I'm losing my patience with Dorico

When I put a quarter note on an off-beat, I want to see a quarter note, not two eighth notes joined with a tie. Looking at the posts in the forum, other users are having the same or a similar problem. I’ve tried different settings in the note grouping dialog, and I’ve tried using force duration. This is ridiculous. I don’t have this problem with Sibelius. Why is this so difficult? I will be most appreciative if anyone has a solution. Thank you.

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select the note, hit O, 5, 6
the first being the Letter O

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You can also enable force input before inputting the note in the first place, if that eases your workflow.

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Forced duration is really very simple.

To avoid the problem in the first place, just use force duration for all your entries (it’s a toggle switch) as @lucas_r_r suggests.

If you want to correct a note ‘post hoc’, select the whole bar, switch on forced duration (o), then select the note and press 56. This will avoid the possibility of notes either side reverting to tied notes.

Lastly if Sibelius is your benchmark for happiness, then you will never be happy. Dorico is not difficult. It is just different.


I deleted my previous post as it’s not possible to achieve what you want via Notation Options.

If you’re really sure that this is what you want, invoke the Shift-M (meter) popover at bar 1 and type [4]/4 Enter. With the factory default Notation Options (and without forcing durations) this should give you this:


OK, Leo, that is really neat (and it works with any time signature), but what is the practical benefit over simply toggling forced duration?

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The practical benefit is that it’s two characters in a popover, so assuming the chart is all in 4/4 it’s two keypresses over what you’d otherwise need, for the whole flow.

Force Duration switches itself off every time you exit note input, so that’s potentially a lot of times you have to remember to turn it back on (or a lot of times you get irritated at the realisation that you’ve forgotten to turn it back on and need to retrospectively fix some “wrong” notes).

My quotation marks are intentional, incidentally - I’m really not a fan of obscuring the halfway point of a 4/4 bar like this.


Thank you. Good points. And I agree about the half-bar.

How did you ‘discover’ this? I can’t see it documented anywhere.

It’s Beat grouping specified but not shown in the time signature, as per the manual: Time signatures popover

If you put a single number within square brackets, that means that effectively Dorico’s treating the whole bar as one beat, with no illegal beaming or note grouping within that beat (bar).

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+1! I wasn’t aware of that either. The downside is that you also get beaming like bar 3 below:

I suppose you could always switch to “normal” 4/4 there and hide it.

True (every silver lining has a cloud). But its easy to split the beam…

Assuming this is jazz and the rhythms are swung there is a bit more nuance to the OPs request than initially appears. (If I’m wrong, well, then just ignore this post, LOL) If we look at his original rhythm:

Bar 1 is a very common syncopation in jazz that is encountered all the time and is completely acceptable. Bar 2 is not good due to beat 3 being obscured combined with the lack of symmetry. If we realize that this phrase would most commonly be automatically played as below it takes on a slightly different meaning:

With the above phrasing in mind, now the note circled in red in the original post is particularly problematic as the performer most likely wouldn’t play it as a short quarter as it’s a tied note. Changing the notation changes the phrase. Personally I would never write bar 2 with beat 3 obscured, I would just write an 8th there if I wanted it short, but there are decades of “stock charts” that use that rhythm to mean short quarters.

I’m not really sure what sort of features could be added to accommodate the OP’s request. More Notation Options? A sticky Force Duration option? Another rhythm that comes up all the time in Latin jazz is the basic 3-2 clave pattern:

Bar 1 is definitely wrong by the standards of any notation guide, yet you see this often as it reflects the clave pattern that is the backbone of the rhythm. Using Force Duration is just automatic for me when I see rhythms that I know won’t be interpreted correctly by Dorico, but I’m sympathetic that there could be some additional ways to have this automated.


Such patterns often occur in keyboard music of all styles as a way of simplifying the notation where there is another voice on that staff that clarifies the beat, for example, a steady stream of eighth notes. So it should easily accomplished and not require special handling.

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I’d say typing o56 only takes a second, once you know the trick (but finding the trick in the first place admittedly can take a while). To summarize: the feature request would be a Notation Option to allow (dotted or undotted) crotchets/quarter notes to cross the half-bar in 4/4, I guess?

Having to use Force Duration is one of the very few slight annoyances in Dorico (another is guessing whether it’s going to change an enharmonic depending on the next note or not).

However, these are a very small price for all the time-saving help that Dorico gives, and the consistent philosophy of global rules, local exceptions.

While there may be improvements to be made, familiarity will reduce the annoyance.

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I do generally find Dorico’s way faster. Instead of entering an eighth tied to a dotted quarter over a barline for example, I just enter a half and let Dorico notate it correctly. This saves keystrokes and is much faster, but definitely is not at all intuitive for someone new to the program, especially if they are coming from other software. I’m not sure I would have learned that technique if there had been a sticky Force Duration when I was learning the program.

“Why won’t Dorico just let me notate music the way I want?” does seem like a valid complaint though, so perhaps a sticky Force Duration option would be a welcome feature. While Dorico’s Notation Options do drastically cut down the amount of poorly notated music coming out of the program, it is unlikely that there could ever be enough options to account for all the various notational idiosyncrasies of all the genres of music that exist in the world.

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Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions. I will try them to see if they solve the problem.


Let us know how you get on.