Microtonal Notation

Hello all,

up to now, I’ve used Sibelius to write my scores of Arabian music that use quarter notes. Looking at the accidentals available from Dorico, I don’t see accidentals for half flat or half raised notes. Did I look at the wrong place?

Thanks in advance


I havn’t yet explored this much myself, but if you open the Key signature panel on the right hand side in Write mode, you can define your own tuning system and accidentals with the + button.

If you change from ‘Equal temperament (12-EDO)’ to 'Equal temperament (24-EDO) in the dropdown menu, you should see a bunch of quarter tone accidentals in the bottom of the panel.

In Write mode, pull out the Key Signatures, Tuning Systems and Accidentals menu, from the right. Quarter-tone accidentals will only show up in the bottom of the menu if the tuning system support them. By default, this would be the Equal temperament with 12 divisions of the octave. If you switch to a 24-EDO system, already available in the dropdown menu at the top, quarter-tone accidentals show up.

By default, these will be the Gould “arrow” accidentals. You can change the glyphs used on a per accidental basis by editing the tuning system.

Thanks for your replies. I found the accidentals for the 24-EDO system, but it’s not really easy/intuitive to use them … I’ll keep trying:

Finally, I managed to define a custom key. It looks OK in concert key, but when I add a Bb soprano saxophone (my instrument) the transposition of the quarter tone accidentals isn’t correct. Maybe I didn’t do it correctly or misunderstood something, or there is a bug.

See attached screen shot.

E. g.in the Oud (notated in concert key) score, there is a quarter-tone flat E and a quarter-tone flat B. Transposed to a Soprano in Bb, that corresponds to a quarter-tone flat F#, i. e. a quarter-tone sharp F. Idem the quarter-tone flat B corresponds to a quarter-tone sharp C.

But Dorico calculates a quarter-tone sharp E and B.

Go figure.

Is it a Dorico bug or is it my fault?

I talked to Michael, the developer who worked on this part of the program, about this to be sure I wasn’t misunderstanding.

When transposing a key signature involving microtonal accidentals, the program tries to maintain the same intervallic relationship between the accidentals, which it does here by taking the equivalent of quarter-tone flat (-1/24 divisions), which is quarter-tone sharp (1/24 divisions, or -23/24 divisions).

One possible way you could influence what the program does here is to create your own 24-EDO tonality system, and exclude the quarter-tone sharp accidental that looks like the natural with the arrow pointing up from it, as Dorico should then figure out that it can use the equivalent accidental for the staff position above or below in the key signature instead. I’m not sure if you would consider this an acceptable approach.

Thanks for your explanation I I don’t really understand.

Still, the transposition from C concert to Bb instrument Dorico makes is just plain wrong!

I hoped Dorico 2 would solve this problem, but it still persists …

In Sibelius it’s quite difficult to write non-common keys, but at least it transposes correctly.

Here’s the Sibelius version: