Write Mode Improvements in Dorico | New Features in Dorico 1.1

🎬  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 “Write Mode Improvements in Dorico”…


Hi, I’m Anthony Hughes, and in this video I’ll be showing you several of the improvements brought to Write mode (as of) Dorico 1.1.

Creating music items in Dorico was always designed to be quick and intuitive.

(00:15) In Dorico 1.1 it is now much easier to use a mouse to create items that have a rhythmic duration, just by clicking and dragging out the item for the desired length in the score.

The items will snap to rhythmic positions in your music.

(00:33) Music items other than notes, rests and articulations now have attachment lines showing clearly which rhythmic position they take effect at.

(00:42) It is now possible to use the mouse to drag items in Write mode to new rhythmic positions, as I am doing with this forte, for example. You can see the item and its attachment line snapping to the next beat as I drag it across the bar.

(00:58) Now if I switch to Engrave mode, where moving items affects only the graphical position and not it’s musical position, you will notice that as I drag the forte to the right, the attachment line stays rooted to the same note, indicating that the dynamic will still take effect from that original position.

(01:18) If you would rather not see attachment lines, it is possible to disable them by opening the View menu and switching off Attachment Lines.

(01:27) For items with a duration, handles are positioned at either end allowing you, to edit the starting position and rhythmic length independently.

You can still move the entire item by clicking and dragging its main body rather than the handles.

(01:44) These types of operation are also now much easier to perform with the keyboard.

(01:49) Hold down Alt (Option on Mac) and use the left and right arrows to move items forwards and backwards. Items such as notes will move by the current value of the rhythmic grid. You can change that value by selecting a new note duration from the popup menu control,

or by holding down Alt (Option on Mac) and pressing the square bracket keys.

OPTION + [ or ]
ALT + [ or ]

(02:09) Other items snap intelligently to existing note positions, making it easy to attach dynamics, pedal lines and other items to the correct place in your music very quickly. This uses the same key command of Alt + the left and right arrows keys (Option + the left and right arrows keys on Mac), and you can also move these items by the value of the rhythmic grid by adding Control (on Windows) or Command (on Mac).

(02:33) So, Alt (Option) plus the arrow keys moves items left and right, and Shift and Alt (Option) plus the arrow keys lengthens or shortens items that have a rhythmic duration. Again, notes and rests use the rhythmic grid to determine how much they are lengthened and shortened.

(02: 50) For example, my rhythmic grid is currently set to the default of an eighth note. if I select this quarter note and press the key command Shift+Alt+right arrow (e.g. Shift+Option+right arrow on Mac), it extends the length of the note by an eight note.

(03:04) This works with all items that have a rhythmic duration, and again adding Control on Windows—that’s Command on Mac—will lengthen or shorten the items by the value of the rhythmic grid.

(03:17) There are new options that can be set in the Editing section of General Preferences. Checking this checkbox allows multiple items to be created with the mouse, which can be useful when adding items across a passage, such as slurs … or perhaps marking a string part with bowing.

(03:36) When you have finished adding items, simply press the Escape key to clear the mouse pointer.

(03:43) The second new preference always just loads the mouse with an item you select in a palette, even if you have an active selection in the score.

Previously, if you did have a selection then anything you click in a palette would automatically be created at that position. Setting this new preference means you will not accidentally create music items by mistake where you do not want them.

Working With Voices

(04:07) Working with voices in Dorico is now much more powerful. Firstly, we’ve made it possible to paste into new or existing voices.

I have a passage of music here arranged in 4-part harmony and I would like to copy it to this 2-stave choir reduction part.

(04:24) Copying the Soprano and Tenor parts are easy as they both need to be in voice 1 of their respective staves. I’m holding down Alt (Option) as I click into the empty stave in order to paste a copy of my current selection.

I need to paste this Alto line into a down stem voice on this (treble clef) stave, so I copy it with Ctrl+C (that’s Cmd+C on Mac), select the note or rest where I want to start pasting, right click and choose Paste Into Voice > New Down-stem Voice.

(04:57) I can then quickly do the same with the Bass line, and Dorico handles it beautifully.

(05:04) It is also possible to change the voice of existing music. Sometimes you may find that you have entered music in an up-stem voice and now decide that it should be in a downstem voice.

Simply select the music, then right-click and choose Voices > Change Voice > New Down-stem Voice.

Now you can continue to enter your music in the up-stem voice.

(05:31) Another use of the change voice feature is to combine multiple voices (e.g. with split stems) into single voice chords, to be played, perhaps, by a piano.

(05:39) You can also swap the contents of two voices.

If you discover you have entered notes in voices the wrong way round, then simply select the affected music,

right-click and choose Voices > Swap Voice Contents.

(05:53) And as we’re here, while it is still possible to set the Starts Voice and Ends Voice properties on notes in order to prevent unnecessary rests from showing, there’s now a handy Remove Rests command in the Edit menu, which sets all the relevant voice properties as required.

(06:10) Dorico 1.1 introduced simple but very powerful filters as a way of narrowing down a selection to the specific items that you need to edit.

The Filter menu is accessible in the Edit menu in Write mode and at the top of the submenu are options to control how the filter works.

You choose to either Select or Deselect only the category of item you subsequently choose from the menu.

(06:36) Let’s just try this with Notes and Chords. I’m going to make a selection of these two systems, then Go to Edit > Filter, and with Select Only checked at the top, choose Notes and Chords from the menu.

Now only the notes are left selected.

(06:56) This works well if you need to select, say, just the top note in each chord from a section in order to copy as a melody line for another instrument.

(07:05) Or, returning to my 4-part harmony example, we can easily take a choral reduction and filter by voice to paste the parts into their respective staves.

(07:16) Let’s now set the Filter to Deselect Only.

I would like to copy this violin passage to the flute stave, however the flute doesn’t require the bow markings. So I’ll select the passage, then choose Edit > Filter > Playing Techniques. The bow markings are deselected allowing me to copy and paste just the notes and articulations into the flute part.

(07:39) The final improvements I am going to show you today concern dynamics, and (as of) Dorico 1.1 brings better ways to manage dynamics both horizontally and vertically across your score.

You can group dynamics on a staff to align them vertically, useful for situations where notes or other items protruding from the staff requires them to be moved from their default position to avoid a collision.

(08:05) Select the dynamics, then right-click and choose Dynamics > Group Dynamics. You can tell that a dynamic is part of a group when you select it and see other dynamics are coloured blue and showing attachment lines.

This dynamic group now acts as a single item and can be moved, lengthened or shortened and the individual dynamics will respond and scale accordingly. Dorico is even able to handle editing of more complex chains of dynamics.

Dorico helps out by automatically grouping dynamics that are created together or adjacent to other dynamics.

(08:44) In this example I have a wind section with all instruments playing similar music, and they will all share the same series of dynamic markings across the phrase.

With new Linked Dynamics in Dorico 1.1, you can now copy dynamics to the same rhythmic position on other staves and a link will be formed between them.

I’ll copy just the dynamics from this top staff by clicking in the first bar, then shift-clicking in the last bar to select everything in that staff, then choosing Edit > Filter > All Dynamics.

I can then right-click and choose to copy those dynamics, or press Ctrl+C (that’s Cmd+C on Mac).

Then, when I paste the dynamics at the same position on the other staves, by right-clicking and choosing Paste, or by pressing Ctrl+V (that’s Cmd+V on Mac), then these dynamics are now linked indicated again by the blue colouring.

(09:41) What this means is that I can now select one of the dynamics and replace it and that change will be replicated down through the linked items. This also works with gradual dynamics, and edits made to properties filter across as well.

(09:57) It is also possible to link and unlink dynamics by making a selection, right-clicking and choosing Dynamics > Link or Unlink.

So, with easier ways to create and edit items with the mouse or keyboard, expanded support for voices, simple but powerful filters and grouped and linked dynamics, we think you’re going to find working in Write mode much easier and more enjoyable.

If you’ve found this video helpful, please subscribe to our Dorico channel today to see many more videos like this one.

I’m Anthony Hughes, thanks for watching.


I hope you’ve found this video transcription to be helpful. 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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