Free time boxes

Below is my failed attempt to create isolating boxes for short sequences to be played in free time within Dorico 3.5.
The original was done by hand with a great deal of ease.
I would be delighted to hear how to do this properly in Dorico .


@dankreider developed a font called AleBoxes which is really great for this. I think he still has it available for free, but you can check it out and his other useful Dorico fonts on his website.

Thank you so much. I will check this out.

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Here is a work-around which might suit what you are trying to achieve.

In Write mode:
Select a note.
Type shift-x (to create text).
Enter some text. When finished, click away from the text to de-select it. The text will possibly jump about a bit (automatic collision avoidance?).
Select it (as an object) by clicking ONCE on the text. Open the Properties panel and select Border.

Highlight all the text and replace it as follows.

The width of the “box” depends on the length of the longest line of text. As we just want an empty box, we can use a combination of spaces and non-breaking spaces. The last character on a line, before entering an end-of-line character (Enter or Return), needs to be a non-breaking space (Option/Alt-space on a Mac).

The depth of the box depends on how many lines of text there are. Once you have established the width, press Enter or Return a few times until the box is deep enough. If needed, select all the “text” (spaces, etc.) and change the font size.

In Engrave mode (make sure that Format Music Frames is selected - it’s the icon of the 1/4-note with a small box at the top of the stem):
Click anywhere on the text box to select it.
In the Properties panel under Text, make sure that Border is still selected, then click on Border thickness and adjust it to the thickness you want. The default thickness appears to be 1/8 space. Clicking on the up- and down-arrows changes the thickness in increments of 1/8 space. Using the modifier keys (on a Mac - Command, Shift, Option/Alt) will change that increment value, when used either individually or in various combinations. You might have to experiment a bit to find out the effect which each one has. You can also type in a value such as 0.33, 11/40, etc.

Fine-tuning of the width and depth of the box can be done using the Erasure padding properties (just above Border).

Once you have created one box, you can copy it and paste it to another note or rest on the page, and then adjust the size. It might be a little quicker than creating a box from scratch each time.

Moving a box to exactly where you want it (ie small movements) can only be done in Engrave mode.

I hope this is of some help to you.

Thanks Steven for taking the time to write this out. Your directions are clear … AND … it works!!!

@spheres hello,
Well, most probably the decent Aleatoric Boxes will come with the next major release of Dorico, I hope?! As you already know there are some workarounds, like the one provided by Steven and the AleBoxes font created by Dan Kreider, but definitely we need something native + proper playback for aleatoric music. :slight_smile:

Best wishes,
Thurisaz