Organ / Keyboard Particularities

Hello all–
as I did not see a dedicated organ thread I thought I’d start one. I understand that the team is slaving away and working as quickly as they can so all that I post here is simply feature requests for whenever they deem appropriate. I’m happy to wait my turn just like everyone else. Part of my impetus for starting this thread is that organ music—and keyboard music in general—tends to be huge in scope and have its own special conventions. Features enabled for organists will benefit pianists and harpsichordists and vice versa.

One of the things that I love about Dorico as an organist are the text frames. They are tremendously helpful for inputting all of the extra musical data that is critical to organ works, such as the registrations typically listed on the first page. The frames make this type of work almost comically easy. Daniel has already stated elsewhere that it will be possible (and is currently in the works) to allow multiple staves per instrument (four stave organ for instance) so that needs not to be addressed here.

Manual changes are handled differently in different musical periods and by different publishers. I was flipping through one of my older scores and couldn’t help but admire this very elegant implementation that uses the keyboard grand staff bracket to indicate where in the stave hands change manuals together. I’d love to see the ability to place such brackets within the musical data of a score in the future and imitate this style. I would hope this would be “easy” (what do I know? :unamused: ) since the symbol is already in Dorico’s lexicon.

I will keep pondering “out loud” other organ scoring things here and I invite others to do so as well. As always, many thanks to “the team” for giving us this wonderful software.

You can copy a glyph from and insert it via Shift-X (shift to Music Text in the upper right corner of the text editor), paste the glyph, choose an appropriate (big) Font Size for it, and move it where you want it in Engrave Mode. There are several bracket glyphs to choose from!

Attached a picture of a bracket inserted in a random spot.

That is certainly a great idea in the interim! My only problem will be at the start of a measure if there isn’t enough space (until they implement the note-nudging features). That said, I’m very appreciative. Hopefully there will one day be a built in character viewer as well so we don’t have to go to the SMuFL font website to find things.

Another thing that came to mind (and this is something I’ve noticed in other programs as well) is that the default spacing algorithms would benefit from some tweaking where the priority of space between manuals and the pedal relative to the grand staff is concerned. Dorico’s default behavior when it is trying to fill a page is to leave large gaps between the manuals and the pedal part, rather than a.) slightly increasing the spacing of the grand staff (which allows more space for the counterpoint that is so common to organ music) or b.) simply allowing more space between the systems. (B or a combination of A&B is preferable.) I’m guessing that Dorico treats the pedal part like a different “instrument” rather than an integral part of the overall grand staff system.

Out of curiosity I decided to check a few of my various organ editions. I checked scores that were almost 100 years old and a few major current publishers, including urtext editions. In every case, the pedal part is either the same distance from the grand staff as the grand staff is wide (ie- 11mm between both hands and 11mm to the pedal part) or more commonly, the grand staff is wider relative to the distance of the pedal part (ie- 12mm grand staff and 9-10mm to the pedal system). I’m attaching a screen shot of Dorico’s default behavior and a bit of Henle urtext of a piece by Liszt. The Henle is in perfect keeping with every other edition I looked at (about 8).

Yes, it’s true that Dorico does allow the gap between the braced staves and the pedal staff to be justified. You can counteract this to some degree by reducing the value of the ‘Stave group to stave gap’ option on the Vertical Spacing page of Layout Options, and increasing the gap between systems correspondingly.

Question for you, Daniel: if you look at my screen grab, notice in the left hand of measures 21 (the ‘b’) & 23 (a) the ties between a few of the notes do not line up. I assume this is a glitch? I will mention that this is an XML import from Sibelius so it’s entirely possible these are artifacts of that conversion process.

I havent done any organ scores in Dorico, but I would find it very difficult to play from the example Romanos gives, whereas the Henle example is indeed what organists are used to. Clearly, this is worth a rethink, and a large gap between the systems would be preferable, if unavoidable due to stave and page size.


No, this is working per the settings you have chosen on the Ties page of Engraving Options. The ties on single notes are positioned outside (above, in this case) the notehead, while the ties on chords are positioned between the noteheads. You can adjust the Engraving Options to produce a more consistent layout in this case by specifying that ties on single notes should be positioned between noteheads.

Thanks for your reply, Daniel.

I have a new question for anyone who can help me:
I’m composing a toccata and I need a figure that is constant 16th note chords excepting the last two beats which needs to be an 8th in the right hand with the 16th pattern continuing in the left. One cumbersome-looking work around is to tie two 16th chords together in the right hand and then add the usual chord in the left hand… I did that but it really doesn’t look very good at all. It is rhythmically ‘clear’ so-to-speak but your eye has a much harder time figuring it out while playing since the pattern you expect to see is broken. As a result, I’m trying to re-work it with a true 8th note chord instead.

The problem is, if I add the 8th note chord, I cannot get it to line up and share the 16th note chord cluster and simply assign dual stems (8th note stem up and 16th cross-stave beam like the others down.) I’ve attached a picture showing my conundrum. Any thoughts on how to get this looking correctly?

(PS- for what it’s worth, I did enter the 8th valued chord at the same rhythmic instance as the 16th that precedes it. It still displays it incorrectly by default.)

Here’s a second screen shot of what I’m trying to accomplish rhythmically.

I think you’ll agree that it would be simpler to the player if the pattern stayed the same and simply had an additional 8th stem upward.

Like this?

I did it by only having the top note in the 2nd voice.

Another way is to use the ‘Voice column index’ property in Engrave mode

That is definitely the idea, yes. I had tried experimenting with the voice column index but it wasn’t producing the results I was after based on the way I had put the whole chord into both voices. I’m tempted to do the top note idea, however. My only fear is that to the truly sharp-eyed musician they would think I only wanted the top note held. Still, that looks an awful lot better than how I’ve got it in there now!

You inspired me to have a go at it again. It turns out that if I only put the lowest note in voice 1 and then put the whole chord in it works! Yahoo! :laughing:

(The real kicker will be when we can actually force the stem location so I can line up the upper and lower stems! I tried inputting X coordinates but the stem doesn’t move yet… I believe it will with the next update. fingers crossed)

Like many other things, there is an easy work around (using first-stave indents and text boxes) however as is common in organ music, it would be nice if you could name the stave labels for Manuals/Pedal separately. Currently Dorico shows “Organ” for all 3 staves. There is no doubt that this is a good starting place, but in the setup menu I couldn’t figure out a way to label the pedal and manual staves separately. I was able to do this in one score that I had imported as XML and thus the manuals and pedals showed as two “instruments” for my organ “player”. But that is the singular instance where the option has been presented in a native manner.

Another not exclusively-organ particular, but something that affects contrapuntal keyboard writing to be sure: forcing Dorico to display rests in each voice. I’m attaching a screenshot of a piece I am working on now. You’ll see that in the left hand there is only one rest at the end of the measure although there are two distinct voices and I have made a concerted effort to add a rest in each voice. I did not find anything in engraving options when clicking on the rest that does show, nor did I find anything under the rests category of the engraving options menu as to allow for both rests.

I think this may also be a bug, but I cannot get the accidentals of the Eb / F# to switch places. I think it is proper to have the # closer to the F with the flat symbol on the outside (it is also this way in the source score I am transcribing.) I tried adjusting the voice column index but that wants to switch the noteheads even when I exclusively click on the flat/sharp symbol in engrave mode.

To label the manuals and pedals separately, for the time being I suggest you create the ‘Organ (2 staves)’ instrument, then add a single-staff instrument below it and edit its name to be ‘Pedals’.

You can choose whether or not rests of identical value in opposing voices should be shown as a single rest on the Rests page of Notation Options: look at the ‘Rest positioning’ section.

And to reverse the order of accidentals, select the notehead in question and in Engrave mode, edit the ‘Accidental column’ property (not the ‘Voice column index’ property).

As usual with most things related to this program, you are one step ahead of me! Thanks for the insights :slight_smile:

I understand from someone else on the forum that it is already possible to integrate Dorico & the pipe organ “VST” program Hauptwerk. Has anyone done this yet and if so, can you describe how to get them to work together? While I’m well versed in Hauptwerk and comfortably versed in Dorico, I am totally at a loss for how to configure them together. This is simply not anything I’ve ever done.

  1. Launch HW and in General Settings/Audio outputs make sure the divisions on the left all have their output device set to ‘Hauptwerk VST Link’ and their dedicated channel. (it may be something with AU… on Mac - there’s a pdf describing this in the HW docs) [this step is not important if your HW setup uses a dedicated soundcard, i.e. different from Dorico]

  2. open General Settings/MIDI ports and make sure ‘Hauptwerk VST Link’ is selected in the column Sequencer Midi In.

  3. Load the organ you want to use and open Organ Settings/Keyboards… and make sure each manual on the left are set to a unique Midi Channel - Pedal: “Direct input from your…” / MIDI IN port: “any” / MIDI channel: 1 - continue with same settings for 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. manuals, giving them Midi channels 2,3,4…

  4. Make sure the HW VST Link is whitelisted and work in Dorico.

  5. Start Dorico and configure your organ player. Say for an organ of 2 manuals and pedal. Since we cannot yet change Midi channels on staves you have to give the Organist 3 instruments, and adjust their naming. You can use a Bassoon for the pedals and piano or 2-staff organ for each manual. In order to have correct staff labels along the way in Page view, it’s probably better to add this organ as 3 players…

  6. Go to PLAY mode and under VST instruments on the right, click on Halion Sonic SE and replace it with ‘HauptwerkVSTLink-64bit’ (or the Mac equivalent). Open the organ on the left and verify/change the Midi channels so that they correspond to the setup in HW (Pedal channel 1, 1st manual channel 2… etc.)

  7. Go to Galley view and enter the score… :slight_smile: