Unwanted pizz to arco change

Hi everyone, my Dorico is changing technique from pizz. to arco even though there’s no “arco” marking anywhere near. I tried deleting and re-writing those bars, but still the same. Please help if you know what might be causing this. Thank you!

Rather more info is needed —- particularly under what conditions the return to arco occurs. Are you using the built in Halton library or your own third party one?

What sound library are you using for the problem stave? What expression map is assigned to the stave?

Are there any ‘articulations’ in the problem passage? Maybe a slur, accent, staccato mark, anything like that?

If so, try removing such marks and see if the problem goes away.

If the unwanted technique is gone at this point, then something is assigned to the wrong playing technique in the expression map. Figure out which mark is causing the change, and correct or delete it from the expression map.

First of all, it is necessary to see if it is an indication of pizz in attribute or in direction in the playing techniques.
Then in playback mode, you may need to see which layer the pizz is assigned to.

How about posting a sample Dorico file, cut down from the original to show the problem area? You can even use the Lock option to change the pitches if you need to disguise the music.

One more possibility (but without seeing the actual file it’s guessing, of course): did you select a passage, and applied pizz to that selection only, implicitly ending the pizz as well? If you click on the pizz in write mode, do you see a ‘span’, i.e. circular handles indicating start and end?


It’s also possible that, depending on the sound library you are using, there is a pitch that is acting as a keyswitch.

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Thank you all for your help! I finally fixed both places where unwanted arco change was happening. In first example, it was entered in a different voice because it was on a division staff and for some reason I wasn’t able add pizz. into that voice. I realized this by turning on colors and seeing it was a different color. I tried a few things but couldn’t change this into the same color as other parts, so I just copied some notes from elsewhere and change the notes. This worked.

Second example: I must’ve written division parts into that bar previously and then gotten rid of the division section. Even though divisions part was no longer showing, they were still playing. I noticed this when I extended division back to this area and the notes showed.

Still trying to figure out the kinks, and this forum provides incredible support. Thank you to all of you. I’ll be bothering you more. This is my 3rd time trying to actually switch to Dorico, I kept giving up because I couldn’t get as fast as I need to be in order to do actual work. This time I’m getting close and hope it will work out. I would be very interested if anyone has tried doing a speed test between Dorico and Sibelius. I might have to do one before making a final decision but still need to get better at Dorico for it to be fair.

With standard notation, I find the amount of stuff Dorico does right and makes look good the first time, without further tinkering, is even greater than Sibelius (and much greater than Finale), which simply saves time.

When editing keyboard music, needing to move and cross notes to another staff, Dorico beats the others by a mile for ease of use.


I am a very experienced user of FInale.
And in speed testing I go faster with Dorico, which I have only known for a few months.
But I do use the streamdeck, which is essential for me to write on Dorico.
This software is really designed for this tool.
Now Streamdeck with Sibelius and Streamdeck with Dorico I don’t know.

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This fixed it for me! I hadn’t even realised it was possible to apply pizz to a “span”. Since it is, how cool would it be if Dorico automatically marked the next passage “arco”? That would be logical wouldn’t it/ otherwise - what’s the point of a “span” of pizz?


This, I fear, would have unintended consequences (Dorico’s “guess” at a span may not be what we wanted), such that I think we’re better off the way it works now.

I say this because I just ran into this issue myself: I’m transcribing a manuscript one page (4 bars) at a time. At one point, 2 consecutive pages were nearly identical (with strings pizz. throughout them), so I used the Repeat function to create the second page, and then did minor cleanup. The “pizz.” marking that began page 1 was obviously not needed again 4 bars later, so I filtered & deleted the second set of markings.

But now the second page was playing back arco, with nothing in the score telling it to do so. Eventually, with the help of @PjotrB’s suggestion, I saw that the “duration” of the pizz. was set for 4 bars. So I had to extend each of those invisible duration lines with the familiar Shift-Opt-RightArrow, or by dragging. (There isn’t a way to do all staves at once, is there? Also, what made this shift to arco playback happen?)

I think this is a consequence of the change to Dorico’s handling of playing techniques (sorry I can’t remember in which update), which I find regrettable. On reflection I think it breaks Dorico’s semantic philosophy and prefers playback over engraving. One should not be able to mark a technique without having an explicit redaction later.


If one places the pizz technique on the single starting note, it will extend until arco has been called. If one applies pizz to a range of notes, then the part will revert to arco after the selection (which is why I never use this option).

The selection option works far better with other types of articulations where one can have the playback continue but manually add simile above the part.


That’s what I did… I thought. But OK, it’s possible that I had the 4-bar phrase selected (for some other reason) and thought “I might as well add the pizz. now while I have the music selected, it won’t make any difference.” From now on, I’ll know better.

Sometimes if I open a score I wrote in an earlier version of Dorico, pizz markings have been “converted” from a single note to a passage without my intending it. In those cases, I have to delete the pizz. marking and re-enter it (on a single note) - then it works fine.

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This is precisely my gripe. There are situations where this behaviour is helpful but (many more) where it leads to engraving accidents.

(I don’t have an answer as to the best way forward, but it’s somewhere between the needs of the engravers v the DAWs)

This is actually related to a feature I proposed way back years and years ago, probably 1.x days… although instead of having spans, my idea was to have some feature for playing techniques to automatically “cue” them, after the last note played with out them. So, for instance, it could automatically generate a (to con sord.) marking or similar on the first rest after the last note played senza sord. Pizz/arco could work similarly.

Basicaklly, how instrument changes work, just with playing techniques.

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I am having this exact problem using VSL Synchron Special Editions. I verified that I am using the same voice (Voice 1 Up-Stem). On the Gb in the second bar shown, the bass goes back to bowed–and this happens at various places in the score.

I can add more pizz. directions, but that would be annoying clutter for the musicians.


Just make sure that you have only a single note selected when you create your pizz. marking. Then it will be countermanded only when you explicitly add an arco marking.