Goldberg Variations - II

Good evening everyone:

In my ongoing attempts to learn Dorico I keep running into strange stuff. Would appreciate your help!

  1. First and foremost, I would like to be able to attach Dorico files to this forum, so other forum users can open it up natively, and see where I screwed up. In my experience with Sibelius that is really much more useful than just posting screen pics or asking general questions.

  2. In the meantime, please take a look at the attached screenshot. Questions:

a. What is the deal with all these strange rests, and can I at least delete them, or rearrange them to a more appropriate position?

b. In bar 11, upper staff, why can’t I add multiple notes to the G that’s already there?

c. In bar 10, how can I flip the stems in the light blue voice in the upper staff?

d. And here it gets really strange – bar 14, why does it suddenly go to 6/4? At some point - can’t remember when - I set the time signature to 3/4. Why is Dorico picking another time signature? How do I change it back to 3/4?


Zip a Dorico file and you can then upload it here.

2a. The extraneous rests come from polyphonic voices which begin or end mid-measure and sometimes when copying music from other locations. You need to choose the adjacent note in the same voice and go to the notes and rests properties panel and click Starts voice or Ends voice. It isn’t always easy to see which voice’s rests you’re trying to hide but the colour coding helps with this. So to hide those whole bar rests in bars 7 and 8 you might try selecting the last 8th rest (red) in bar 6 and selecting ends voice in the properties panel, or the first rest in bar 9 and selecting Starts voice. I can’t be sure without seeing the file. In bar 10, select the d’’ in the RH and select starts voice, etc. BTW, you can be in either Write or Engrave mode to do this. Moving the rests is also done in the properties panel at Rest pos.

2b. You should be able to add extra voices under the g’’ in bar 11. How you go about this depends on how you’re entering notes (MIDI keyboard?) and how you want to divide the voices polyphonically. If you want to add a 3-note chord under the g’’, in Write mode, select it and press Shift-V to add the extra voice. If you want to add notes to the existing note, just double-click the note so you’re in Write mode and you can see the caret and then play the chord. You can even do it the way Bach originally notated it with four separate voices (using Shift-V to add each one). Unfortunately you can’t yet add the arpeggio line in Dorico.

2c. If you want to flip stems, in either Write or Engrave mode right-click (Ctrl-click) any of the notes, any of the stems or the beam and select Stem/Force Stem Down from the contextual menu.

2d. I don’t believe Dorico changed the time signature to 6/4. What probably happened is that you deleted the barline by accident. To add it [again] select the first note after where you want the barline and press Shift-B. This will bring up the popup window where you can enter the character | (on my keyboard it’s next to the Return key). The following update to Dorico is supposed to make it less easy to select (and delete) barlines inadvertently.

Hope this helps!

I was playing with this myself to see how far I could get but I gave up, as there are too many things at the moment that Dorico is unable to do.

  1. The lack of ornaments. AFAICS we have a choice of only five. In the Aria of the Golberg Variations we need six different ornaments and the turn is the only one available. I even tried adding them as text; theoretically that should be possible and the necessary ornaments are certainly defined in the Bravura font, but Dorico wouldn’t accept the input.
  2. There’s no arpeggio line.
  3. The secondary beam grouping is predetermined and you can’t change it. In bar 4, the 16th beam should go through the entire first beat and not break to the 8th halfway. You could argue that the number of lines should equal the duration of the secondary group (this is indeed a setting in Notation Options/Secondary beam groups) but that’s beside the point. All the editions I’ve seen as well as different manuscripts extend the 16th beam throughout the beat and AFAICS Dorico won’t let you override its way of doing it. This affects bars 4, 7, 17, 21, 22 and 26.

Just a quick comment on the whole hiding-rests-via-Start-and-Ends-voice thingy. I can see the musical and notational integrity of this approach but surely a simple Hide Rest (hide anything, come to that) button/keystroke would be far more user-friendly?

Agreed! Hopefully they’re working on this for one of the two updates coming out this year.

Just for practice, I entered the whole aria and it actually took a lot longer than I’d expected, partly because of working out hiding and positioning rests. Shifting the rests vertically takes longer than I’m used to (in Finale) and there are some other problems I was unable to solve, like spacing at places. The beam angles aren’t always good, either, and that takes a lot of tweaking. And I miss the ornaments.

Thanks for the feedback - very helpful.

My brain is now so mushy, I can’t tell the forest from the trees … or vice versa … try again tomorrow morning and post back here.

Here’s what I made of the Golberg aria. I left out all the ornaments since the turn was the only one I could have entered. Rest positioning was a lot of work but doable. I’m still bugged by Dorico’s secondary beam grouping, especially since I can’t find a way to change it. There are still some beam angles I’d tweak, as well. I can’t, for example, understand Dorico’s beam angle in the last 32nd group in bar 19. Why does it angle the beam an entire space while the same figure in 16ths in the first beat of bar 27 gets a nice, shallow angle? I even tried moving all the pitches up and down but the beam angles between the two figures remained just as inconsistent. Also, I can’t figure out why the grace note spacing is inconsistent. Usually it’s very good, but why is there so much space between the grace notes and the main notes in bars 14, 19, 23 and 26? This last one is particularly curious, since it almost looks as though it’s trying to space the graces notes in the two staves to be proportional (giving the 8th more space than the 16th), which looks very strange. And it’s frustrating that this can’t be changed.

“Beaming / Beam Together” in the right-click menu doesn’t create any secondary beam groups. I discovered that by accident - I agree it’s not the obvious thing to do.

I think the problem is to be that Dorico thinks the flag on the grace note collides with the accidental on the main note (and possibly also with leger lines).

In the engraving rules there seem to be several relevant options:

Accidentals, “Gap to left of leftmost accidental”
Notes, Grace Notes, “Minimum distance between right grace note and rhythmic item”
Spacing Gaps, “Minimum distance between adjacement rhythmic items”

But I haven’t played with this enough to find values I really like.

If you create some groups of grace notes, it looks like that is what it’s doing, but I agree there should be a way to stop it and have the independent grace note spacing on different staves. It looks really silly in an orchestra score where there are several staves between the ones with the grace notes.

You could argue that it makes sense for grace notes played before the beat (why else would you write grace notes with different lengths) but that is irrelevant for baroque appoggiaturas played on the beat.

Grace notes in Baroque music can be complicated. In some cases you could play them loosely before the beat (French tierce coulée). Most of the time, however, they’re played on the beat and the time required for them is stolen from the main note. In Classical period music, writing a passage as four 16th notes (with a slur connecting the first two) or as a 16th grace note followed by an 8th + two 16ths is pretty interchangeable. There are plenty of examples in which composers write it both ways in the same passage: one way for a singer, another way for an instrumentalist. The two simultaneous grace notes in bar 26 of Bach’s Goldberg Variations aria should be played on the beat and they are written with different note values because playing them with the same note value would create parallel fourths and Bach would never do that in a context like that! Sometimes Bach even wrote a grace note to get out from under an ‘illegal’ parallel interval.

You can use the ‘Split secondary beam’ property for this. You can specify how many beam lines should appear, up to one fewer beam than the number used to either side of the split. If you have e.g. 32nd notes, therefore, you can specify either Auto (which will produce the number of beams appropriate to the duration of the whole group), or 8th (to show a single primary beam), or 16th (to show two primary beams).

32nd beams very often end up with an angle of a whole space because that is normally the only slant that does not produce wedges on at least one of the beam lines. If you allow Dorico to widen the gap between 32nd beams (so that they are half a space apart rather than a quarter of a space apart), then it can produce shallower slants without producing wedges.

I’m trying to use the ‘Split secondary beam’ property but I can’t get it to work. In bar 4 there’s nothing I can select which will draw 16th beams between the first F# and the G. This also goes for bars 7, 21, 22 and 26. In bar 17 I can get 16th beams but not 32nd beams, which is how it’s notated. The Beam Together function in the contextual menu doesn’t seem to work, either.
Thanks for the info about the beam angle. I’m still a little baffled by the occasional grace note spacing.

I’m honestly not trying to bump this post back up, but I’ve set the Engraving Options/Beams to widen the gap on 32nds between beams but it has no effect in the score. Is there something else I’m missing?

Putting aside for a moment editorial concern for reproducing the original beaming of a great composer, I think Dorico’s default beaming of this melody is excellent and extremely sensible and readable.

The grace notes in bar 26 are interesting: Dorico appears to be aligning simultaneous grace notes by their rhythmic values, in microcosm. Is that musically useful?

As for the beam angle in bar 19, instead of widening the beam gap, perhaps there is a preference setting to allow the sort of “wedge” that a nicer angle would produce (which engravers abhor, but which has never bothered my eye in decades of music editing).

Well, the first part (up to the repeat barline) is done – see attachment. I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

Two questions:

  1. Bar6, bass clef, second voice (amaranth color) - I’d like to change the quarter note tied to an eighth note to a dotted quarter note, but Dorico won’t let me. Am I missing something?

  2. There’s a lot of different voices and colors - take a look at e.g. bar 11 - it’s almost like one of those “coloring books for adults” that are popular these days. I’m trying to be consistent in using the same color for what I think is the same voice as Bach had intended it; not just for this piece but in general for other works etc. Helps me greatly to keep things consistent, and it’s also good for e.g. analysis purposes.

Is it possible to pick a specific voice / color from a drop down menu, or is it just shift V after note input and then take whatever is available? Are the colors assigned to specific voices, and if so, where can I find a chart?

Goldberg Variations.7z (212 KB)

  1. You need to force the duration. If, before you enter the note, you select the clamp sign in the palette on the left (or press O), Dorico will notate the entered value. Don’t forget to press O again to deselect Force Duration, otherwise you’ll prevent Dorico from doing its thing automatically which could lead to unwanted results.
  2. If you need a second voice, after pressing Shift-V, you can keep pressing the V key to cycle through the other voices Dorico has available at that moment. Usually you have a choice between an upstem and a downstem voice, which you can see by observing the number and the note icon next to the caret.

P.S. Don’t forget to remove the slashes in the grace notes. Bach didn’t notate them that way and they’re not acciaccaturas but should be played on the beat. You can do this before the fact by selecting grace notes (slash) and then alt-slash or after the fact in the properties panel. Careful also of the relative lengths of the appoggiaturas; some are 16ths, some are 8ths. When I did this, I entered the correct ornaments as text by creating a paragraph style called ornaments which uses the Bravura font at a certain size, and then I copied them from PopChar and pasted them into the text window in Dorico. A bit of a workaround but it works until Dorico supports a completer set of ornaments.

Hm … I’m still confused about the “voice ending”.

In bar 10, there is an ugly conflict between the rest in the amaranth color voice in the bass cleff, so I want to turn it off immediately in the properties window, but Dorico won’t let me.

In bar 15, I end the green voice after the barline. And yet, in bar 17 it reappears (see the two rests).

And in bar 16, I again try to end the amaranth colored voice in the bass line, yet Dorico won’t let me.

Goldberg Variations.7z (213 KB)

In bar 10, just select the LH a and select Ends voice in the properties window. You can tell they belong to the same voice because they’re the same colour.

In bar 17, you’ve created extra rests which don’t necessarily belong to a [useful] voice. You should start by deleting the first red rest. You’ll see that all three red rests disappear. If you then delete the second green rest, the other two will disappear as well. As a result, you don’t need to end any voices in bar 16.

I know, Dorico’s treatment of voices can be difficult to fathom sometimes and it really helps if you’re careful and methodical about entering the voices in the first place. I’m still getting used to it, but it’s a great system once you get it under your belt!

Thanks Vaughan – you are very helpful.

I keep struggling with bar 10 though, I can click on the quarter amaranth note in the bass cleff, but I have no options in the properties windows to change anything.
Goldberg Variations.7z (213 KB)