Feature Request + Improvement

first off,
a feature request:

the ability to turn a “x+y” measure so it displays as the total number of beats.
for example, have a measure of 3+4/4 display as 7/4.

This is particularly useful where the use of a pipe | symbol is used to create dashed lines splitting the inner beats of a measure.

As an added option, please allow the use of the | symbol to apply to EMPTY measures as well as measures with music. Right now, the dashed barline split only shows in measures that have music, it does not show for measures that contain only a default whole bar rest.

Maybe add a lower panel option with “show amalgamated time signature”.

NOTA: please don’t offer work-around suggestions that require hiding this, showing that, making the other not part of the time signature region…
The whole point of this feature request is to SIMPLIFY a normal function when writing music that uses more complex time signatures.

An Improvement request:

It would be nice if when you click on a measure in the middle of a group of other measures (in other words, not the last measure of a flow) you could REALLY apply a new time signature instead of having to go through the whole “use insert mode”, “add/remove a beat using the Bar feature”, etc…

This is the rare moment where Dorico is actually going completely against its own inner logic.
If you won’t let me make a bar of 4/4 with four actual beats, display as a bar of 5/4 (in other words, if Dorico won’t let me make something illogical and musically unsound), then there’s no reason for Dorico to do so on its own.

If I select a measure and apply a time signature, then Dorico should apply THAT time signature, with the correct number of beats. Not just display the time signature, with the incorrect number of beats.

Make it a SIMPLE one-step process, instead of making the user jump through hoops with other functions.


Another way to change the time signature of a bar in the middle of a flow is to use Insert mode, set to the Global Adjustment of Current Bar scope: when active and set to this scope, inputting new notes, or changing the duration of existing ones, updates the time signature.

Lillie, that’s exactly my point: there’s a time signature tool… there really shouldn’t be any reason to use any other tool than that.

By default, things should be simple.

If I am applying time signatures in advance to speed things up and give myself markers in a score before entering notes, then suddenly remember that these two empty measures are in 3/4 rather than 4/4, Dorico should just change my selected measures to 3/4.

but what it does is create two measure of 3/4, and then a single measure of two beats, but with no time signature attached to it.

what is this 2/4 measure doing there, and why does it not display a time signature?
I get it, it’s the “left over” beats from when I transformed 8 beats into 6…
But do I REALLY need to keep those 2 extra beats?
Is this really a function that has any use when being applied to empty measures?

Maybe Dorico has to treat measures with music already input differently from measures that are entirely empty.

You have to admit, there’s something a tiny bit odd and illogical about what’s going on here.


Yes, this process really is too cumbersome.
It trips me up every time.


I understand, of course. However, as things stand at the moment, the same “rhythmic position-first” approach that Dorico takes and that allows for easy restructuring of meter and barlines around existing notes and turning notes into tie chains etc according to their new position in their new bars, means that Dorico prioritises maintaining the internal structures of notes relative to each over inserting time without warning you.

Perhaps there could be a preference or option that users could set, depending on whether they prefer to let Dorico insert extra time if required when changing a time signature earlier in a flow than a later time signature, or whether they want to make sure any time insertion is under their deliberate control (via Insert mode, adding beats, etc).

At least in the meantime, there are tools available to you that allows this to work (albeit with the need for you to activate Insert mode before changing time signatures).

I also happen to agree that a hypothetical view option to identify bars whose beat contents don’t match the prevailing time signature could be useful as well.


as for my only-tangentially related feature request, that still stands, and I hope some time soon we’ll have the option to display an equal-yet-different time signature for those particular cases I mentioned.

I completely agree.

  1. For example, if I have 4 bars of 4/4 that I want to convert to 5/4 before the next meter change, I’m inputting a meter change of 5/4, not inputting a meter of 5/4 for 3 bars and a then one beat pickup bar without a time sig, but that’s what Dorico gives me.
  2. It would be one thing if Dorico would leave the whole passage alone, in effect saying the user has to come back and fix it, but Dorico only fixes it in one direction. It won’t allow bars with too many beats but will allow bars with too few.
  3. These bars with too few beats really are a proofreading nightmare. There’s no notification to the user that they aren’t filled, and I think they are somehow coded as pickup bars in the XML data. A few weeks ago I XMLed a project over to Finale just to run the Check Region for Durations plug-in as a proofreading tool, and Finale couldn’t catch the bars with the wrong number of beats from the Dorico XML either. There’s really no way to proof for these in Dorico then other than manually counting all the beats in all the bars, which is a colossal and unnecessary PITA.
  4. I think Finale handles this much better. If I change a meter and have Rebar Music selected (which is how Dorico does it) then all the bars are recalculated but complete according to the time sig that I just input (unlike Dorico), with rests padding the final bar so it’s filled if needed. If I change a meter and want Finale to leave the barlines as is, knowing I’m gonna go back in and manually correct each bar, I can unclick Rebar Music and then the bars will not have the right number of beats, whether overfull or incomplete, so nothing is moved or deleted. (Check Region for Durations will catch this of course.) The bar structure has remained constant so I can manually edit each bar. Dorico sort of combines these two, both recalculating the bars and leaving them incomplete.



It might be nice if it could show signposts for pickup bars - then at least you could see that a bar was shorter by having a signpost appear over it and that could call your attention to it. At least it would make proofing easier.


But do I REALLY need to keep those 2 extra beats?
Is this really a function that has any use when being applied to empty measures?

Dorico behaves the way DAW’s do in this case on the back end. DAW’s generally let you change time signatures with any musical events falling at the same point along the timeline as they did before. One reason for this is for scoring films, as sometimes you may want to do edits to time signatures and things like that while still having the music sync up to the picture correctly. You can do almost anything in a DAW without breaking the sync between picture and music, aside from tempo changes and actually shifting the music along the timeline on purpose.

One of the reasons that notation programs are generally very bad at scoring to picture is it is too easy to accidentally shift things so they are out of sync if you decide to change a time signature and make a bar longer or shorter than it was before. Dorico is better at this than most because it uses a rather DAW like approach here. By keeping those two extra beats, it makes sure that anything after them that synced up to picture before will still sync up to picture after the time signature change.

I do agree that a prompt might be nice for users who want that, but if working with picture, I like being able to trust as I can now that Dorico is not going add extra time or remove time unexpectedly and cause a musical hitpoint to come out of sync with the video.


IMO, Dorico should mark the remaining 2 crotchets in the example as an explicit 2/4 automatically, not insert an invisible pick-up bar in the middle of everything. It’s not only unclear and easy to miss, it’s nonsensical, against the rules of notation. Pick-ups and incomplete ending measures are literally edge cases, they can only occur at the start or end of a well-delimited section, not in the middle.


Dorico should mark the remaining 2 crotchets in the example as an explicit 2/4 automatically

Doing this would wreck Dorico as a film scoring tool unfortunately. It would make so much extra work for film composers that they would stay on the old version to avoid this, or move to something else.

It isn’t correct notation, but this gets corrected through the writing process.

Just to elaborate, a common process for film scoring is that composers will start by coming up with the tempo or tempi for the scene even before they’ve written a note, find the right tempo to match the pacing of the scene and get as many hitpoints as possible, possibly entering dummy notes at these hitpoints. They may not start scoring the scene from the beginning, but instead from near the end and fill in the earlier part later (same as normal composition). This means that the end of the music may be written already and in perfect sync, but the first part is not yet written and is just a bunch of empty bars - albeit with the tempo already decided and with enough beats to get to the end. If these are 4/4 and when you start writing you find that the music you want to write for this is not 4/4, obviously you have to change this, and here’s where it can theoretically start to become a problem (although not a problem in DAWs and not a problem with Dorico under the current behavior).

The issue with the initial suggestion of having Dorico just add time or remove time without asking is that your previously composed music later in the cue is in perfect sync, and this sync would be thrown off by the addition or removal of time, which would not be acceptable. Instead, the current workflow/behavior is that, after writing the end or whatever part you wanted, you might then work from the beginning, changing time signatures as needed, then when you reached the spot where you had written to the end, you would see how many beats were left (as you would probably end up with a fractional bar there) and add the correct time signature so that everything would be musically correct and complete. This can all be done without impacting the synchronization of the later music that was already written whatsoever. If the software were to automatically add explicit time signatures to incomplete measures, you may have to go through a process at the end to delete any extra time signatures it auto created because you may not want it to be like that, and deleting the time signatures may further throw things off. It could make a big mess of extra time signatures created through this automatic process that you suggest, if this was done repeatedly - for instance if you changed a time signature, and it created a new fractional measure with its own explicit time signature later in the piece, then if you changed another time signature in the next bar, it could make a new fractional measure with its own explicit time signatures later in the piece. If you change the time signature 10 times, you can easily end up with 10 shorter measures with random time signatures that you don’t want that were auto created by Dorico when earlier time signatures were changed.

The only thing Dorico does differently than a DAW is that in a DAW you won’t usually end up with these “fractional” measures like in Dorico. The reason is that, to keep the notes at the same timestamp, the DAW will often offset the actual notes in the bar - in Michel’s example, it would be as if he changed 3/4 to 2/4, and all of the music in all future bars shifted back by a quarter note to compensate so that they landed at the same timestamp. These rhythmic shifts would be harmless in a DAW and easily correctable, but in notation, this could easily screw up custom engraving that was done, and applying a corrective shift back after the fact may not restore things back to how they previously looked. This is similar to how you can wreck certain engraving details by shifting things in insert mode and, even after shifting them back, they may not look exactly the same as they did before they were shifted in the first place. So instead of adjusting the actual notes forward or backward in time to keep the timings a match, Dorico handles this slightly differently from a DAW by having these fractional measures. I can understand why it is done this way, as a bit of a compromise as the normal DAW behavior would be too destructive of any custom engraving that was done.

There has to be a way of improving things that doesn’t mess up the current film scoring workflow (which actually works pretty well).


This is an interesting perspective worth considering. I guess I come down on the side of somehow flagging incomplete or overfilled measures just as out-of-range notes in instruments or harp pedaling are. However the Dorico Team would show this would probably exceed any specifics I could suggest.

This is an interesting tidbit for me to store for when I again try to develop scoring-to-picture chops. It’s not something I do, but something I would like to get better at just because.


Also this, exactly.

The main difference is that in film composing, a musical event is often fixed at a precise moment in ‘physical time’ (seconds from the beginning of the track), and in most other forms of composing this doesn’t apply, it’s just about ‘musical time’ (number of measures/beats, regardless of tempo). The insertion of a necessary TS change could be made implicit, by colouring it differently, showing a signpost etc., and being adjusted on-the-fly as the composer is busy changing the structure of musical time before the new TS. I don’t think it would be inevitable to get loads of incomplete measures that way, as long as they are not added as fixed TS changes (because Dorico wouldn’t be able to see the difference). We’d need some sort of ‘automatic filler measure’ type, that a user could make visible at will, like a cautionary accidental.

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Yes, this sounds like an excellent solution to me.

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I really find it odd that Dorico will have a measure with the wrong number of beats show up inadvertently,

but it won’t let me show a 4/4|3/4 measure as 7/4 when I need it to. (last I checked, 4+3 does equal 7)

If you read through my very long posts above (sorry they are so verbose), I tried to articulate why this is largely a desirable behavior for film composers.

As writing for film is only one of the things I do, I also understand that this is not necessarily a desirable behavior if you don’t write for film.

In either case, some kind of visual warning that a measure is incomplete (based on the shown time signature) should ideally be displayed somehow.


it’s actually a completely undesirable and deleterious behaviour for those of us who write concert music.

That said, I ALSO did make a feature request, which is only tangentially related to the change time signature issue.

The ability to change 3/4 | 4/4 style time signatures into 7/4 for display purposes. (or add whatever numbers you want… my example just happens to be in 7/4 and divided this way)

And before anyone says something about using 3/4+4/4 time signatures, NO, that is not the same thing and will not work, since it creates actual individual bars one of 3 beats, one of 4 beats… which then will not create multi-bar rests in the parts, and which also will toss half measures across system boundaries requiring manual fixes throughout a score.

Yes, I understand, but I would prefer to have them change the behaviour in a way that worked for everybody, rather than adjust it so that it worked for concert composers and didn’t work for film composers. Or, they could give a toggle or something.

I don’t have any objections about your feature request for the 3/4|4/4, on the contrary, I support it completely. Support for more time signature possibilities and grouping possibilities is a good thing.


I’m definitely not asking that they remove any sort of functionality, but at least offer a toggle that would work one way for film composers (or those who desire this type of time signature behaviour) and another way for those of us who require a more straight forward “change the time signature” option.

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Yes, I’m not against a toggle in the preferences, I agreed with that in an earlier post in this thread.

However even if they did this, I would also still want to see some visual alert of measures that were incomplete in terms of the number of beats, particularly for those who had that toggle set to the current behavior. Even when working in film, if a bar is temporarily incomplete due to writing in the way I described (as one example), you would want to make sure these were all fixed before it was handed off to musicians, because otherwise it would be possible to miss one. As @FredGUnn said, they are not necessarily very easy to spot.