Feature Request: Aleatory boxes

I know this has been discussed already in other posts, but I wanted to cast another vote for aleatory boxes to be a real feature in Dorico 4. I know it can be done already as a workaround using a few different methods (which is great–yay!), but it is extremely time-consuming to have to format and reformat every time something changes slightly. It also messes up the staff spacing significantly. It would also be great if aleatory boxes and lines could be condensed. (It seems like the current workarounds can’t be condensed, but please correct me if I’m wrong! I use the custom lines method for my boxes because they are attached to both the beginning and end of the notes.) I know a lot of composers who would love to make the switch to Dorico but won’t because of the hassles involved in creating aleatory boxes. Thank you for your consideration! Otherwise I’m very much enjoying Dorico!

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The AleBoxes workaround should work with condensing since it’s a text object. I haven’t tried it though.

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Yes just tried it out and AleBoxes does condense! Thank you! However, my lines coming off the aleatory boxes are very frequently more than a system long, which makes inputting them as text rather than lines very impractical. And then I’d also have to make a different length version of each box/line combination for the score and parts it seems…

Yes it’s definitely a stopgap solution and won’t work for every situation.

Dan was very kind to supply us with his AleBoxes font, which is very useful workaround, but we need them native.
I really do believe, and hope, that Daniel and the team will add the native Aleatoric Boxes in Dorico 4. Even I hope there will be a decent playback for them and the Aletoric Lines/Arrows.
These are long awaited functions which are very important for those who write and engrave modern and Aleatoric music.

Best wishes,
Thurisaz

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Features for frame/aleatoric notation will unfortunately not be part of the next major release of Dorico, but they are certainly in our plans for the future.

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Thank you very much for your response! I have to admit my heart sank upon hearing that news–every time I put in one of those top and bottom custom line boxes, I thought to myself “it’s ok, I only have to do this for a few more months maybe” haha. Nevertheless, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond and am very much looking forward to seeing this feature in a future version! Thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into Dorico! Looking forward to the other treats you have in store for us in the next release.

With a new release appearing to come closer, I know that it won’t have much of an effect anymore, but I just wanted to say that I am asked often about Dorico by my composition colleagues and I always have to say: use it, BUT for these cases it’s not ready yet.
I think contemporary composers in the classical European tradition are the most underrepresented group of users in Dorico.
I am sure you are aware of it, I just wanted to emphasize this.

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Just think, the second the Dorico team comes up with a solution, it will be the solution on the block. They’ll have it setup for playback…they’ll be able to integrate multiple styles…there will be a plethora of things that are available that you’ve never seen but because they did the major deep dive it will be spectacular…

At least, that’s what I have to tell myself in order not to go crazy, because ultimately I’m itching to get an update.

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In my experience aleatory boxes were never used extensively in contemporary scores and then only for a relatively short period. There are many aleatoric notational techniques and it would be nigh impossible to cover them all, especially as many composers develop their own aleatoric notation.

I seem to recall Lutoslawski using them in Jeux Venitiens, or am I misremembering? It was many years ago!

I think they are still very often used, and become more and more popular even in film music. It’s a common compositional and notational technique (as are microtones or independent time signatures), and Dorico has the chance to actually establish a notational standard if the implementation is fast, stable and easy to achieve. The reason everyone is doing it differently is also because everyone HAS to do it differently.
But my comment was also referring to cut-out scores which I assumed the „frame“ part of Daniels answer referred to.

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Pretty much every time I get handed a brand new score by a contemporary composer, they’ve done an aleatoric bit. In choral music, I find it a bit of a tiresome gimmick.

But yeah: until Dorico can do Aleatorics and Cutaway scores, then that’s a major obstacle to use.

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Funny you say it that way, I finished a piece for choir last year basically only consisting of this kind of aleatory. It has yet to be performed, but I hope it‘ll turn out to be more than just a „gimmick“.

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“I find it a bit of a tiresome gimmick”

I agree. One critic many years ago referred to this technique, in the first performance of an orchestral work by a Britich composer, as an irritating “vamp until ready section”. Anyone who has every played for cabaret will know exactly what he means.

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Given the meaning of aleatoric, I suspect we will see the notation side of these techniques long before we see playback implemented. It would not be the first time Dorico has introduced a capability in stages.

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Just leave the sustain pedal on. :rofl:

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I completely agree @klafkid. And not just composers in Europe–I have colleagues everywhere using aleatory who are writing for major ensembles throughout the world. And whenever I tell them about Dorico I always have to include that same “BUT…aleatory is pretty annoying and time-consuming still.” Once Dorico has this feature I think a lot of people I know will make the switch.

And yes everyone has a slightly different version of aleatoric notation, but most involve some form of a box. So even just being able to make a box that doesn’t come apart and that is attached to the beginning and end of the notes would be a huge improvement. And it would make Dorico comparable to the other software in this regard.

In regards to the aleatoric playback that some people have mentioned: I don’t personally care about the playback, though it would be cool simply because no other software does this yet. But I would much rather have the box as soon as possible rather than having to wait for the whole playback aspect, which I imagine is a lot more time-consuming for the team to figure out than the notation.

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I should add that the reason I was emphasizing the box component is because the lines are already great as of version 3.5! Thanks Dorico team!

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Brutalist architecture was also once a thing. Hopefully, this, too, shall pass.