Sections of spoken lyrics, no notes, no rhythm


I’m trying to achieve something like this but not having much luck.

Is there any way to say “please lay these lyrics out for me starting at barline X and ending at barline Y, keeping them readable and not banging into anything else as I adjust everything else?”


– Jason

I doubt that capability is available now, but it would be really nice (as impossible as it would seem to be to associate the width of free flowing text with each given measure in various instances of casting off).

So I’m doomed?

That might be overstating it a bit.

I would probably use the lyric tool. Note input, then Shift-L. Use non-breaking spaces and write out a chunk.

Then you can edit that single lyric to compress it slightly if you want to adapt it. You can also shift note spacing around.

I’m the master of overstatement!


  • select the first bar rest
  • shift-N to go into note input mode
  • shift-L to enter lyrics
  • type lyrics with option-spacebar to get non-breaking spaces?

Is that what you were thinking?


– Jason

Yes, that’s one way. Another, and just as valid, is to simply use Shift-X. You can select the text object and press F to flip it below the staff.

Thank you. I will try both and see which works out better/easier/faster.

– Jason

Lyrics have some advantages – if you want them in the same line as sung lyrics. But note that spoken dialog is normally written above the staff. With staff text you can easily make a multi-line text block if needed and tailor the shape of it to the music layout.

One can also flip a specified stanza of lyrics above the staff (without flipping a different stanza) I found out to my surprise yesterday. So one could (as a workaround) use lyrics to try to finesse spoken unmeasured speech over hidden notes (if one can hide the notes but keep the spoken lyrics intact). One would still have to work to keep each phrase within the appropriate measure to anticipate system breaks handled differently in different layouts.

The client wants the spoken sections under the staff in line with the lyrics. The singer and speaker are the same. I don’t have any flexibility there, unfortunately.

I was not able to get these methods to work. Unless I inserted them as lyrics the text would not flow properly as I adjusted the layout. For each spoken section I had to:

  1. Count the number of words to be inserted
  2. Come up with a rhythm that distributed them more or less evenly over the available time
  3. Insert temporary notes in that rhythm
  4. Attach the lyrics to the notes
  5. Select it, filter notes only
  6. Apply a custom scale of 0 to make the notes disappear.

For example, if I had to insert 12 words in two bars of 4/4, I would insert 4 fake 1/4-note triplets.

That allowed me to adjust the layout freely and the spoken sections went along and adjusted nicely as well.

This is something a computer could do very easily, although I gather it must not come up very often.

Fwiw, that’s what I ended up doing.

– Jason

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You don’t Need to enter fake notes, as you can position lyrics at any rhythmic position with the caret. Triplets are hard to achieve this way though, admittedly.

klafkid, please tell me how to do it without fake notes. I could not enter using the caret. As soon as I typed a non-breaking space it tried to advance to the next section of lyrics that had already been attached to real notes. Does it work if you’re trying to insert into empty bars that are between bars that already have lyrics?


– Jason

You might find it easier to add “dummy” notes with the rhythm of lyrics you want, input the lyrics alongside those notes (as the lyric popover advances through notes in the same voice), then delete just the notes later.

Lillie, that’s what I’m doing, except I’m just scaling the notes later to make them invisible. Will deleting them allow the lyrics to “remember” their rhythm so they move around properly as the layout changes?

Lyrics exist at their rhythmic position, they’re not strictly “attached” to notes (Dorico just uses notes as “anchor points” during lyric input). So yes, they’ll continue to exist at X beat in Y bar whether or not the notes are still there. However, without the notes to use for horizontal spacing, you might need to do a bit of manual spacing fixup.

I see. I’ll try that and see what happens. I’m obviously trying to avoid as much manual fixup as possible. The dummy note method is not terrible in the end. It would be better, however, if there was a “Hide object” command in Dorico like Sibelius. Having to fake it with “custom scale = 1” feels icky. I’m sure a “Hide object” feature would have a million more uses, too. I can’t be the first to ask, right?

No, you aren’t.

Have Steinberg taken up some position against “Hide object”? It seems pretty basic.

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The team prefers to address the intention behind hiding something, and provide suitable, dedicated support for that use-case where reasonable/possible/practical.

If you search the forum for relevant terms, you should find a number of threads and discussions over the years on the topic.