Proper Dorico Technique

Hi folks. So this is my first day as a new Dorico Pro owner and am playing around.

I have purchased a bunch of tutorial videos and use the Help document extensively, but learning via those videos/docs notwithstanding, what would be the most appropriate method to recreate the image below?

  • Create 12 flows and try and fiddle around with frames to get them similarly stacked?

  • Or just create 12 staves with 9 bars each and change the key signature on each line?

As you may have noticed, this is for an F Horn.


Welcome to Dorico.

I would go for option 2.

  • Use system breaks to force a new system where you want them.
  • To get rid of the courtesy key signatures, put a CODA at the end of each line. You can hide the coda marking via the properties panel.
  • In Engraving Options > Repeat Markers, you can set the gap before codas to 0 (zero). That will get rid of the indent.

Ok, that’s gold! So we can still do little tricks like this as in Sibelius.

I would never have thought about hiding a CODA in those locations.

Thanks very much Craig.

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With two you’ll get cautionary key signatures and ragged lines or indenting which don’t look right. For exercises like this option one is better, a flow per key. I’ve done this several times. They’ll stack properly without fiddling, but there are some layout settings that’ll help.

Also, one per flow makes it trivial to reorder, which has come in handy. Edit, oh I guess Craig has some tricks to get around that, well anyhow this was recommended as the canonical way to do it

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God forgive me, I love these kinds of exercises. I’m a flutist.

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Masochist :slight_smile:

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According to my neighbors i’m a sadist - especially on the Piccolo.


Yes, I’d use Flows here. You don’t have to mess around with frames, you can set Layout Options so that each Flow follows beneath the last. Then you could even do the title for each as a Flow heading.

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Hi @CarlWilliams - here’s a quick example using separate flows, demonstrating what you can do with some of the related tools like flow headings.

Each line is a separate flow, and the scale name at the top left of each line is the flow heading - I removed the flow number token, changed the text alignment to left for the Flow Title paragraph style, and made that font smaller and bold. (I used the token for a flat sign in the flow titles so you get that pretty flat symbol in them.)

I’ve tweaked the page margins, music frame margins, and margins above/below flow headings to let it all be snug but those are easily tweak-able later down the road once more music is in.

Note spacing reduced a fair amount, and the staff size brought down a bit. I hid the time signatures (they’re the red signposts). Changed the default barline at the end of all flows to double but input the double barline at the end of bar 5 manually - you can also do this once and Alt/Opt-click it to the other staves, if you’re nice and precise about the mouse pointer position.

scale_exercise_example.dorico (370.1 KB)

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I would use flows, because you will learn so much more about how Dorico works!

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There have been several Flow wars here on the forum, there’s a natural resistance to think of them as being arbitrary and especially small size, such as a single line. I used to be one of them, something in our brains initially says Flow == movement. But it passes, now it’s perfectly natural to use a Flow to contain whatever you wish.

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TBH, I think that both option one and option two are perfectly valid approaches. IMHO, just using coda breaks and setting casting off to nine measures per stave is much simpler in the long run. But option two is definitely perfectly valid. It just depends on how you want to structure your document.

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I would use Codas here, and then a new flow for the next mode. (Assuming you’d move on to another mode on the next page) One thing to remember is that audio export in Dorico is strictly Flow-based. If you would ever want to export each key for a student to play along with, then using Flows might make more sense. If you would want a student to run though all 12 keys in one go, then use Codas. Even if I am not currently planning on exporting audio, I still tend to think about what would make more sense when exporting when deciding to use Flows vs Codas so I don’t have to stitch things together in an audio editor later, or else completely reformat the file.

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Well come now, we do have to admit that using a coda to get the formatting your want is a glorious hack now don’t we? But don’t get me wrong, I’m always one for a glorious hack :slight_smile:

But theoretically the formatting algorithm could change and the coda trick might stop working some day, to be fair …

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Reading this whole thread, it strikes me how the Coda thing could indeed be a special case of sub-flow, should the devs create such thing — in which case, DanMcL, there would probably be no issue if the algorithm were that slightly changed. And sub-flows have been requested…


I prefer the Coda method as it is easier to control the vertical spacing. Otherwise you have to edit all the frame/heading margins to get a more compact spacing.


Sure but they don’t exist now, introducing them would add complexity to setup (the flow strip would work how?) and since flows are arbitrary sequential chunks of data, it’s not clear to me what subdividing gives you.

I would think one would only have to edit the Master Page Flow header once to get the spacing desired, at least in the OP’s example. I wouldn’t find that burdensome and have used it in just such an exercise situation.

Regardless, either approach can work.

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Thinking about it there’s an interesting architecture here for structuring.

  1. Logical structuring (Flows)
  2. Musical structuring (Sections, repeats, keys, movements …)
  3. Formatting structuring (System Breaks, systems, what else?)

Logical structuring has impact on musical and formatting structure, and musical structuring has impact on formatting, so you see how it is with this classic layered pattern (a software design pattern used all over the place). A three layer pattern is very common, and the pattern arose for the same reason as we have here - a logical structuring of data with control flow. But also highlights the sub flow idea - it breaks this pattern which is so common, and when put this way highlights the point that it appears to be redundant.

Correct me if I’m wrong here …

It’s not that you’re wrong, but I don’t see why there would be only one level of logical structuring. This example with different exercises of the same pattern in different keys makes totally sense. There are two levels of logical structuring. And only one needs the flow headings. I see that as chapters and paragraphs. If you use flows as movements, and you have a trio section (quite common in some repertoire), you don’t want to use two flows for this. Right now, I’ve had to use the coda trick, but it’s a workaround. Seeing Codas as a particular sub-flow makes totally sense to me, thanks to you all. It’s going to be difficult to get me this idea out of the head :wink: