Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Dorico

There are a couple of common approaches for indicating trills with specific trill-to pitches in your music score. One way is to indicate the trill-to pitch as a stemless, cue sized note in a parenthesis.

This is an extremely clear and elegant way to present the trill-to information. In contrast to Finale and Sibelius, this is easy to implement in Dorico 2.2.

Input the main note, invoke the Ornaments popover (Shift+O) and type tr followed by Return. If you’re working with defaults you should see something like this:

To display a parenthesized auxiliary note, select the trill itself, move down to the properties panel and flick the Appearance switch; a dropdown will appear. From here, select Auxiliary Note.

As you can see, Dorico has taken the key signature into account and assumed you want a B to C sharp trill. If you want to show this explicitly, you can flick the Accidental switch and then click the Show button. If, instead, you want a B to C natural trill, you can flick the Interval switch and select Minor from the Interval dropdown. Note that in this situation you don’t need to fiddle with the Accidental switch; Dorico knows that in these circumstances it must show the natural.

What’s even better is that you can tell Dorico the interval while you’re still in the popover. Invoke the popover using Shift+O, type tr (for trill), space, and then your interval. M = Major, m = minor, p = perfect, a = augmented and d = diminished.

For a minor 2nd, type tr m2.

For a diminished 5th, type tr d5.

Oh, and you can type negative intervals too, if you want a trill that falls rather than rises.

Note that if you’re working in a microtonal context, Dorico can handle microtonal trills too. For these, you’ll need to use the Interval dropdown in the properties panel.


Another method of displaying trills, which is very common in popular and commercial orchestral music as well as film and video game scores, largely because it is so efficient for entry, is to include a flat, natural or sharp symbol above, or just to the right of the “tr” symbol. For commercial scores, you also frequently see the trill-to note indicated as an intervalic distance, like a ½ step or a whole-tone (wt).

Dorico’s factory default is to display accidentals above the trill symbol, where necessary and as determined by the key signature. With our first example – a B natural to C sharp trill in D major – Dorico doesn’t bother to show an accidental. If you flick the Interval switch and select Minor from the dropdown, you’ll see that Dorico displays a natural above the trill.

Again, Dorico’s being intelligent here – it knows that the trill is attached to a B and thus the minor 2nd is to a C natural. If you then select the B and change it to an A, Dorico knows that a minor 2nd is now to a B flat, and changes the symbol automatically.

If you’d rather Dorico displayed these intervals using the intervalic distance, flick the Appearance switch and set it to Hollywood Style.

It’s worth having a good rummage in the properties panel as there’s a whole host of other options available to you.

Dorico Trill Properties in Write Mode

It’s probably much more important to acquaint yourself with the Ornaments section of Engraving Options, which allows you to set the way you want trills to display globally.

To do so, type Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+E, then select Ornaments from the left panel. All of the options in the properties panel are duplicated here, but will apply to all existing default trills in a project and any new ones you later create.

The obvious choices are the ones I’ve already mentioned, but you also have full control over whether Dorico restates trill accidentals at system breaks, the exact syntax displayed in Hollywood Style trills (½ or H.T.),

“Hollywood” Engraving Options for Trills

whether auxiliary notes should be parenthesised etc.

You can also Save as Default (using the button in the bottom left corner of the dialog) and these defaults will apply to any new projects you create.

In Dorico, trills play back correctly without any tweaking or workarounds. They always show correctly in parts, even transposing parts – see this Clarinet trill in the score on the left, and in the part on the right.

That’s all there is to it!


Leo Nicholson is a classically-trained pianist, arranger and music copyist based in the U.K. He started working with Sibelius for Acorn in 1998, aged 10, and has gradually shifted to Dorico over the past two years. When not behind a piano he can generally be found on the official Dorico forum


Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Finale

Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Sibelius

Finale: Getting Started With JW Lua

In my opinion, Finale is a great music notation program, and probably the most flexible one available. However, there are little quirks about the program that can cause more frustration than they need to.

That’s where plug-ins come in.

Because plug-ins are created by Finale users just like you and me to solve these quirks and make our engraving lives faster, easier, and less frustrating.

And luckily, a while back Jari Williams created JW Lua, a scripting language for efficiently coding your plug-ins. With this plug-in, several developers have started to develop custom scripts that you can start running today.

In this post, I’m going to share with you how to install and run scripts with JW Lua as well as sharing several resources for scripts. more >> “Finale: Getting Started With JW Lua”

Finale: Shape Designer

Finale’s Shape Designer is a built-in vector drawing program that can be used to address all sorts of little notational problems. It crops up in all sorts of places:

Expression Tool – Select “Shape” from the bottom of the Expression Designer.

Articulation Tool – Select “Shape” for the main and/or flipped symbols

Custom Arrowheads – This is available when designing a Smart Line, or when adding a line from within the Shape Designer itself (see below).

Executable Shapes – This can be found under the Playback tab of the Expression Designer.

Clef Designer – Accessed through Document Options. Choose “Shape” instead of Character:

Multimeasure Rests – Accessed through Document Options. The multimeasure “H” shape is actually a set of three lines grouped together: By ungrouping these you can adjust the thickness or appearance of your multimeasure rests.

Custom Stem Tool   – Double click a note’s editing handle to bring up the shape selection box.

Here is a brief overview of some of the things the Shape Designer can do, along with a few examples of ways I’ve used it recently.

more >> “Finale: Shape Designer”

Restore Finale Customizations after Upgrade

Finale 26 is quite a bit faster in graphics performance and stability than 25, and well worth the upgrade, with quantum improvements in management of articulations, particularly.

Whether or not you choose the “replace Finale 25” option in the installer (I didn’t!), assets such as plugins, FinaleScripts, soundmaps, Device Annotation Files, Libraries, ensembles.txt etc. manually need to be copied over to their corresponding places in the new Finale 26 Application Support folders by users with any customizations they’ve added while using 25 and earlier.

Let’s take a closer look…

more >> “Restore Finale Customizations after Upgrade”

Using Virtual Machines (VM) for Legacy Music Notation Software

I recently had to retire my trusty 2007 Macbook due to lack of Dropbox support for OS X Lion (10.7). I ran into an unexpected snag with the Macbook Air I bought to replace it, though: the most current OS X operating systems do not support older versions of Finale, but a number of orchestrators I work with still use Finale 2011 and Sibelius 6.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this dilemma in the form of virtual machines.

A virtual machine (VM) is an emulation of a computer operating system. This operating system could be a different operating system (such as Windows OS running inside the Mac OS) or, in this case, an older version of the same operating system (e.g. two different versions of the OS running on the same computer).

My Macbook Air is now running High Sierra (OS X 10.13), but I have El Capitan (OS X 10.11) installed inside Parallels Desktop to run older software versions of Finale and Sibelius. It was a relatively painless process, though not without a few kinks along the way. I hope my experiences will help others navigate those setbacks. more >> “Using Virtual Machines (VM) for Legacy Music Notation Software”

A Fast Way to Change Music Spacing Reference Width in Finale (With Keyboard Maestro)

One of the quirks with Finale’s note spacing  is that the very last system of a document will often have disproportionately fewer measures than the rest.

One option is to use the Fit Measures tool in the Utilities menu, but then the note spacing can be inconsistent between systems.

Finale’s Reference Spacing Width feature, found in the Music Spacing > Spacing Widths… section of Document Options, provides a solution. The setting allows you to reflow and rebalance the note spacing of  measures quickly. more >> “A Fast Way to Change Music Spacing Reference Width in Finale (With Keyboard Maestro)”