Having a lot of trouble with Force Duration during Note Input

Fair warning: This is gonna be a decently long post!

I was talking to a friend earlier today about Dorico and Tantacrul’s (wait before you get your pitchforks out!) YouTube review came up. I told them the usual, “yeah, it’s pretty hilarious, but keep in mind he did miss a few key features like the caret, blah blah blah”, but I decided to dig into how Tantacrul could have done things differently to demo Dorico for my friend.

I brought up Tantacrul’s section about Force Duration and spectral music (Music Software & Interface Design: Steinberg's Dorico - YouTube) and realized I’d never tried the example provided in the video myself. Going off on my intuition that Force Duration can be toggled during Note Input and Force Duration can be copy-and-pasted, I started working out the notes Tantacrul wrote in his video with Force Duration enabled during Note Input… but I ran into a lot of problems.


To start out, I wanted to do the first two tied half notes in the excerpt. What I was looking for was this:

The first thing I tried was tying a dotted whole to a half, but Dorico kept forgetting the forced duration:
2. What did not work

I really didn’t understand what was going on; when I checked the two notes I wrote after exiting Note Input, I noticed the Force Duration toggle for either note didn’t save:
3. What happened

So… I suppose Force Duration wasn’t being applied to the entire tie chain with the whole and half notes…? I tried tying a whole to a half to another half, which actually worked:
4. What worked


Next, I tried to write the entire first system from the video, which should look like this:

I was able to do that outside of Note Input like this:
2. What I did

Okay, this made sense to me, but from the start of doing this exercise in Dorico, I wanted to see if I was able to do everything in Note Input mode. I couldn’t get my first attempt using only Note Input for this one to work at all:
3. What did not work

I was really stumped by this, because when I checked the notes outside of Note Input, both had Force Duration still active, unlike Example 1:
4. What happened

Again, I tried the same strategy from Example 1, which was to avoid using any notes that crossed bar lines and formed tie chains. This worked again:
5. What worked

So based on these last two examples, notes that create tie chains in Note Input mode will cancel out Force Duration…? This doesn’t sound right to me, so please correct me if I’m wrong. If this is the case, I would hope the Dorico team could make Force Duration more lenient in the future.


Now finally, I wanted to see how fast I could offset the dynamics Tantacrul was working on by copy-and-pasting this example by either a) moving the caret to the next beat, and/or b) using keyboard shortcuts to shift the phrase over by one beat. Unfortunately, neither worked.

What I wanted to see was this:

When I tried both methods a) and b) from above, Force Duration kept getting canceled out:

Here’s one final GIF of what I tried:
2. What I tried

So, to wrap up… I thought I understood how Dorico handled notes with Force Duration before today, but now I’m admittedly feeling lost. It seems like Note Input mode is a little more restricted than how I learned it at first? I mean… am I doing something wrong here or missing something obvious? I’d like to make sure I have a solid understanding of how Dorico handles notation before making any confident suggestions. Thanks for reading!!

If a tie chain has barlines running through it, and you move that note right, force duration is - and must be - cancelled, because the noteheads to the left of the barlines cannot remain spelled the way they were previously spelled, which means the notes to the right of barlines can’t either.

I suspect the quickest way of reproducing Tantacrul’s spectral stuff is to split the notes with the caret and U (yes, with the caret) - then turn on Force duration for the leftmost note and hit T repeatedly.

Dynamics on tie chains can - and should - be placed from the caret.

Exactly, using U is the fastest way!

I think Tantracul could have learned to use the program properly before making the video…


Understood… I mean totally, the notes would have to be respelled. I guess what I was hoping was for Dorico to preserve Force Duration by re-notating the phrase in a way that still keeps the “gap” in between two notes, like for example having a break in between a tie chain with two dotted whole notes? Not sure how far that logic can apply; haven’t thought it through yet.

Speaking of which, what about Example 1 and 2 where Force Duration doesn’t save during Note Input for tie chains? Is there a way around this or is this how Dorico is supposed to work?

I agree, which is what motivated me to try this out for myself. :slight_smile: I suppose I was wondering if it could’ve been done even faster without using U.

I’ll come back to you on those examples, but not immediately. I seem to remember that Tantacrul made a point of producing sufficiently long notes to stymie Dorico 3, and I don’t recall whether changes have been made to improve this area.

Please take your time! I’m in no rush.

For example 1: you can’t Force Duration on a dotted whole note in 4/4. You can force a whole note in one bar explicitly tied to a half note in the next bar, or a whole host of other variations, but whole period/dot isn’t actually going to appear on the page so Force Duration won’t stick.

Example 2 really does require working though it, and I’ve (hopefully) closed the laptop for the night.

Whenever you’re back online, I just want to clarify… you can only apply Force Duration on notes that fit into a bar of music, do I have that right?

I believe so.
(I’m online. I’m just staring at a phone.)

You can probably apply it retrospectively to tie chains that already exist over barlines, but not as you’re inputting. You’d need to explicitly input a forced whole followed by a forced half.

Then I’m wondering… would there be any negative consequences with the rest of the program if Dorico allowed you to apply Force Duration in Note Input to notes spanning multiple bars? The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is the current representation of notes could need to be altered in order to allow that…

I think you can input the dotted whole note and then press U, O and T

But maybe that requires exiting note input, I’m not quite sure how it was

1 Like

For example 2, yes, I concur that when you shift the notes to the right Dorico loses the forced durations.
Imagine for a second that it could maintain the forced durations - I’ve simulated this by cutting the ties but leaving the notes forced:

It still wouldn’t give you the result you want, because it can’t know that you want the quarter and the half in bar 2 to magically merge together - that’s different to what you’ve specified in the staff above. I’m not sure how Dorico can win this one.

(And on your previous point about Dorico allowing durations longer than a measure to be forced, I have no idea - I’m just a lowly user.)

That’s why I was hoping dotted whole notes would work with Force Duration in 4/4 time!

May I ask whether there is a musical use for this particular duration forcing? Or are we just exploring the behaviour of the software? The idea is that Dorico handles correct rhythmic notation automatically when notes shift horizontally, so we don’t have to worry about them.

This is vague to me. I would rather say: To tie a note to already-forced durations, the first note has to be forced too (even if it’s already displaying the desired duration) otherwise it removes the subsequent forcing.

There is musical use to this! See the linked timestamp from Tantacrul’s Dorico review pertaining to spectral music.

You’ll notice in that clip he doesn’t move anything to the right. He said he copied the dynamics first, which is less precise than using the caret. Also, re-tieing that first note to the quarter would not work the way he demonstrates without locking duration of the first note (which he doesn’t mention).

Odd. Nevertheless, I hope my examples above regarding Note Input are clearly laid out! I was trying to see if moving the phrases to the right would speed things up.

I think moving to the right would be effective if you write the notes not tied first (at the points of the dynamics), then once they’re all in position, lock durations and tie them.

Understood. Seems decently fast, but it would be neat if it could all be done within the same mode. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers!