Inputting Lyrics with Syllables that Extend for More Than One Note

I know that when inputting lyrics with syllables that I want to extend for more than one note, I can type additional hyphen to make the syllable carry over to the next note (i.e. two hyphens instead of one). That’s great and it works. However, if I want to cut-and-paste an entire line, and I know ahead of time that I will need a syllable to span two notes, when I include two hyphens in my text that I am copying, Dorico ignores this and only considers it as if I had included one hyphen in the text I copied and pasted. The copy-and-paste works great for one hyphen, but not for more than one hyphen. Is this a bug? Or am I doing something wrong or is there a workaround?

You have to paste in each syllable, so you just add a hyphen as you go along:

pastepastepastepaste hyphen pastepastepaste

Same for additional spaces.

Except for the fact that Dorico WILL recognize pasting a single hyphen. It will also recognize pasting a non-breaking space, for that matter, to keep two words on the same note. And, of course, it also recognizes normal spaces in between words. The only time I expect that I have to input anything additional is when I have to input an additional SPACE to carry a syllable over a tied note. BUT, that is not the same as an addtional hyphen. As I mentioned, I have the hyphens in the text file I am copying from. Dorico recognizes single hyphens and handles them correctly - I don’t need to “add them as I go along”, Dorico does that based on the hyphens I already added in the text file that I prepared beforehand. What Dorico DOES not do is to handle multiple hyphens correctly. It treats them as a single hyphen. Again, I don’t have to input anything. Dorico DOES input a hyphen, but it only inputs ONE, even though I had two hyphens in a row in text that I copied to the clipboard. This is somewhat frustrating since these don’t occur frequently, and when I am copying and pasting lyrics that I’ve already hyphenated, I am more or less assuming that they will go in the right place in a semi-automated fashion. Getting to the end of a line and realizing that I’m one syllable short because there should have been two hyphens (which I’ve actually already accounted for in my pre-processing) but only one is there because of how Dorico is handling this is frustrating. I then have to go and delete back to where the double hyphens where supposed to be to make the correction and then re-copy from my text to resume the copy-and-paste operation. Again, I’m not sure if this is a bug in the software since the other behavior for pasting single hyphens and non-breaking spaces works, or if there is some way to get it to work for pasting multiple hyphens, but that was my original question.

Can you describe how you’re pasting several syllables in one go, copied from a text file?

The Help Pages describe only the pasting of each syllable in turn using the popover.

It also says: “Dorico Pro checks text you have copied to your clipboard to make sure it contains only single spaces and single hyphens for correct syllable input. … For words/syllables that you want to apply to two or more notes, you must advance the popover manually.”

Dorico should automatically step over tied notes, without having to add an additional space.


Say for instance I wanted to put the nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, to music. If I first hyphenated the words and then copied all of them, such as:Hump-ty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Hump-ty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s hors-es and all the king’s men
Could-n’t put Hump-ty to-geth-er a-gain.
I could then go to Dorico and start pasting. Dorico would advance from one note to the next each time I pasted. Dorico would also recognize the hyphens in the text I copied in the clipboard and insert them for me in the lyrics without my having to do so.

Exactly. So paste each syllable, and when that syllable covers two notes, you press hyphen or space before pressing paste again.

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Yes, except for the fact that because I’ve already pre-processed the lyrics where the syllables break, once I’ve copied and start pasting, I would prefer to be on a sort of auto-pilot where I don’t have to pay quite as close attention. If I’ve already specified that two hyphens should be in a particular place in the text I’ve copied, I don’t see why Dorico shouldn’t recognize this fact (they ARE in the clipboard as two successive hyphens) and treat them as if I had typed in two successive hyphens myself.

I should add that I didn’t use the double hyphen example with the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, but if I had, it would have started as Hump–ty…

I dare say that there will be a method to paste a string of lyrics in one action in the future; but currently, you’re still entering each syllable individually, albeit with a loaded magazine of syllables from the pasteboard.

TIP: I’ve you have entered a whole load of lyrics, and discovered that you’ve left out a “blank” note, you can do this:

Here’s our line of lyrics, and we want a melisma on the very first “Hump”.

  1. Right click on a Lyric, and bring up “Edit Line of Lyrics”.

(I’ve given it a shortcut.)

  1. Add the word “QWE” (or anything) where we want the gap.


You’ll see at the bottom of the dialog that we’ve now got too many lyrics. So delete “fall” at the very end. That gives us this:

Now we just delete “QWE”, and add “fall” to the next note. We’ve saved having to re-type the whole thing.

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I know about all of that. However, none of that works for inserting a second hyphen to get a syllable to carry over to the next note. The only way that I can get that to work is to manually type it in as I am first inputting the lyrics. I can’t go back later and insert the second hyphen and have Dorico shift everything else to the right as does inserting an entire new syllable as your “QWE” example does. Nor can I paste two successive hyphens in a row, which is what I’d like to be able to do. So, what I’m stuck with if I miss where the second hyphen goes, and I often do since, in my mind I’m expecting that I’ve already taken care of all of the necessary hyphenation, then I must go back and delete back to the point where I have to insert the double hyphenation.

Currently, if you make a mistake the first time, then your options are to delete the line and do it again (which from pasted lyrics should take a matter of seconds); or use the trick I showed.

There is no point in preparing your lyrics (and yourself) for coping with melismas in your pre-pasted text.

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My issue is that I’m not really making a “mistake” the first time. I disagree that there is no point in pre-processing the lyrics before cutting and pasting them. That may not be the case if I were to be composing and writing my own lyrics as I was inputting them. However, if as I am doing, I am typesetting music that has already been composed with verse that must sometimes be massaged a bit to get it to fit the meter, then it makes perfect sense to make these decisions ahead of time. In my case, specifically, I’m setting The Scottish Psalter to the tunes the particular psalms are traditional sung with. In practice, one accommodates when singing where there is an extra syllable or a syllable too few in the prose to fit the tune, most of which are in Common Meter ( The Scottish Psalter was, after all, written in 1650 when pronunciations may have been very different. However, in actually putting it to music, as you know, more precision is required. It seems that what I want Dorico to do may not be a feature it is designed to do. However, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for it to be a feature request for it to recognize multiple hyphens in pasted lyric input as the same as if the user had manually input two hyphens in a row. Likewise, two spaces in a row, as so on. I haven’t used other programs, but if I am to understand, I think some of them may actually allow importing text files as lyrics, and if Dorico were ever to allow this (which would be preferable for the type of thing I am doing), then this type of handling of every type of situation would be necessary.

Then perhaps you should tag this thread as a feature request. The tone of your original post did not suggest as much, and folk since have tried to help you produce the output you said you wanted and to prevent you from wasting your time insisting on a feature that does not currently exist.

I don’t disagree and will do so. I thought possibly there might be a way to accomplish what I want to do but am sensing that it is, in fact, not possible and will require a new feature to implement it. Thanks for the suggestion.

You don’t need to sense it. Ben pointed out 11 hours ago that in the help pages it tells you that it doesn’t work the way you want it to.

There is no point in “pre-processing” it because Dorico ensures that copied and pasted lyrics contain single hyphens or spaces between syllables/words: it intentionally undoes your pre-processing.

@Alexander_Ploetz came up with something that might do what the OP is requesting, but I have no idea how close it is from full achievement. So I think Ben is right in writing that it will be possible in the future.

I did indeed experiment with a Lua solution for flexible automatic line-by-line lyrics entry from text files, and it does pretty much work the way that @scott.sovereign is describing. It also allows for navigating between verses and individual lines, and even between multiple source files, all with keycommands (via the ConsoleTools framework) from within Dorico, and for ad hoc changes to any line in a outside text editor.

However, I ran into somewhat intangible problems with the multitudes of different text encodings that source files may come in, which is why I never got it to a version suitable for offering to the general public.

At this point I can only really see me packaging what I have into a ‘bespoke’ version for someone who needs it enough to justify hiring me to do that.