Multitemporal Music in Dorico


Since getting Dorico recently I’ve been interested to explore its flows architecture to experiment with music in which there are multiple simultaneous metres and tempi. I’m wondering if anyone has done this already, or whether in general people might have some thoughts about various methods. I’ve attached three examples.

  1. Feldman’s Crippled Symmetry. I think this would be easy to fake with three instruments within one flow as he wants the bar lines to align even if the notes don’t in performance / empirically.

  2. Stockhausen’s Gruppen. Just a random page

  3. Birtwistle’s Theseus Game Gruppen. Just another random page

I’m more interested in the Stockhausen and Birtwistle examples because you can more precisely indicate durational relations in the spacing of the music on the page.

Two quick questions come to mind:
– Can you create lines that will connect different flows, as with Karlheinz?
– Can you create cut-away staves in Dorico, either going in or out, or just a single bar in the middle of a page?

But other more general questions:
– How will Dorico manage note spacing of superimposed flows? Can you still edit note spacing for each one?
– Will playback work for all flows?
– How would part extraction work if you had one instrument that appears in different flows, if temporal groupings appear throughout a piece?

Anyhow, maybe its more interesting to talk in general about it than get too specific too soon.


PS score extracts are taken from my uni’s online library available during the lockdown and screenshots I found online :slight_smile:

Flows are independent stretches of music, so no: there is no way to make Dorico calculate common rhythmic columns for two or more flows, just because they’re in the same page. The question is not whether Dorico can “manage note spacing of superimposed flows” or “edit note spacing for each one”, but whether it will ever be able to. Dorico is simply not aware of the relationships between two different flows, so note spacing (and thus layout) will, of course, be done visually, as normal.

You cannot connect lines between disparate flows, not using the lines feature. Or do cutaway scores either, for the time being.

Although you might get away with doing multitempo stuff in different flows on the same page by eye (and a whole lot of patience; I’ve done it, albeit not in Dorico), I’m afraid the flows feature is not the answer to this notational problem.

(Crippled Symmetry should be totally fine, though there might be something in the score I’m not recalli by heart that might disqualify it)

Dorico cannot (yet) do cutaway scores.

Most folks who want different length measures to align use hidden tuplets to achieve this.

I tried something like this, more as a proof of concept - so I did only one page. It was hell of a work.
Playback is obviously not possible, but one can misuse the line feature. With adding/removing staves in flows and different flows, one could get to something like Stockhausen, I think. But it would involve a lot of effort and time in engrave mode.
From the John Barron in the Facebook Group:
“While some of these things you mention might be nice for other cases, I don’t think this is the way we’d do cutaway scores in the end.”

I was glad to read, that they think about a concept of cut-out scores, although he doesn’t specify at all of course :wink:

This is a copy of my text I posted with the picture:

After being told some time ago, that Dorico wouldn’t support Cutout scores, I thought I would give it a try.
Here are my findings
TL;DR: Well it is possible, but tedious atm. Some small improvements and features would make it quite easy though, and not more tiring than in other notation software I am experienced with.
So below you see a picture of one page of a piece of mine, which I am currently writing in said other notation software (and will be finishing it there, too).
First things first: I like the visual result of Dorico, although way more time consuming, is aesthetically more pleasing.
My attempt was using layout frames for each snippet, a master-page template with already the lines and instruments in it, as well as flows for each frame. All in all I sat several hours on this one page (ofc trying things out but still), which made me not continue it for now.
Findings (I will try to stay brief, but am happy to discuss further in the comments):
Most importantly: Copying things in Engrave mode is a must! A lot of frames are similar (same vertical or horizontal positions on the page). Needing to drag every frame, then entering numbers manually was just too time consuming for these things
Being able to copy properties! Certain things have similar properties (like my misused crescendos or arrows), which when copied are getting lost. Being able to copy properties of engrave mode and apply them to other objects is also crucial
Arrows, lines, etc… This could be an engrave-only option, and they could be treated similar to frames, meaning not adjustable in write mode. (as I would argue, Cutout-scoring is mostly engraving stuff)
Being able to chose bars in Layoutframes to start rom! Right now, one needs to create a new flow for every bar one wants to show. If I could chose the bar to start from for the layoutframe, I could simply lay out the piece normally in write mode and then only pick the right bars to display at certain positions.
Framecontents: The content of frames can only be chosen, when they are of a certain size. Below, there is no possibility. Maybe that should change to a drop-down menu available at all sizes, especially since frames cannot be copied it is getting annoying real quick.
Dynamic/Virtual playback: I know that playback is not a must-have for cutout scores, as no one is really expecting them, although it would still be awesome. I thought there maybe could be something similar to a „virtual“ playhead, scanning the page from left to right and playing back contents of layoutframes, as soon as it „sees“ them. But this is really neglectable, tbh.
This roughly sums up the most important parts, although I am sure I missed a bunch.
If I missed a feature that would resolve some of these issues, please let me know, and I will stand corrected.
I would argue, if these things are implemented, cutout-scores are not more or less a pain then in other programs, maybe even easier, as you can integrate a lot of very nice dorico features (like layouts, master pages, flows, etc…)

I’d love an arrangement page for flows in the very distant future. Like DP’s chunks.

Dear klafkid,
From what I’ve read on Dorico’s birth, cutaway scores is an area they’ve been thinking about from the very beginning (along with condensing, cues, tab notation…) but that needs time to get right. It will probably show in due time, and will probably astonish us all (again).

An idea could be to insert an anchor to the beginning of a flow in any point of a music flow. The anchored flow would start when the anchor is reached.


Yes, I am sure it will be. maybe not in Dorico 4 yet. I just wanted to show that, with a lot of effort, one could get something in this direction already.

EDIT: Condensing was another aspect which Dorico had in mind from the very beginning, and they nailed it! So I am not bitter at all about cut-out scores, rather excited!