Sharing: You can do some early music after all!

Just thought I’d share this exercise with everyone. This is the first part of “Sus une fontayne” by Johannes Ciconia, an early 15th century virelai in mannered style. I’m amazed at how well Dorico handled this and how quickly I was able to enter it once I understood how to do it.

Unfortunately, Dorico cannot use prolation symbols in place of time signatures, so I decided to write them as text above the staves until the time comes that we can actually move notes around to make room for them. Still, the fact that Bravura has prolations symbols available is already a big plus.

Signposts are copy/pasteable, so doing this quickly was no real issue. Tempus imperfectum cum prolatione imperfecta (the backwards C) is a 2:3 quarter note tuplet over a 6/8. Instead of re-inventing the wheel each time I needed it, I would copy and paste the signpost on the bars where it was required and type the notes away. The Tempus imperfectum cum prolatione imperfecta (the C, a short 2/4), was inserted with Alt-Enter so it would modify a single staff; the barlines then “misaligned” perfectly. Prolations were entered with text using default spacing (which I reduced) rather than collision avoidance and I moved the bottom staves a little in order to give some room.

So yes, some early music can indeed be done. However, since I am artistic director of a period instrument group specializing in the baroque, I echo the Siebe Henstra’s sentiment that extra ornaments and ESPECIALLY figure bass will be extremely welcome once implemented.

Anyway, I attached a png and the actual file if anyone is interested. It’s best to make all signposts visible to understand the tricks since all time signatures and tuplets are hidden.
Sus une (359 KB)

Oh! And ficta above notes. That would be great as well, although I assume this will take a while …


You’ve done a great job with this, and it demonstrates just how much is already possible in Dorico. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put prolation-style time signatures on the staves. I agree with your wish list for early music features (especially fictas), and I would add incipits - which various people have mentioned in different threads, and which I think are coming - and ligature brackets above the notes (solid, and broken for colorations).

Michael Aves

… and another thing: stemless notes e.g. for plainsong. So far as I know they don’t exist yet. They can be faked by reducing the stem length to nothing, but I haven’t found a way of doing this except one note at a time, which is a bit boring. It’s a shame, because Dorico’s facility for note input in free meter is vastly superior to the Sibelius method (create a bar with right number of crotchets, input some notes, realise you’ve miscounted and start again, input the notes, and then hide the time signature).

Michael Aves

Brilliant, Claude.

May I share here more early music, a snippet of Marenzio? The attached files are what I’ve achieved so far in Dorico following your lead (Alt+Enter is just the trick for a time signature applying to only one stave), and what I’d like to achieve.

Great to see that flexible Dorico already does most of what the editor I’m writing for is after. Hopefully we’ll see at some stage a simple way to add the symbolic tick barlines desired. I’ve tried adding them as text, but it’s very hard work.

I find that Dorico “thinks” in the same way I do when creating scores, making it a real pleasure to use. Congratulation to a great team!

Cross barline (499 KB)

Michael, in Engrave Mode, select a series of notes you wish to edit, then use the properties panel and set the stem length adjustment to a negative (e.g., -3.25). Done.


Thank you for the tip. I’m obviously doing something wrong in the way I’m selecting notes, because when I select them in Engrave mode all the Properties panel shows is the “Common” window with the offset, muted and color switches. (Oh, for a proper manual.) I know I’m being slow at picking up basics, because I have not yet been able to devote enough time to learning the programme.


Hi Michael,
Are you including other items than noteheads in your selection (eg. slurs, dynamics etc.)? If you make a selection only including noteheads (click and drag to select with the Marquee Selection Tool is useful for this) you should see all the appropriate properties for noteheads in the panel.


You’re right, I was including too much in the marquee selection e.g. underlay. I’ve experimented a bit and what you and Tony Ward between you have advised does work for me. Thank you.