Speaker as ‘instrument’?

I’m copying a work for voice and orchestra. Parts of the voice part are written with notes on staff as usual. In other parts, the voice is a speaker, with no pitches or rhythm specified (there is the occasional quarter rest to indicate a pause). Ideally I would like to treat the voice as a ‘player’ holding two ‘instruments’, a mezzo-soprano notated as usual on a five-line staff, and a speaker with no staff lines at all, just barlines. Is there a way something like this can be faked?
In the handwritten copy I’m working from the speaker sections are typed on top of a five-line staff, not very elegant at all.

My guess is you’d have to fake it with two instruments. Rename one of them to “speaker” or “narrator” and then when you get to those measures you could overlay text boxes and make the background white to block out the stave lines. Alternatively the second instrument could be a 1-line percussion instrument which will make more room for text and look different enough from normal to pique attention.

Thanks Romanos401. I’ll experiment with these ideas. It would be useful to be able to use text boxes, but it seems that you can only have enclosures around bar numbers and rehearsal marks. (Text frames wouldn’t be practical as they are anchored to the page.)

You can have an enclosure around a regular Shift+X text item: there’s a ‘Border’ property in the Properties panel.

I’ve already had to write three works for narrator and orchestra using Dorico, and each had to use its own specific set of solutions. In your case I’d agree that a mezzo soprano “player” with an added percussion single line staff used for narration is the best, as opposed to no staff line.

I was very fortunate a dozen or so years back to conduct a series of performances of Peter Lieberson’s King Gesar in Calgary. He employs that technique, but without boxes around the text. I still have my score and I don’t think I would be ruffling too many feathers by sharing a slightly out-of-focus page. The narrator (a baritone) has to sing, do rhythmic declamation, and narrate text. Here’s a page with all three:

It looks very clean and is quite easy to read.

R. Murray Schafer’s Beauty and the Beast for quartet and voice is an example of staff-less narration combined with singing. I personally found that notation annoying (despite the fact that the piece is a great romp and fun to perform!) because the narration lives on top and we found it difficult to make it out from musical instructions, tempi, etc … So lot’s of pencil circling was necessary. Anyway, that’s just my two bits

Wouldn’t using hard spaces with left-aligned lyrics be one solution for the narration?

Thanks Daniel — I didn’t find this with a search of the manual, but I’m sure it must be there! I searched on ‘box’ and on ‘enclosure’, but didn’t think of ‘border’.

Claude — many thanks for that example, it looks like a good one to follow. I hope not too many feathers are ruffled!

Derrek — lyrics wouldn’t work for these passages as there are no notes to attach them to, and sometimes the text to be delivered within a bar runs onto a couple of lines. Whatever else I do, I’ll certainly be using Shift-X text.

Kim, you can add notes, add lyrics, and then delete the notes, leaving the lyrics present.

Thanks dankreider, I’m sure I’ll find this useful on occasion. But in the present case I need to have wrapping text so that bars are not excessively long, so lyrics won’t serve.

This is not uncomplicated, one might say. It turns out that lyrics are in fact the only way of doing it — thank you, dankreider. If I use Alt-X text, the one-line speaker staff—and hence the text—does not show up in page view. But if I use lyrics, the notes they’re attached to have to be left in place — if I delete them, once again the speaker staff does not show up in page view. The only way I can find of hiding the notes is to set the notehead to transparent and hide the stem. (I get a bass drum thud at the beginning of each bar, but fortunately I’m not concerned with playback.) So … yes … not uncomplicated.
And then there are the instrument change labels, for which I’ve started a new thread.

I took a look to see how I might address your problem if I encountered it.

  1. Put a whole note to fill the measure, above the top staff line, colored it white (not sure how to do transparency or hide the notehead or I’d have tried that) and made it cue-grace size.
  2. Attached lyrics using hard spaces and multiple verses, left-aligned.
  3. Added SHIFT-X text ( a space) to the narration measure to keep it from disappearing as an empty staff.

See if there is anything there you can work with.
narrationTest.zip (491 KB)

Thanks Derrek.
The bars are too short in this passage for whole notes; but explicit rests work as well as notes and are easier to hide than stemmed notes.
You can set noteheads, rests and other things transparent in Properties: select Color and set Alpha Channel to zero. (Value dots, however, do not respond to this treatment.)
Shift-X text does not force the staff to appear in page view: it seems there has to be a note or rest in the staff.