Staccato dot abbreviations

Does Dorico have a quick and easy (native) way of entering the four staccato dots as in this picture?

4 dots

It is reasonably common in orchestral string writing. The eighth-note slash on the half-note, to indicate that the player should play a half-note’s worth of eighth-notes (ie 4), is simplicity itself - shift-R, 1 , Enter. However, to get the four staccato dots, I had to go to Tremolos · Standard Music Font Layout and copy the glyph entitled tremoloDivisiDots4 (U+E230) and paste it in as text with the font as Bravura Text, and then adjust the font size. Playing techniques, under Strings, has the four dots with a slur mark over the top.

Screen Shot 2021-10-12 at 10.19.03 pm

That would be fine, except for the slur mark.

this is also common in german marching band literature.

You learn something new every day!

It’s pretty easy to create this as a Playing Technique. In the Edit Playing Techniques dialog box, select the dots with the slur, hit “New from Selection,” then select the glyph you want from the Tremolos range in the dropdown. You can customize the name, popover text, category, etc as well.

Once you have it set up the way you want, hitting the Save as Default star will make it available in other projects as well so you’ll never have to create this again for future work.



Dorico doesn’t have a semantic way to do this (by which I mean a way of folding four eighths/quavers into a single half/minim that will play as four separate notes). Rather than copying and pasting the glyph as text, why not set up a custom Playing Technique in the String category that uses this glyph? If you click the star icon in the Playing Techniques Editor it’ll be saved as default for use in other projects.

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Thanks, @FredGUnn and @pianoleo .
I’ll give that a try when I have a chance.
I haven’t explored custom Playing Techniques yet as I haven’t needed to, until now.

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This problem is one I have raised in my feature request about rhythmic compression :wink:

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Following the helpful suggestions of @FredGUnn and @pianoleo, I have managed to successfully create custom playing techniques for groups of 2, 3 and 4 staccato dots.

In the Edit Playing Techniques dialog, I chose Staccato as the Playback technique.
When it was deployed to the string section, Violins 1 & 2, Cello and Bass all displayed the expected difference in the articulation, but it had no effect at all in the Viola part.
As per the attached picture, I initially entered the 1st Violin notes and, after checking that they played back as expected, copied them into the other players just to make sure that each player had exactly the same.

I would be interested to know if any other Dorico users who have created a custom playing technique which uses the Staccato Playback technique have noticed any similar (mis)behaviour in Viola parts.

Insert random Viola joke here:


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I had been considering something tongue-in-cheek along the lines of commenting that perhaps Dorico might in fact be quite accurate in recreating how a stereotypical violist would actually heed what was on the printed page. I resisted the temptation because I have met some extremely musicianly violists over the years. Listening to how wonderfully they played made me realise how much the “middle” of the string section can contribute to an orchestra’s sound, but so often without really being noticed (unless they are truly doing some damage).


Just to be clear, these are not staccato dots. They have been hijacked from their usual function (indicating staccato) to simply indicate the division of the quarter and half notes into eighths. If the prevailing style of the written out eighths is tenuto (or marcato, etc.) that style will continue to be played.

For what it’s worth, this particular shortcut seems to not be used as much as it is used. At least in the engravings I’ve examined.

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In some mid-1820’s orchestral pieces I have looked at, there is a mixture of the “slashed” quarter notes and half notes with some also having the dots and most others not. My first thought was that the slashes alone, as happens for perhaps 98% of the time, would be sufficient to indicate that the notes are to be divided into eighths. Then you get some with the slashes AND the dots. Would this indicate staccato, or would it simply be inconsistency in the typesetting? The attached picture shows two examples of the sort of thing I described.

Anyhow, my main reason for continuing this topic is to point out the difference in playback behaviour in the Viola when it is notated with exactly the same notes and playing technique as the Violins, Cello and Bass. Whether my assigning of the staccato Playback Technique to my newly-created Playing Technique is correct/authentic, etc. or not is somewhat of a secondary matter (not less important, though), and I will quite happily take notice of those with more knowledge on the subject than I have.

To see if any other string instruments displayed the same difference in playback behaviour, I spent some time changing the Viola to each of the stringed instruments available. Apart from those stringed instruments which are plucked (Guitarrón, Kora, Koto, Oud, Shamisen, Tambura, Tanpura and Zither), all the others except two changed articulation at the marked places. Apart from Viola, the two where the playing technique made no difference were Treble Viol and Treble Viola da Gamba.
I also tried changing the clef and the pitch of the notes. As expected, that made no difference to the results.

Treble Viol and Treble Viola da Gamba are the same instrument, and probably mapped to the same sound set.

From what I have experienced (and described earlier), it appears that they might also be mapped to, or share some attributes of, the same sound set as for Viola. This could explain the same behaviour in playback relating to my custom Playing Technique, which uses the staccato Playback Technique, having no effect in those three instruments.

I cannot replicate this playback problem. For me the viola staccato (both single dot and 4-dot) works as expected (on HSSO, NP and BBCSO).

My guess is you have problem in your viola Expression Map and/or sample set. Many sets (regrettably) have fewer articulations for violas than violins.

That’s interesting, because I have not touched the Expression Map and/or sample set. In my ten months of using Dorico, I have been quite happy to just use the playback as it existed after a standard installation. Is there a way of resetting these to see if this fixes the issue?

Which playback template are you using?

HSSE+HSO (Pro), as per the attached screen shot which I took a minute ago.

I did an OS update on my Mac a few days ago, from 10.13 to 10.15, which I mention in case that might have affected things.

Would this the cause, or at least a contributing factor?

In the two attached pics, the first shows the Base and Add-on Switches for HSO Violas Combi, the second for HSO Viola Solo. I have been using the Viola setup which comes as part of an orchestral score, which I presume to be the Combi version. The Solo version has Staccato in the list, while the Combi version does not.

The corresponding Violin versions BOTH include Staccato.

Choosing Play > Reset Playback Overrides put Staccato back in the Violas Combi list, but it still does not play staccato with my custom Playing Technique (which works fine in the Violins, Cello and Bass) even after a restart of Dorico.

Play > Expression Maps… > Reset to Library Defaults removes it.

When I add a Solo Viola Player, the playing technique works as expected. It does not work in a Section Viola Player.

Yes. You are right.

There is a difference between solo strings and section strings (and I was working with solo strings).
HSSO solo viola has a staccato patch. Section violas do not! (This makes even the normal section staccato unusable for single stroke tremolo).

If you create the 4dot playing technique and assign the playback to staccato, it works for solo but not section. And for any use, you need to reset playing technique with a nat (which can be hidden), else all subsequent notes will be deemed staccato and Dorico will shorten them (which is annoying)

This example 4dot-stacc.dorico (1.8 MB) shows most of the variants between section and solo.

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