Some questions

A warm greeting to all, I would need to solve two difficulties. The first concerns the labels of the staves, I did some research but I could not find a solution. As per screenshot, I would need to move up the name of the tool, but I don’t know how. The second question concerns a way of indicating a rhythmic meter as indicated in the second screenshot. Do you have any suggestions?

Screenshot 2023-02-27 alle 08.47.34

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If you want to change the amount by which the bracket extends beyond the top and bottom staff, you can do so using the options on the Brackets and Braces page of Engraving Options.

Dorico doesn’t provide a means of displaying time signatures in exactly the way shown in your other screenshot. You can show a note value as the denominator, but not show the time signature boxed and between the two staves together with the tempo in that fashion. I’ve never seen that appearance before.


Thank you for your quick response. As for the first question, I can not find, where you have indicated me, the option to move up or down the label of the line. For the second question, I point out that in Italy, as far as I know, there is only one publishing house that uses this system. Personally, I think it is extremely effective. Too bad it can’t be realized with Dorico.

Ah, it’s the staff label you want to move, rather than the end of the bracket? Dorico doesn’t provide any other alignment options for staff labels other than centring them on the staff vertically.

pasquale.amico, your post piqued my curiosity and several questions came to mind:

  1. Why would you want to move the instrument labels up?

  2. And would you happen to know if the publisher created the unusual time signatures with software and if so, what software and how? Were they inserted graphics? Or was the music hand engraved?

  3. Daniel, do you envision a time when Dorico will be able to handle even unusual notation like this?

You can edit the baseline shift setting on the staff label in Setup which can move it up or down. Something like this …

… results in this in the score:


Now that you can specify a background color in a Paragraph Style in 4.3.20, it’s not too difficult to do this now by hiding the time sig and using Shift-X text. It took a bit of fiddling to set up the first time, but would be simple to repeat and edit elsewhere in the project.


Super, FredGUnn!

My third question was actually a more general one, however. One of my concerns about switching to Dorico is being unable to do things that are not mainstream. There are several now that cannot be handled practically with text. So I was wondering if the ultimate goal of Dorico was to enable the user to do practically anything they want to do.

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I’ll let Daniel speak as to what any future plans are as obviously I don’t know, but the biggest “non-mainstream” deficiencies with Dorico I think are pretty well-known at this point, as Dorico can’t really do cutaway scores, can’t easily handle staves with unconventional numbers of staff lines, and there are limits with what can be done with aleatoric notation. Lack of options for hiding cautionary key sigs, meters, and some other items have obviously been discussed to death as well. There’s nothing comparable to and as powerful as Finale’s Staff Styles, which can be used to accommodate much of the above, as well as change staff labels, etc.

Are there other non-mainstream concerns/requests you are specifically worried about?

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The main ones are the limitations with the fingering tool that I’ve mentioned (far too often) and which make Dorico impossible for me to use at present. But what else is lurking and will that ever be possible? That’s a worry. So I am hoping that the ultimate goal of Dorico is to give users the power to do whatever they want to do.

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I know you believe, John, that Dorico is conservative at heart, and that by design it discourages innovation. I would disagree with that characterisation. I feel as if I am repeating myself, but since you are too, I guess that’s OK. Dorico is intended to be very flexible and customisable (it provides literally thousands of options for customising the behaviour of the application and the appearance of the notation it produces).

But it is also intended to be semantic where possible, i.e. to have an understanding of the intention behind the notations that are being used, so that it can help you when you need to perform tasks that would otherwise cause you to have to do a great deal of manual work. Some simple examples of this: the fact that music belongs to instruments rather than staves, so you can trivially move all of the music intended for one instrument from one player to another, either creating or removing a doubling in the process; the fact that all notes are represented by default in abstract durations so that Dorico is free to notate and re-notate them according to the meter and following your preferred rules for note durations; the fact that it uses rational numbers (i.e. fractions) to represent pitch, allowing you to set up complex tonality systems with arbitrary levels of precision for the amount by which accidentals raise and lower notes; the fact that every notation is handled semantically rather than graphically, so you can quickly and easily do things like increase or decrease dynamic intensity, or change the appearance of a hairpin to a textual form, or have Dorico help you identify notes that don’t fit with the prevailing harp pedals; and so on, and so on.

The price of this semantic approach, however, is that Dorico is only smart in the ways in which we have so far imbued it with smarts. Once you stray outside the areas we have focused on, you are more in the realm of workarounds that lack elegance and intelligence.

I would characterise the difference between Finale and Dorico that Finale has weaker musical semantics than Dorico. I think you can make the argument that the evolution of music notation software over the past half century has been towards stronger musical semantics, rather than going in the other direction. SCORE is essentially a graphics program specialised for music layout; the applications of the 1980s and 1990s have added layers of semantics (instrument ranges, checks that bars add up to the right number of beats, playback that approximates not only instrument sounds but also specific playing techniques for those instruments, etc. etc.); and Dorico, an application of the 2010s, further extends that approach to a much broader swath of what it does.

I would argue that an application like Finale is freer only in so much that it understands less of what you are trying to do. Things perhaps don’t feel so much like workarounds in Finale because everything on some level requires manual work in Finale.

We absolutely want to put more and more power into the hands of our users as Dorico matures. But we believe that power should, if possible, be smarter than simply allowing you to do all the manual work yourself.


John_Ruggero, For the first question, it is because I would like to achieve this result.
For the second question, I can’t answer you. I don’t know what they use to make their own music editions.
Screenshot 2023-02-28 alle 10.25.33

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Thank you, but I did not quite understand how to proceed.

Personally, I don’t see that this style provides any more information than the conventional methods, nor is it easier or simpler to understand. I’m all for creativity in notation if it improves communication between the page and the reader, but this looks like novelty for the sake of being different.

It might be suitable for a contemporary work with a changing metre and tempo, but it’s somewhat out of place in a piece of Bach…!

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Create a Paragraph Style that you’ll use for these. You’ll want a border, center alignment, and a white background color. To have the double bar at the beginning, you’ll need to create a pickup bar. I think I just used an eighth pickup. Hide the meter in properties, and remove the pickup rest. Create the “meter box” using Shift-X text and your new Paragraph Style. Enter the text, customize as needed and use baseline shift to position the items vertically in the box. Once the size and positioning of the text is correct, go back to Paragraph Styles and tweak the padding settings until the border looks correct. I think I moved the double barline to the left with the Note Spacing tool, and then the first notes to the right a bit as well.

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Thank you very much for your response and your patience, Daniel.

As a user, I need a notation tool that allows me to do whatever I need to do, exactly as I want to do it, and do it efficiently. None of the present notation products meet that need, and my needs are not exotic. The problem with a semantic model for me is that it places all the power in the hands of the designers, which makes it difficult for me to do exactly what I want to do. For that reason, I think that the widest possible range of options should be provided in Dorico, with no limitations. Or a mechanism beyond work-arounds or text inserts that allows the user to operate outside the semantic model.

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Thanks, Pasquale.amico, that explains it!

Although Dorico has allowed particular features to be overridden already, I expect (in the interest of continuing to develop the software) semantic features will be added before overrides are added. If not even Finale can give you the control you want, having Dorico reach that point quickly is asking a lot.

Without Dorico’s semantic approach being the norm, I expect folks would get into even more trouble with the program than they sometimes do now going off on their own until they get tangles up in their own machinations. You, I know, are a very methodical and sophisticated user and a great help on the Finale forum, so that would not likely apply to you.


Thank you very much for the compliment, Derrek. I greatly appreciate that.

I must admit that I am jealous of professions that have software that meets their needs and have had it for years. I hope that our profession can say the same one day.

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I suspect that the way musical techniques and aspirations constantly grow, that notation software will always be playing catch-up to a certain extent, even in the best of circumstances.