How to insert Long notes in Dorico Pro

Hello team and colleagues,
I need some help related to long notes insertion in Dorico Pro.
I can’t manage to find any way to insert long notes which are equal to 3 whole notes.
Check the screenshot below:

I hope someone could give me some tips and tricks about that! :slight_smile:
Thank you in advance! :slight_smile:

Best wishes,

At the top of the left panel you should see a disclosure arrow. Click it and all should become clear.
Screenshot 2021-05-10 at 00.29.26

Hello Leo @pianoleo ,
Thank you for the reply! :slight_smile:
I know about the Longa and Maxima note durations, but Longa is equal to 4 whole notes and it doesn’t have stem. The ones in the screenshot own stems and they are equal to 3 whole notes.
If you try to use Longa note you would get Breve tied with whole note. The time signature is 3/1

Best wishes,

I have found workarounds on this problem:

  1. To add time signature for this bar Shift + M > 3/1,4
  2. To create X time signature for this bar ( this will work mostly if the Longa notes are at the end of the piece)
  3. To create 4/1 time signature for this bar.
  • At the end the time signature must be Hidden by using the Properties Panel.

Best regards,

Another option would be to make a hidden tuplet of 4 in the time of 3. You’ll always have to create four beats somehow.

Dorico’s Longa does have a stem, though.??

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Dorico only understands notation used post ca. 1600, thus no mensuration (tempus/prolation etc). The relationship between note values is always imperfect.


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Hello @benwiggy and @david-p,
Thank you for your reply! :slight_smile:
David, I agree with you. But Dorico is not very comfortable even for editing early Baroque music.
I’m currently doing an arrangement for more instruments on “Lagrimosa Belta” by Giovanni Felice Sances, a piece mostly in 3/1 (for a short part it changes to 4/4, and then back to 3/1).
At the beginning of the voices it uses only single pause (Breve) for bar which should contain 3 whole notes. Dorico notates this paused bars with Breve + Whole pauses.
At the end of the piece I have these Longa notes which should fit in bars for 3 whole notes, but Longa is actually equal to 4 whole notes. So currently we need workarounds in order to make these things look fine. I remember that Finale and Overture have the opportunity to insert as much as you need extra notes (over the size of the bar) in a bar, to extend it very easily, without the need of adding more beats. In Overture the addition of extra notes is possible only by mouse, not by keyboard, or by real-time recording. I hope that the team will add the opportunity for extra notes in Dorico, this will save time and unnecessary steps.

Best regards, :slight_smile:

Yes, but surely, if you are producing a modern edition, you’re going to dot all the perfect notes…?

But in this case, for the needs of the performers I need to produce original-like score sheets, not modern looking notation.
I know that the times are changing and the notation becomes more and more strict and standardized than before, but still we should be able to re/produce something that looks old. :slight_smile: Without tweaking a lot.

Best wishes :slight_smile:

Several options here. You could use a hidden 4:3 tuplet. Off the top of my head (I’m not at a computer with Dorico now), type ; w4:3 enter 0 , (at least if I guess correctly that the zero key chooses the longa; if not, click on the longa in the left side panel) then insert the pitch you want, inside the tuplet, of course.
Other possibility: if it’s just the final note (as is often the case), just enter the longa in the 3/1 bar, remove the last barline (where the final note appears tied), and insert a final barline just after the longa. It will look like one bar (but will sound for 4 whole notes).

I agree with @benwiggy: if it looks like a modern edition (simply by using Dorico’s modern typography), I wouldn’t trust my musicians to understand that you actually intended mensural notation. If you really want that, use diamond-shaped and square noteheads, don’t use barlines, use Renaissance-style clefs, don’t write 3/1 but a circle, etc. The real mensural nerds won’t consider modern notation very convincing…

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I know, it’s only been 400 years.

Putting a longa as a final note is not a problem: you just calculate how many beats the final bar needs to have in order to accomodate the longa or breve, and then hide the resultant unwanted time signature.

But I sympathize with Thurisaz in wanting to give the player the closest transcription of the original notation. Seventy or so years ago (see Apel, 1941, Donnington, 1963, et al.), the advice was to divide all note durations by 2 or 4; but this severely distorts the look of the music. Nowadays we are smart enough to realise that a breve can be a short note – as its name implies – and do not need to have it represented by a “half-note” in order to sing such music at an appropriate tempo! I have accepted to use, e.g., a dotted semibreve for one that is perfect and divides into three minims. When we do this, it seems legitimate to use the 3/2 signature without the mensural sign before it, as that sign is there to indicate perfection, which is taken care of by the dot after the whole note. But I am aware that this is cheating.

All that said, given that it is a matter of arithmetic and following rules (both of which processes are first nature to computers), it ought to be possible in Dorico to select a situation in which a breve or semibreve is subdivided into three or two of the next lower demonimation, at the command of the user. The appropriate mensural signs could be provided and they would be smart enough to know whether they are perfect or not.

Of course, then the user would demand black and coloured notation, and staves with more than five lines – which would actually be easy to do and would allow us to represent 16C Italian keyboard tablature faithfully – and other things that I have not even thought about… But we do have all the C clefs, which is a major step forward. :slight_smile:

The sad thing is that nobody has provided a state of the art means of setting early music, and we may need to stick around for another century before one becomes a reality.


One doesn’t have to wait 100 years. The ability to represent this music has always been there: it’s called hand-written notation. :slightly_smiling_face: Advances in photo-reproduction will take care of the rest.

Or just give them a photo of the source.