Can you move single notes vertically without changing the pitch? Or, as a different solution to my problem: can you have notes floating above the staff without ledger lines?
Why would you want to? A fundamental principle of our notation system is that pitch is somehow related to vertical position. How much it changes is contingent on the chosen tonal system, but the basic principle is invariant.
You can hide ledger lines: in Engrave mode (Dorico Pro only). In the properties panel, under Notes and Rests, there is an option for it.
@pz22 can you explain your use case? As @Janus says, it does not make any sense in the staff notation system we use. Do let us know. If the note floats, how would a musician know what to play? If you are actually writing for unpitched instruments that is a different matter. Often giving some context helps us answer.
It sounds to me like the OP wants to make rhythmic cues.
@Mark_Johnson exactly what I was thinking. hence my query.
I thought the same except that the original post says “without changing the pitch.” If @pz22 meant for these notes to be cues, they would have no pitch.
Thanks for the suggestions, hiding ledger lines solved my problem, which was to indicate the duration of a fanned beam:
I still think that freely offsetting notes can be of value for contemporary composers, especially for modern tabulature notation or graphical scoring (e.g. notes with approximated pitch on a staff without lines…)
An alternative way of marking duration across something like a fanned beam would be to use a custom line, perhaps that’s similar to a tuplet bracket, with a center annotation comprising the relevant note duration glyphs.