Extender THEN a hyphen?

This may be more of a notation practice question than a “how do I do this in Dorico?” question. Or it might be both.

Where lyric extenders and hyphens are concerned, what’s the practice when a melisma leads into a new note/syllable? I.e. do we have an extender followed by a hyphen?

For example: “Smiiiiiiiiii - ling!” (If we imagined a melisma on the first syllable, and then a new note for “ling”.)



Just a hyphen or two, or three, depending on the length of the melisma (which Dorico will handle automatically). Never mix extender lines and hyphens. Behind Bars, p. 448.

Thanks Drankreider. Is this an exception to the rule that extenders are used for melismas?

The hyphens are the extenders except for the final syllable or a one-syllable word under the melisma.

Also, I would suggest hyphenating as “smil - - - - ing”. Syllables are split in order to identify the word most clearly, using conventions such as splitting the suffix, not according to ‘where the syllable sounds’.

I was about to remark on that, as well. English is fairly consistent about syllabifying according to function, although there are plenty of exceptions and anomalies, like ‘fa-ther’ and ‘moth-er’. Still, the ‘other’ Germanic languages generally syllabify according to pronunciation, or between double consonants, even though that goes against the pronunciation, like ‘gin-gen’.

Often, long vowels are left open (such as ‘fa-ther’). In writing for my own choir, I often don’t follow the rules, with the purpose of getting the consonants pronounced in the right place.

Are there ever instances where you want the consonant anywhere other than the end of the melisma?

Yes. When I want it to be pronounced with the next syllable. Some give no trouble, but something like ‘re - sponce’ I like to hyphenate thus, despite the schwa being open. This is only for my own settings with my own choir.

  1. Surely, “re-sponse” with an S, at least?
  2. Where else would they put the S but immediately before singing the P…? Irregular word splitting has often confused me about what the word is, but rarely, if ever, have I thought, “I know, I’ll start hissing an S for 3 beats, because that’s where the letter S is.”

Ben’s point was mine. I’ve never seen a choir be confused about where the consonant goes. In legato singing, it’s always elided with the next syllable. If it’s followed by a rest, it goes on the rest. Simple enough.

Or as my conducting prof helpfully (but awkwardly) put it, “The vowels long to touch each other.” That is, the consonant always waits until the last possible moment.

  1. ugh, you are of course right Ben.
    Absolutely correct Dan and Ben, but in the example I gave it would not be at all unusual to have exactly that hissing. So writing it wrong is a teaching strategy. I’ve heard early consonants in choirs from amateur to fully professional.

My sopranos totally hissed on an early S in one of our anthems for Good Friday. I don’t think a re-written hyphenation would have helped them, though, since they knew better… I just gave them the stare of death. :laughing: