Long-needed solutions to lyrics issues

I haven’t posted here in the forums for quite a while, but there is a bunch of issues I’ve asked about in the past that still have no good answer. Risking sounding repetitive, how difficult is it to solve these issues that concern both the way lyrics look and the way you can work with them? I’ve been looking at update after update for quite some time now, watching really good features being added to Dorico together with features with a discussible narrow use, and watching many problems being solved. Still, most lyrics issues keep being overlooked, or their solution keeps being postponed. Several of the issues I mention below are not rare: they keep showing up all the time when I work in Dorico, and I believe they show up as well to almost everyone that works often with vocal and choral music. And yes, I have noticed some solutions to lyrics issues, like them remaining in italic after being changed, but many are still unaddressed.

Here are some of the issues I would love to see solved, numbered for reference in eventual comments:

  1. Syllables in Galley View sometimes overlap horizontally when there is a system change in Page View, making them difficult to select for copying or erasing.

  2. Lyrics in Galley View often overlap vertically with pretty much everything; this happens often when there are multiple lines of lyrics, but even lyrics in a single line can overlap with notes in lower ledge lines and spaces (very common in the altos). This issue has exactly the same problem as the previous one: it makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to select lyrics to copy or to erase.

  3. Lyrics in Page View sometimes still overlap with other items, in particular with dynamics indications which are slightly unaligned vertically — is this issue related to the one of vertically overlapping systems?

  4. Hyphens separating syllables in words that go across different systems sometimes overlap with the syllables themselves (it looks like that happens when the syllable goes beyond the vertical limits of the system).

  5. Dealing with hyphens in first/second endings of repeat sections is quite time-consuming and requires some easily forgettable knowledge of fonts (I keep having to waste precious time looking for the solution). Much on this issue has been written in the forums.

  6. Marquee selecting lyrics often does not work because the start of the marquee rectangle (where you click) is too close to a bar or some item and that bar/item is immediately selected, preventing the marquee rectangle from appearing (I wonder if it isn’t possible to program the marquee to always work as long as you keep pressing the mouse button, selecting an item only if you unpress the button?)

  7. Marquee selecting lyrics often select just some of the syllables inside the marquee rectangle, even though many other syllables are clearly inside it. This causes the action of selecting lyrics to be needlessly performed more than once, and often several times.

These are the issues that come to my head: there might be others I don’t remember right now. I know that some of the issues are not that simple to solve, in that the changes would probably add to the computing time, or that they depend on things outside Dorico (like fonts). Still, there are plenty of Dorico features that make Dorico heavier and are not used by many, and there are ways Dorico can work around problems. I also know that some of the issues I mention have manual work-arounds, but these are often time-consuming and sometimes even unfeasible. As an example, increasing the vertical space between staves in Galley View helps prevent vertical overlaps, but that solution becomes much less handy if you have many staves in a system and you start needing to scroll up and down often. I’m not asking here how I can solve these issues myself manually: I’m asking the powers that be that such solutions won’t be needed any longer.

All in all, I do think Dorico could and should be better in the notation aspect of music writing, and that both working with lyrics and the way lyrics look in the score are two very important parts of that aspect. After some years of being a content user I am still waiting for Dorico to be the amazing music notation software I was promised it would be. It might be so for some users, but I doubt those work often with vocal and choral music.

You seem to have answered your own question. We each have things we dearly would like to have made automatic, but I would imagine the Dorico Team does market research to determine which features among those presently accessible are worth spending time on now.

I think Galley view is designed for entering notes, probably not so much for editing lyrics.

IIRC #4 and #5 are already on the Team’s radar.

If the marquee is not fine-grained enough for your needs in #6 and #7, using the Filtering option in Edit might be a lot easier.

Thank you for your input.

I can imagine that Galley View was designed mainly for entering notes. However, entering lyrics is always needed when you work with vocal music, which is something many people do, and often takes more time and work than entering notes. At the moment this process is somewhat cumbersome in both Galley and Page View, and I wish it were less so in the former.

As for the issues regarding the look of the score (#3 to #5, but mainly #4), I think my request is not unreasonable: they are not just aesthetic issues, but of readability as well, and it is my opinion that they should have been addressed right from the moment they were discovered.

As for the Filtering option in Edit, it is very handy for operations with large chunks of music, but much less so when you are doing it very often with small chunks.

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Galley View is not intended to reflect moves in Engrave Mode. That’s simply not what it is for. Some people may be unhappy with that but that’s how it is. If you are concerned about engraving adjustments why not edit in Page Mode?

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Marquee selecting lyrics often select just some of the syllables inside the marquee rectangle, even though many other syllables are clearly inside it

Have you tried clicking on a lyric syllable and using Select More (cmd-shift-A)?

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Galley View doesn’t calculate collisions, because it would have to do so for the entire flow, rather than just one system. The whole point of it is to enter stuff without worrying about layout.

I agree that initial hyphens on systems can sometime collide: though there is now an option to remove the hyphen before the first syllable, which is the standard many publishers use.

Two way of selecting lyrics that might help instead of marqueeing them:

Use Select More. Once will select all the lyrics in that bar; twice will select all in the system; thrice the whole flow. You can also select the first syllable, then Command-click the last syllable, and Select More will select all the syllables in-between!

Create shortcuts for the Filter. I normally select the notes (which also selects the lyrics), and then I do a quick Command F, followed by L for lyrics. (Other sequential letters filter other elements.)

I also have a shortcut for Select to End of Flow, which is useful.

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This is a good idea. You can also leverage the jump bar. In my case, “J, fl” for filter lyrics. Possibly even faster than using command f.

Also, you can experiment with changing the default vertical spacing values for galley view. You can increase them in the settings, which will likely take care of some of your collision issues. The default value is somewhat conservative for some types of music.

You can increase the gaps between staves in galley view for the whole layout; when you’re working on music with lots of lyrics, it might make sense to set this to something very large to accommodate them better.

As other responders have said, Dorico performs no collision avoidance in galley view, whether that’s horizontal or vertical: that’s by design, as it’s more for “getting the music in” rather than “making the music look nice” (which is what page view is for). If you’re working on a layout with lots of players and flows, galley view would need to keep updating collisions for all staves in all flows, all the time.

If Tiago is using so many staves that expanding staff-spacing in Galley mode would push staves off the screen, that suggests page view would show only one system per page, which means it might allow Tiago more flexibility setting both staff and note spacing such that Page View would be easier to manage for note and lyric entry in this case than Galley would.

I realize this method is not without some compromises caused by page breaks, but I usually prefer it unless I am dealing with players holding multiple instruments.

Thank you all for your input on this topic. The rare unenlightened exception non-withstanding, your comments ranged from the rather helpful to the really good advice. I was not aware of the Select More method and especially of this method after selecting the first and last syllable of a chunk of lyrics in the same line: I will need to get used to it, but I believe it will improve my work flow. I will have to dig deeper into the suggestions for shortcuts to filters as well, especially with sequential keystrokes: if this works as I hope it does, it will also be a big time saver for me. (Is there a place to really dig into all that shortcuts can offer?)

I still would like to see issues #4 (overlapping hyphens) and #5 (second endings) being dealt with at some time in the near future, though. Removing the hyphen before the first syllable in a system doesn’t solve the problem of overlapping hyphens after the last syllable in a system — and even if it is used by some publishers as a standard, in my opinion that is a poor choice. The issue with second endings is also one which has problems beyond the scope of lyrics, like the ones with with ties and slurs, and thus would make many more users happy than just vocal/choral composers and arrangers if it were solved.

Once again, thank you for all the good advice.

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I wish the Select More trick (whereby you click on one thing, then Ctrl-click on a later instance of the same sort of thing, then Select More to select all those Things within that range) worked with individual lines of lyrics!


Indeed: I just tried it and it selects all the lines of lyrics. Selecting just one line would be really handy to copy lyrics, and if you want all the lines you could press Select More once again.

If you work a lot with lyrics, I suggest you create shortcuts to select lyrics from line 1 (mine is something like F12), line 2 (F13)… You get my point. Quite useful and very efficient.

The one failure here is hymnal work, where the option to filter only goes up to 5 lines. I could honestly use up to 10. It’s pretty rare that I inflict that many verses under music, but it does happen, and happened just the other day. Then if, for whatever reason, I decide that it’s necessary to remove a middle verse, moving all the subsequent verses up accordingly becomes a real pain.

Edit: I’d be happy if verses beyond, say, 6 (which is not uncommon) were not available in the context menu, but only via custom commands and the jump bar.

Do you have / have you tried larger gaps after every third verse?

I did read somewhere that our brains see patterns in threes more easily than other groupings, e.g. the most legible way to display rows of data in tables is to shade every third row.

As a singer, I can guarantee you that I’ll sing the wrong line if there are more than three! :rofl:

Oh! That poor congregation! :grimacing:

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Reminds me of my dad’s funeral. We called it “the hymn that wouldn’t die.” :grinning:

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Absolutely. I am very adamant on grouping chunks of lyrics and adding dividing lines. I will often even do 2 & 2 for hymns with only 4 verses.

In fairness to me, it is very rare that I ever do more than 4 or 5. But every once in a while, especially for chants that are perhaps less familiar to the congregation, I still keep underlayment for subsequent verses. For instance, we sang Of the Father’s Love Begotten on Christmas Eve before Midnight Mass. While it is not ‘hard’, it is certainly less familiar to this congregation, so I wanted to keep all the verses paired to the music, rather than adding the last few in text blocks below. Sometimes you can remember the ark of a chant melody, but sometimes forget where groupings of 2’s and 3’s fall. A perfect example of this was our recent singing of Veni Creator Spiritus. (As an aside, I’d like to note here that the verse spacing is looser than I typically offer, but I wanted people to have plenty of room to follow the Latin without it being too dense.)

As I said, it’s extremely rare that I put that many in front of a congregation. It only happens a few times a year and there is usually a peculiar reason. Usually, if it’s something like 10 verses (Good Friday veneration of the cross, for instance) and the worship aid can accommodate it, I’ll present the music twice in two columns, where each column only gets 5 verses.

The main reason I need this filtering is actually for data management. I keep a file on every hymn tune that we use. I set it up with a vocal stave (melody alone) and a choir reduction. I use the full score only for data entry. Then the melody version for the congregation and the choir each have their own engraved layouts. My working model is to have the first flow in any file present the music only, so it is easily copied whenever I want to set an alternate text, which is very common for us. Then each additional flow is a version of that tune with a different paired text.

That said, when I go input a hymn text, I typically try to source the original / most ancient version of the text readily available. Modern hymnals often strip away much of the good poetry of yore (frequently the best bits!), especially if those hymnals have a liberal bent to them. So I will create one flow that incorporates the entirety of the original text, which may indeed include 10 verses. Certain Anglican poets were prodigious (I mean this in the best way!). I may then copy this flow with all the original data, and pare it down for whatever our current liturgical needs are. But it could very well be that I want to do vs. 1,2,3, 7,9 of the original. Well, this is where things get tricky. Filtering vs. 6,8,&10 out of the copied version is not without its difficulties. More comprehensive (ie- specific numbers above 5) filtering would be very helpful to me.

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Out of curiosity how did you do the underline between verses 4 & 5? It doesn’t look like underlined text. Is it a line or what.
BTW, I had to engrave a hymn for a client the other day that had, I kid you not, 18 verses. Fortunately it was only about 4 measures long.

All I do is shift-x text a few long dashes ——— and decrease the character spacing to a negative value so it renders as one line. Alt-click in a few copies and nudge in engrave mode.

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