Interpreting notation in an old score

After 16 years of struggling with certain aspects of Sibelius, Dorico is proving to be a revelation, and the workflow is very efficient.
Congratulations to the Dorico team for creating an exceptional product.

Can anyone in the forum explain to a relative novice, how to interpret two aspects of notation in the attached excerpt from an old printed score:

1 the dot appearing before the first note in the lower stave
2 the natural sign above the penultimate note at the end of this bar

I’m sorry to say that Dorico doesn’t support either of these appearances at the moment by default. The rhythm dot is particularly tricky to do, as you would need to insert a note of the “wrong” duration at the end of the previous bar, and then add the rhythm dot in the next bar using Shift+X text. The accidental is a little easier to achieve, but still requires a bit of fakery: you can select the note itself and set the ‘Accidental’ property in the Properties panel to ‘Hide’, then copy and paste a natural sign from this web page and position it in Engrave mode.


this is what one can produce in Dorico:

It would be nice though to have a “barline independent” possibility to notate in a multi rhythmical way (otherwise we end up like here):

the original still works the best, I think:

The “dot before the first note” notation is rhythmically equivalent to a dot on the note before the barline. This notation was used up to about 1800 - it occurs in some early editions of Beethoven.

The modern notation is your “exhibit A” where the dot is replaced by a tied note. The original notation does not imply any displaced barlines, etc as in your second option.

In fact your “original score” is wrongly engraved. Most of the alignment of the notes on the two staves is incorrect, since the dot is equivalent to a 16th note not an 8th note.

The natural above the B looks like an editorial addition. (Judging from its general appearance, your “original score” looks more like a later edition of the piece than a truly original “first edition” or something contemporary with that.)

But without more context, seeing the key signature, and knowing the original composer (and the date of the piece), that is just a guess. In fact from the snippet shown we even have to guess the clefs - at this period they might have been C clefs on any line of the staff!

This beautiful notation was used by Brahms throughout his life and one can see it in the first movement of the Clarinet Sonata op. 120 no. 2 (1895) . Here is an example from the first edition of his 1st piano concerto:
Dotted notation.jpg
For the complete example see:,_Op.15_fullscore_1875.pdf pages 114-117ment=0]Dotted notation.jpg[/attachment]

In cases like the OP and the Brahms concerto, the notation makes it possible to notate a dotted rhythm identically (i.e. without ties) starting on various parts of the measure.

Hopefully there is a workaround in Dorico, or it would rule the program out for me, since I always retain this notation in my editions.

  1. Remove the excess 16th note rest in the following bar using Edit -> Remove Rests
  2. Use Shift-X to add the dots manually.

There are very few composers who I detest to the point of never ever intentionally listening to or looking at their music at all, but Brahms is one of them! So I didn’t know he retained this notation for his own works. He also edited editions of early music (e.g. Couperin) of course.

Poor Brahms. Detested by Tchaikovsky too. Rob is in good company, presumably.

andgle: your workaround does not produce a beam across the barline - otherwise it would be a possibility to get around the limitation. If we only could get stems invisible, I would know another workaround :wink:

oh, and my guess is: the example shows a string quartet. We see the cello and viola staves. The key might be a Minor key. Probably Beethoven period or earlier.

Just select the notes, Edit > Beaming > Beam together :smiley:
Skjermbilde 2017-08-03 kl. 23.21.34.png
Still a workaround though, but not too cumbersome

Edit: possible in one action using a macro:

That is an elegant and beautiful solution, andgle!


andgle, fantastic workaround!

andgle, thanks for your excellent solution to my original post.

My example was from an Orlando Gibbons Fantazia.

For fun, here’s an autograph example from a famous piece by a composer who was admired by all his contemporaries and has never gone out of vogue since the day he died: Chopin Etude op 10 no 3 (1833). How nice and neat it is without all those ties in the left hand!

goldberg, if I may ask, from which Gibbons Fantazia?

I know about 9 Fantazias in three parts and some in six parts (your score example seems to have more than three parts, judging by the bar lines).
If one has a look at an early edition of the three part Fantazias (from around 1620): no barlines at all - and so no tied-over notes…

Fantazia 2.png

I felt challenged and put 3-part Fantazia 2 into Dorico - no barlines, as in the first print (and obviously also the ms.). It was really easy, this is from the score:

Poor Tchaikovsky didn’t like Bach’s music either, so clearly he wouldn’t like the noble music of Johannes Brahms.

A musicologist claimed, that Brahms’s music incorporates a feeling of constant fatigue.
Oh dear…
ps: I do like Brahms :wink:

I enjoy playing Brahms. There are composers whose music I don’t much care for but I don’t really understand not even being able to look at music you don’t like. Actually I don’t understand detesting certain music. But I suppose someone who does would simply say I’m not passionate enough about music. And perhaps that is a reasonable criticism. But I think of Lang Lang and his gestures to the sky or touching his heart while playing and think…do you really have to overtly make sure everyone knows how moved you are by the music.