How to Quickly Input Different Types of Notations in Dorico | Write mode

🎬  This article is a transcription of one of the excellent tutorial videos posted to the official Dorico YouTube channel.

Presented here in written form with the kind permission of its creator, Anthony Hughes, this tutorial is titled “How to Quickly Input Different Types of Notations in Dorico”…


Hi, I’m Anthony Hughes. I’ll be showing you how to input many of the main types of music notations available to you in Dorico, both by using the Notations panel with the mouse and also using the quick and powerful popovers that you access with the computer keyboard directly in the music.

I’m in Write mode, and I’d like to introduce you to the Notations panel which lives over on the right hand side of the Dorico window.

I open the panel by clicking on one of these buttons (icons) in the Notation toolbox or with the key command Ctrl+9 (that’s Cmd+9 on Mac).

I can also toggle it open and closed with the (icon) button.

The panel displays one category of music notations at a time and I can change that category by clicking on a different button in the toolbox. The categories are clefs; key signatures; time signatures or metres;

tempo; dynamics; ornaments;

tremolos; bars and barlines; holds and pauses

and playing techniques.

There are also buttons for inputting rehearsal marks, text and lyrics, but these do not require their own dedicated panels.

The principle is the same across all of the notations panels. Within each category, similar musical items are grouped into sections that can be expanded or collapsed. And many of these sections contain ‘palettes’ of musical items that can be clicked and input into your music.

If there is an active selection in the music, then any item I click in the panel will be created at that rhythmic position.

Some panels contain controls to help me build up more sophisticated musical items. For example, here in the time signatures panel.

There is another way, however, to input these musical items and we’ve designed it to be a really quick and powerful way to create many notations without having to take your fingers off the computer keyboard.

Each category has its own popover that you type text into and when you press Enter, Dorico can recognise what you’ve written and automatically convert it to a musical object.

You summon the various popovers by holding down the Shift key and pressing a different letter for each category. So, with something selected in the score, if I type the key command Shift+C, I get the Clefs popover. I can tell it’s the Clefs popover by the icon here that matches the button over in the notations toolbox.

Then I simply type something such as ‘tenor’, press Enter and Dorico inputs a tenor clef for me.

Dorico often recognises different ways of referring to the same items, so for example I can also type f to get an F clef, or bass clef as it’s often known.

The shortcut for the Key Signatures popover is Shift+K. Here I can type, for example, an uppercase G for G major, or a lowercase G for G minor. I can type 3s for 3 sharps or 4f for 4 flats.

The Tempo popover is summoned by Shift+T. I can type quite freely into the Tempo popover. If Dorico can recognise any part of what I type as a Tempo it has knowledge of, it will use it to set the metronome mark, but everything I type will be retained.

I can also specify metronome marks by typing, say, q (for quarter note) equals 144; or e+dot (for dotted eighth note) = 72 …

Gradual tempos such as ritardando and accelerando are also understood.

Because we utilise the key command Shift+T for Tempo, when it comes Time Signatures we use the key command Shift+M for Metre.

This is an extremely powerful popover, where you can input basic time signatures such as 3 slash 4 or 4 slash 4, or “c” for common time and “cutc” for cut common time.

I can create additive time signatures by typing, for example, 3+2+2/8. And if you want to specify a beat group, but just show the numerator as a number then I use square brackets.

You can create the most complex time signatures using the popover. There are ways to create alternating and interchangeable time signatures and I can create an aggregate time signature by using the pipe character between two time signatures and you can see that Dorico automatically inserts a dashed barline for me.

You can even specify an open metre with an X.

The same principles apply to all the different notation categories, so Shift+D for the dynamics popover, Shift+O for the Ornaments popover and so on.

What’s more, the popovers also work while you are in note input so if you would like to, you can create all of these notation items from the keyboard at the same time that you are entering notes.

You can find a PDF that details what you can type into the different popovers that Dorico will understand at the Steinberg Help website.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Please subscribe to the Dorico Youtube channel to see more videos like this. I’m Anthony Hughes, thanks for watching.


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I appreciate your support of the OF NOTE  blog. If you find it to be a useful resource, please consider subscribing to OF NOTE and . ~robert

3 Replies to “How to Quickly Input Different Types of Notations in Dorico | Write mode”

  1. How can I indicate a note value equivalency for a meter change from simple to compound, e.g., previous quarter = dotted quarter?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Tracy – For now, you can use System Text (Alt-Shift-X / Option-Shift-X) popover, and, using Bravura Music Text, enter the symbols to create the metric modulation. If you aren’t sure of the keystrokes, you can copy and paste them from your font viewer (font book on Mac) ♩

      Daniel Spreadbury wrote about this topic on the forum awhile ago, which hopefully means we will see more direct support in a future update:

      “Dorico doesn’t really have any good support for writing metric modulations as yet. The plan is that you’ll be able to write them in the same simple way that you can write metronome marks in tempo marks, where you can type e.g. “q. = 126” for “dotted quarter = 126”, so we’d have e.g. “q. = q” for “dotted quarter = quarter”.

      Hope that is helpful!

      ~robert

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