Note input defaults to wrong octave. Bug? PEBCAC? Unwanted behaviour, that's for sure

So here I am, rearing to do some meticulous editing. The 8th note (quaver) is selected in the left panel.
I hit A on the keyboard, expecting to turn the crotchet into a quaver as the start of a run of eighth notes. What do I get? This!
Why? Why does Dorico think I want the A that’s an octave above?
The expected behaviour would be to turn the selected A into a quaver.
I know that Ctrl+Alt A would give me the lower octave, and I use that a lot, but here I don’t use it because I thought the rule is that Dorico will input the nearest note to the one selected. I don’t expect to get the higher A.
Is this a setting somewhere that I’ve overlooked? Am I doing something wrong? Is Dorico wrong?

The note just before is a E. This A is the closest note. Don’t look further. If I want the lower one, I have to type ctrl-A.

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Because it is the closest A to the previous E. You are adding a note, so Dorico’s reference point is the previous note.

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(Ctrl+Alt A, I think?)
I hear what you’re saying, but I think the selected note is closer than the adjacent note. Dorico should look at the selected note first (if there is one) before looking further afield.
Usually, when one is typing in music, there is nothing currently selected, to it makes sense to look backwards. But in this case, during editing, I think the current behaviour is wrong?

For instructions on how to have more control of the octave during note input, see here:

I see. So I haven’t overlooked an option somewhere.
In that case, please consider this a feature request: Dorico should distinguish between adding new notes and editing existing notes. When adding notes, looking at the previous one is fine. When editing (i.e. when a note is selected), look at the selected note.

It might be instead that you’re missing alternative tools that are perhaps even more helpful.

For example, if you want to take an existing crotchet and turn it into two quavers, see here – no re-input required at all

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Ok, that’s a good shortcut to learn for some cases!
But I think that in this case the distinction I’m asking Dorico to make would be correct.

I suppose you’re on PC. On mac, it’s definitely what I wrote (that’s why I wrote that I did it that way)
I’m not sure how that behavior can be called wrong. It’s the way it is, it’s predictable. Once you’ve set your mind around it (and not how you wish it could be, which would only result in a waste of energy) it’s fine :person_shrugging:
Or ask for a feature request :wink:
In any case, 5,R would be the easiest/fastest workflow here. Alt-U in case your rhythmic grid is the quaver. My 2 c: try not to fight the tool.

Also, there’s actually no need to touch the first A in your case above. Just move to the second quaver and add the next note. This will leave A as the first quaver.

Here’s a riddle. Everything we see is up-stem voice 1. I would now like to add an F# (above middle C), in the right hand, in down-stem voice 1.
Clearly I should press the F. But how can I know what F# will be entered when I do so?
With my suggestion, it is clear the F# on the top line of the staff will be entered if no modified keys are pressed.
But with the current Dorico system? It’s anyone’s guess.
So I really do think that my suggestion is more intuitive, and more rational: If a note is selected, that is the note that Dorico should be calculating from!
P.S. The answer is, without modified keys, if F is pressed, you get the following. I don’t know why, and, trying to use the advice given above, I pressed Ctrl+Alt F and got the F that is an octave too low.

When inputting into a new voice, Dorico will pick the octave closest to the default pitch for the prevailing clef - in this case, that’s the G on the second staff line up from the bottom, as denoted by the circle in the middle of the treble clef.

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Ah, okay. So that’s the logic. And it makes sense if nothing is selected.
But it’s pretty clear, I think (and no one here has actually argued with this, and I would be surprised if anyone did) that when a note is selected that note should act as the offset from which any new note is calculated.
That’s my feature request!

Actually I thought my earlier post did argue that. Dorico takes its reference for new note entry from the previous note in that voice. That works entirely consistently. Your assertion that when you select a note and want to add another note at the same grid position that is needs to be the nearest is simplistic.

Consider the following trivial example. I’ve decided I want to add a D in the lower voice…
Your method would give me one just a 4th below (ie wrong octave), but Dorico automatically puts it an 11th below because it references the previous note in that voice (E).

If I did want the 4th below, I would add it using shift-I -4 then press V to change the voice of the note. (There are many clever ways to do things in Dorico)


If you wanted the lower D, you can use a modifier key to get it, according to my suggestion.
Your example is convenient, but what if:
(1) the E was actually in a different voice than the D you’re about to enter? (Maybe it’s in a different voice by mistake. Stuff happens.)
(2) The E was (perhaps by mistake) in a new voice. @Lillie_Harris mentions that if this is the first note of a voice, it will start nearest the default position. But perhaps you’ve forgotten if this voice has actually been used or not.
(3) You know what voice you’re in, but the last note in that voice is off the screen and you can’t remember what it is. You’d need to scroll around just to find the last note (maybe a page or two away), possibly you’d need to switch on voice colours to be sure, then back to your current location, and all this just to figure out what will happen when you press E?

Compare this please (with an open mind) to my suggestion: If no note is selected, the current Dorico implementation is used. But if a note is selected, that is used as the offset. You can always tell, at a glance, what note will be added! Simple, intuitive, and consistent!

With the current system (which you seem to be in favour of), I suspect that in reality what most people do is just type the E, see what comes out, and then adjust the octave as needed. (Because although there are consistent rules, you need a fair amount of information [what voice am I in, what was the last note in that voice, where was it in the score] to calculate what will come out, and in many cases it is easier to type E and adjust the octave as needed.)

This begins to sound like “play silly games: win silly prizes.”

If you forget what you are doing or make a mistake (as we all do), it seems unrealistic to expect Dorico to read your mind and give you what you wanted rather than what you asked for.

Let me list another downside to your suggested method: let’s say Janus’s selected upstem note is an A, not a G. With the A selected you input a downstem D. The nearest D to the A is above the upstem A.

How often would you want that? A note in an up stem voice a fourth above the down stem voice, and nearly two octaves higher than the previous note in that voice.

I’m really not convinced this is a good feature request.

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Bear in mind that also with my suggestion the modifier keys can and should be used.
But the advantage is that whereas currently you have to be aware of what the last note in the voice was (and that may well be off-screen) to be able to predict what will happen, with my suggestion, when a note is selected, you know exactly what you’ll get, consistently, without needing any off-screen knowledge or puzzling the various combinatinos and permutations of voices/new voices/ adjacent notes.
And, pace @Derrek, I really don’t need Dorico to punish me because I happen to have forgotten what the last note was that I used in a certain voice that is off screen.

I’m really convinced this is a good feature request!

But the modifier key only takes the note down by one octave, which in my case is still an octave too high.

And please don’t suggest a different modifier key - there actually aren’t enough on Windows that aren’t already in use for something else.

I can predict what your suggested method would do in this case, and I can’t see a way of avoiding it without multiple steps to get the logical result - a note that is one tone from the previous note in that voice, which is on screen.

Not to mention that some of us have been using Dorico day in day out for nearly eight years, and find the current behaviour extremely predictable.

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For the one case you mentioned (where indeed I’d need to shift the note down an extra octave afterwards), I think there’d by 9 other cases where it provides the more convenient result.
And while you are certainly far more used to Dorico that I am, that can also be a disadvantage! One can be so used to doing things a particular way that one doesn’t consider other, possibly better ways, that haven’t been thought of before.