Frame chain names

I am attempting to make a new template with wide margins and things are messing up a lot. But now from another post somebody mentioned frame chains. I see the template I have made had name MJ not MA. Where does this come from, what is it? Why J and not B, for example? This could be the source of my woes.

Sorry to clog the forum with so many questions around this.

It’s randomly(?) assigned by Dorico!
You should be able to manually change it back to MA using the frame chain dropdown. MA is always the main frame chain.

Unless you have separate music you want displayed in different areas of your score, you should set all frames to MA. (Although this most likely would be done with Local frame chains.) This will make sure your “one” music will flow from one frame to another in a logical manner.

Anthony has a good overview of frame chains here:,vid:kivzO7z4j4Y,st:72

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I didn’t do anything explicit and MJ just appeared, and seems to be messing things up, but this is an area of Dorico I have never used and don’t understand. All I did was attempt to create a new page template. Assigned randomly - you have to be kidding! I think that’s totally bizzare. Am I the only one ever to be bamboozled by this?

I’m watching the videos on music frames!

I believe the “J” is just a sequentially assigned letter indicating Dorico’s internal tracking of changes made during the creation process (in the background) that you as a user was involved with. [A little guessing here on my part.] The important thing is the “M” which means MASTER - allowing the flow of your music, and not something that is mainly for display. For instance, an incipit that requires a “L” to display some music locally.

It’s certainly not random. The suffixes are assigned sequentially.

If you create two text frames, then create a custom music frame, it will have a suffix of D.

MA - music frame master
(text)B - text frame
(text)C - text frame
MD - custom music frame

The reason it’s confusing, in part, is because text frames are a bit simpler, and they don’t display any identifying labels. But they still have them internally. As far as I can tell.


The standard flow of music goes through the default frame chain. Normally that’s MA, but fundamentally it’s “whatever the frame chain is on the Default page template”.

If you want a custom page template to be part of the normal music daisy chain, make sure its music frames are assigned to the same frame chain as the Default page template. Creating a new page template “based on” the Default template should do this automatically.

The Default page template’s frame chain is what determines what gets shown automatically: for example, if you’ve got an extra flow in the project whose sole purpose is to demonstrate notation styles in the front matter, but otherwise has no musical function, you want to remove that flow from the Default frame chain. If you don’t, it will appear at the end of the layout (or wherever that flow is positioned in the flow order for the project).

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So where did J come from after A? I still bamboozled.

And, the good news is that selecting MA solved all my weird template issues.



I don’t have anywhere near the number of test frames that would push it to J.

There’s something odd about my project.

Unlikely – there are a number of text frames already in play in a standard project: for the title, the composer…

It’s really not something I would encourage anyone to lose sleep over.


I have no idea where it comes from, but J seems always to be the letter of choice to succeed A when I create new frames, so I just have learned to accept that everything is working as planned.

@Derrek interesting! So it’s not me going crazy.


Let’s count:
Music frame (A)
Left page number (B)
Right page number (C)
Title frame (D)
Composer frame (E)
Lyricist frame (F)
Copyright frame (G)
Header frame (H)
Flow Heading frame (I)

Next one : your erroneously created music frame (if I understand correctly) (J) !


Considering that text frames have no label to identify them as ‘B’, ’ C’ or ‘D’ etc, it does seem strange that the naming convention for Music frames should take them into account, if indeed this is how it works. In a new project, if I insert a new page and insert a music frame, it’s called LA1, although there is the option to select MA1. I certainly don’t lose any sleep over it, though!

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LA is a Layout frame, something that you create by the means of an override, directly on the page, through Engrave mode frame sub-mode. We are talking about Master page frames here (former name of Page templates frames… or is it Main music frames?)

@MarcLarcher thank you for your explanation but this is nowhere near being obvious or intuitive (a word that I don’t like in relation to software, but perhaps appropriate here). It’s not at all clear that J follows A, and besides, why should the sequence be in the same ‘namespace’? Worse, it caused me more than a day of bamboozlement and mucking up my score, and it’s not exactly made explicit in the manual. Me no like! All this trouble and stress just to change page margins temporarily. I think Dorico could refine this behaviour, or have a full explanation in the manual. Reading the manual certainly didn’t reveal this to me.

No, it’s not! :rofl: hence Lillie’s words! It’s been like this since the very beginning of Dorico, and honestly, probably complicated to change for a very very very little benefit for us users. Just accept it and move on. And thank you for making me look into it, I feel I now why J.


Yes this is one of those things that’s really hard when you first encounter it, and once you know it, it becomes trivial! Life’s like that.

Thanks for everyone’s help on this.