Separators in combined dynamics

Dorico gives you the option to chose between four different kinds of separators when writing combined dynamics (pff mpf etc.), and whether to show them in all instances (like p-f) or just when mezzo is involved (mf-p). The separator can be hidden on a case-by-case basis via the properties panel, but there is no option to hide it globally via engraving options, which indicates that this is supposed to be very common practice.

I must admit that I’ve never seen such separators used in combined dynamic markings in published music, whether mezzo is involved or not, so I’m curious to know which sources were used to determine their commonality. Gould doesn’t seem to address the issue at all, while Stone suggests using a vertical stroke between sudden changes in dynamics, which isn’t an available alternative in Dorico at all.

Even if the use of separators in combined dynamics, contrary to my knowledge, is common in certain kinds of music, it seems to me that you should have the option to globally hide them in engraving options.

If I type fp into the dynamics popover, I just get fp without any separator. Is this what you’re looking for?

I have seen several contemporary scores using the colon (:slight_smile: to indicate a sudden change in dynamics, e.g. f:p, or (as a substitute for subito) :p. (Typing these I’m afraid they might all turn into emoticons!)

‘p-f’ would have me looking for a repeat that I’d missed… I don’t remember seeing this to mean anything else. ‘mfp’ or ‘mpmf’ looks weird, but would be understood. ‘ppp’ is ambiguous if you require p to pp, but if I wanted this level of control over a note, I’d split it and tie it with a dynamic on each.

As I stated, you can hide the separators globally on combinations without mezzo, but if there is a mezzo involved, the separator will always show, and you need to hide each one individually via the properties panel. In my opinion, separators should be entirely optional regardless of whether mezzo is present or not.

Thanks! That would explain why Dorico applies separators by default, but not why the hyphen is the default choice rather than the colon.

Same here! I can certainly see the necessity for a separator to clarify some combinations, and if the spacing is tight, you might want a separator for further clarification, even when splitting a note. However, given your examples, I’m not so sure if it makes sense to have mezzo as the deciding variable for this. To me, it seems more sensible to give an option to show or hide these separators globally for all combinations, regardless. That way, one might choose the option which fits the music and gives the fewest number of manual edits.

Better still for it to reflect whether you type ‘mfp’, ‘mf-p’ or ‘mf:p’ in the popover.


Unless I’m very much mistaken, Dorico already does respect which separator you type into the popover, and sets the property accordingly. If you find this not to be the case, perhaps this is something we’ve done since version 1.2, in which case it will be possible in future updates. I will also make a note of your request to be able to specify no separator by default.

Thank you, Daniel, that is just excellent!

Just chiming in here because I’m copying a score with a lot of mfp with no separators. Is there a global option yet?

edit: there’s also a more space between the f and p when entering mfp and removing the separator. Imgur: The magic of the Internet

It’s not yet possible to specify no separator by default, I’m afraid, but it remains on our backlog.