Gradual dynamics during long notes

How can I align gradual dynamic objects to beats within a long note? The following score snippet is in 6/8 meter.

For example, the bottom staff here has two dotted half notes tied together. I want the hairpin crescendo to go to beat 4 (halfway through the measure), and the hairpin decrescendo to begin there. Instead, I can only align the hairpin decresc to noteheads, meaning I can’t begin it at beat 4 of the preceding measure.

Additionally, in the top staff, the hairpin cresc and decresc are not aligned (they are offset from each other, looking sloppy). Why is that? I want the cresc hairpin to go to beat 5, and the decresc hairpin to start at beat 5 or 6.


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Dynamics only group (and therefore align) if they are created sequentially. Select a row of dynamics you want to align, and right-click–Dynamics–Group. I’ve set this to Ctrl-Shift-G.

Select a hairpin and use Alt-Shift-right arrow to make it longer.

You can use note input mode (the caret) and input a hairpin using Shift-D, then Spacebar. Works handily in some cases.

ctrl-alt-left/right will move the dynamics according to the setting of the grid.

Thanks for the tip about dynamic groups, that makes sense

I have been suing alt-shift-arrowkey to adjust length of dynamic, but this doesn’t work for my issue regarding the lowest staff in the image: I want to place the decresc hairpin to start at beat 4 in measure 3 and can’t seem to do it.

Janus: I can’t seem to get your key command to do anything. I am selecting gradual dynamics, pressing control-option-arrowkey (on Mac) but no movement is happening

Turn on note input mode, navigate the caret to the spot you want it to start, Shift-D, >, Enter, then Spacebar until you get the length you want.

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Don’t know MAC terminology, but I think it is perhaps cmd-opt-(left/right)?


Ah, this works, Thank you!

DanK, your solution would also work but I prefer Janus’ solution that doesn’t involve note-input mode

Yep, multiple options are always good. The note input option is good for when you want to insert a hairpin or immediate dynamic within an existing tie chain.

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Pretty much in similar line of subject I have continuous problem with modifying the beginning of the hairpin for long notes. Example: A whole note had initially hairpin length of the whole note duration. Then I decide that it begins too early and want to move the start of the hairpin to last one third of the note. So I click on the hairpin and try to simply move its staring point but nope, no way, or, at least I did not discover how to do it with mouse and simple dragging. How I do it is first I shorten the hairpin and then move it to required position. Perhaps someone could enlighten me why a simple dragging action was replaced by a click + several key hits. Or better, I would very much appreciate being proven wrong and given a smart way of doing this trivial operation.
Any hint, including advices from Daniel, will be really appreciated.

Dynamics generally start and end on note boundaries (or at least where noteheads appear), so that it’s clear to the performer where the dynamic change should occur from a rhythmic perspective. As such, when you drag hairpins in Write mode, they snap to note positions. You can move hairpins to non-note positions, but that requires the use of the keyboard.

Why keyboard not a mouse?

It’s what seemed most useful to us. When dragging things with the mouse, we prefer to have things snap to useful, valid positions. It’s less common for dynamics to start in the middle of a long note, as I’ve explained, so our mouse dragging allows you to quickly drag dynamics to useful, valid positions. If you want to put them in less commonly-used positions, you need to use the keyboard.

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I fully understand the basis of the design, however, similarly to our discussion about articulations on tied notes I think Dorico should take into account what the user needs. It is the composer/user who ultimately decides where the dynamics begins and ends, not a machine. Also, there is a small inconsequence in the existing design. I can easily move the end of the dynamics, even with keyboard, by shortening/lengthening it, but I cannot do the same with its starting point. I see no reasons why the dynamics should not begin at 1/4 and end at 3/4 of the long note length if this serves composer’s purpose. It proves particularly useful when working with samples, which scripting sometimes has hiccups. So, please, again, have a look at the signalled problem from user’s perspective. Believe it or not, I correct the length and position of the dynamics on long notes much more frequently than you’d think and simple dragging of start/end of the dynamics would spare the users like me quite considerable time.

Changing the start and endpoint of dynamics is trivially simple. But I do recommend you set shortcuts to change the grid resolution quickly.

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Changing the end, yes, but pray tell me how you move only start point without moving the whole dynamics. Or better, how to shorten the dynamics by only moving end and start points.

To enter a dynamic (hairpin), move the caret to the desired starting point and use the popover to invoke the hairpin. Confirm the entry with ENTER and then press the SPACEBAR as many times as necessary to extend the hairpin to its desired length by the grid-increment size one has set.

To reposition an existing hairpin, use SHIFT + ALT/OPT + Left Arrow to shorten the hairpin by grid-increments and then select the shortened hairpin and use ALT/OPT + Right Arrow to move the hairpin by grid-increments to set the staring point as desired.

It takes less time to do than to describe.

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As @Derrek says, but I’d add that these keystrokes work exactly the same for lots of items in addition to dynamics: Lines, Slurs, even playing techniques can be moved and extended.

To move a hairpin to the right according to the current rhythmic grid resolution, press Ctrl/Cmd-Alt/Opt-Right Arrow.

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Mark, these shortcuts work fine here. (My grid is set to 16ths.)


And they work with grouped dynamics, too.

Derrek, your detailed description is great. Would you be able to explain why I can’t make it work in three out of the four following cases? I hope it’s some obvious error I’m making but I can’t spot it.

In example A it has been necessary to force note lengths, as Dorico would prefer me to write it another way. But, as Daniel said, “Dynamics generally start and end on note boundaries (or at least where noteheads appear), so that it’s clear to the performer where the dynamic change should occur from a rhythmic perspective.” I generally follow that principle. However, there are times when that’s not needed, (particularly in bars with other complexities, and where absolute precision as to the apex of the cres-dim is not needed) so it’s sometimes better to place a dynamic in the correct place even if not immediately coinciding with a notehead.

In examples B & D that’s the case, though not in example C. But I can’t seem to insert a dim in B, C or D. (I can’t even insert it at a slightly later position and then pull the start of the dim backwards). Am I missing something obvious here?

Many thanks if you are able to help.

By the way, regarding the issue of forcing note lengths in ties in order to help players see exactly where the cresc-dim should peak; this is something I may need to do many many times during the course of a long piece, so it’s no trivial matter!

Edit: This is now solved, courtesy of pianoleo
(I can’t see how to invoke the green icon/procedure use to indicate this - sometimes I see it, sometimes it doesn’t seem to be there)