How to Work With Rhythm Slashes in Dorico Pro 2

🎬  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 Work With Rhythm Slashes in Dorico Pro 2″…

Hello, I’m Anthony Hughes and in this video I’ll be showing you how to use Rhythm Slashes in Dorico 2, the advanced music notation software from Steinberg.

What are Rhythm Slashes?

Rhythm slashes are used in music requiring improvisation, and indicate to a performer that they should play something, but without being specific about exact notes or rhythms.

They are often used in conjunction with chord symbols. Broadly speaking, there are two types: Slashes without stems — sometimes referred to as slash notation — are generally interpreted as giving the performer complete freedom to play whatever they like.

Slashes with stems provide the rhythm that should be played, and then leave the exact pitches to the performer, for example how they might voice a riff or chord progression. This is sometimes called rhythmic notation.

Dorico 2 introduces sophisticated support for both kinds of rhythm slashes.

Slash regions (01:04)

The quickest way to add rhythm slashes is to use a slash region, allowing you to fill a range of bars with slashes showing the beats of the prevailing time signature: for example, in bars of 4/4, that would be four quarter note slashes, while in 6/8, two dotted quarter note slashes will be shown. If you change the time signature, the durations of the slashes in the region will be updated automatically.

You can create slash regions a few different ways. Ensure you are in Write mode and start by making a selection of the bars that you would like to be filled with slashes. Then open the Repeats panel over here on the right, and click Create Slash Region.

There’s also an item in the Write menu to create a slash region.

And you can also use the Repeats popover. Open the popover by pressing Shift+R, then type [the word] “slash” and press Return.

The slash region is created to the duration of your selection, and by default shows a green highlight to show that the slashes are part of a region. You can disable this by opening the View menu and unchecking Highlight Slash Regions.

Bar count in slash regions (02:22)

Dorico will add numbers to bars to help performers count through slash regions, by default every fourth bar.

These are configurable in the properties panel, allowing you to modify the count frequency, appearance and so on.

Editing a slash region (02:38)

Handles at the start and end of the slash region allow you to extend it at either end; you can also use Alt and the left or right arrow keys to move the entire range, and holding Shift and Alt and using the left and right arrow keys will shorten or lengthen the slash region.

You may find that you need to cut a slash region in two, for example you may want to write some more specific notation in the middle of the region. To do this, select the slash at the position at which you want to the split to occur, then click the scissors tool in the notes toolbox, or type U.

The slash region is split in two at that location — notice the slightly different shade of green in the highlight colour — and you can then drag the start handle of this second region to make room for whatever you need to write.

Playback of music in slash regions (03:33)

Now, if you create a slash region over the top of existing music, that music will appear to be replaced by the slash region. However, your existing music will actually still play back. The music is still there, safely tucked away under the slash region, which you can see if I drag the start handle back and forth. This can be really useful if putting together a chart where the instrument is to improvise a solo, so we want to display a slash region, but for the purposes of playing back the Dorico project we can include the placeholder music.

You can choose to show the other music by enabling ‘Show other voices’ in the Properties panel.

Slash voices (04:15)

When you want to write more specific rhythmic notation than is provided by a slash region, you can choose to input music using a slash voice. This works in just the same way as when using a regular voice, except that whatever pitch you specify will be overridden, and instead of the note or chord you input, a single slash will appear, by default on the middle line of the staff.

To start a new slash voice, activate note input and choose Write ▸ Create Slash Voice, or type the key command Shift+Alt+V; which builds upon the existing Shift+V command that adds a new regular voice.

Typing Shift+Alt+V repeatedly cycles through the types of slash voice that can be added: slashes with stems, both up and down, and slashes without stems, as shown by the indicator to the left of the caret.

Once you have input some slashes, the slash voice is available for reuse anywhere else on that instrument, and when cycling through the voices with the key command V, the slash voice will be available.

Changing slash voice type (05:26)

You can convert an existing voice to and from a slash voice. Select one of the notes in the voice you wish to convert — even if it is a voice using normal pitched notes — right-click and choose Voices > Rhythmic Slashes and select whether you’d like a voice of slashes with or without stems.

The underlying pitches of notes and chords are even retained and will be restored if you change the voice back to a regular voice.

Changing stem direction (05:55)

For slashes with stems, you can specify whether the default stem direction for the slash voice should be up or down in the same way as for a regular voice:

[right-click] choose Edit ▸ Voices ▸ Default Stems Up or Default Stems Down.

For slash regions, you can specify stem direction by selecting any slash in the region, opening the Properties panel and activating the Voice direction property.

Changing staff position (06:22)

By default, slash regions and slash voices both show slashes on the middle line of the staff. That position can be changed by activating and setting the Slash position property, which is found in the Slash Region or Notes and Rests groups [for rhythmic notation passages] respectively.

However, if your slash voice appears at the same time as another voice on the staff, Dorico will move it automatically, in order to reduce the likelihood of collisions between the voices.

You can control the offset amounts in Notation Options, at the bottom of the Voices category, in the Rhythmic Slash Voices section.

Engraving Options (07:02)

Of course, Dorico provides several different appearances for rhythmic slashes in the Engraving Options, which we can open from anywhere in the program by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E (that’s Cmd+Shift+E on Mac). Select the Notes page and scroll down to the Rhythmic slashes section.

You can choose between any of the provided designs for slashes with and without stems.

You can also choose whether or not slash regions show rhythm dots in compound time signatures.

Rests before and after slash regions (07:35)

By default, Dorico will pad incomplete bars of slash regions with rests, similar to how it does with voices. You can choose to hide these rests by selecting the slash region and opening the properties panel, then activating ’Hide rests before start’ or ’Hide rests after end’.

[note: the above works only when you have no content in the bars except the slash notation; e.g. it does not hide existing rests]

Slashes and unpitched percussion (07:54)

To use slashes on a percussion kit, open the Edit Percussion Kit dialog, which you’ll find in Setup mode’s Players panel by expanding the card for the percussion player and looking in the instrument’s context menu for Edit Percussion Kit.

You can add slashes with or without stems to the percussion kit when viewing the 5-line Staff editor, by clicking on either of the Slashes buttons in the action bar.

More than one set of slashes can be added to a percussion kit and positioned at different staff positions.


In note input, moving between the different instruments in the kit using the arrow keys will include any slashes you have added to the kit, and you can input slashes just as you would input any other percussion music.

Slashes in percussion kits only appear when using the five-line staff presentation type: if you switch to the grid or individual instrument presentation types, the slashes will not appear.

I’m Anthony Hughes, thanks for watching.

I very much hope you’ve found this video transcription to be helpful. If you have, please subscribe to OF NOTE and follow me on for ongoing music notation news and info. And don’t forget to subscribe to the Dorico YouTube channel to see many more videos like this one. ~robert puff

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