Force duration always on

Is there a way to have “force duration” always on?


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I don’t think you can enable it permanently, but you can switch it on when you start inputting notes. But to be honest, I’d recommend not to. In most cases, Dorico is quite smart at notating rhythms according to best practices, and besides that, Dorico has a lot of notation options to suit many users’ needs. I use force duration only exceptionally.

If you click it on, doesn’t it always stay on? What about any unwanted side effects?

Seems a little like having a 4 speed transmission in your car and never going above 3rd for all of your driving.

When I enter a quarter, I want a quarter. When I enter a dotted quarter, I want a dotted quarter. When I enter a quarter tied to an eighth, I want a quarter tied to an eighth. I’m not interested in the software reinterpreting this based on a series of rules (which aren’t really “rules” since they can all be changed in setup). I’ve been working with this software for a few years now, and I waste too much time fiddling in setup to get the rhythms notated as I want them. Invariably a change to accomodate one area of music, screws up another. It’s frustrating. For me, it’s more like driving a balky automatic transmission.

Force duration does stay on until you leave note entry.


When I first switched from Finale I wished for this too. I know the rules, know what I’m doing, why won’t Dorico do exactly what I want without having to switch this on? But … after sticking with it a while, I find I’m now much faster inputting using Dorico’s method. I can quickly enter a tied note crossing a barline or across a middle of a bar with one click rather than having to enter multiple notes and ties. Of course there’s a bit of a learning curve as you need to anticipate how Dorico will notate it, and think in terms of note duration rather than the actual notated notes, but I find Dorico’s way is much faster if you give yourself some time to adjust to it. I now only rarely ever find myself using it and it’s usually for exceptional situations or situations where a client is “wrong” but I’ve given up arguing the matter. :laughing:

I will second this idea… and will make a suggestion for Dorico in the future.

Whenever Dorico allows for “house styles” to be saved, have an option, for 'Force Duration Always On". Or create an option in the preferences to allow for this, if “house styles” will not be arriving any time soon.

For me, 90% of the time Dorico’s defaults are beyond perfect, and I agree with Fred that I think now more in terms of note duration rather than quarter tied to a quarter in the next bar… However, I do a lot of work on educational materials. No one in the right mind would put a half rest on beat 2 of a measure in 4/4 time… except for an educator I know. He does it to help reinforce the idea of half rests and getting students to think about the rest, what it looks like, and what it means very early on in the learning process. Infrequent issues like this exists enough that it would very nice to be able to have a function like this (possibly project specific and/or default setting).


I’ve been using the software on and off since it’s first release, and exclusively for the last six months. I’ve reached the limit of my willingness to adapt. The software is supposed to serve me, not the other way around. And again, I don’t buy the correct/incorrect argument. If there was a “correct” way, the preferences panel wouldn’t be full of options for this.

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This has been requested before and comes up from time to time. Everyone is different of course, but for me, when composing I am always adjusting the lengths of notes, changing time signatures for different bars, etc. If I had Force Duration turned on, my scores would be a horrible mess. So I’m with FredGUnn here, I do think it’s best to use the tool how it is designed to be used.

It’s not that Dorico knows the “correct” way, it’s that very often one’s preferences for note grouping are going to be consistent within projects. So I’ve gotten used to doing it this way after two decades in Finale and Sibelius. Since Force Duration stays on once you activate it, for me that works pretty well. And it looks like you can Select All and then turn on Force Duration, for existing scores.

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Insert stays on until manually shut off, even when leaving the input caret. That seems way more dangerous than Force Duration. I almost never use Insert because the potential for catastrophe is just too great when music is modified off screen and I don’t catch it until much later. I certainly don’t see any harm in letting Force Duration work the same way. If activated, leaving it on until manually turned off instead of turning it off whenever the user leaves the input caret seems like a pretty reasonable request.

I’m way too scared of insert to use it :slight_smile:

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dorico note grouping.jpg
Okay, so this is what i’m talking about. Bar 1 is what I want. Bar 2 is what dorico makes. I just clicked through every option in the note grouping panel and cannot get something that looks like bar 1.

From factory Notation Options, set the first setting in Rhythm Dots to 0, then in Syncopation, set “Notation of short-dotted long patterns” to “Split at beat boundaries”.

No, I can’t explain why the first of those settings doesn’t affect the last note in your example.

Thanks. But IMO, that’s just insane.


dorico note grouping 2.jpg
And that doesn’t work if, in the next bar I want two eighths and a dotted half.

1+ for this request. Actually I like a way Dorico arranges everything automatically and it is a huge time saver. Anyway, there are some specific projects, especially contemporary music pieces, where all the rules are less “classical”. For example a long note over few bars with a lot of different dynamics on it where the composer wants to write very precisely where all the signs have to be played. So it would be nice to have this kind of always on option…Just for such cases…

I would also like to have the ability to force durations for an entire project. (I’ll feel like a complete idiot if this feature has already been implemented in 4.0, and I have yet to find it.) For most users, this boils down to their primary use of Dorico: copying or creating. If composing/arranging, allowing Dorico to automate durations within the user’s engraving specifications is most efficient. If trying to make a clean, “urtext-esque” copy of a manuscript or score, forcing the durations on input is essential. Some items can be anticipated with engraving options, but not always. In that case having the option to ‘force durations’ for an entire project would be big time-saver. For me, it’s a minor inconvenience outweighed by a plethora of more critical conveniences, but I would still appreciate the luxury.

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I’ve been an engraver for over 30 years and have used all the major notation programs (including the DOS-based SCORE system - still my favorite) and have worked for the world’s leading publishers. When you are working for a client, you don’t have the luxury of decided how things are notated and I often need to match what a publisher/editor wants - not what Dorico wants or suggests, no matter how much of a time-saver it may be. For this reason, I wish I could set Force Duration to be the default.


Welcome to the forum, Ken! I agree that as professional engravers working for clients we need to be able to what the clients want quickly and easily. Yes, there are certain conventions of notation (I wouldn’t call them “rules”) which have evolved over the years but there are times when we must, as you have said, provide what the client wants, even if it is not what current notation conventions call for.
I would love to have the ability to lock “force duration” on for an entire project. That way hitting the “force duration” key (or clicking with the mouse) would have the opposite effect – it would turn it off for those brief moments when we don’t need it on. It’s just one extra step currently every time we enable “note entry” to remember to hit the key or click the icon.
In the overall scheme of things that Daniel and the team are working on this isn’t that huge an issue but it would be nice to get this ability.
I know that there have been times when I’ve discussed notation issues with a client and they want the notation a certain way that isn’t the current convention. Ultimately I give them what they want because they are paying the bill. Especially recreating new printings of older music where the client wants to keep as much of the original composer’s notation as possible while modernizing the printed output.

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There have been times when I feel like I’m entering every bar twice. I enter it, realize lock durations is off, then have to re-enter it to get the durations I actually want to see.

This is one feature that, the more I’ve lived with it, the more I hate it. I find it infantalizing and insulting. I am a professional. I know what note durations I want on the page. Please stop rewriting my music.



Well I certainly agree with you on the one hand, but on the other hand: there are lots, and lots (and lots) of professional musicians who have never had to formally think about why rhythms are notated certain ways in different meters. I have a master’s degree in music and yet was never taught anything about music engraving at school because it’s such a niche field of expertise, so I certainly do not mind the algorithm correcting my mistakes or improving upon what I’ve entered according to publishing standards. I suspect the overwhelming majority of people would feel the same.

At any rate, from the very beginning it’s been possible to override dorico via force duration, so dorico has literally never tried to prohibit anyone from getting their desired result. Not only does dorico not prevent it, it will even set your desired result “in stone” so to speak.

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