How do I make Dorico display the symbol for a breve note instead of two tied whole notes?

I’m using Dorico Elements 4. When I try inputting either a breve, longa or maxima, Dorico shows tied whole notes instead. I can get the breve note if I change the time signature to 2/1, but I want to stay in 4/4.

Am I getting my terms mixed up:

Isn’t a breve 8 crotchets? How can you have 8 crotchets in 4/4?

And welcome to the forum!

A bar of 4/4 is four quarter notes or a whole note in duration and a whole note will therefore totally fill a bar. A breve is eight quarter notes in duration and won’t fit inside a single bar of 4/4. You can, of course, have notes that are 8 quarter notes long but they will have to be tied across at least two bars if the time signature is 4/4.

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Thanks! It’s a bit silly, but as a “stylistic choice”, I want the to have the breve note in the first bar and the second bar empty

I feel like you’d need to hide the rests and enter the breve symbol using text, placing it where necessary

Thank you! That did the trick :grin:

No. To have notes span barlines you need to use the 1:1 tuplet trick. Make a tuplet 1:1 and note value you want, in this case a breve. Enter the breve. From Properties, make the tuplet span the barline. Then hide the tuplet bracket and number using properties. This is a standard approach to the fact that Dorico won’t let long notes span barlines. It’s a bit tedious, and I spend all day doing dozens of these, but it works, and playback is also correct.

Have a search of the forum for more info on 1:1 tuplets for this purpose.

It’s the fact that Dorico can make tuplets span barlines that allows this to work.

I think this is what you are after, no?


Ah, thank you! This worked like a charm, and nice to have playback too. I just had to make a 2:1 tuplet, though.

I didn’t realize this was such a common scenario.

Edit: I called this scenario a “problem”, but I was reprimanded

If this is the first bar of something, then you could use a pickup time signature, e.g. 4/4,8 in the popover, thus giving you the 8 crotchets beats that you need for a breve’s duration, while still confusingly showing 4/4.

The thing about the 1:1 tuplet is that the note values can be correct but can also extend over barlines. The tuplet is what allows that.

it isn’t that it is a “problem”.
it’s that you are asking Dorico to do something non-standard (and musically illogical).
be thankful there is a work-around to give you the result you wanted.


I’m not sure that @Rinky meant it in the way it might have been read.

I think it was just meaning that they didn’t realise it was a common scenario for other people, rather than an actual “problem” with the software.

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Hang on, are you trying to create an Early Music edition where the barlines don’t split note durations?

It is at least a problem for me, and for the person who I was responding to, who spends all day doing dozens of these tedious work-arounds.

Even if music actually was about “logic”, this is simply a requirement for proper mensural notation.

Wow. I guess we have different views on software. If Photoshop stopped me from using a “non-standard” color or shape when I’m painting a tree, I wouldn’t be “thankful” if there was a tiresome secret loop-hole to trick the program into allowing me.

I was however very thankful to the nice people who helped me and shared their processes, and I am not grateful at all that you felt the need to come here and berate me.

Yeah, that’s it. I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this scenario

I’m not sure that this is the best analogy. Don’t ask me what is but maybe a coloured shape that says “imagine this shape covers ”this” area”. I do understand your point though.

I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea about the common engraving practices of this style of music. But the issue that you’ve come up against - fitting an 8-beat note into a bar of 4 beats - should this really be considered a “standard” requirement? Or just specialised for this type of music? Surely the percentage of users that would need this type of thing would be very small. But important nonetheless!! :slight_smile:

I guess what I mean to say is that I’m not at all surprised there isn’t an easier way to do it.


Just another thought:

You might be able to assign a shortcut to create this type of tuplet and save a keystroke. Or, maybe even some sort of a macro that can do everything in one keystroke (if custom key commands allow).

please don’t read inflection and intent into what I wrote.
I didn’t “reprimand you”.
I merely stated that this wasn’t a “problem” in any sense.
I then continued by explaining (in neutral terms) that this does go against the logic of the musical notation.

You later mention that music isn’t logic.
but musical notation requires a certain logic to it.
In a measure of 4/4, there are 4 quarter note beats.
You are asking Dorico to go against that and insert a note value that equals eight quarter note beats.

Your requirement IS a particular exception.
Please don’t immediately react with snarkiness and assume that any responses to you are done with malicious intent.

@benwiggy has already asked a simple question: are you trying to replicate an Early Music edition?
but you haven’t responded.
If this is indeed the case, there MAY be better ways of achieving your desired result.

To get the best answers, it’s always best to assume that responders ARE trying to help you, and when they ask questions of you, or make comments, they ARE trying to get to the bottom of what may be an issue for you at the time, but might be an easily fixed one (once we know all the details.)