How to add a pickup bar

Not if they plan ahead.

Screenshot 2021-08-19 at 16.21.06

Completely stuck on this one…

how can I get rid of the orange time signature and keep the pickup bar?

I managed to bodge this when originally it was 4/4 but as I changed to 2/2 it all went pear-shaped.
I tried doing “shift - B” then typing in things like 2/2, -q1 and 2/2, -q3 and all sorts of other things - but I just can’t work it out at all -

As stated previously I simply cannot understand the methodology so every time till now I just try bits of text I’ve pickup up in the forum or in tutorials rather blindly until it seems to work - I’m clearly somewhat thick when it comes to software!!

Adding pick-up bars after starting the project can be a little tricky to get your head around, because it can involve barlines shifting around established music which can throw off your sense of direction.

This should be relatively simple:

  1. Delete the 2nd, selected time signature
  2. Select the first time signature at the start of the flow (i.e. to the left of “A”, pp)
  3. Press Shift-M to open the time signatures popover.
  4. Enter 2/2,0.5
  5. Press Return.

This should input a 2/2 time signature with a half-beat pick-up, i.e. a quarter note.


Thanks so much Lillie - that works straight away. !

I can’t believe I can’t get this!!

I’ll remember to refer to this post next time, because wonderful as your explanation is - I just cannot see any logic how that entry works, it’s just gobblegook to me - but least I can mess around with the numbers until I get whatever it is I need next time.

Typically if I try applying what I think is the correct logic, I lose notes - or it shifts the whole damn thing across the bar, or very often absolutely nothing happens at all.

Thanks again

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Hopefully the numbers do make sense. 2/2,0.5 means “create a time signature of 2/2, but start it with a bar that is 0.5 the length of the denominator of the time signature”. In this case, the denominator is 2, meaning a half note (minim), so a note that is 0.5 the length of a half note is a quarter note (crotchet).

Having spent at least a couple of hours now I am now completely confused, and more than a little frustrated trying to create a simple pickup bar for an existing project. This is much less intuitive than I could have ever imagined it to be. Sometimes you just have to know when to give up or find a work around. In my case I shall import an xml file from Staffpad and start again.

Sorry to hear you’ve had difficulties. Do you want to share your project, so myself or someone else can offer precise steps to get the right pick-up bar in your specific circumstances?

I’m also having a lot of trouble with this.
The answer seems to be to use the popover shortcut with a special code.
This is all well and good, but the popover is very user-unfriendly. It’s clearly a superb feature for power users, but remembering all the codes for someone like me who uses Dorico only intermittently is not user friendly.
Can anyone help with instruction about adding a pickup bar to existing music just using the UI, or the menus, without the popover and special codes?

Does this page help?

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Got it, thanks!

Sorry, I know, but can someone explain how I can get a 16th note pickup bar please. Tried every thing I’ve read on here but it’s not going in. I know the popover menu but what’s the secret bit after 4/4…Thanks

A 16th note is a quarter of a beat in 4/4, so therefore the popover syntax is: 4/4,0.25

In 4/4, some example pick-ups are:

  • Quarter note/crotchet = 4/4,1
  • Eighth note/quaver = 4/4,0.5
  • Half note/minim = 4/4,2

See also this page, which now has more examples, including a 16th note pick-up in 4/4

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Thanks Lillie - believe it or not I just stumbled on it by trying various things. Taken me an hour. Very frustrating. Thanks anyway.

I ask myself why I have to think in added decimals of a denominator when I am using a computer which could do that for me?

I’d love to have a little “upbeat” popover with note symbols where I could choose how many 8th or 16th notes I want for an upbeat. Then select if I want to add this upbeat or change the current bar to an upbeat bar. That way everyone could create upbeats without manual or forum help. Wouldn’t that be much easier?

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The meters panel on the right offers pickups from ½ to 3 beats. Practically, this is all that should be needed. More specific pickup bars are not useful. If your piece has, say, three 16ths before the downbeat, just use a quarter and start with a 16th rest. For ensemble music to be conducted this is essential.

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I’ll join in this chorus of confusion! I too always fall over on this, maths and divisions not being my favourite skills, nor shorthand, algebra or symbols meaning something else.

I’ve created a simple key command to solve this problem.
Click on the time sig at the start of the piece, then:

1/ CMD/SHIFT P (if that’s not already in use) a magic pick-up bar popover will appear.
2/ tap the number signifier for the number of beats, ie tap 6 twice for 2 quarter notes, etc.
3/ Press Enter/return
4/ Bar is inserted with 2 quarter notes value.

Of course I haven’t really done this, but what if…?

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And I’ll join the alternative chorus, which knows that all musicians can divide the beat!

The Dorico meter popover is quite brilliant in its power and simplicity.

When I first demoed Dorico 1, my trial piece started with a pickup. I almost gave up then and there.

Now I am currently dealing with scanned music exclusively and input the pickup measures as the first part of a whole measure with rests following. Then I subtract the rests with the help of the option-System Track and I have my pickup measure. Haven’t tried the nice tool in the panel yet nor the mathematics in the popover which looks like something that might take a little while to get comfortable with and then be forgotten until next time.

This ought to be completely unnecessary. Dorico usually recognises pickup bars in XML files (created from scans) without problem. You could try using the shift-m 4/4,0.5 route (for a quaver pickup) and see if it works better for you.

Thanks, @Janus I will try that next time I do a scan, but I have had problems with it previously, which is why I have used this workaround. The reason I mentioned it, however, is that I think that it is a simple way to input a pickup measure for someone who is completely at sea with the legitimate process.