How "default" dynamics?

Probably very basic question, but I’m kind of new to Dorico and didn’t find the answer yet. I’m wondering how I can get back to the default dynamic level after having used dynamic markings like p, f etc…

Below some of the dynamic levels as visualized in the dynamics lane, starting with the default level:

Which marking should I use in the score to get back to the default level (i.e. between mp and mf)?

There isn’t a written dynamic that corresponds to that initial level, I’m afraid. You could get back to that level by adding a data point in the dynamics editor in the Key Editor if you wish.

If you do mf followed by meno mf, that will get you back to the centre line.

Similarly, mp followed by meno mp, that will do the same.


But if you’re writing for humans, then I’d use dynamics that make musical sense, rather than worrying about getting back to the centre line. Otherwise, just draw in the point, as Daniel suggests.

That’s a good tip @benwiggy

It’s specifically to have more control over playback directly from the score that I’m asking this, not so much for use of the score for reading purposes. The better I understand how score dynamics exactly translate to levels in Dorico, the less I have to tweak the dynamics lane (ideally I wouldn’t need to do any tweaking).

Now I see two options: I can use your meno method, or make sure that I start each staff with some dynamic marking in order to lock into the dynamics staircase (the default dynamic not being in the staircase).

That’s probably the best option.

The volume numbers are shown in the lower panel, but the numbers are hard to interpret and far apart. If Dorico is using the integers to label different levels, I would like to see decimal values for in between positions and better granular control.

Here is an exaggerated example with piano. Am I correct that with piano the upper and lower staff cannot play back different dynamics?

The playback - in case of a choice - seems to give priority to the dynamics on the lower staff and apply this to both staffs.
I guess the design choice was to have one dynamic lane per instrument, while in theory it could have been done with multiple.

Oh this is interesting - in the back of my head when I’m writing dynamics I usually think how there’s no middle level really since all dynamics can have a prefix, that necessarily creates a system divisible by two

  • p
  • mp
  • mf
  • f

In other words, there’s no “Middle” dynamic, which can’t have a prefix modifier attached, giving us an odd number of dynamics and a median divider.

Of course as others have said it’s all mush, musicians do what they do.

Did you assign the dynamics on the separate staves to the individual voices. IIRC that means selecting the desired voice and then confirming with ALT/OPT + ENTER.

Since this is a Piano (presumably), a percussive instrument, what does the Velocity Panel show you?

Good point @Derrek , forgot all about voices. Will try.

That’s another interesting point, a pianist will emphasize different voices (fingers) to bring out the melody, in fugue for example. Does Dorico support a single multi-note instrument to play the notes with different dynamics? Does MIDI support that?

@derek I assigned a different voice to the lower staff but that didn’t help.

You probably should enable Independent voice playback.

@MarcLarcher I’ve enabled it but still same result…

For anyone interested here is a graphical presentation of the levels.

Note that when you apply crescendo or decrescendo you go up/down a whole step. So if you were on mf, then applied crescendo, you would be between f and ff

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I think you misunderstood @Derrek’s instruction. You must enter local dynamics for each stave. Select the top stave notes shift-D ppp<fff alt-enter (or opt-enter on Mac). Repeat for the lower staff shift-D fff>ppp alt-enter. There’s no need to create separate voices, or enable IVR.

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Thanks for your clarification @Janus , indeed that works!

@Derrek reading again your message indeed you were clear enough

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In order to achieve “assymetrical” crescendo/decrescendo dynamics from the score (i.e. not by editing dynamic lane) to get this result:


… I found that it’s not possible to enter <> on the long note and then “drag” the bullet between the < and the > to change the timing.
So I first entered crotchet notes, then applied <> dynamic, then moved the bullet crotchet by crotchet, then tied the notes to get the long note.

Is that the “best practice”?

EDIT: a better option I came up with is creating an extra dummy/muted track with high resolution notes, using that as the base line for dynamics. Then copying the dynamics to the instrument staffs. The grouped dynamics can then be controlled from the baseline staff.

Maybe this is common practice.

I would simply move the caret to the position where I wanted the diminuendo to start and use SHIFT + D followed by the is-less-than sign (and ALT/OPT + ENTER if appropriate) and then use the space bar to elongate the hairpin as much as necessary.

Interesting idea @Derrek , but when I try to input a dynamic with shift - D on a carret and then enter, nothing happens. I need a “note” to be there exactly at that position. Am I missing something?