How to Reproduce Bruckner's "Keil" Articulation Mark In Dorico?

I’ve got a bit of a confusing problem with an articulation mark from the late 1800s. I’m working on arranging for concert band / wind ensemble the third movement of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6, and in actuality, this is a problem I should have addressed with the first movement. Sigh. Anyway, here’s what my problem looks like in the third movement of Bruckner’s score:

Notice the wedge-shaped articulation marks over the quarter notes? I thought those were staccatissimo marks, but when I plugged those into Dorico and played the resulting transcription back, it sounded 100% wrong when compared to recordings I have of the piece. Something’s not right here.

I consulted renowned Bruckner expert and musicologist Dr. William Carragan about the problem, and he set me straight on the matter:

That mark, like a vertical black arrowhead, is very common in Bruckner. Its German name is “Keil”. It means a solid but not abrupt accent, more emphatic than the shorter staccato. It should not be overly lengthened as some inexperienced conductors do, nor should it be abruptly abbreviated. You should absolutely include the Keil in your arrangement, and then explain to people how it should be played, as a staccato with an extra nudge.

My problem now is how to represent the Keil within Dorico, as Dorico obviously does not recognize the Keil as a valid articulation mark. This problem is made worse by the fact that I need both the Keil and the staccatissimo marks within the third movement of the score.

I’ve tried setting up a custom Playing Technique using one of the other staccatissimo marks (the smallest one) to represent the Keil (pronounced the same as the character “Kyle” from South Park, if you’re wondering), but the difference between the two markings is too small, and besides, I can only get the Playing Technique to take on one attribute (the accent), when Dr. Carragan clearly said that it needs to be a “staccato with an extra nudge” (i.e., a staccato plus an accent). I am thus at a dead end.

I need the help of an expert here. What is the best way to represent a Keil in Dorico when you need to use both a Keil and a staccatissimo mark in the same work? Please advise, and thank you for your assistance.

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I believe your initial approach of using a custom Playing Technique is correct.
You need two things:

  1. design a vector glyph of the Keil exactly as you want it (or find a font that already has it)
  2. import it as a Playing Technique and configure it.

Alternatively to (2) is to use the glyph in (1) to substitute one of the articulations that you will not use in the score (such as the stress-unstress ones).
Hope this helps.

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In case it is of any use in getting close to the shape you want (for example, if customising your own glyphs, etc. in the relevant editor within Dorico), here are the various staccatissimo/wedge shapes available in the Bravura Text font, along with their Unicode code points.

The first four (those starting with U+E4A) are from the standard range of Articulations.
The second four (those starting with U+F47) are from the Recommended Stylistic Alternates range.


Great job, Steven!
From what the OP showed, it seems the U+F47B and U+F47C are the closest.

I tried using some of those marks. Here are my results. Remember that I need both: Keil and staccatissimo in my score:


Can you tell which ones are the Keil and which ones are the staccatissimo, just by looking? (The Keil marks are the ones in measures 108 and 109, in the top left of the graphic.) As I said in my OP, none of the staccatissimo marks work - they’re too close together.

Further, this leaves unaddressed my problem of how to get an articulation (staccato) plus a dynamic (accent) onto a single Playing Technique or other marking. Can that be done? That’s necessary for a Keil to be recognized properly by the playback engine.

first of all you have to decide which NP articulation matches what you’re trying to achieve in playback. I would say that after a quick test, the closest you’re going to get in indeed probably staccato+accent. As staccato is an add-on technique in NP, there is no problem combining it with an accent. So just create a hidden staff below for your playback with this combination and disable playback for the notated staff using the Keil. Otherwise you’ll have to get into possibly fiddly engraving issues on a single staff though there’s no doubt some way to achieve it.

I’m sorry, but you’ve got me thoroughly confused. I can’t find any documentation on NP’s web site on how to combine the staccato+accent effects into a single notated effect, nor can I find anything anywhere about making hidden staffs below my playback. Could you please walk me through this? I’m still rather new at it all, only having Dorico since the summer of 2023. I would appreciate it very much.

for adding extra staves, pls read the documentation here Adding extra staves . Once you’ve added the staff and your notation, you then “remove staff” from the same context menu but the beauty is the playback remains even though you no longer see the staff. For section strings you need to “change divisi” instead of “add staff below” — this is also explained in the manual if you do a quick search.

Staccato+ accent has nothing to do with NotePerfomer specifically, you simply select both together in the notes panel. In this case, I suspect this combination is as close to what you’re looking for as NP can provide. Marcato is likely to be too long.
staccato plus accent

Hi Lee, in the examples you show that both the Keil technique and the staccatissimo seem to involve all notes for several measures. Why not just use a directional articulation with a text as start and nat. to cancel it or a line above as for 8va to show the length the technique should be used.

This would avoid all confusion between the Keil and regular staccatissimo.

As no library will have the specific Keil playback you might be able to in your library add a preset Keil articulation with a copy of regular staccato with a slightly higher volume and tune it further using. release and attack parameters. Alternative is of course to do this manually for all notes in Dorico using velocity and c’s but that is a lot of work.

Perhaps one could use the thicker wedge for the Keil and reassign a thinner wedge to the staccatissimo .

The problem remains - how do you get two things going (staccato+accent) at once? Also, this would be quite unwieldy when applied over the scope of a full band arrangement such as my Bruckner arrangement.

No, I’m coming to the conclusion that Dorico can’t do a aimple staccato+accent mark like the Keil over a large number of staves. My best solution is going to be to just drop the dream of the Keil mark altogether and go with a paired staccato+accent mark, unless someone can come up with something better.

I myself see absolutely no reason why you have to put Keil marks in your score. You’re not Bruckner and all you’re doing is creating an arrangement based on his work. I suspect that in view of the fact that even many Bruckner conductors don’t seem to properly understand the mark according to Carrigan, it would save you time and effort not to bother and if you do, you’re still left with the issue of how to create the virtual playback from Dorico.

In your situation, I’d do as you suggest and go with the staccato+ accent which should be acceptable for both virtual playback and any live performance.