Slur underneath

For fun I’m inputting Schubert 8, which has several passages like the one shown below. Is there a setting somewhere that can make these underneath slurs look more like the published version? It would be great, not to have fix every one of these in Engrave mode.


FWIW, I haven’t found an automatic way to do that. You’ll probably have to use Engrave mode — use alt-click to move the slurs handles, you’ll probably go faster :wink:

The Dorico default here for the bottom slur seems rather inelegant. But I do believe Gould would have this bottom slur positioned as a function of the stems, not the noteheads, so Dorico is rendering it “correctly.”

Still it seems like an exception should be made for this scenario: a lower slur, between two notes only. I’d say the OP’s preferred setting is definitely the better one here.

If this is “correct”, then the law is indeed an ass!

I have had the same problem in Sibelius. My workaround was to input and correct the first instance and then copy and paste elsewhere with the middle mouse button, these then required only small adjustments. But can the same be done in Dorico?


I should clarify: it’s “correct” only in the sense that if both a top and bottom slur are present, the slur opposite the noteheads would be positioned according to the ends of the stems, not the noteheads.

But of course I agree that the default rendering here is not good, and I think Gould would agree. But I don’t have it in front of me at the moment…

Well… Gould would actually say that, in this case, a single slur is enough. So you can get rid of the lower slur and the problem has gone! :wink:
Anyway, if you want to be purist with the ‘old-standards’, it’s way better how it’s been solved in the original copy.

I should have thought that a single slur would only be appriopriate when the two voices move in parallel.

Personally I am not a lover of style books, which are inevitably full of rules and special cases decided on rigid logical grounds! Generally, I find this and similar problems to be more a question of what looks good, the criterion for this being something that conveys unambiguous information without drawing undue attention to itself. The older engraving certainly passes this test.


Not to sound contrary, but I find style guides immensely helpful. The best ones strike a good balance—at least an implied tone—of prescriptive (“this is the rule”) and descriptive (“this is the common practice”). As a less-experienced engraver, I’ve benefitted from several of them.

And of course you’re right that engraving is more art than science. The key is knowing when you have sufficient mastery of the conventions to throw them out the window. But I know I’ve sometimes done this prematurely, and ended up with a score that was quirky and amateurish.

There are a (growing) number of style conventions I feel I understand pretty well. In those cases, I’m more comfortable trusting my instinct. But I always consult the manual anyways!

Yes, absolutely. Just replace the middle mouse button with Alt+click.

No comments to add on the slurs, but I love you first sentence! I can’t recall anyone ever saying they were inputting a symphony for fun - bravo to you!

This has already been stated more or less but the ‘official rule’ for this is one slur per stem. The rest is unnecessary clutter. If this had been notated polyphonically, i.e. with two pairs of stems, then two slurs would have been required. Pretty logical. If keeping to the original version, the OP’s Dorico version would look slightly better if he could set the defaults so that the slur aligns with the point of the stem instead of partway down.

Thanks everyone for these helpful suggestions and comments! Taking Vaughan’s suggestion of one slur per stem, I realized (now in the recapitulation) that you can use the “Voice Column Index” and stem direction to take care lots of these issues. Here is a screenshot with oboes and bassoons. In the oboe passage, I did it mostly in upstem voice, only using a downstem voice for a doubled unison note. I had to tweak the slurs like crazy in the oboe part.

By contrast, in the bassoon staff, I used upstem and downstem for the whole passage; in Engrave mode, I set the downstem Voice Column Index to zero, and set all the upstem voice stems down. Then the slurs look just fine, this example has no tweaking. It doesn’t look exactly like the published version but it’s very close. (R Pearl - I probably should have said “procrastination” instead of “fun”! I also teach courses on 19th century music analysis, so this Schubert will be handy to have.)



As I wrote above:

Generally, I find this and similar problems to be more a question of what looks good, the criterion for this being something that conveys unambiguous information without drawing undue attention to itself.

The Breitkopf score you show in second place is in my opinion by far the superior of the two. It was engraved in the most highly esteemed music printing factory in Leipzig by some of the finest craftsmen ever to do such work. I am reminded of this every time I look at a score of a Mahler symphony in the original edition, as opposed to the current IGMG or other editions, and the same goes for the classical repertoire published by Breitkopf or Peters in the mid to late 19th century, or the output of Novello from the turn of the 20th century (e.g. Elgar). Looking at your upper example I readily become aware of details that I want to tweak!


Thanks David - yes, the Breitkopf is beautifully done indeed; my Dover edition says it was edited by Brahms himself. In case anyone is interested, here is a Dorico file of the first movement. I’ve tried to do as little tweaking as possible - the biggest trouble was that Schubert makes liberal use of fz and ffz, which are unsupported dynamics; so you’ll see there are lots of invisible dynamics added. I also fixed a (very) few obvious mistakes.

With NotePerformer, this thing sounds kind of awesome! (1000 KB)

… these are actually two (of the three) trombones playing almost parallel. I perfectly like the way it is engraved in the Breitkopf score.

Stephen, thanks for posting the file. I’m enjoying going through it and making some of my own “improvements”. It will be nice to have the ability to split those divisi staves into separate parts, once the mechanism is in place.