Turn off auto correcting during note entry

I’m using Dorico Elements in trial mode and have an initial obstacle I need to solve or I guess I try something else. When I’m composing, conventionally, my method is to simply get the notes down on paper with approximations of duration, rests, and such. I don’t know what they’ll end up being exactly until I make subsequent passes to tweak those.

Dorico doesn’t seem to let me do this. As I enter notes the program constantly changes durations of notes and rests… even though I haven’t entered a time signature. Say I enter a quarter note, an eighth rest, an eighth note and a dotted quarter note. Some of those values could be radically changed depending on what I enter next. What I need is to enter whatever I want, like a music typewriter, and the program leaves alone what I enter, line after line after line, allowing me to circle back later and make the adjustments needed. I have looked high and low for a way to do this in Dorico and haven’t seen it yet. Any insights?

I’m not sure if it is in Dorico Elements (I’m using Dorico Pro), but I think what you need is Force Duration. After activating note input (shift-N or double-click) press the O key (the letter O, not zero). This forces the notes you input to retain the duration that you give them, rather than grouping and beaming them according to standard musical notation conventions.
Here is a link to the Elements manual - there is an online version and a downloadable PDF version.

Welcome to the forum. Also, there is a (relatively new) option in Preferences to keep Force Duration on all the time. Preferences–Note Input and Editing–Force Duration.

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Thank you! I tried it but it doesn’t seem to work. Aside from the rest in the opening which appears to be a default and I can’t get rid of, I selected Force Duration, entered quarter notes which Dorico turned into eighth notes.

Tried it. Nothing changed.

If you haven’t done so yet, I would strongly suggest that you work through the First Steps Guide which is on the same page as the link I posted earlier. It takes the reader through many of Dorico’s core concepts and ways of doing things. Most new users (myself included) have found that Dorico is different enough from other notation programs that it is not always easy to work it out for oneself. There have been numerous threads in the forum regarding what is “intuitive”. It usually boils down to what you have been used to doing in some other application.

Can you show us a screenshot of the whole bar? Normally, Force Duration should let you enter notes ‘as typed’.

Also if you’ve got tied eighth notes, just forcing duration won’t change them. You have to first make it a single shorter note, such as an eighth in this example, before you can force it to be a quarter. You can do this in either order … 5 O 6 or O 5 6.

I think having experience in another program is what causes people trouble. I used LilyPond previously a bit, but mostly it was paper until Dorico. There were a few minor difficulties initially but not a big problem. Now the idea that a notation program would let you enter durations arbitrarily is alien to me.

Here are three screen grabs showing the succession of notes entered. First, the opening screen. I could not delete the rest. Then I enter an F quarter note. But in the third screen grab, when I enter the G quarter note, the F is converted automatically to an eighth note.

Yes, I realize Dorico does this to maintain the correct durations of measures. But, how would it know this if I have not established a time signature?

I’ve selected Force Duration in preferences as well as in the tools on the right side. Here are the screen grabs which look in reverse order. As a new user I can only upload one screen grab. But, you’ll see enough from it.

The F was shortened to an eighth note because your curser was positioned at the second eighth spot. So when you enter a new note there, the preceding note will be shortened.
Had you positioned the cursor one “tick” to the right (see “input grid” in the manual), the F would have stayed put.

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Does that mean Force Duration does not allow a note to be entered as chosen… in other words, if I choose a quarter note with Force Duration applied, Dorico will still change the note if I don’t have the cursor exactly placed?

Also, if you could answer in the context about which I began the thread which is, as a composer I need to enter raw notes as it seems fit in the moment. If I have to keep track of too much in order to get the result I want, it defeats the purpose of the free flow of ideas. If Dorico has no setting to do this perhaps it’s not my program.

My previous music notation program was pencil and paper. I’m a Pro Tools, Audition, Premiere, Final Cut, Wavelab and Spectral Layers user. But when it comes to music notation I’m emerging from the stone age. I’m a bit disappointed that what I easily did with a pencil is not so easily replicated digitally. I compose a lot to picture and have always done it referencing time code on music staff paper.

This has nothing to do with “force duration”. Force Duration only forces Dorico to render a quarter note as a quarter (instead of the tied eighth, for example).
When you place a quarter at beat 1 and another note at beat 1.5, the second note shortens the first note to an eighth - which is perfectly correct. A trumpet player simply can not play a quarter note at beat 1 and an additional second note only 1/8 later. They can’t overlap.

To solve this, there are two ways:

  1. Start a second voice.
  2. Activate chord mode.

In order to use Dorico without constantly getting frustrated about topics like that, you have to understand that Dorico really wants to help you. Dorico is not a simple “painting” software where you draw a quarter note somewhere and it will stay there forever.

I know that this learning phase really takes some time.
But actually Dorico is very good at assisting here.
Just think of putting a whole note in a bar and then deciding you actually need another note at beat 4 of this bar. You simply enter the note, and Dorico will automatically shorten the whole note.

“Dorico is not a simply “painting” software where you draw a quarter note and it will stay there forever.”

Yes, I fully understand that. But I need a software program that assists me in the way I work, not one in which I need to change my process in order to satisfy the logic of the way the program works. When composing, especially to picture, it’s a singular process for me. Having to make sure I’m counting the right entry points is actually far too distracting when playing an instrument in real time to motion picture. Honestly, I don’t know of any composer who puts down complete ideas so that in a situation like this the notes will all add up just right and it stays intact as written. I am hoping to find a program that helps clean up the chicken scratch on paper. Dorico seems to be overly helpful.

But you’ve answered my question: Dorico’s purpose isn’t the free form entry of notes, after which the user can circle back, format what’s been written, make adjustments, etc. Thank you for your insights.

In all fairness, Dorico has the tendency to nudge the user ever so gently towards a certain, structured workflow, yes… :wink:
That being said, Dorico certainly is best in class when it comes to open meter writing, tuplet handling and generally massaging note lengths into place!
But maybe someone with a deeper background in composing to picture can help you out here, I certainly have only ever done this once, and it was inside Cubase.

All the best,

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What confuses me is how, after one entered a quarter note on beat one (with or without Forced Duration), the caret would sit on the half-beat unless someone moved it back. When I enter a quarter note on beat one (or any other beat) of a measure, the caret automatically moves to the next full beat.

In the case of an inexperienced user, my first theory would be that someone hit a key that moved the caret back to the half-beat.

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My guess: were these notes entered by mouse clicks or finger/pencil taps, and the second click happened on the half-beat?


I’m realizing my use case may not be in the sweet spot of what Dorico was designed to do. Is it fair to say its purpose is dealing with complete music ideas and helping turn those into playable scores?