Rhythmical Spelling Adjustment

In Philip Rothman’s blog post there was an exciting demonstration of how Dorico takes a rhytmic value during input and adjusts its actual spelling to the metrical context automatically. This feature alone makes me wish that Dorico will be widely successful, as it is a first step by score writer software to atone for the damage that has been done on that area during the last few decades. (Note to Daniel: when slimming the application down for a “light” version, you may take out any feature but this one.)

Having said how great this is: how easy will it be for me to override it? Can I switch to “do it exactly as I type it in” mode freely during input? Will I have to adjust such passages in a second step?

How would the underlying algorithm handle non-standard metrical situations. As an example: what would happen when I put in “America” from “West Side Story” with its constant (but not completely systematical) change from 3/4 to 3/6 (while having only one time signature of 3/4 (6/8) at the beginning)?

How does this feature affect longer irregular bars (think 13/16)? Am I completely on myself there or does it still have ways to help me? And how about writing in “open metre” (as mentioned in Philip’s post)? Who let the dogs out? Can I have fries with that? An African or European swallow?

Right now it’s difficult to override the rhythmic spelling adjustment, as there’s not any proper user interface for it yet. We’re considering a few things. Firstly, we’re considering having a mode to explicitly create only the note value that you specify from the notes panel, even if that doesn’t make sense according to the meter; this would of course be switched off by default. Secondly, because you can’t e.g. select any of the notes in a tie chain independently in Write mode, we anticipate that some of this joining/splitting of notes into longer or shorter tied durations will be done in Engrave mode, where you can select the individual notes that make up a longer duration. However, the notes panel itself doesn’t appear in Engrave mode, because of course you cannot change the meaning of the music in Engrave mode, only its appearance.

For something like “America”, you would set up an alternating time signature of 3/4 (6/8) and then the program would automatically handle the beam and beat grouping in alternate bars, and you’d only need to adjust the grouping if the pattern wasn’t actually strictly alternating; in that case you could use an interchangeable time signature instead, which is where you specify a bunch of different time signatures up-front and then each subsequent bar can have any of those meters (for some reason, composers choose not to explicitly indicate this, so the time signature changes are not shown), and when you want to leave the interchangeable range, you simply create a time signature outside of the set you specified at the start of the range, and things go back to normal. To input the bars in the middle, you specify the time signature at the start of each bar, and provided it’s one of the interchangeable ones, Dorico won’t draw it.

For 13/16, for example, you can actually type e.g. 3+2+2+3+3/16 when you create the time signature to specify what the grouping should be, then open the Properties panel and specify that the time signature numerator should be shown as a single total rather than all of the additive numbers.

That sounds really great, especially the flexibility in setting up time signatures.

What about the swallow, though?

No idea – but you let the dogs out, and you’ve got to stop denying it.

Yes, please! I think automatically correcting some “incorrect” rhythms would definitely improve a lot of the poorly notated music I encounter, but I personally would certainly require this “please do as I say” mode and would probably leave the auto-correct mode off.