In praise of dynamically-adjusted dashed lines

Hi all,

There are a lot of troubleshooting, bug reports, and feature requests on this board, which is reasonable, but I thought I might draw attention to a very small detail that is so, so good. Dashed lines are a ubiquitous part of music notation: octave shifts, dashed barlines, gradual tempi, and many more. Most software handles dashed lines as a fixed alternating dash and space length. When you get to the end of the line, you can easily end up with an awkward amount of space or a small sliver of line. It looks unfinished and bad.

Dorico, on the other hand, takes the start and end positions of the dashed lines as fixed references and then distributes the dashes between the endpoints dynamically. The software maintains an average space between them within a reasonable threshold.

The result is a beautiful, effortless effect that will go completely unnoticed by virtually everyone. Things just seem a little more polished. This is my very favorite kind of detail work and I wanted to call out the team for their work on it.

Cheers –


Yes, kudos to the Dorico designers. I constantly fight this problem in Finale and would love this feature were I a Dorico user. This is the kind of thing that deserves to be automated, because a computer can do it much better than a human engraver.

Can Dorico also adjust dashed lines to avoid bar lines, and other elements that occur between tightly-spaced staves? That is an even bigger problem.

You can have dynamically adjusted lines in Finale by using a font character for the line rather than Finale’s built-in line drawing mechanism. I have a font with a myriad of different length dashes, hooks, and dots. Looking at the work of premiere publishers (Henle, et al), it’s likely they take the same approach.

I humbly expect that in the fullness of time Dorico’s lines will be adjustable locally (design of the hooks for instance) thru the Properties panel.

Thanks, notesetter. I appreciate your tip, but I am not sure what you mean by “dynamic”. How would using a different character take all the different factors, like avoiding bar lines, dynamics, reaching the end of the line correctly etc. into account? And I wouldn’t want to change the length of the dashes, just the space between them, and only slightly. I hope Dorico doesn’t change the length of the dashes, at least not in a way that is noticeable.

One could also design many smart shapes in Finale that have slightly different spacing between the dashes. In fact, you just prodded me into exploring that possibility.