Expression text (again)

First of all I have to congratulate the Dorico team on the latest update, which have made an amazing product even more amazinger. :wink:

While working on a score I - again - began thinking about what’s called expression text in Sibelius. In Dorico we have dynamics and playing technique, which works just fine in many cases. But often I want to add an expression (which isn’t the same as a playing technique to me). Often you can use a dynamic marking with a suffix and, if necessary, remove the intensity marking. But in cases such as the attached file I have to resort to using the simple text function in Dorico, which doesn’t exactly give you flawless result without quite a lot of tweaking.

I don’t know if this has ever been answered (I’ve brought it up before), but will Dorico ever have an equivalent of Sibelius expression text?

All the best!

I’m not sure what is stopping you from creating your own paragraph style that looks and works to your own liking – you don’t need to wait for us to do anything, do you?

Actually there’s still a way to use the workaround you’ve been using elsewhere. Set your mf< as usual, then set the caret to a tiny bit after the first beat (a 32nd note/demisemiquaver or something) and then enter mf cantabile into a new popover. Then select that and set it as shown in the attached screenshot

That’s what I’ve done, for now. And I will definately try pianoleo’s workaround!

But I can’t be the only person who needs some sort of dedicated expression text, can I? After all, it’s one of the more common types of markings you can find in published scores. Or is there something I’m missing?


YES, please, I’ve been making this point since the initial release: this is an incredibly common activity, and the way it stands right now means we need to create a new paragraph style, manually change its properties to match the dynamic text, and then, each time we create a new Shift-X object, select the appropriate style. If later we decide to use a different font for dynamic text, we have to remember to change it in the paragraph style as well. Daniel is way too brilliant not to see why this is not up to the elegant and streamlined approach of the rest of the program.

Two ways this could be greatly improved:

  • “magic” linked paragraph styles that would stay up to date with the dynamic text and technical instruction styles;
  • shortcuts to create Shift-X styles with paragraph styles pre-chosen (so you could quickly create a new Shift-X text item that would look like an expressive marking).

The current approach says: “No expressive marking is worth writing unless it is attached to a dynamic, and no technical instrument is worth writing unless it is in our pre-defined dictionary.” Given the Dorico’s incredible power—and how much music the developers have obviously looked at while writing the program!—these feel like bizarrely limited views to me (and have since day 1).

I’m dilly-dallying over the best way to implement something like this. I don’t think, in the long term, a paragraph style is it. But you don’t have to wait around for me to decide, and then for the team to implement it: you can just use a paragraph style today. I am just not going to rush to put a default paragraph style in when I think there is probably a better, more appropriate longer-term solution.

That sounds very reasonable, and my question wasn’t if it would be available in a near future, but what the thoughts were on a more long-term basis - so this is an answer I really appreciate. I’m sure it will be just as well implemented as all the other functions if and when it sees the light of day.

OK, that’s completely fair. I had gotten the impression before now that you thought you were done with expressive and technical text objects (since you’ve so comprehensively dealt with many of the issues in engraving), but if I can look forward to some distant future where this is handled more elegantly… that gives me hope.

I suppose Daniel has to deal with a very complicated schedule where the priorities are to implement things that cannot be achieved via a workaround… I do not doubt that once those very important features (and they are less and less numerous) are all in, the team will improve those details in order to achieve the ultimate music engraver software.


I just want to ask if this is still something we can look forward to in the future (since I haven’t heard anything in a while). I still use the two workarounds above (dynamics and text), but it’s still a bit more cumbersome than in for example Sibelius, since with the dynamic method I must go in to properties and remove the intensity marking in every instance, and with the text method I have to create a new parapgraph style for every score I’m working on. This is not a huge problem, of course, it’s just that with Dorico team having developed the best solution for almost everything else I expect nothing less than perfection in every area. :wink:

I want to throw in my two cents about this topic:
I do think an elegant implementation would again put Dorico ahead of the competitors, but reading up in Gould about this subject, I think it’s not an easy to implement topic.
Gould suggest (in this order, see picture): 1. place behind dynamics; 2. place underneath gradual dynamics; 3. place atop the stave if space is too limited.
So coding the behaviour for expression marks to follow these guidelines would probably be quite difficult.

For now: 1. and 2. are easily achieved (1. can be typed in the popover without going into the properties panel, 2. needs one edit), 3. is probably easier achieved with text and a paragraph style.

I do think that a related/underlying issue that you bring up is that you need to create the paragraph style for every project (you could make a template project and copy-edit that). Having a way to create paragraph styles globally (alongside playing techniques) would help with more issues (e.g. a harp pedal style until harp pedals are implemented).

If you use the star shaped button, ‘Save as default’, your custom paragraph styles will appear in all new (or all? don’t remember) projects. Once they’re saved, you can also assign key commands to them.
Playing techniques can also be saved this way, IIRC.

The fact that you can now assign a keyboard shortcut to Entering text in your own Paragraph Style should mean this is pretty much solves, surely?

I know this has come up before, but I can’t remember where, and it’s not working for me.

I created a new Paragraph Style called “Italics above,” saved, closed, and quit Dorico.

Re-opened, and it’s not showing up in the Key Commands list under Note Input–Create Text. What am I missing?

Dan, did you save as default before you assigned a shortcut to it?

Ding ding ding!

That did it, thanks. It seems like an odd step, though, and not intuitive from a user perspective. Nevertheless, it’s there now! It’s showing up in the Key Command list, and doesn’t require me to close and re-open first.

In fact, I was able to add as many user-defined paragraph styles as I wanted, as long as I hit “save as default” each time I created one.

The reason for this is that you can open the Key Commands editor when no project is open, and so only those paragraph styles etc. that are present in the default library (i.e. the combination of the styles we define in the factory library, and the styles you have saved in your user-level library by clicking “save as default”) can be assigned key commands. Also, if you went around creating different paragraph styles in multiple projects, how is Dorico supposed to know which one your shortcut is supposed to apply to? Internally they will all have different identifiers (since Dorico doesn’t use the name you give them in the dialog to identify them, as those names can change).

So it may not be intuitive, but it’s the way it has to be. The alternative would be worse: you’d be able to define a shortcut for a paragraph style that would only ever appear in a single project, and then you’d complain that it didn’t work in any other project…

It’s fine, I’m just glad I finally figured out how it works! I definitely think mastering paragraph styles is going to be pretty helpful to my workflow, and I start from a saved “template” file anyways.

Ah, I admit that I haven’t being using that button. The thing is that I usually made edits to other paragraph styles which I don’t necessarily want to save for other projects.
I should open a clean project and edit it then, but I do believe that some functionality to edit the defaults outside of projects would be handy. E.g. when you have the Project Explorer/New Project window open.