Text cues and dialogue

Now that musical cues have been introduced - is Dorico likely to introduce the ability for text cues and then extending that into dialogue?

I’ve attached a short example below from a Vocal Score which shows dialogue initially as a cue, and then has it set above a short musical underscore. Vocal Scores from Musicals are crammed full of such examples but unfortunately there’s rarely any consistency as to how they handle it. Some put dialogue and action cues between staves, most seem to put it above. Some even mix it up in the same score. Some use different fonts, many italicise dialogue, some try to spread the dialogue out to be in time with the music etc. The initial dialogue cue is generally a few lines long with character name(s) included, some in bold, some not. Have to say, in the attached example, that’s the first time I’ve seen anyone use an arrow - basically when it comes to dialogue in Vocal Scores, it’s the wild west out there…

Also very prevalent are the abbreviated orchestral references (there’s two of them in the example). For the most part these are simply signposts for anyone following the score, they don’t reference any existing material in the scores as there’s only voice(s) and piano. They’re not really cues as they often exist simultaneously with other music, occasionally being introduced as a separate voice in a smaller-sized notes for a couple of bars or so. They can, of course, be put there by composers as a guide to arrangers.

To date I’ve been doing all this by Shift-X and manual placement but I do find myself hoping that Dorico will tackle this one day and make a far better job of it than me - and to be honest, a better job of it than is shown in the example. I also think the orchestral/band signposts would be helpful to any composers wanting to develop their work from a basic piano outline.

Dear David,

This is a problem I have to cope with. Dialogs, stage directions… You did unveil the real problem : there is no standardization of that part of a score — at least not that I’ve seen on the many scores I’ve been working on, as a singer.
Dorico is supposed to deliver the best engraving, corresponding to the highest standards found in that field. Since there seems to be none for what we are dealing with here, we can think it is up to us engravers to think about the most beautiful and clear way to notate those items. Of course, it would be absolutely fantastic if Daniel and his team could provide us with solutions that would save us time. Here’s one idea : we could need a text field, above the staff. The beginning of that text field could be determined by the place where it is created. If the dialog is longer than the room left above that staff, the user could create a new line under the first one or the text could go on above next system. Every letter of that field could be edited (font, bold, italic, scale). It’s almost what we have with shift-x, but with the possibility to go on to the next system, which is a great improvement when you change the casting off.

Feel free to comment this one idea found reading your post, and eventually give some ideas you might have. This could help Daniel and his wonderful team.

Dear Marc,

Thanks - your comments are always instructive and helpful. The honest truth is thatI don’t know the best way to do it so that it looks spot on, but, like you, having seen so many of these scores, I have quite a few ideas as to how NOT to do it. I would have said this was an opportunity for someone wanting to do it right and it strikes me that that’s central to Dorico’s philosophy. Although I have no idea where this would rank in terms of priority (pretty low, I’m guessing) I’d certainly trust them to do a great job on it and in all probability, set a standard in an area where there isn’t one.

I’ve always seen Shift-X as “unforeseen text”. A kind of fill-in-the blanks when nothing else can. Ideally, as in the case of lyrics, articulations, tempo etc. text is handled in a very controlled, correct way. I’d like to see dialogue, and stage actions, included as part of that. I’ve never seen a score for a movie but it strikes me that that must be crawling with text linked to actions / dialogue - so I would have thought there was an opportunity for that to be handled right, too.

As to how to do it, I looked back over some threads earlier today to see if someone else had written about this. I couldn’t find any but I did find a thread where someone had asked for lyrics to be set automatically from lines of text. I can see very obvious problems with that (slurred notes, repeated verses etc.) but I don’t think they’re insurmountable. I’d take the same approach to a vocal score, importing a libretto and then identifying key parts of it as cues and lyrics. Personally, I like the idea of the libretto being linked to the score and of course it makes sense not to have to input all such material again. Basically, not all cues are musical.

Marc, David:

Since the end of 2017, has either of you come up with a working solution (work-around) for putting stage directions and the like into your scores? I have been using SHIFT+X text at the top of the conductor score. This usually works well with vocal numbers, since the top staff is a vocalist, which translates directly to the piano/vocal rehearsal score.

The problem I have with my solution is on instrumental-only dances or scene changes. I can put the stage direction above the top conductor’s staff and then ALT+Click it above the rehearsal-piano staff (omitted in the conductor layout). But this causes two potential problems farther down the road.
First, the poor Flute player is going to have to put up with all these stage directions and spoken dialogue in his or her part.
Second, the addition of text fields will break multi-measure rests, complicating the part.

Has anyone discovered a clever work-around for these problems that does not add staves to the conductor’s layout (which is separate from the never-printed Full Score Working Layout). I sense in some situations cues might have been an answer, but making those notes full size would force all cues in the score to be full size as well, which would represent a problem for players.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Sorry Derrek,
My answer is no. We’re waiting for a clever implementation for these text items and it seems the team has something on its backlog. It would be awesome to have such tool :blush:

Hi Derrek. My answer is the same as Marc’s - I haven’t found anything better than using Shift-X. I note Marc’s answer about the backlog; I hope the team will consider Stage Directions and Script Lines to be every bit as valid a cue as a Musical Cue.

Thanks to you both. I know the Dorico Team has flagged this somewhere on the roadmap, as well as a way for various characters to share a single staff in some layouts. I’m happy (or should I say “willing”) to wait but thought one or both of you might have thought of a solution better than mine.

Thank you for the speedy responses.

Another issue with Shift-X is that formatting of the text may be different between different layouts. I was considering using text boxes in engraving mode, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to reuse a text box in different layouts. I definitely don’t want to type the cues and what-not over and over and then have to maintain each instance as things change.

I’m working on a similar project; not a musical but something with a narrator.
I’m trying to make the choir reduction as compact as possible, so to skip the narrator line and just give shortened cues as System Text.
Is it possible to only have the System Text in one layout (the choir reduction)? All the other scores don’t need the cues, because they have the narrator already.


Yes, you can hide a text item via the Properties panel so that it doesn’t appear in a particular layout.

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