Verses of song with different rhythms

I’m trying to typeset a song. The first verse, for example, sings a note as an eighth note with one word, and the second verse sings it as two words, as two sixteenths. OK, so I use the Force Duration tool to tell Dorico to tie the two sixteenth notes together without combining them, and then I select the tie and make it dashed.

But then I try to put the lyrics on. For the verse that sings it as an eight, no problem. For the verse that sings it as two sixteenths, I have a problem, as the tied sixteenths are treated as visual only and the lyrics only attach to the real note.

I use non-breaking spaces to get around this. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it’s terrible visually.

Any advice on how to best handle this?


You need to add the alternate rhythm in downstem voice 2, then add the lyrics to THAT voice. You can then delete the notes, and the lyrics will remain.


You could also try applying the lyrics before adding the tie.

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Thanks, Dan. Been looking for a how-to on this!

Hi Dan. Well, I thought this was a solution but I have four verses with a few differing lyric rhythms. Your suggestion for voice 2 worked great but I can’t seem to figure out how to add lyrics for verses three and four. All help appreciated.

When you have the lyrics popover open, press the down arrow key: you’ll see that the number to the left of the popover increases. Once it says 3, you’re entering lyrics into the third line.

Thanks, dspreadbury. What I’m trying to do is enter those lyrics on the third line with slightly different rhythms. dankreider’s suggestion works for line two but I can’t seem to enter differing rhythms for lines three and four.

Do you also want to show the differing rhythms in the music? If you need a third set of rhythms, you might find that it’s clearer to have e.g. two verses written one, one for (say) verses 1 and 3, and one for verses 2 and 4, if that’s how the different rhythms happen to shake out.

The other option is simply to show the lyrics as if the notes were there but not show the rhythm in the music itself: if the meter is very regular and you’re in (say) the third verse, then the singers will probably be comfortable with interpreting the rhythm without seeing it. To get the lyrics into the right place, temporarily amend the rhythm so that there are notes at the right rhythmic positions for the new lyrics, and input the lyrics, then return the rhythm of those notes back to their state for the first verse.

If you really find yourself with a lot of rhythmic variance between verses, and you can afford the space required to write the music out again, that’s what I’d recommend: your singers will thank you for making their lives easier!

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Thanks, dbspreadbury! Those have all been considerations. I will endeavor to make it as clear as possible for the singer. Your input and advice are greatly appreciated.