Note values in cues

Hi, I’m currently working on the parts of my piece and I absolutely love working with the cue feature! Such an amazing tool.
However, there’s one thing I’d love to address: In the actual score, I work with note values that are sometimes broken up and tied together to indicate a certain starting/ending point of a cresc/dim. However, since those dynamics are hidden in the cues, those specified note values make no sense when used as a cue. Is there a way to reset note values when working with cues?
Screen Shot 2021-06-12 at 8.08.04 PM

There’s no native functionality for this, so anything you do is going to constitute a workaround.

  1. Double up the tied note with the simplified note grouping in another voice, in the score.
  2. With the doubled up note selected, turn on the Suppress playback property.
  3. Select the redundant rests and go Edit > Remove Rests.
  4. Ensure that the Set Local Properties switch (top right edge of the properties panel) is set to Locally.
  5. Still in the score, grab the redundant note and custom scale it to 1% (and go into the color property and set opacity to 0 if the slight blemish bothers you).
  6. Fix stem directions and tie directions for the remaining (original) notes.
  7. Switch to the source player’s part and repeat steps 5 and 6.
  8. Switch to the part that has the cue and - in Engrave mode - repeat steps 5 and 6 but for the other voice.

It’s not particularly elegant but I know that it works.

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Hi Leo,
Thanks so much for taking the time to explain the workaround!! It helps a lot! Thank you

Might I suggest you are making life unnecessarily hard for yourself? Since 3.5 you can easily position dynamics to the rhythmic grid.

Since Dorico 1, actually. In some instances it’s helpful to show exactly where a dynamic starts, which may not be clear if there’s only a single note in that bar (e.g. in the source instrument’s part layout.)


My bad (I had thought earlier versions only allowed dynamics on notes).

That said, most players are well used to understanding that a diminuendo starts where it is positioned in the bar, even if there’s only a single note!

There is an alternative way of approaching the resetting of note values in a cue.
In Setup mode, add a player. It doesn’t matter what instrument. I usually put it at the bottom of the score layout and rename it to Cues.
Go into Write mode. In the player which was originally going to be the source material for the cue, select the section of music to be cued, copy it and paste it into the Cues player, and change the note values to be how you want them to appear in the cue. Select the bar(s) in the player where you want the cue to appear and create a cue using the Cues player as the source.
To change the name of the player which appears at the start of the cue (from Cues to Cl. 1, for example), select it then open up the Properties panel and enter whatever text you want where it says Start text. If the cue itself needs to be altered, you can experiment with the original source notation in the Cues player until you are satisfied with how it looks in the actual cue - as well as forcing note durations, you might need to flip stems, ties, etc. I have found that if I alter notation in a cue, the source is usually affected. So, having an extra player which will eventually be hidden means that you can fiddle around with the appearance of the cue without affecting anything in the other players.
The Cues player can be hidden from the layout, but the cues remain unaffected. To hide a player, go into Setup mode and click on the appropriate layout in the Layouts panel on the right. Make sure that the flow (in the Flows panel at the bottom) is NOT selected, otherwise the next step will bring up the dialog "Removing a player from a Flow will also delete all its music in that Flow. Do you want to continue?". In the Players panel on the left, all the players which you want to appear in that layout will have a tick in the checkbox to the right of the player name. If you click in the checkbox for the Cues player to de-select it, that player will not appear in that layout until you click in the checkbox again.
I usually leave the Cues player showing in the layout until everything is how I like it. Once satisfied, I hide the player from the layout. If I need to, I can always re-show it temporarily to modify a cue, and then re-hide it.

Your approach works well in the roam of film music, however, classical music relies on a different set of conventions when it comes to music notation.

Gold, E., 2011. Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation . Alfred Music, p.104:

In my 50+ years of classical experience I have never encountered Gould’s ‘precise’ usage.

Over the past 24hrs I’ve perused approx 40 scores ranging from late romantics through to the likes of Nono, Ferneyhough, Paert, Birtwistle and Ligetti. Despite all these providing very detailed rhythmic and dynamic instructions, none of them uses Gould’s ‘precise’ formula.

The reason ‘vague’ is actually ‘not vague’ is that there are always other parts that make the intention clear to both conductor and performer. You will always get better results if you keep the notation simple and allow your performers to devote more of their brain space to watching and listening.

If you do find an example in the mainstream classical repertoire, please let me know.

Well, it’s certainly NOT mainstream, but I have seen many modern pieces that use conventional notation which follow Gould’s dictum, and as an orchestral librarian I can tell you that orchestral performers really DO prefer her approach over the ‘Vague’ example given. Having used the Gould way myself as a composer, I could not possibly go back to my old vague ways, without having huge pangs of notational conscience.


Do throw me a bone or two. Point me to one or two of these ‘many modern pieces’? And explain how your orchestral performers expressed their ‘appreciation’ to the librarian.

There’s no control on this experiment, as no performer is ever offered a choice!

What I do know is that players prefer simple notation to complex.

I should have said “As a FORMER orchestral librarian”! I no longer have access to the pieces I’m talking about, have forgotten the Titles and composers’ names, and therefore can’t throw you any bones or even any marrow. But I do assure you I saw many examples of this and did not make up any ‘evidence’ for purposes of participating in the thread.

And the performers expressed their appreciation by telling me so, verbally.

Hi there

This thread was originally about simplifying cue notation. It is the norm for cues in orchestral music not to include dynamics, so any tied notation that existed to show the precise location of dynamics for the player is not necessary in a cue. There are also other notations that require a longer note to be split into a tie chain (eg bow instructions in a string part) which generally would not be present in a cue.

I would find the ability to ‘collapse’ the more complex notation in a part into a simpler cue very useful in Dorico. (Because of the way in which Dorico handles long durations, I can imagine in some future Dorico that it could automatically do this when the object(s) that split the long note are not present. However, that’ll be for Dorico 7 or 18, if at all.)

Regarding the subject that the thread has turned to:

Elaine Gould writes “when precision is important…” about the location of dynamics in a long note. She means ‘important to the composer/arranger’. (The book is partly a vade mecum for composers.) Introducing extra precision, not present in the manuscript source, by splitting long notes into tie chains is not something that an editor or engraver should do without approval from the composer.

Equally, it would be unacceptable to collapse a tie chain into a single longer note for reasons of simplicity of notation, if it would degrade the precision of dynamic or other objects. It is (obviously) editorially wrong to simplify if it causes loss of information.

So, we’re left with the fool’s errand of finding some examples of this notation in the literature. I’ve come across this fairly often, but not all composers I work for find it necessary. I’ve recently done the editorial and parts preparation work on a new Tansy Davies piece (first performance next week) which uses this extensively, because there’s a lot of this sort of thing going on (dynamics that don’t agree from section to section):
Screen Shot 2021-06-17 at 09.16.48

This sort of thing also appears in scores by Anders Hillborg and Francisco Coll that I’ve worked on, amongst a handful of others, over the past few years.

Hope that’s useful

I too spent some time as a librarian, but was probably not a very good one.
Most complaints occurred when I couldn’t source sufficient parts from a single edition (so rehearsal marks didn’t line up - letters in one and numbers in the other - or there was a complete absence of bar numbers). Second on the list was a request to avoid ‘handwritten’/ facsimile editions wherever possible. I call this the ‘comic sans’ aversion!