Fixing 'Bad slurs'

I frequently come across slurs of this sort: paired notes with a large interval: and they look a little bit wrong to me.

I’ve got a lot of them in one Flow of a large work, so I’d like a non-manual solution, but I can’t find anything apposite in Engraving Options. (At the same time, I don’t want to ‘disturb’ the slurs in the other flows too much.)

Do people agree that they look a bit wrong? I’ve tried to manually adjust them, but it takes a bit of time, and I’m still not convinced:

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Yes, I agree, have had the same thoughts recently.


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With Finale, you can have a “scratch staff”. Anotherwords, a temporary extra staff to contain whatever you like and easily deletable when you’re through with it. I set up the scratch staff with different slurred intervals, adjust the slurs, and copy them where needed.

You could try this with Dorico as well.


Not quite sure I see the need? Presumably, you’d already have your slurs saved in a document, to avoid having to re-do them. In which case, you can just have that document open and copy and paste?

Finale does have a nice (and under-used) feature where you can Copy and Paste from/to ‘snippet’ files.

With Dorico, you could have a ‘scratch’ Flow very easily, and import that into new documents.

But really, I’m looking for something a bit more intelligent and less grunt-based. :wink:

That would be Engraving Options for short slurs of varying intervals - say separate settings for 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths and octave+. We can only hope.

Here’s what I get by default with my settings:

Better? Worse? Obviously the last one on the top staff is a mess that would need to be manually adjusted for sure as it looks like it’s about to fall over. Just curious what others get by default and what would be considered “ideal” here with these large intervals.

For comparison, here are a couple examples that I know were engraved with SCORE:


I’m not sure if it’s really possible to get that sort of shape in Dorico.

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I agree, Ben, and I would like the ability for slurs over larger intervals to not descend (or ascend) as close to the notehead. I encounter this often.

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This is SCORE again, but B&H has some good recommendations and guidelines.


That’s certainly the answer for ‘what should they look like?’. But it would be great if Dorico could do this automatically.


I remembered some of the issues with large intervals and slurs were discussed in this thread from last spring. It does look like the symmetry bug with octave slurs was fixed in 3.5.

The middle section of SCORE’s slurs looks very flat. I’ve only used flat slurs in Dorico by checking the Properties box on a longer slur, not as a global default, but there does seem to be some sort of bug or drawing error in Dorico when flat slurs are used as short slurs. This slur shape is ridiculous, (flat slur, shoulder offset 1/2) but regardless of settings, it shouldn’t be more narrow in the middle, should it? This seems like an error.

It’s subtle, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it even with longer flat slurs:

So that kind of rules out trying to use flat slurs to mimic SCORE’s look. There seems to be some sort of an error in the documentation with Slur Shoulder Offset too.

1/2 is not decreased from 1/5. Perhaps that’s supposed to be 1/12 or something? I’m not getting anything like that regardless of settings so clearly there are other settings in play too.

I also can’t figure out what “Maximum angle for slurs” actually does. The illustration looks like it’s the angle from endpoint to endpoint in relation to the staff, but clearly that’s not the case. If so setting the maximum angle to 0 should result in both endpoints being at the same place vertically and obviously they don’t. I think it’s overridden by the “Maximum distance to move endpoints” setting, but the slur shape will still change by changing the angle setting, even if the endpoints remain in an angle that is outside the range of your angle settings. Does anyone know exactly what this setting does?

Your weird hat shaped short slurs reminded me of this thread: slur - missing control points [solved] - #8 by pianoleo

You’ve possibly done something weird with that setting or a similar setting, I guess.

It’s very subtle, but even when I set the offset to a small amount like 1/10 or something, the center is still slightly more narrow that the shoulders. I just used the ridiculous example above because it made it easier to see the discrepancy.

I’ll check this and update the screenshots, as there were changes to the defaults for slurs in 3.5. Thanks for pointing it out.

Edit: Ah yes, I think that was meant to be “-1/2”, sufficient to have a clear, noticeable difference to the other screenshots & demonstrate the principle of how the shoulder offsets affect slur shape.

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The text below says 'When adjusting the endpoints to avoid collisions under its arc, the slur will not be rotated further than this angle."

I take that to mean only when the slurs is moved to avoid something: not just maximum angle at any time.

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Ah, I was misinterpreting it, that makes sense. Even so, I’m still not quite understanding how it affects the slur contour though. Using the example from Engraving Options:

Angle: 0

Angle: 5

Angles 10 and up are all the exact same result:

These settings don’t really seem to have anything to do with the illustration used in Engraving Options:

Perhaps Engraving Options/Slurs could be redesigned a bit to better show the hierarchy of settings. Maximum distance to move endpoints seems to take precedence over any angle adjustment. (I think.) And I still haven’t managed to figure out the right combination to get the look of the B&H examples by default.

I regret to say that I am also not happy with the defaults for slurs or ties in Dorico. Reproduced below is an extract from parts of a score which has some extreme slurs. The upper image, with dynamics and bowings, is from Sibelius and the lower from Dorico.

To deal with the Dorico ties first: I find the default position too far away from the notes.
As far as the slurs are concerned, I regret to say that I find the Sibelius example more attractive in many cases.
Specifically, my concerns are:
– the thickness of the slurs
– the angles of the ends of some of the slurs.
– the ungainly look of the slurs in the last bar.

It may be said in response that what I would like to see as a default can currently be achieved in Dorico in the editing phase, but it would be extremely tedious to have to adjust so many cases.


Have you checked the Engraving options?


In my opinion, Eulenburg scores had tip-top engraving - very consistent, as if the same engraver produced all of their enormous output.

Here’s their take on the octaves of the first passage. You’re not going to get this slur positioning in Dorico without manual intervention. You could adjust the few unique slurs and paste them over duplicate occurances. Violin 2 should paste to Viola OK (?)
Screen Shot 2021-02-09 at 5.05.57 AM

With respect, I do not consider Eulenburg scores a paragon of engraving. In your example I find the first two slurs in the second bar of Vln.1 quite ugly, and the placement of others leaves a lot to be desired. I do not quite understand why Dorico cannot provide the same excellent defaults that Sibelius does, when the same people were/are responsible. This is hardly something that can be considered a trade secret!