Force duration always on

Certainly, there’s an argument for more parameters in Notation Options, so that the user can define how the music should appear on a global and consistent basis, that minimises the need for manual alterations.

I suspect that if the Beam and Note grouping options and logic were improved, then people would ‘need’ Force Duration a lot less.

The same is true for better handling of syncopations.


I completely agree, and somewhat disagree…
The starting point - as you would have it - is that the composer is right, and the software should give them what they want. I do agree with this. But…as we know, there are many times that what one writes is correct as to duration, but not normative notational practice. As anyone who has taught music knows, there are a lot of ways things can be mis-notated.

It’s as though we need a toggle: Notate According to Conventions (as Dorico interprets them), or Let Me Decide. Force Duration is the latter, but like sunscreen, it has to be re-applied frequently (or one gets burned - sorry, couldn’t resist…).

For me, I am ok with standards that Dorico sets out, even though there are times I have to re-arrange things. But I do find that for normative notational writing - and I do a lot of that - Dorico is 90% on the mark. But your point is well taken: if we know our stuff, leave us to it. It’s the How that is the question from a software point of view.


Assuming you remember to turn force duration on every time you enter notes. This is the part that drives me crazy. I want it on all the time. I constantly keep forgetting and have to enter everything twice when I forget.

Also, while “publishing standards” are all well and good. For what I do, it’s more important that the notation match the musician’s expectations, publishing standards be damned.

The “how” seems trivially easy. Provide an option to leave force duration on until explicitly turned off. Why the Dorico team is resistant to this, I truly don’t understand.

There are definitely lots of very common situations that are not accounted for in Notation Options. I’m pretty sure there is no combination of settings that will do this by default, which is crazy as it’s a very common rhythm in jazz.

In the below situation there really should be settings to accommodate all 3 of these styles as they are all commonly found:

In 4/4 I typically don’t use double dots for notes greater than the beat, but have no problem with using them for values less than a beat. If I have the dot setting at 1 in order to automatically get the second bar above, then I get the first rhythm below which is not what I often want as I generally prefer to use the second.

I think I’ve sorta come full circle on this. Coming from Finale, when I first started using Dorico I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just input what I wanted. After getting familiar with it, I liked that it was much faster in 4/4 to just input a half on the & of 2 instead of eighth tied to dotted quarter. Now that I pretty much know how my settings affect notation, I’m annoyed I have to keep turning on Force Duration for simple things like a quarter on the & of 1 followed by a rest, and the added proofreading time I have to spend on rhythms.

What are any positives for not allowing a sticky Force Duration? I guess for students and beginning composer/arrangers, there is the benefit of generally producing non-terrible rhythmic notation. Fine, then don’t allow it in SE and maybe Elements. For Pro users, it seems to make sense to allow us to work the way we prefer to work. We can even customize colors now to create an ideal workspace environment, why not allow a sticky Force Duration for Pro users who would prefer to work that way?


I can only surmise that implementing this is not as easy as it appears. But I know nothing about software architecture. It may be that this will be developed in much the way Insert Mode has been tweaked to allow for more flexibility and intelligence of use.

I was a software engineer for thirty years, and while there certainly could be some convoluted reason why this feature would be difficult, my intuition says that it’s easy. If it is difficult to implement, I’d love to know why… the engineer in me is curious.


Insert mode is sticky, so I’d guess that the reason is that “force duration” is intended to function as an exception to the rule.

1 Like

Well, it all depends on what’s under the hood. I have absolutely no idea how easy/complicated any change is. Over the years I have read requests for feature X - and how simple it would be to implement, only to have someone from the Dorico team respond by stating that it wouldn’t be easy or trivial to change/add. You may well be right - whether the reason is convoluted or not is for the Dorico team to address.

@FredGUnn No disagreement, except to say that simply because we have the Pro version, doesn’t mean we are pros - just that we can afford the full-fat version. But point accepted!


And boy do folks get burned by that!


Aaaaand I suspect that is exactly why force duration is not sticky. :upside_down_face: (just a guess; I don’t have a dog in this fight)

1 Like

That’s where I think the logic of the design breaks down a bit. Insert mode is way more dangerous and has the potential to really destroy your project, yet the developers choose to make it sticky. Insert mode scares me so much that I disabled any shortcuts, so I have to physically click on it to enable it, and then I’m always careful to immediately disable it. (Got burned really badly a couple times early on before I was really comfortable with how the program works, and had to trash large sections and rewrite.)

I’m fine with burying a checkbox deep in Preferences to even allow sticky Force Duration if they want to keep it as an exception. The more advanced users that are going to want a sticky Force Duration are the ones that would find that setting anyway.

It also seems a bit incongruous with the fact that New or New from Template files usually start in open meter where most of the grouping options are largely irrelevant anyway. In open meter, I’m almost always going to need Force Duration, so it would almost make more sense to start with Force Duration on and sticky if the user starts in open meter.

I’m sort of on the fence as to whether I would enable a sticky Force Duration or not, but there are clear reasons to want this as an option, and not any obvious reasons that I can see not to, other than programming time/difficulty.


A temporary solution I could think of would be to activate Note Input Mode via a Stream Deck, TouchPortal, Touch Bar button etc. and have its key combination activate both Note Input and Force Duration. That way, every time you wanted to input notes Force Duration would automatically be on.

So, the virtual keypress assigned to the Stream Deck button would be Shift+N [2ms pause] O

Unless I’m missing something, this might work.


That would work swimmingly for anyone so equipped.

Keyboard Maestro or AHK ought to do the same job just fine. You’d probably want to assign it to a key combination or a single key you’re unlikely to ever type (such as whatever happens to be immediately to the left of 1 on the top row numbers). Assigning it to Enter or Shift-N would likely cause problems in other contexts.

I had the same idea yesterday, and made a mental note to try out what would happen if typing Shift-N O with a note selected. Could somebody in front of a computer double-check that that doesn’t turn off/on Force Duration for the selected note?
(And if it does, does inserting Cmd/Ctrl-D in between Shift-N and O solve the problem?)

1 Like

The price tag of a Stream Deck really is exorbitant. I am quite happy with TouchPortal as a less pretty, but perfectly capable alternative. Plus, it only requires your phone or iPad as an input device. I think the cost is a one-time payment of 14€ or so.

Stream Deck have a mobile app too. It’s a little more expensive (I think it’s $24.99 a year).

Sorry, it’s not at all exorbitant for a fully customizable, physical keyboard with real buttons that let you know what you’re pressing without looking.


Metagrid is another iPad -based button presser, which does have explicit support for Dorico.

1 Like

Fair enough! :smile: