Making the Switch - A few questions

Hi everybody,

I bought Dorico 1 the day it came out and have been following its development with great excitement over the last years, as well as realizing some smaller projects in it. However, as I’m writing mainly full orchestral music, I needed the condensing feature to finally make the switch.
With its arrival in version 3, I’m very tempted to switch for good. As I work mainly in the film scoring world where work speed is everything, I tried to set up a template that follows the usual layout standards. I got quite far into getting everything I want by watching YT videos and reading this forum but there are still a few things left that I failed to create where I hope to get some help from the collective mind.

(see attached pictures for what I’m trying to achieve)

1. Tempo Change Difference

I’d like to show the difference to the previous tempo in brackets, e.g. in the picture the preivous tempo was q=105. How can I add this suffix to the metronome mark?

2. Note Length of dotted half+8th

I’d like the standard way of this note length in 4/4 to be displayed as shown in the picture (for indications of breathes or cut-off-points). Dorico ties it as half+dotted quarter. As I use this quite often: is there a way to make dorico show this note length by standard without always needing to use “Force Duration”?

3. Bar Numbers above Strings

I like to see the bar numbers above the strings rather than below. I am able to create bar numbers at this place in the desired layout. However, I’d like to make vertical space for them which I fail to do. Is there a way to set the staff distance for this gap globally without needing to adjust it for every page by hand in the Engrave Options?

(continued in next post due to attachment limit)


4. Slightly bigger Time Signatures in Parts

I’d like to see slightly larger time signatures in Parts and the standard “huge” film score time signatures in the Score. The latter one I could achieve without problem but I only found the option to manually scale all time signatures in the parts. Is there a more global way of doing that?

5. Staff Labels in Percussion Part

I’d like to create a Percussion Part as shown in the picture. I fail to find an option of showing the staff labels.

Thanks for your help!


  1. I would simply add as system text. Lots of flexibility, and it’ll display in all parts. You might find success with Metrico (you can search the forum for that).

  2. Have you explored the options in Layout Options—Bat Numbers? There are some options regarding vertical space.

  3. Yes: Engrave Menu—Font Styles. You can increase the time sig font there.

  4. Layout Options—Staves and Systems. There you can set layout-specific options for staff labels.

  1. You’ll need to look at the options in Notation Options > Note Grouping to see if you can set things as you want them. If those don’t help, then it’s Force Duration all the way!
    Bear in mind Notation Options are per Flow, so make sure all Flows have the same options.

Thanks for the quick replies, these solved 3 of the issues I had.

Yeah, they seem to have no effect in making vertical space.

I’ve been going through these options before but there’s none that influences this particular case, so I need to live with Force Duration (for now?)

Thanks again!

I would ideally like to see Dorico better handle Robin’s case 2 with defaults as well - it is very common in orchestral music to do that sort of thing.

Robin, you’ve been ably assisted by other users today, but I wanted to just drop in a couple of thoughts of my own:

  1. I’ve not seen this convention before, even in the various film/TV scores and parts I’ve seen. Can you say a bit more about where this convention came from? In theory we could add automatic support for this kind of thing, but I find it a bit hard to judge how important it is.

  2. If you’re in a time signature with a half-bar like 4/4, none of the default Notation Options allow you to hide the half-bar in this way, even though I agree it’s clear enough in practice. For the time being, at least, you’ll have to use Force Duration. (You can of course copy and paste such music with forced durations, and then use Lock Durations to repitch it.)

  3. Dorico doesn’t currently leave any extra space for staves above which bar numbers are shown, but I’ll make a note of this for future consideration.

  4. Assuming you want to show time signatures at system object positions or centred on brackets in the full score layout, then the advice you’ve received is correct: edit the ‘Time Signatures Font’ font style to make it larger, which will affect any time signatures drawn in the “normal” position.

  5. Again, the advice you’ve received for using the Staves and Systems page of Layout Options seems to be on the money to me.

Daniel, I think #1 is used by some in the film industry. I am sure Tim Davies mentions it in several places (which I could not pin down this evening as it may be in his Extremem Aussie Orchestration video) but an example of it appears in a screen shot at

Robin: something you might find useful is @pianoleo came up with a procedure to add bar lines to a blank stave. If you don’t mind having a stave (ex. a single line stave) that the bar numbers appear on instead of floating in midair, you could use his procedure, since that should ensure you automatically get enough space above:

Also, Daniel, I am wondering whether for Robin’s #2 concern it might make sense to actually add a note attribute like “clarify cut-off” which could automatically add a tie to an eighth? Sort of like the way the new harmonics and l.v. are handled? The case that he shows is where he really just wants a dotted half note but wants a clean cutoff. It might even be easier to have an attribute, since very often when I am doing orchestral scores, I will first write the note values I want, then later go back when I am finalizing everything and add the tie to the eighth to clarify the cut-off points. If I could select a bunch of notes and just choose an option to “clarify cut-off” and have it automatically add the tie and eighth, it would save that extra work. It is just a thought that occurred to me.

mducharme, if you set your grid value to eighths/quavers, then it’s easy enough to grab a load of notes and then go Shift+Alt+Right arrow.

Yes, I do know that - I do that now, I love that feature and use it all the time. However, doing that with Robin’s dotted half note case would result in the engraving of the note completely changing due to the added eighth - it would become either a double dotted half, or a half tied to a dotted quarter, or some such thing. I just wondered whether it might make more sense as an attribute because then it could be treated as an exception to the notation grouping options, and the added eighth would always be tied to the previous value regardless of the notation options grouping settings - in other words it could ignore the tied eighth for purposes of engraving it. The tie and the eighth in this case is really an indicator to the player “cut off here precisely” as opposed to really being an eighth. Perhaps it doesn’t make sense, but I just wanted to share the idea anyway.

In the absence of such an attribute, add one additional step to my suggested method:

  1. Select notes.
  2. Hit O.
  3. Set grid value to eighth.
  4. Shift+Alt+Right arrow.

FWIW I think such an attribute needs further consideration. It could get confusing if you decide you want to change a note value later on. I wonder if it might be a case for (yet another) View > Note and Rest Colors option.

Thanks so much everybody for all your helpful input! Also, thank you Daniel for joining in!

I’d say it is quite common in modern film scoring and “sight reading” situations as it makes life for conductor and players easier to have a better feeling for an approaching tempo change. You can see this a lot in film scoring of the past decade or so, I pulled up an example from John Powell (see attachment) but have seen this alot in other recent scores. Especially in film scoring situations where hitting a hit point is usually achieved by altering tempi just slightly these things might create some more timing stability as the “scare factor” of seeing a new metronome mark is diminished if you get an indication of actually how much faster or slower it is and in cases of the common (+1) or (-2) it can be disregarded by the players entirely to consciously aim for a new tempo as it will automatically settle with the new click track.

As another reference here’s a template set for the two main competitors of Dorico for what is more or less standard in the film scoring world regarding layout: (with few alterations between Orchestrators but also between the US and European sessions)
I’m trying to build something like this with Dorico. There are still a few issues I need to dive into with creating my own Template in Dorico though but I think my colleagues and I who work in this field would appreciate if the stock Dorico Template for film scoring would be a little closer to this.

Thank you, not the biggest fan of this visually but might be a good compromise for the time being!

Thanks again for all the input!

Regarding number 4) about time signatures in parts that jut out above/below the staff, you should also be able to achieve this just by changing the layout option (although of course you can adjust the font as well if you like, and that might be preferable in some cases, i.e. for grand staff instruments like piano/harp).

In Layout Options, select the part layouts and then on the Time Signatures page, choose Show once per bracket. In part layouts with a single staff, this automatically makes time signatures a bit taller than the height of the staff. (This does then show a single large time signature in parts with multiple staves)

Yes, quite right, Lillie. That’s the proper way to do it, which I had forgotten.

Regarding #2:
Dorico’s way of automatically beaming notes according to the metre is one of my favourite features of the program. I love almost everything about it. I just wish there was more control over what it considers “correct”, especially in compound time. I know force duration exists, and its easy to use for the odd time I need it.

Just wondering if you have any plans to update the notation options for beaming/note grouping, either soon or at some point in the future? Not complaining, just legitimately curious.

You can manually set beam groupings for time signatures. Additive meters like 5/8 can be 2+3 or 3+2 so you can define it manually in Dorico by typing this into the meter popover.