Negative bar numbers

Do you know how to insert negative bar numbers at the beginning of a flow?
Even a trick like “add a - character in before the number” would work for me, but I can’t find a way.

Just out of interest, and with no judgment, is negative bar numbers a thing?

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It happens from time to time for film music. Depending on the composer and the score editor working habits.

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I don’t doubt they exist, but could you explain what they mean? What is is about cinema scoring that requires negative numbers?

They do not have real musical meaning… they only exist because the DAWs allow it.

The composer may have added 3-4 bars at the begining of a cue, or it may come from a music editing that was not shifted to bar one.
If the assistant or the score editor wants it, we shift everything to bar 1 or elsewhere. But if the sessions are shared with negative bars and no instructions (-1 to -3, rarely more)… we keep them to be sure to be all in tune on recording session.

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Surely this can be handled with a bar number change (to bar 1) where the original start was. Remove bar numbers from the inserted section and (if really necessary) re-number using system text

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In some of the musicals I have played in, there would occasionally be bars inserted at the start of a musical item (for a longer introduction, for example, or even just to extend a scene change). So as not to necessitate re-numbering the pre-existing bars, these extra bars would usually be labelled as A, B, C, D, etc.


Short answer: No.
Negative time intervals always have the same problem: Is there a bar 0? Is –1 the bar before that? When counting down negative numbers, does –1 mean more than 1 bar from the start or less than 1? To my mind it doesn’t work. A B C D is much better.

Thank you for this suggestion! Even if it’s not perfect, it’s already clear and presentable :+1:

The question isn’t “are negative bars are good or not?”. I agree with you, it’s better not to have them.

But I have no choice, it’s part of the job. Yes, there is a bar 0, like in DAWs or math. For example, it could be -2, -1, 0, 1, 2…
And since negative bars in DAWs are not letters, I need to have negative numbers, exactly the same as the DAW session so that the conductor, the instrumentalists and technical team can communicate easily.

I’ve done it dozens of times in France, UK, Germany, Macedonia… it was never a problem, I just want to do it properly in Dorico.

As of right now the answer is that you can’t. You’d have to fudge it with system text or something.

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