Rhythm changing haphazardly

I have a random experimental first attempt with Dorico. I had entered a meter of 3/4 and everything barred correctly. Then I decided to delete the meter and go back to having it unbarred for continuous entry.

When I try to enter a half-note at the end, I get a half-note [picture 1] until I try to enter a 2nd half-note and then my first half-note gets turned into a dotted quarter.[picture 2] The first half-note remains a half-note even when I exit the note-entry mode (hit ESC). But the first half-note gets turned into a dotted-quarter no matter what note value I enter after it.

I don’t understand why Dorico thinks the first half-note I enter should only be a dotted-quarter-note. It’s not as if there is a bar which is supposed to be filled correctly.
enter half note at end(1).png
enter half note at end(1).png
enter half note at end(2).png

I’ve encountered something similar, but different. I have the input value set to a quarter note and simply enter a series of pitches expecting each to be a quarter note. Each new note entered results in the previous note turning into an eighth note. Using different note values for input produces various changes to the immediately proceeding note. Sometimes entering a half note causes the preceding note to turn into a quarter and sometimes it causes the preceding note to turn into a dotted quarter. The behavior is inconsistent and random or pseudorandom.

Since this is basic and essential functionality, I’m wondering whether you and I have both stumbled on an odd boundary condition although that seems unlikely. System information follows. I would be happy to provide additional details to development if there are specific questions.

System information:
Model Name: Mac Pro
Model Identifier: MacPro6,1
Processor Name: 6-Core Intel Xeon E5
Processor Speed: 3.5 GHz
Number of Processors: 1
Total Number of Cores: 6
L2 Cache (per Core): 256 KB
L3 Cache: 12 MB
Memory: 32 GB
Boot ROM Version: MP61.0116.B17
SMC Version (system): 2.20f18

System Version: OS X 10.11.6 (15G1004)
Kernel Version: Darwin 15.6.0

Are you entering the pitches with the mouse, or the keyboard? If you can describe exactly what you are doing, there is probably a reason for what happened - and also a better way of inputting the notes, so it doesn’t happen.

Steps to recreate.

    1. Launch Dorico.
  1. Create a new empty project from Hub.
  2. Add a solo player with a single instrument.
  3. Select Write.
  4. Select a quarter note from the Notes panel.
  5. Use the mouse for note input.
  6. Click a line or space on the score to add a note. The note is added correctly.
  7. Click a line or space to the right of the previously added noted. The new note is added as a quarter note and the previous note turns into an eighth note.
  8. Select an eighth note from the Notes panel.
  9. Click a line or space to the right of the previously added quarter note. The quarter note turns into an eighth note.

Using the Mac keyboard to specify the pitch does not produce the same result. New notes carry the specified value and old notes remain unchanged. Does this mean that inputting pitches via mouse isn’t currently supported? If so, that’s one heck of a functional omission for a product of this kind.

Unless you changed the ruler settings, the short tick marks on the ruler are an eighth-note apart, not a quarter-note.

You can change that settings with the menu at the bottom left of the window, which shows the current setting eighth-note.

If you input a note that partly overlaps some other note, or change the length of a note that is already in the score, Dorico will truncate the other notes to make room, rather than deleting the other notes completely. That’s why your second note chopped off the end of the first note.

If you input notes with the keyboard, the caret cursor automatically moves by the correct length of each note, so this doesn’t happen by accident.

That’s an interesting and rather counterintuitive behavior. I thought that the objective of being able to input without specifying a meter was to eliminate the constraints such as this.

Is what you’ve explained documented somewhere? I’m not finding this information in the help files.

I think we’ll have to get used to precision clicking on the correct ruler markers…

Look at “Starting note input” in the help for “write mode”.

It says "If nothing is selected or if the caret is already visible, select a note duration on the notes panel, or press its key command. This loads the mouse pointer with the chosen duration. Click at the rhythmic position and pitch on the staff to insert that note duration.

The “rhythmic position on the staff” means “any tick mark on the ruler”, not just “the start or end of notes already in the score”.

If you look at video tutorial 2, it shows how to convert a string of 8th-notes into a dotted rhythm, by extending the length of a note with a dot, and overwriting the start of the following note.

The best way to do note input is learn the keyboard shortcuts. That is much quicker than using the mouse, and it avoids the problems you will get if you accidentally click in the “wrong” place.

Note input works the same way with or without a meter. The only difference is that if you input a note which won’t fit in one bar of your score, Dorico automatically splits it into tied notes on either side of the bar line.

I saw that and it matches input behavior moving forward. New notes are being input at the location selected (in this case, the next available position) and with the currently set note value. What that help passage doesn’t say is that the values of previously entered notes will be changed based on where the new notes are entered even though they’re being added at the end and there’s no apparent reason to adjust the values of the previous notes other than the way that the function was implemented. For that matter, even if I insert a note between existing notes I wouldn’t expect existing values to be changed. I would expect that content after the insertion point would be shifted right by an amount equal to the duration of the note that I’ve entered. I definitely would not expect content to the left to be changed. Shifting things right (or simply extending the length of the piece when inputting at the end) as the default behavior seems more consistent with musical thought at least from my perspective as a composer. Further, I would never have guessed that from what the help says that the product behaves differently based on the input device used. Now that you’ve explained I understand the difference. Maybe that explanation should go into the help.

I find the best way to do anything is dictated by the task and the situation. Sometimes that may be the keyboard and sometimes it may be the mouse. Second, and more importantly, when composing (which is supposedly the purpose of Write mode, isn’t it) I’m capturing the flow of a musical idea. That idea is a series of pitches of specific durations. If a tool – any tool – forces me to translate that idea into specific locations on an input grid instead of keeping it a musical thought, then that’s getting in my way as a composer. Taking this a step further, if I’ve already captured an idea on one staff and start capturing a complimentary idea on another staff I would expect the tool to accept my pitch-duration input as specified and align it automatically with the musical content already specified on the other staff based on the starting input point. This is what one does manually when using pen, ink and paper.

Well, Dorico doesn’t have a “read your mind” option (yet!) - but neither does any other computer software I use.

You can copy notes from the first staff to the second, then lock the durations (the “padlock” item) and change the pitches, if that helps.

I think Steinberg should put some additional thought (at one point) into better accommodating users with full keyboards or mouse preference. Maybe different modes (Laptop/full key/mouse/MIDI/…) would be in order. The more customizable it is (and the easier it is to customize it!), the better…
I don’t like to be told to work a certain way…


Hopefully the behaviour that Dorico shows when inputting with the mouse is easy to understand: wherever you click, whatever is currently in that voice will be split, i.e. any note that was sounding will be stopped at the point at which you click, and your new note will be inserted. If Insert mode is on, then the remainder of the note that was stopped will go after the note that you have inserted, along with the remainder of the contents of that voice; if Insert mode is off, then the remainder of that note (and the starts of any notes, or indeed the whole of any notes that fall within the duration of the newly inserted note) will be overwritten.

As Rob rightly says, it does the same thing whether you type with the keyboard or use a MIDI keyboard or click with the mouse, but the difference when clicking with the mouse is that you have to be careful about where you click. The point of the rhythmic grid is to try to help show you what will happen when you click in a particular place.

That’s a somewhat clever response although it doesn’t really apply to what I said. What I was describing is functionality that is currently implemented in other notation products that I use and have used: capturing rhythms as entered without unintended changes to previously entered material whether by keyboard or mouse and automatically aligning rhythms on different staves based on the point where input begins. It’s not really mind “mind reading.”

I realize that there’s a learning curve with any new software product and I’m willing to work to get past that. I simply think that for something that’s been marketed as “putting tools into your hands that enable you to edit and re-edit your musical material without ever getting in your way” the product is getting in my way by changing what I’ve done without me telling it to do so. I also have found one of the 5 reasons given to migrate from Finale –“The power and flexibility you demand, in a friendly, fast, modern and efficient package” - not to be quite accurate right now. Of course, “friendly” and “flexible” are relative in UI/UX aren’t they?

Since that certainly wouldn’t work for a lot of piano music, I’m sure Dorico has something similar to a… “polyphonic mode” as well, and maybe that mode would solve the OP’s situation?

Interesting idea, which we’ll think about. I assume you mean that Dorico would create a new voice if you clicked at a location where a note is already sounding.

Well, I think that certain situations simply should never occur, so the app should prevent them. I remember seeing an example in another thread, where a user could not see anything in his score as well, and got help from someone who explained how to solve it… but since one never wants to see nothing in a score, a better solution would IMHO be to prevent that from happening.
But polyphony is of course a different situation, and D. don’t know what the user wants. Therefore, a simple one-click-solution would maybe be helpful.
My background is using Logic since the initial release, and I have been in many situations where I simply want my app to do nothing at all to help me (eg inserting rests). So if D should automatically create a new voice, that could easily end up with a lot of rests… therefore, D would have to address that as well.

…not that that would have to be a complicated task. For piano (and organ etc) music, there are often situations where one wants polyphony happening just for a little segment, which I think is the core of the “problem” here as well. Logic has a couple of ways to deal with that (isolate the area in question as a separate region, with a polyphonic mode activated, + a special parameter for hiding rests under special circumstances. A super simple, one-click way to hide rests would also be essential, I think, for a good workflow in such situations.

I don’t use Logic but Dorico seems to need about the same number of clicks as your description of Logic.

  • Press V (or Shift V) to start a new voice.
  • Enter the notes.
  • One click in the Properties window to suppress rests before the first note (if required).
  • One click in the properties window to supress rests after the last note (if required).

That’s just 3 clicks more than entering the notes, compared with “Isolate the area as a separate region, activate polyphonic mode, set a special parameter for hiding rests”.

Well, my problem with Logic is that it usually needs to many clicks…
What happens in Dorico when you create a chord with, say, 5 notes? Does it automatically create 5 voices? I know one can create chords in Dorico by pressing Q, but when Dorico gets real time MIDI recording from an external keyboard, there will of course be many situations where the number of voices will between one beat/bar and another, but where one of course don’t want that each of these notes shall have it’s own voice with a set of rests etc. And if someone records an extra chord note in the middle of a piano piece, one certainly don’t want that extra note to cut off previous notes - or trigger rests throughout the rest of the piece. So in one way ar another Dorico needs to deal with polyphonic tracks which may have two voices in beat 1, two in beat two etc, without cutting off notes or adding rests.

Certainly not, no.