# Half notes will not half

Bar in 8/4. Desire = enter 4 half notes. The notes enter half / tied quarter / half / half. I’ve tried everything I know to try, which isn’t much: essentially deleting the quarter notes, which leaves two quarter rests. Cannot make the rests a half rest. Simply won’t happen. Open a new document, fresh. Create an 8/4 bar. Enter 4 half notes. Same thing: half, tied quarters, half, half.

I encounter a seeming endless number of Dorico quirks like this. I think the app is deliberately trying to drive me insane.

Off the top of my head I can’t think how Dorico automatically divides 8/4, but by the sound of things it’s something like 3+3+2. Your options are:
a) Type [2+2+2+2]/4 into the time signature popover
b) Use Force Duration to type the second half note (that is to say, hit O before you type the note, then hit O again before you type the next note)
c) use 4/2 if that’s what you want

Similarly, another issue with 8/4 time signature: I cannot write a simple single breve in a bar. It comes out a dotted whole note tied to a half note. Is some default preference defeating me?

Thanks, Leo… what a savior… your [2+2+2+2]/4 trick did the trick. I don’t know why I have to use such a trick, but it works. Many thanks. (Also solved the breve issue.)

You have to specify [2+2+2+2]/4 because Dorico is assuming that by writing 8/4 you don’t mean 4/2.

Dorico is being smart, not dumb. It’s trying to guess what sort of rhythmic groupings you’d want, and it’s displaying note values accordingly.

When you learn how to use it, it’s great. If you’re not used to it, it can admittedly be frustrating.

An example of this is the automatic beaming of 3+2/8 compared to 2+3/8. Use the meter tool correctly, and it can be a massive time saver. No need to split and combine beams.

Hmmm, not sure I get that. I wrote 8/4 because I want (generally speaking throughout) 8 quarter notes to the bar. That’s what 8/4 means to me. If a bar comes along where I type out a half note, why should that imply that suddenly I’m edging toward 4/2? To suddenly begin chopping up the bar at random (well, random to me, e.g. why is it always the 2nd half note that is turned into quarters? why not the 3rd or the 4th?), or to preclude the use of a breve, that makes no sense to me. I’m sure the failing is mine. In any event, I also like the tip you give above about Force Duration, that is a dandy. (I have a feeling you could answer all my difficulties with Dorico. Thanks again.)

Thanks Dank. As I said above, I’m sure the failing is mine. If I write 4 equal beats, I don’t quite understand why they would assume something unequal. I appreciate your effort to explain it to me.

In your case, I think the 8 is the issue. It’s not a common numerator, and I think I’ve usually seen it mean some variation of 3+3+2 (as Leo suggested). Dorico thinks of meters semantically.

In any case, this forum is great place to work through solutions together. Glad you got it figured out.

Whatever it means to you, the most common historical time signature for “8 quarter notes in a bar” is 4/2, not 8/4.

I guess the Dorico development team decided the most common 8/x time signature is 8/8 meaning 3+3+2/8, and 8/4 just gets treated the same way.

A similar issue occurs in some modern scores where 6/4 means 6 quarter note beats, not two dotted-half beats in compound time, but the composer didn’t want to alternate between say 5/4, 3/2 and 7/4 when 5/4, 6/4 and 7/4 looks more consistent.

These are all useful answers to me. Many thanks.