Not possible to save note grouping settings

When I change the note group settings and save them as default, the changes is not registered when I create a new project. I have also made a new template and saved it with the changed note group settings. When I create a new project, the group settings are back to the factory settings.

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Can you attach your template and list a few settings that you have set?

I hope to get help with this soon.

I am also finding that I have to reset these note grouping preferences in every project, and every flow. I haven’t investigated thoroughly yet.

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I haven’t encountered this, but I haven’t changed my Note Grouping settings in years so perhaps it’s a newer bug. You can always manually confirm your settings and make sure they are updating correctly. These settings are stored in the notationOptions.xml file in your user folder. The noteGroupingOptions context is at the very top and as most settings have only 2 options, most are a simple true or false. Compare the two and if your notationOptions.xml file isn’t updating correctly, just manually edit it. (Make a backup first of course.)

I would like to add my frustration with this annoying element of Dorico. I find that even when I change the Note group settings to what I want (essentially the same as the screen shot above) I not only can’t save it as a default for new projects, I find that it doesn’t even work in the project that I’m in.

I don’t think I should have to go to the notationsOptions.xml file in a separate user folder to be able to adjust settings that are intended to be set in the actual program. I’m perplexed that the default setting for note groupings is to split at the half bar. In all music I’ve ever read or written, when I want a dotted quarter note time value, I want to have it represented as a dotted quarter note. Same goes for the half note and every other dotted rhythm.

I learned how to manually force the duration in a previous email exchange, but I don’t understand why there is supposedly an option to set preferences for note groupings provided in the system if it isn’t actually possible to save/use one’s preferred settings?

Adding some screen shots – the settings are set to what I want, but still I have to manually force duration every. single. time. Any suggestions for a workaround that doesn’t require fiddling with external files (and risking crashing the whole thing from incompetence?)

If the syncopation in the final measure shown is what you are referring to, the reason you do not automatically see two sixteenths followed by a quarter note is that the two sixteenths prevent Dorico from recognizing the syncopation. The same situation would occure in 4/4 if a half note straddling mid-measure was preceded or followed by anything but a quarter note.

I know you do not like this and do not want to keep switching to Forced Duration, but for now that is the solution to seeing what you want.

I actually agree that Dorico should learn to recognize the syncopation, and I suspect the Development Team would too; but when a put my semi-pro programmer hat on and try to think how one would define the situation to distinguish a syncopation starting with two sixteenths followed by a quarter from the same situation where a syncopation was not intended, I can see why the current dilemma exists.

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With respect, Derrek,

the settings in the top screen shot should make it so that it is possible to have the two tied eighth notes be recognized as a quarter note.

I’ve never encountered any music notation program (or written music for that matter) that would have the default setting be to split those notes – and honestly it barely qualifies as “syncopation” to have a quarter note follow two sixteenths. Dorico has apparently made the choice to use this unusual notation style as the default rather than leaving the choice up to the person actually writing the music – e.g. when I type “quarter note” it means that I would like to see a “Quarter note” — rather than having the program decide that it wants to divide the note value to represent what it thinks in the correct way for it to be viewed.

The kicker is that there is a panel in the notation settings where it is supposedly possible to adjust these settings. However, as the OP and I have both experienced, it isn’t actually possible to get these settings to change sucessfully.

The “correct” beaming of your final bar is a slightly controversial opinion in this particular case, at least among notation geeks. My own opinion follows what Carl Rosenthal writes (IIRC) in the very underrated book A Practical Guide to Music Notation for Composers, Arrangers and Editors (1967), where he allows for a “2” of any 1-2-1 rhythm that fills a bar, even if the 1’s are divided into smaller groupings.

This means that the same exact rhythms may be written differently in 2/4 and 4/4 based on whether the eye can see the 1-2-1 division of the bar. All bars in the example below are notated correctly, following these guidelines:

As I said, this is a somewhat debated opinion, but the last bar in your example just seems fussy to me the way Dorico does it, when two 16ths - quarter- eighth is perfectly legible to the reader. Once that rhythm is in 4/4 though, it’s a bit trickier for the sightreader, and so needs the subdivision.

Dorico doesn’t really support this AFAIK without using Force Duration currently, but I completely agree that it should.


Thank you FredGUnn for a thoughtful reply.

I submit a snapshot from Gardner Read, Music Notation: A manual of Modern Practice.

He uses the same term “fussy” that you do, so that’s a nice bit of parallel word harmony there. the thing is that this piece isn’t notated in 4/4, it’s in 2/4.

It is also worth noting that Rosenthal publishes in 1967 and Read in 1979 — well before modern digital music engraving programs like were invented. Likewise, Elaine Gould in Behind Bars (2011) is known to not deal with digital engraving at all. Gould doesn’t specifically mention note groupings, but her section on the correct shape of ties provides some indication of her thinking which seems to skew toward using ties rather than dotted notes (though not explicitly).

I think the larger question is about what audience Dorico is created to serve – which is of course directly tied to the market that will be served by this product and will therefore pay for it. It would seem that the marketable audience is composers of Western music – for orchestra/ensemble, for film, for other commercial purposes.

That is of course a logical and sensible business decision.

But it does leave out an entire audience of folks who work in folk or trad. music. Would those folks pay $600+ for an engraving program?? Maybe not, and surely Steinberg has done the market research on this and decided that there’s no business case for serving that audience.

What would be nice, though, is to have some acknowledgement that Dorico isn’t interested in catering to these other audiences – vast though they may be. Instead, I find myself regularly confronted with lengthy conversations to find convoluted workarounds for things that are bog standard in every other music engraving program I’ve worked with.

Another example of this is adjusting distance between staves – If I add a Section letter, Dorico has no compunction about moving a system down to avoid a collision (because it usually places the letter above a chord symbol), but if I move the letter out of the way, I then have to go in and manually readjust every system to get them to be even again. I assume that there is some setting I can adjust to force the letters to be in one place or another, but after my experience with not being able to reliably save note grouping settings I just don’t want to bother with trying to fix something with a fiddly setting that I’m going to have to re-do for every flow when I can just move things around in the wysiwyg egraving panel, and when I don’t think that letter placement will always be in the same place.

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I don’t know if this helps, but whenever you change a setting, you have to press apply before you can save as default.

Ha, it’s entirely possible that phrase was residing in the back of my brain somewhere. I think I literally read that book cover to cover in the 90s when I was starting out as a copyist, and of course have consulted it countless times since.

It doesn’t really seem to be fitting with the “Dorico way” for a user to run a subroutine to fix the spacing. That said, this certainly should be automated in some way as the computer certainly is capable of giving a better starting point than we get now after moving the rehearsal mark. There definitely needs to be better handling when multiple elements like this all occur on the same beat.

Hi Janus,

Yup – definitely tried that. Still doesn’t work. And I just haven’t been able to figure out how to get this to save as a default to apply to all scores that I create.

If I could, it would just have been a one-time thing that I was able to work around and then forget. I had high hopes that the Dorico 4 “template” feature would solve this issue, but this and other theoretically adjustable, saveable settings just doesn’t seem to stick. It has become one of those annoying things that I have to try to fiddle with every time I’m making a score. Plus, because I don’t seem to be able to save the settings I want in templates, I’m still doing the highly dangerous thing of using “save as” as a template workaround. This means that incremental improvements/changes aren’t consistent across multiple scores, leading to retroactive error-prone copy editing and proof reading.

I happen to work in a medium that has lots of one-page lead sheets so this is a chronic problem that will add extra work to creating folios.

nice about the Read quote!

Re adjusting staves, it is barely possible to select several staves and move them up together, but the downside is that whenever you do so, you’ve made an override to the page template, and if you ever want to re-set the page templates you end up having to do it all over again. Sucks. I know that Sibelius has a lot of faults, but the automation of this particular issue made it really easy to reformat systems in lead sheets once chord symbols and section markers had been moved out of the way.

Garner Read’s example involves substituting dotted notes for a quarter tied to an eighth and nowhere carries over the mid-point of the measure, which is a completely different situation than your original example.

I would agree that using a syncopated half to cross mid-measure should be possible (without forced duration), but until one can figure out how to program it without causing chaos, the Team is justified in holding back.

Hi Derrek,

I see where you’re coming from, but if you refer to both the original poster and my own screen shot from earlier in this thread, you will see that there is a whole section:

Library > Notation > Note Groupings

that purports to allow the user to choose precisely these options. If this was such a staggering code problem to overcome, how is it that I can do it easily in Sibelius, and why is it that Dorico offers it as an option?

What both the OP and I have both experienced is that it isn’t possible to get Dorico to reliably do what it says that it can do, and we both seem to have found it difficult/impossible to save these settings even within the same file, never mind as a permanent settings change.

With regard to ideas about the “right” way to notate music, different musical traditions have different conventions. In the tradition I work in, this kind of notation (i.e. using dotted notes rather than ties, even (gasp!) across beats) has been done since the late 19th century. Orchestral musicians may not be able to reliably interpret that kind of notation, but many/most trad musicians would prefer it. I’m assuming this is why Dorico purports to offer this option.

What I think we’re both asking for is for the Dorico team to investigate to see whether this is a glitch, or, if not, to provide more clear instructions on how — precisely — to make both global/file setting changes so that the “dotted” version is the default unless otherwise noted.