? Like “in ter-ra,_in ciel”?
I realise that many publishers of italian works do not use elision marks at all, but I did not find an easy way to make hard spaces…

You can insert hard spaces using shift+alt+space.
I tried the underscore thing in the last score I published, and the reaction was instantaneous (from a fellow singer who has like 35 year long career) : why is there this little thing ? We do not use that in french ! — Then I had to find them again to replace them with hard spaces. I wish the filtering for selection will come soon :wink:


Marc is right of course about using hard spaces. You can make elisions work in the lyrics popover with or without punctuation. I don’t see though why you would actually want both a punctuation mark and an elision, as they cancel each other out - even if outsde the musical context the punctuation mark is needed gramatically. I’ve never seen that combination, so far as I can remember, so there’s probably no convention about it, still less a rule. But if both were required, I would put the comma or other punctuation before the elision, not after it.

I now expect posts in this thread with dozens of examples proving me wrong …


I agree with Michael Aves; punctuation nearly always means “separate the previous word from the next word” and an elision is the opposite, so it’s hard to imagine them coinciding. I guess the exception would be apostrophes, which could coexist quite happily with elisions.

@Marc: Perfect, thank you! Don’t know why I did not find that.

@Michael A: Well, I don’t have any example on this… The source I was copying did not have elisions, I just used them instead of hard spaces. I was in a hurry and with no internet to find out about the keypress for hard space.

@Michael H: Makes perfect sense to me.

Alt+shift+space is fine, but I would prefer just shift+space or alt+space. Maybe I can remap it.

You can’t remap Alt+Shift+Space, I’m afraid.

Thanks Daniel, I just realized that. I went the AHK route instead -


I know, just a small detail, but IMO a bit smoother than alt shift space.

Well, in fact puntuation is a sign that a member of the discourse is starting (or stopping); sometimes it does involve a separations between the words, sometimes doesn’t. It’s more about structure of the phrase than about it’s rhythm.
And in fact, ususally the lyrics are verses, so they have their proper rhythm, number of syllables, accents, and so on.

In italian poetry, and italian lyrics as well, you can find plenty of punctuation-and-elision, for example, just off the top of my head, in Verdi’s Trovatore:

Ah, sì, ben mio, con l’essere
Io tuo, tu mia consorte,
Avrò più l’alma intrepida,
Il braccio avrò più forte.

(you can see the Ricordi score here in IMSLP: http://hz.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/4/46/IMSLP27507-PMLP06712-Trovatore__act_3__scene_2__no.18_Ah_si__ben_mio…_Di_quella_pira.pdf)

Between intrepida and il braccio there’s a comma, but Verdi writes an elision, i.e. one single note for the syllables “da,_il”: _intrepida,il braccio.

And there is even an “error” on Verdi’s part! In fact, that elision is not admitted according versification norms, as the two words are in two different verses: both septenaries,(1) if a syllable is elided, all you get is a hypometre verse.

I agree with Michael Aves that "the comma or other punctuation “should be put) before the elision, not after it.”


(1) don’t be fooled by the eight syllables in “Avrò più l’alma intrépida”: the septenaries are defined as having their last accent on the sixth syllable, regardless of everything coming after.