Inserting a note changes previous notes?

Why does Dorico change the previous note duration when I insert a note after it?

I have a flow without rhythmic signature and bars. If I try to insert a note after a quarter note, Dorico changes that quarter note to an eight note, regardless of what the inserted note duration is. For the life of me I can’t figure out what the logic behind this is.

Coming from different background, if I’m in insert mode in vi, I expect it to insert whatever garbage I might type without changing letters before or after. Which seems to be exactly what Dorico manual says about insert mode:

“Notes are inserted before existing notes, without overriding any existing notes at rhythmic positions after the caret. Any existing notes after the caret are pushed ahead to subsequent rhythmic positions.”

Note that the documentation doesn’t say a thing about the notes before the caret, so don’t say I should have read the manual. In my view, it’s either a bug in the program or in the manual, as clearly the two do not match!

How are you inserting notes? Dorico marks out a rhythmic grid. It sounds like you’re putting your second note in the wrong place (only an eighth after the first note, not a quarter after the first note), and Dorico is then shortening the previous note in order to put the new note where you’re telling Dorico to put it.

Dorico works based on the semantics of the music notation. A “note” isn’t just a symbol, it has a duration. In fact a single long “note” might be displayed as many symbols (even extending over several pages) if its duration is several bars, but Dorico still considers it to be “one note”, which what it sounds like when the score is played.

A better analogy with a word processor is inserting something in the middle of a word, not in the middle of a letter.

See, that is a problem.

I don’t want my text editor to be smart and change a sentence to be grammatically correct while I’m typing, making an entirely different meaning out of it. And no text editor is that agressive. Actually plenty of us find text editors way too much agressive (with styles and everything) and we are turning to markdown where we have complete control.

Yet, notation software (not just Dorico) builds on musical grammar first and prohibits any grammatically incorrect music to exist at any given time. Yes, that works really well from the implementation point of view, but it’s an utter rubbish when it comes to user experience. I just want notation sw to be my pen and paper, and if it can highlight the grammatical errors and PROPOSE the corrections, that’s mighty splendid.

But if I’m entering notes without even a time signature and software changes what I never told it to change in order for my notes to fit some kind of “rhythmic grid” (again, I did not even have bars in place yet!), that is a problem. And if the documentation doesn’t explain why and how the software might change notes before the deleted note, that is even a bigger problem.

But THE biggest problem is the devs pulling Steve Jobs on users “ur holding it wrong”. Again, it’s not just Dorico, it’s all over the place. MuseScore is a great example, but to their credit it’s free so they can do whatever they like, it’s their hobby after all.

So no, if I’m in insert mode, I want to insert there and then. I might understand that notes after the current note will need to be pushed forward, I mean that’s what insert is all about, right? But I refuse to accept that inserting a note would affect the notes before the insertion point. That’s a bug. Could be a design bug, could be hard to fix bug, but it’s a bug.

If you want to insert without cutting the previous note short, you need to drop the note you’re inserting where the next note or rest starts, like so:

Note that if you insert midway through, Dorico doesn’t just shorten the existing note; it divides the existing note in two and places the two constituent note values around the note that you’re adding. Here I have the grid in semiquavers/16ths, and I’m inserting a crotchet/quarter on the second semiquaver/16th.

This isn’t a bug. It may be something you don’t like, but it’s working exactly as designed.

Hi Theoretical, thanks for sharing your experience - having double-checked the manual, I think yes, the ‘result’ sections of topics in the manual describing how to input notes could indeed benefit from the extra detail of confirming how the position of the caret controls where notes get input. This is already described here, but it would be helpful to clarify this elsewhere too, e.g. in the result for using Insert mode to input notes.

Perhaps that might make it clearer that Dorico doesn’t “think” in terms of notes but in rhythmic duration and position - if you click to input a note halfway “through” a crotchet/quarter note, in Dorico that means inputting it a quaver/eighth note later than its start, so that’s where it gets input, not after the note.

What you want is the musical equivalent of a word processor where if you put the cursor in the middle of “supercalifragilisticexpalidocious” and type something in insert mode, what you type appears after the end of the word.

Except most people would want the letter to appear where the cursor was, if they put the cursor after the “exp” and inserted the letter i to fix the typo.

Could it be that the OP is confusing ‘Insert mode’ with regular ‘Note input mode’?


Your comparison of a scorewriter to a typewriter is useless as you are missing one important aspect of music notation: the existence of rests.

In spoken language, hence in written text one word comes after another and you read it just like that. In music however a single note could be followed by a long period of silence before the next actual note takes place. Therefore a score writing application must be told at what rhythmic position the note you want to enter is to happen. This is what the rhythmic grid is for. Have you noticed the small yellow lines that appear above the staff when you are in note entry mode? They represent the grid. On the very bottom left corner of the Dorico window you can see what note value the grid is set to, default is 8th notes. When you use the mouse for note input you will notice that the grey shadow note will only snap to those positions. For keyboard note input you move the actual input position (the ‘caret’) with the arrow keys. If you want to input a note at a position 1 quarter note after the previous note you must tell Dorico to do so.

The benefit of this might seem non-obvious in your specific case, but notice that it gives you also the possibility to enter the next note not directly back to back but on any position, Dorico will automatically insert the necessary rest symbols. In your typewriter analogy you would have to type these rests manually.

You can actually input notes in typewriter-style when not using mouse input: When you input notes with the computer keyboard or a MIDI keyboard the caret will move exactly to the position after the note you just entered.

Ahhh… THAT explains it!

By intuition, I expected to be in the musical grid between the two notes when I click between the two notes. That is not the case - when I click between two notes I am at the musical grid between the two notes, which could be whatever!

In essence, it’s like seeing my cursor in vi some|where (| being the cursor) within the word, but when I start typing it would start after “so” due to my “word grid” set to two characters. Hmmm. :confused:

I see the logic behind this, but it’s kinda flawed from the usability point of view.

Why not make the musical grid more like piano roll grid? Why not have an option to have piano-roll like overlay, which can also distinguish between levels ob subdivision? At the moment the grid lines are all the same - would be good to have longer / bolder lines for main beats, then progressively shorter/thinner. Add an option to show note lengths (like logic and notion do) in the score and then you are idiot proof for users like me :smiley:

Anyway, now I know what the problem is, looking at the score, I’m just not sure what the solution is. Ideally, when I click insert between two notes, I want to be exactly at the point between the two notes, no? Perhaps Dorico should just tweak the musical grid so that the cursor fits there - which currently would create another confusion because grid does not show different levels of subdivision.

Another option would be able to see (and edit) piano roll in write mode. So clicking between the notes would reflect the grid timeline on the piano roll, which would make it evident that the cursor is at the point in the middle of the previous note. I would like to be able to be able to interchangeably work in piano roll and score editor anyway - like in Logic, for example (Studio one is not as good when it comes to that, because as far as i know they can only show either piano roll or the score editor, not both!).

You can input and edit notes in the piano roll in Play mode, which updates the score as you see it in Write mode too - they’re essentially 2 presentations of the same thing.

The rhythmic grid also does update according to the meter, but if you’re in open meter it will be just short notes because what else should Dorico expect to show? If you input e.g. a 4/4 or 6/8 time signature, you’ll see the rhythmic grid has longer lines for main beats and shorter lines for off-beats - as shown in the screenshot demonstrating the rhythmic grid in 4/4 on this page here.

Hi Lillie,

doesn’t “You can input and edit notes in play mode” sound, well, wrong? Edit is edit, play is play. I posted my idea of UI in another thread, but here it is again for reference (attachment).

but if you’re in open meter it will be just short notes because what else should Dorico expect to show


RIght, didn’t think of that.Perhaps common time with quarter notes at least?

I don’t find the grid to be very clear even with a time signature present. The grid in piano roll is much better imho with bolder/thinner lines, but what it’s missing is length of the grid lines. See third example from another sw. So at minimum the grid in the score editor would need to have longer/shorter lines for each level of subdivision. Perhaps it would be interesting to also expore the option to overlay a grid over notes. Why not? You have an invisible grid there anyway to align notes.

I honestly do not understand this sentence. “I expected it to do A, but when I click it does A ???”

In essence, it’s like seeing my cursor in vi some|where (| being the cursor) within the word, but when I start typing it would start after “so” due to my “word grid” set to two characters. Hmmm. > :confused: >

No, the orange grid is telling you that your cursor was at so|mewhere

Ideally, when I click insert between two notes, I want to be exactly at the point between the two notes, no?

And what point would that be if you click between two dotted quarter notes? A dotted eighth note on the 3rd 16th? Or what would you do if you want the note not halfway but on any other specific division between those two notes?

Also bear in mind, that the optical scale in notation does not exactly represent the metrical scale of the music represented in the notation. See the attached image:

The selected note is rhythmically exactly between beats 2 and 3, but because of the smaller note values and the additional space needed for the accidentals the second half of the beat takes up much more room, so the optical position of that note is only at 1/3 of the beat length.

For that reason a piano-roll overlay as you imagine it is not possible because the distance between the lines would never be twice the same. The rhythmic grid you see when in note entry mode is the closest you can get.

And what point would that be if you click between two dotted quarter notes? A dotted eighth note on the 3rd 16th? Or what would you do if you want the note not halfway but on any other specific division between those two notes?

I just realised I never considered the whole beam as a part of the note! So being on the stem is the right point to be for “insert before”, and positioning cursor in the middle of the beam in this case leaves no other option than shortening the note. Sorry :blush:

You got there in the end :slight_smile:

It’s easier to see what is going on if you are working with longer notes and grid intervals, because in galley view Dorico doesn’t expand the horizontal space between the notes unless it needs to. Try setting the grid to 32nd notes to see what I mean!

This is why your analogy with a text editor breaks down - you can’t position the cursor “in the middle of a letter” but you can position the Dorico cursor in the middle of a note.