how can I set this dynamic "mp" symbol to always appear BELOW the staff (not above?)

I know I can manually select and change the position of the upper “mp” dynamic symbol (below) such that it appears below the staff as I’d always prefer it generally appear. But how do I permanently set this behavior?:

I presumed it would be in Engraving Options–>Dynamics–>Vertical Position but don’t see any way to check off “always put dynamics below the staff”, etc.? Thanks for any help -

This is nothing to do with it being an “mp” marking, and all to do with the fact that it’s on a vocal stave. As is customary, Dorico puts vocal dynamics above the stave. As far as I’m aware, the only way of telling Dorico to automatically put vocal dynamics below the stave is to misuse (rename) an instrumental stave.

Ah - good point (thanks). Having said that, I wonder if Dorico would consider an option in preferences somewhere that basically says “always position dynamics below the staff”? For some reason, I’ve always done it this way (at least when doing more jazz/pop stuff - but that might be me)…

  • D.D.

We don’t have any current plans for an option to put dynamics on the wrong side of the staff by default for vocalists, and it’s not something that I would consider a high priority, but I will make a note of it.

Is it always considered the “wrong” side, though? I was sure in jazz (such as in big band charts) I’ve seen dynamic markings below the vocal staff - a quick search in Scribd, for example, yielded this commercial chart example:

Just sayin’ (though obviously not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things).

  • D.D.

You can find published examples that defy every convention and break every rule. All music notation is by convention, and conventions are never are totality of use cases.

It can certainly be argued that it’s clearer and less cluttered if lyrics go below and everything else goes above, in the same way that for other instruments, dynamics go below and other symbols go above. In yourlast example, there is certainly room for the mf to go directly above the note it refers to, rather than off to the side somewhere.

Accents, Dynamic Markings and Numbers are placed above the staff, thereby avoiding confusion with the lyric.
Ken Williams, Music Preparation–A Guide to Music Copying

Dynamics, expression marks and verbal instructions go above the stave in order to leave the space below the stave clear for the sung text.
Elaine Gould, Behind Bars

I’m just saying that perhaps it’s not as “cut and dry” and that perhaps this is more of a “non-jazz”/classical, etc. convention (which would reinforce the notion that it could be useful just to have the option to “uncheck” this as the default, to accommodate more approaches). Having said that, there are definitely workarounds that just take a bit longer (using Properties).

Way OT, but it’s great to see someone else quote Ken Williams. That book was my first notation “bible” back when I was using Z1 nibs and Aztec paper. Did you get your copy from Judy Haring at Associated on 52nd St too?

I bought my copy from Judy Green Music in LA. Ken Williams and Clinton Roemer (The Art of Music Copying) were my bibles when I started pen-and-ink work back in the early 80s.

I wish someone would convert both Williams’s and Roemer’s musical handwriting into fonts. Williams had a beautiful hand - his use of upper and lower case text very nice. Symbols very close to punch engraving. Roemer’s block capitals, while very readable, can become a bit tiring after a while.

Have you seen this?

Thanks, Dan. Yes I had seen that before, but had forgotten. The font clearly shows it was modeled after Ken Williams except for one detail. Ken Williams used an italic pen nib. The italic nib gives a thin line when stroked vertically and a broad line when stroked horizontally. Like calligraphy which uses the same type of nib.

When held correctly, you’ll produce the proper “shading”, or combinations of thick and thin lines. Rests, hollow note heads and many other musical symbols have this “shading”. The Improviso font looks like it was drawn with a felt tip marker - all lines are uniform thickness. To me that’s not ideal, but that’s just me. It’s likely many will find this font attractive for producing a hand copied look.

I love some of the fonts Abraham Lee has been doing, but the examples don’t really look like Ken’s work as he always used a lettering guide for titles. I’m not sure what guide he used, but the lowercase “e” in Ken’s lettering guide is very distinctive so I really associate it with his style. He also used “maj” for a major chord symbol and would have never used “M” ever. The use of “j” as really the only descender in a chord symbol helps to make “maj” instantly recognizable to the performer.

John Lewis wrote one of the forwards to Ken’s book and I was fortunate enough to be Mr. Lewis’s personal copyist from around 1999-2001. As Mr. Lewis revised some of his works from the 60s and 70s that Ken had copied, really I loved studying Ken’s work and learning from it.