Guitar—Roman Numeral Fret Indicators

Roman numeral indicators for fret positions have been requested before, but I am creating a new post as I would like to share some ideas. I understand that the development team, and not the user, decides how features are implemented, but hopefully this post is at least interesting to the discussion of how this feature would function.

The main issue is determining where these indicators appear, and what fret should be indicated. As Daniel has stated, a lot of those decisions are editorial, so it is unreasonable to expect Dorico to automate everything. The user has to provide some input.

Determining where to show the numeral—two options come to mind:

  1. Similar to playing techniques, a selection is made and the numeral is added at the start of the selection.
  2. Similar to harp pedalling, the numerals are in effect throughout, with a layout option to show/hide them across the layout, and a properties panel switch to hide them individually. The user could then add fret position markers where necessary.

Determining what numeral to show:
As a guitarist, I cannot think of a situation where the index finger is not playing the lowest fret in a given position. Thus, the Roman numeral could be determined by identifying the lowest fret number (excluding 0) within the relevant section of music. For the playing technique approach, this would be the lowest fret number within the selection. For the harp pedalling approach, this would be until the next Roman numeral (or end of flow).

The numerals would be entirely dependent on having the desired fingering on the tab staff, but that shouldn’t create too many problems because you already have the positions chosen if you are using the Roman numerals.

Currently, Dorico places notes as close to the nut as possible. It would also be nice to have the Roman numerals affect the tab. This would function as Dorico placing notes as close to but not lower than the Roman numeral. Essentially, treating the fret marked by the Roman numeral as the nut, and running the same process as it does currently.

Just throwing out some ideas and obviously don’t expect anything in the next update(s). Been really enjoying working with the guitar features added since 3.0!

I would hate that Dorico choose the fret number for me as the index position
sometimes a chord shape goes down relative to a fixed bass note
ex: D C/D Bb/D
in this case setting the fret nb at V and keeping it there shows the student the descending movement related to the pos V (D)

It depends on the use case. I find the remarks of both of you worth considering.

Not sure I’m following you here. Could you explain further? Possibly post sheet music/tab?

From Sibelius but had to edit it in vector drawing app to have it exactly how I would like to have it in D3

also sometimes you want to pinpoint the chords root which is by no means always the index finger or the lowest fret nb
except for those who only play power chords

This just seems confusing. As a guitarist, arabic numerals for frets, roman numerals for chords.

It seems that we are talking about two different things. I am referring to Roman numerals that are placed above the staff (particularly when tab is not used) that indicate where the index finger is placed. The chords you posted would be notated as such:

That is not the correct practice.

From Elaine Gould’s Behind Bars, pg. 376:

Roman numerals for fret positions, circled Arabic numerals for string indications, not-circled Arabic numerals for fingering, standard letter names for chords.

ChuckDimeCliff, your proposal is interesting. Perhaps it would be possible for us to implement a kind of fret number calculation function like the one we implemented for harp pedaling. I’m not sure that Dorico would be able to maintain an idea of exactly where the hand is going to be on the neck at every point, and I suspect that were it to indicate every point at which the index finger moves to a higher or lower fret, surely that would result in too many markings? Not being more than a four-chords guitarist I have no direct experience, but certainly in my cello-playing days, or indeed my piano-playing days, that level of marking would have resulted in me not being able to see the wood for the trees. So perhaps such a function could add the Roman numeral at the selected position, rather than dynamically calculating it for every position.

Yes, that seems like the more logical solution. They would only appear exactly where the user intended. I am a guitarist, and do not need the Roman numerals at every position shift, but they are helpful in certain passages.

The quote from Behind Bars is what I know as the more simple and pupil-friendly definition out of two. The more complicated definition is: “Roman numeral corresponds to the 2nd finger minus 1 bar”.
Guitar fingering sometimes needs overstretching, leaving an empty bar between the first and the second finger. Since the remaining fingers keep their position and the overstretching is temporary, restricted mostly to one string only, the second definition is more precise – although it implies that the fret position marker can in rare cases be on an empty bar between the first and the second finger.

I’m sorry I confused your post, you’re 100% right about the Roman numerals in guitar Notation.
I misread you… :blush:

I would like to use roman numeral string indicator for orchestral string instruments. Till now I can only use Arabic numbers in Dorico 3.5.