I’m needing to add narration to a large orchestral work. I’ve read the MET posts and have my own ideas about how I’m going to do this in Dorico, but I’d like to hear from others. What has worked best for you?

I assume I’ll need to do casting off in the score first, then add the narration as text blocks. I’m especially wondering what others have done for the narrator part layout (narrator is musically literate).

I assume that with narration you mean a longer text talked over music where the text is not bounded to notes but bounded to a specific time (number of bars).
If so then this is something I need quite often for my Musicals scores.

I found using lyrics to be the best tool for this.

  1. Lyrics can be written at any position in a bar even if there is no notation.
  2. Lyrics can contain whole sentences
  3. You can add several lines using Lyric lines

Using lyrics allows to keep the narration always at the right time position.
The only inconvenience is that one has to be aware of the fact that the amount of text that can be written over a specific number of bars is not the same in a full score and in a part.
One has to find a compromise which fits for both full score and parts and also take care that bars are not separated.

Here is an example from The wizard of Oz where the performers have a dialogue and the narrator (Erzähler) a story to tell.


Wow, this is really helpful, thank you. I wondered if this post might end up being a bit fruitless, but I hadn’t even considered doing it the way you’re suggesting. I’ll definitely try it.

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I ended up doing it with block text. Seems to work pretty well:


Is “block text” a us version of text frames?
For this kind of text, I would use staff text, so that it remains anchored to the music, and doesn’t add any override. And it can be hidden, if another version of it is needed in the part (different anchor, line breaks…)

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It’s staff text, a new boxed style.


Hi, thank you for all the examples. How to do best for spacing so that the music leaves enough space for text and collisions are avoided automatically? if I need for example a bar width to be very large, ore the distance of two system must be bigger and so on? Would like if there are some automatic spacing for the text (system text) without going to engrave and move manually all the staves and the bar widths…Thank you for any suggestion.


Provided you use staff- or system-attached text, Dorico will move staves and systems apart on its own, but you might still find that you need to get in there and make adjustments, as this kind of complex layout is quite difficult to satisfactorily automate, at least with the functionality currently included in Dorico.

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Thank you Daniel for your response (i have forgotten to answer previously, sorry). I see that Dorico spaces the staves/system when I add for example staff text. It would be great if the text box (boxed staff text) could also adjust automatically the bar wideness (orizontally). For example I tried out to make an empty treble staff for the Narrator (so that I can have text and cues! :-). I know that I can use Note spacing Changes and drag in Engrave Mode the bar lines to expand/contract the bars. But my wishes would be:

-to be able to create text boxes that automatically adjust the bar width
-and also have an option to center vertically the text in the middle of the 5 lines (instead of dragging it manually in engraving).
-An that this option will be propagate to the Narrator part.

Now it is very much manual work. I really love Dorico and I hope in the future to have more options for a Narrator text acting a little like music (-adjusting automatically the width of the bar following how much text is in there, -center the text in the middle of the staff, -and have this properties propagate to the part)

In sib***** this is less work (but of course there are other many messy things is sib***** that I hate :slight_smile:

I attach an example of what I tried to accomplish manually in Dorico (example 1) and the score that I made using sib***** (example 2)

Any suggestions how can I write narrator text with less effort or manual adjusting?
Thank you!

example 1.pdf (64.6 KB)

example 2.pdf (89.9 KB)

It’s ok, you can say it. :wink: Sibelius Sibelius Sibelius…