Troubles with automatic enharmonic respelling

I have been using Dorico for over 4 years now, and it’s the best decision I have ever made, thank you to everyone involved in developing it!

However, there is one feature that creates a lot of frustration for me, and that’s the automatic enharmonic respelling of notes “in retrospect”. I use a lot of chromaticism, and Dorico constantly changes the spelling of notes when you have written the next note. Eg. there might be good reasons you write a-g sharp-g, but dorico will change the g sharp to a flat after I have written the g. This gives me a lot of extra work, because I have to go back to each of these notes and change it, which means I have to exit writing mode for each of these. And even worse, sometimes it leads to harmonic nonsense in my finished scores, because I might not catch every of these changes when I’m too focused on what comes after while writing, or I might decide to go back and do the changes afterwards in order to not constantly exit writing mode, and then I oversee something.

It’s also annoying when you change the spelling of a note while writing and then it jumps back to the enharmonic alternative after you have written the next note.

Is there a way to disable this function? Or even better, I think you could change this function, since I think most Dorico users know exactly what syntax they want for the spelling of their notes.

See here – it should only apply when using a MIDI keyboard, where you don’t have the option to specify F# or Gb, like you do when using a computer keyboard.

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You can use Alt - or = to change the enharmonic spelling while you’re still in Note Entry, when the note is selected.


Once you’ve made an manual enharmonic alteration, then Dorico won’t change the note retrospectively.
If the next note is a G, then Dorico will turn it into an F#; if it’s an F, it will stay as a flat.

FWIW, I tried turning off Dorico’s retrospective spelling, and I found I still had to alter half the notes anyway!

I’d guess this is a dangerous assumption. On the whole, Dorico’s algorithm is pretty smart, and makes good decisions based on traditional tonal harmony. The fact that you are working with extremely chromatic music is the key here, and as Ben said, you CAN alter the spelling during input anyway. In fairness to you, it seems perfectly reasonable to want to deactivate the feature in your use case, but it still seems a quite worthwhile feature on the whole. You have to think of all the people who are using dorico for a quick arrangement who don’t have extensive theory knowledge… they benefit (or rather, the people they hand the sheet music to!) from the feature quite a bit!

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That’s the thing, even if I made the enharmonic change before (in your example) but write a g next, Dorico will still change it to a F sharp. This I think is unnecessary.

Yeah I mean for simpler tonality, the program will probably always make the right decisions. My music is tonal but with a lot of unusual harmonic progressions, and the program can’t handle them when it comes to respelling. That’s also because it doesn’t “read” the other parts that may already be written, so it might suddenly write a e natural when the rest of the parts have an fb major chord.

Re: changing spelling in write mode - But that’s exactly what annoys me, yes I can change the spelling in write mode, but not when I have already written the next note and the program has changed the spelling in retrospect. I waste a lot of time because of this, but thanks to Lillie I now can deactivate it.

Ha! Fantastic! Why didn’t I find this when googeling the problem! Thank you, you save me a lot of time and annoyance! :raised_hands: :blush:

I noticed this one time as well. I had already corrected another line and I was surprised when the new notes I was entering (same series of pitches) did not render the same as my manual edits at that spot.

Yeah I hope they can change this in future editions, to make the program consider the other parts when respelling. Don’t know if that’s technically possible.

Who’s to say? :slight_smile: But I have this morning gone back to that topic to make sure it has more index entries etc for “enharmonic spelling” in case that helps others in future.


As I said, if you make a manual change, Dorico doesn’t override it. So in this case, it would mean changing to F# and back again, which is a bit of a palaver, I’ll admit.

But ultimately, if you’re using a MIDI keyboard, there’s no way to differentiate a G flat from an F#, so it’s going to be 50/50…!

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Since I mostly enter notes via a MIDI keyboard, I’d say the enharmonic routine does more good than ill guessing the “in-between notes.” I expect that if the Dorico Team sees a way to improve the function and finds time to do so they will, as is their custom.

Could you provide an example where you manually adjust the enharmonic spelling and Dorico changes the note later on?

I tried my best but couldn’t come up with this behaviour. Everything I changed manually behaved well and stayed put.

Dorico does pick some really weird enharmonics when inputting into multiple staves at once too. Does it just analyze the pitches vertically? Without regard to key sig or prior notes? Here’s a gif of an exact situation I had this week:

Key sig is Eb minor, entering an Ab minor section at concert pitch, and I switch to transposed pitch at the end of the gif. What possible rationale is Dorico using to spell Trumpet 2 as a concert C# with this key signature? When I flip to transposed, I’m getting sharps in Tpts 1 & 2 for accidentals that are already covered by flats in the key sig. No one is going to want to read that.


I’m afraid this is a known limitation of note input onto multiple staves - for technical reasons Dorico can’t easily look back over the context of the preceding bar on multiple staves at once.

Thanks, Richard. That is helpful to know, as I use this input method frequently.

I’m still not understanding the C# in Tpt 2 though. That doesn’t seem to make any sense vertically or horizontally with this key sig. The F# in Tpt 1 maybe is to avoid a G natural and Gb in the same chord, but I’m not seeing any possible rationale for the C#. Why would Dorico choose C# over the Db in the key sig here?

Actually, I may have misremembered the precise limitation with multiple-staff input. I think it can look back over the preceding bar to some extent, but it can’t use any “vertical” information across the staves as part of that (either when initially inputting or when respelling in the light of subsequent notes). Thus you’ll get different results from if you input the same notes as chords onto a piano staff.

I might have been wrong on that one, apologies - probably it never occurred to me to switch back and forth when the pitch already was what I wanted. Also I think that’s a bit cumbersome. It’s also not always easy to predict what retrospect changes Dorico will make, they are not always very logical.
I have turned the function off now and am in no mood to switch it on again :grin:

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Yes, that’s also my impression - it seems like the retrospect respelling function cannot take into account anything written in other instruments happening at the same time. That’s partly why I think the function is more annoying than helpful, because it doesn’t take into account the harmony already written in other parts. For example, in a score in Ab major, there might very well occur a part in Fb major, but in melodic instruments the program will surely writ E natural instead of Fb, thinking you are switching to f minor.