Polymeter in Dorico 3.5

From what I can learn online, previous versions of Dorico have not been able to accommodate polymeter – only burdensome workarounds. Can anyone who uses polymeter in Dorico please tell me whether Dorico 3.5 can now notate polymeter, and - if so - how?

Some examples of the type of polymeter I have in mind:

  • Simultaneous 3/4 and 6/8 (ie, simple hemiola)

  • Simultaneous 6/8 and 4/4 (8th notes in common)

  • Changing meter (eg, 6/16 followed by 7/16, followed by 2/4) in one part with different changing meters (eg, 4/4 followed by 3/2) in another.

  • Completely different subdivisions of the same bar duration – eg, 7/8 in one part and 4/4 in another, with both bars having equal duration.

Finale can accommodate very simple polymeter (ie, different divisions of the same bar), but one must use purely graphic elements as workarounds for anything more complex (eg, suppressing time signatures and barlines per part while adding these as graphic elements). If Dorico 3.5 cannot do real polymeter, can one similarly use graphic elements and various notational suppressions to create graphic workarounds?

I would dearly like to leave Finale once and for all, but only for a product that can either go beyond Finale, or can at least equal it but with more reliable performance.

Thanks, in advance, for your help.

If you’re familiar with the existing methods of hidden tuplets, I’m afraid there’s no change in this area as of 3.5.11.

For what it’s worth, I find it pretty easy to achieve.

Even tho’ this isn’t great news, I appreciate the super-swift reply, dankreider!

Would you happen to know if true polymeter is something Dorico plans to implement in the (near) future?

I’m sure support for polymeter will be added in the future. When precisely is anyone’s guess, as the team rarely announces new features before they’re released.

Thanks, dankreider – I appreciate your help.

3/4 against 6/8 is a piece of cake, though. It certainly doesn’t require anything more complicated than inputting a staff-specific (independent) time signature for either the 3/4 or the 6/8.

In fact, any situation whereby the note values match up (an 8th/quaver on one staff takes up the same amount of time as an 8th/quaver on any other staff) is quick and easy.

It’s only situations where an 8th on one staff equals some completely different note value in another staff - e.g. your 4/4 vs 7/8 scenario - that tuplet workarounds are required. Such a workaround looks cumbersome when you read an explanation, but it can be achieved extremely quickly:

  1. Input a single tuplet that fixes an entire bar.
  2. Hide the tuplet from the properties panel.
  3. Hit R repeatedly to repeat that bar.

Hmm . . . does this mean that one can use any staff-specific independent time signatures, so long as the bar durations are the same? And, if so, does Dorico know how to beam these differences?

Sorry, I went back and edited that last post.

Thanks, pianoLeo! This is getting more interesting. . . :grinning:

While it does require a bit of hackery some times, Dorico has better support (by far) of polymeter than any other notation software.

The only one that requires the hidden tuplet is when you need matching bar lengths, with different note durations. (12/8 against 4/4), say.

Independent time signatures per staff (non-aligning barlines) are dead easy.

It’s slightly more complex than that, in that you need to fool Dorico into creating a real time signature that actually displays a different number of beats.

Let’s say you want a 4/4 against a 7/8.
You put in a real 4/4 that is global.
You then enter a staff-specific 7/8,8 time signature - this displays as 7/8, but the “,8” tells Dorico that you want an 8 beat pickup (anacrusis) bar.
Finally you enter a 4/4 time signature (either global or staff-specific; it generally doesn’t matter) at the next barline, then hide that.

Again, that looks like a lot of steps but it’s actually <10 seconds work.

Two associated questions, if you (or others) have a moment:

  • Am I wrong in understanding that only those staff-specific time signatures that use bars of equal duration can work, using this technique?

  • Does Dorico allow the suppression of time signatures and bars, and then the use of manual, graphic elements to VISUALLY create the signatures and bars one requires, if those signatures result in bars of unequal duration?

I created this in the time since my last reply.


Let’s see if I understand this: does putting the “8” after the 7/8 tell Dorico that you want the 7 eighths to occur in the time of 8 ‘normal’ eighths? (I’ve been trying to digest “Masking meters and creating polymeters with metric modulations in Dorico - Scoring Notes”).

No, that’s where the hidden tuplets come in. It isn’t quite that smart. Maybe one day.

Basically what’d you do is create a hidden 7:8 tuplet to get the timing right.

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I’m not sure I entirely understand your most recent questions, but I’ll have a go:

If you want one stave in 4/4 and another stave in 3/4, where three bars of 4/4 matches four bars of 3/4 (with a barline adjoining every 12 beats), this requires nothing more than some time signatures.

If you want one stave in 4/4 and another stave in 3/4 where all of the barlines join, you also require some tuplet hackery.

If you want one stave in 4/4 and another stave in 3/4 where, let’s say, the bottom stave’s 3/4 measures actually take up 2.5 beats of the top stave’s (4/4) measures, you require basically the same sort of tuplet hackery.

Time signatures can be hidden.
The time signature glyphs (font) can be used to insert text purely graphically, if necessary. With judicious use of pickup bars (or manual irregular bars) this shouldn’t often be necessary.

This is what my pervious example looks like with some non-matching bar lengths.


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To maybe make the use of tuplets a bit more clear, here’s what my example looks like without hiding anything

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Sincere thanks to all of you, pianoLeo, TylerE, and dankreider!

I’m still not completely clear about why the use of the anacrusis bar, but I’ll think about it more.

I actually do have an earlier version of Dorico – v. – will the techniques you have described work there as well?

Again, many thanks!

Yep, I believe all of this should work in 1.2.
The anacrusis is just a quick way of telling Dorico that you want a bar that contains a different number of beats to the time signature it’s displaying.