French-style hyphens in lyrics

French and Italian publishers (and composers) have not usually used hyphens to separate syllables in lyrics (the same is true for German in older editions from Breitkopf & Härtel).

What symbols have people been using when setting French in Dorico? It’s difficult to find anything suitable and the positions can’t be edited.

The following is from the 2014 Peters Urtext edition of Fauré’s songs. It shows the use of an unknown symbol dividing the words into syllables, an undertie to mark the elision of the final e of appelle, an extender line after nuit, and a true hyphen for rends-moi.

It looks like en-dashes (a dash that has the horizontal width of an n), but I am not sure this is better than the default (that suits me perfectly, and you know I’m not easy on this kind of things :person_shrugging:)

Here’s my rendition of that song… No elision line (every singer I’ve talked about this hate it…) and default hyphens between syllables.

They’re more like the width of an en dash but much closer to the baseline.

I’ve looked at a large number of scores over the past twenty-four hours (everything from Berlioz to Boulez) and no publisher has used hyphens. It’s also clear from looking at autograph scores that composers have expected a dash close to or on the baseline.

Duparc’s manuscript for L’invitation au voyage is particularly neat and given that he’s actually drawn a line across each system for the text, it’s clear that he expected a dash on the baseline.

I’m not sure one can duplicate these scores in Dorico unless one tinkers with the font.

Older Ricordi scores have a similar style.

You could try “subscript minus” U+208B. It will substitute an available fallback font.

Frankly, I’m really unsure why you would want to use anything other than a hyphen… The words are, in fact, hyphenated, even if you substitute an other symbol. At least in the example shot, it just looks wrong: as though the alignment was screwed up accidentally.

It’s a hallmark of French engraving, though.


I’ve experimented with everything resembling a dash.

I’d assumed that someone might have done some work for a French publisher and could have some insight.

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I see SMuFL has a ‘Baseline hyphen’: U+E553 – lyricsHyphenBaseline.

The Lyrics area has three underties of varying widths, breaking and non-breaking baseline hyphens, and a symbol for ‘Text repeats’:
SMuFL - Baseline hyphen

The hyphens are normal width but this would seem to be a recognition that dashes on the baseline are needed.

The text font could be edited but the ideal solution might be if there were an option to have Dorico draw the hyphens as it does lyric extender lines.

I notice that Durand seem to be using standard hyphens in the critical edition of Pelléas. Bit of a shame really. I wonder what Peters did for the Fauré songs.