Go from temporary bar lines to real ones

When composing, I usually start by writing a line of whole notes with no meter. Then I add temporary bar lines, and finally I change the note lengths to fit in the bars.

Right now, I use shift-b to add dotted bar lines. Then, I create a new flow, set the meter, and re-type the notes using the correct values. That actually works pretty well, I’m just wondering if there’s a faster way to go about it.

The screenshots below show the three steps in this process.

Everyone has their own preferred methods of composing, but that seems cumbersome to me. What are you wanting to achieve by this process? The answer to that will probably help determine if there’s a faster way.

I want to achieve exactly what I showed in my post :slight_smile: I write a line of notes, without thinking about how many bars it is. Then I “design” the bar structure, adding bar lines to group notes into a bar. Then I conform those notes to fit the meter of each bar.

This is trivial to do on paper. Write some notes. Draw some bar lines. Add stems to the notes to change their lengths to conform to the meter. Nothing cumbersome about it.

And my way with Dorico isn’t particularly cumbersome either… as mentioned, I just rewrite the phrase into a new flow. But, I’d like to see if there’s a faster way. Like how adding stems on paper is faster than rewriting the whole thing with different note lengths.

btw the main reason I’m looking for a faster way is I’ll usually write out the full chords before placing the bar lines and working out the meter. So it would be great to be able to this without rewriting everything.

If your meter isn’t going to change, why not start with an open meter, write in the whole notes, then add a time signature, turn on insert mode, and reset the note values as desired?

With that approach, changing note lengths constantly moves notes into and out of different measures, which I find confusing. I already know which measures I want each note to be in. I just want to change the note length within the measure. I guess you could think of it as insert mode, where the timing is only affected until the end of the measure.

Let me try to illustrate with a (slightly) more complex example. I have three notes I want in a measure. I could apply a number of rhythms to them:

  • half note and two quarter notes
  • two quarter notes and a half note
  • quarter, half, quarter
  • half-note triplet
  • dotted half note and two eighth notes


When I’m writing on paper, I turn a whole note into a half note by adding a stem. I turn a half note into a quarter note by filling in the note head. The notes don’t jump around the page as I do this – I just have to make sure that each bar fits the meter.

I’d like to do something similar with Dorico. Maybe it’s not exactly the same as paper. But, I hope there’s a better way than the insert mode, which constantly moves notes into and out of measures making it difficult for me to keep track of what goes where.

What you’re doing makes perfect sense to me, but I can’t think of a better way, sorry!

I always compose within an established metrical context, but I’d be interested to see what Leo and the brain trust could come up with for your workflow…

I don’t have anything better, I’m afraid.

What I’ve done to help with that is mark the first beat of each bar with a 1 using fingering. Then I always know where each bar should start when things are shifting all over the place.