Entry of dotted notes during note entry

• Mar 27, 2020 - 02:59

I hesitate to revisit this old, old topic, but I've been doing a lot of note entry lately where I'm working from a printed score and entering a single voice verbatim. There are lots of dotted notes. I keep finding that the strategy with dot entry (viz., where using the dot changes the default duration for subsequent note entry) is rarely what I need. I don't usually have multiple dotted notes in a row. My most common cases are a dotted quarter followed by an eighth note, or a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth.

Thus I'm surprised we don't have additional note entry shortcuts that say a) "next note is dotted but leave duration unchanged" and b) "change last-entered note to dotted, but leave note entry duration unchanged." In fact this latter style strikes me as (what might have been) a more logical behavior for shift-Q and shift-W, rather than switching the duration for subsequent notes. Whenever I use shift-Q/-W, I then need to remove the dot and reset the duration to what I actually want.

Was something like that ever considered for shift-Q/-W? Or was there any thought of using (say) shift-dot as a one-shot duration effect, affecting only the next note? I see a lot of earlier discussion of dots in note entry, dating back a decade, but I didn't find anything on this particular point.

Again, I realize the topic has been beat to death, but just in case there is already such a mechanism, or if there were compelling arguments against having such a "temporary duration" capability, I thought I'd ask.


This response isn't to deal with the whole of your concerns, but you typed: My most common cases are a dotted quarter followed by an eighth note, or a dotted eighth followed by a sixteenth.

Here, this post is to reiterate that merely changing duration after entering an augmented note will un-toggle augmentation-dotting for the following note entry, so it would seem there shouldn't be much of an issue for most people. I.e., while in note-entry, using the shortcuts for "quarter", then "augment", then desired pitch, then "eighth" will disable augmentation for the next tone to be entered as an eighth.

In reply to by worldwideweary

Thanks, yes this is of course true. For whatever reason, my own note-entry habits have centered around using W/Q on the just-entered note, rather than entering explicit durations. I suppose I'm in the category of users who thinks "note, duration" rather than "duration, note". In my head, the melodic flow is the first priority, so I'm always hearing the next pitch rather than how long it's going to last. The duration is what I think of as I'm moving to the next pitch. So half/double durations are very natural for me. It would seem natural to have the ability to say "extend that last note by half" without changing the current note-entry duration, but I realize this is a different input paradigm from what has been built. Still, since shift-W and shift-Q were added to address a similar need, I thought I'd mention it (since we don't currently have a mapping for shift-period anyway).

In reply to by spinality

Yeah, as another example, it would also seem natural to apply an accidental state to the previously or "just entered" note, but as it is, MuseScore uses the "toggle" mode paradigm so that it is preparatory rather than post-applicable in its main usage context, even though MuseScore used to be able to do this not too long ago in earlier versions of 3.x and 2.x (and probably 1.x).

For whatever it may be worth - as a user to another user - it really is advisable to practice doing the "preparatory" activity before typing in the pitch as how the program currently is rather than going with what at first seems most natural. After a few musical projects while attempting to get in the habit of doing this, adaptation isn't so painful/unnatural. Plus, it may help your musical reading skills in the longer run to perform this type of mental shift, even if only as an exercise, and that might be worth the attempt in and of itself.

In reply to by worldwideweary

Thanks for the suggestion about practicing the other approach. I've been using MuseScore the same way for so long that it will be a real disconnect. It's also a departure from the way that I think about melody -- when composing or arranging I'm often thinking about tonality independent of timing. Often I don't decide about (or think about) note durations until after entering their pitches. I can see that when mechanically entering an existing score, this would be less true.

Side-comment: I've always disliked a prescriptive approach to interface design, where the system dictates or constrains the methods of use. (This is of course a big gripe with Apple, the arch exponent of the "our way or the highway" design philosophy.) I'm always astonished by the diverse ways that tools get used in practice, often very different from what was expected. So although the preparatory-mode entry paradigm is perfectly sensible, I'm surprised that we haven't also evolved more smooth methods for post-entry and existing-document editing actions. In many cases, it seems all we'd need is a more robust tool for creating keyboard shortcuts, or perhaps user-interface macros.

Anyway none of this is a problem; but I thought I'd mention it, in case I'd missed some useful new features (again).

In reply to by spinality

Another side suggestion:
If you don't care too much about how something looks (at least at first) due to composing rather than trying to adhere to how something is supposed to be in the sense of copying or following some in-house standard, you might consider one available "post" method:

1) Insert your note
2) Decide to augment it
3) Use the tie shortcut [define it as something simple in the preferences] to tie into another note of the same duration value
4) Then use "Q" to half that result.

The result would be the equivalent of augmentation but with the more literal "value + half value" tie. This might suit your mindset based on what you're talking about since it is "retro-active" application of duration, and its literal-ness might in fact be an aid to composition in some respects depending on how you look at things. Good luck.

In reply to by worldwideweary

Ha, yes I do this. But I mostly
1) insert my note
2) decide to augment it, and use shift-W
3) insert my next note (now dotted)
4) use shift-Q to remove the dot, and I'm back to normal
5) often then use Q to cut my 2nd note in half
This is not onerous, but doing this over and over got me wondering if there was another way, and hence my post.

Another way to look at a related use case might be as follows: We often want to transform a pair of equal-duration notes into a dotted plus half form. I personally would enjoy a shortcut that (when not in note entry) says: "Increase selected note's duration by half of its following note"; and in note-entry says: "split just-entered note's duration, and add the first half's duration onto the preceding note." If this existed, I'd use it often. I'd probably be the only one however :).

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.