A Beginner's Guide

I’m working on compiling pertinent info into a concise guide for new users: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6d2qmdapwqpxyn4/A%20Beginner’s%20Guide%20to%20Dorico.pdf?dl=0

You can see it’s obviously in progress. Input, additions, and corrections welcome. There are some things that I have no experience using, like percussion maps. So I won’t even address those, unless someone wants to chip in.

I do welcome assistance, if anyone would like to contribute their expertise on a particular section. I will work on it as I have time. Sleep is overrated, anyways.

I am trying to make it succinct, NOT comprehensive… a middle-ground solution for those who learn by reading, but who prefer a more readable format! So there will be plenty of details that may get left out. Which ones are crucial and which are not… well, opinions may differ on that. :wink:

I’m particularly interested in key commands and features that some users may not be aware of. It’s inevitable, since development is so rapid.

PS: this is in no way intended to disparage the existing official resources, which are excellent. The online manual, the YouTube videos, and the forum are all great sources of information. This is just my effort to provide an additional option for fellow users.

Kudos, Dan, for undertaking this task. Many will be appreciative.

Took a moment to read it. Outstanding so far. I was reminded of a couple of things I’d forgotten, and a couple I didn’t know about.

I have looked at the second version of your guide briefly while having Dorico open and like DaddyO was once again reminded of things I’d forgotten and also learned about several new things. For new users or occasional users like me, your guide is just what the doctor ordered. I hope you don’t mind me following up with a private message if I have any suggestions after a more comprehensive read. Your guide should be one of the “go to” resources for new users and I hope that happens!

Thanks for sharing

Well done, Dan! This’ll certainly be valuable for new users.

In order to improve readability I might shorten the lines / increase the side margins a bit.
You say: You should always ask yourself “Is there a faster way to do what I want?” – I’m wondering about the example in the section about pressing R to repeat notes. Wouldn’t it be considerably faster to just overwrite the second half of the c with a quaver e?

It may be opinion, but I’ve just found R so much faster when the intervals are small. No need to invoke note input. And then you can manipulate a note by relative distance, rather than calling up a note name.

Edit: that’s one thing I miss about Finale (maybe the only thing). Speedy entry lent itself more to intervals than to note names.

Edit 2: thanks for the formatting feedback, I’ll change that!

I don’t think it’s a very good example. It’s surely fewer key presses to halve the quarter by hitting five, then repeating…

Maybe. Except that my left hand is always hovering around Ctrl-Alt-Shift and my right hand is always near the arrows, since I do a lot with those keys. Im just so used to changing note duration that I find it easier than thinking about which number to press. Probably a fraction of a second difference in either direction!

This is a good example, I think, to point out that the number of key presses itself isn’t the sole measure of speed, but rather repeatable presses, distance the hand has to travel, and whether the brain has to think about which key to press. Would you agree?

Great idea and execution!

I think I’ve found one error: On p. 13, you write that you can change the octave of a note by pressing Shift-Alt-Up/Down. At least in the German version, it’s Ctrl-Alt-Up/Down whereas Shift-Alt-Up/Down performs chromatic changes.

On p. 14, I wouldn’t say “If you wish to display a different rhythmic value than the correct one” (because Force Duration doesn’t change the rhythmic value at all, only the way it is displayed), but rather something like “If you want Dorico to display a rhythmic value in a different way (e. g. using a dotted half note instead of a half-note tied to a quarter not), you can Force Durations…” (And maybe a look at Notation Options might be in order here if you want to change the defaults Dorico uses).

Also on p. 14: “To select a tie chain, you must click on the first note in the chain.” Do you really? It seems to me that it doesn’t matter which note of a tie chain you click.


Thank you Tim! You’re right about the octave. I’ll fix that. And I’ll change the wording of Force Durations.

Tie chains: you’re partially right. If the tie chain extends to the next bar (like two whole notes tied in 4/4 time), you must click in the originating bar. I’ll fix that too.

I think in this case it’s actually the same number of key presses.

Provided the C is already selected…
With R: 5, R, 2 x Alt+Up
Overwrite: Enter, 5, Space, e

The greater the interval, the more often you need to press Alt+Arrow.
But you’re probably right, it’s a matter of taste. I for one prefer entering note names over moving existing notes with Alt+Arrow.

About tie chains: I just tested it with a whole note placed at the second beat of a 3/4 bar, and I could click either of the two tied half-notes to select the tie chain. Same with manually tied notes.

Hmm, you’re right…

Aha, I found the error. Clicking on the second BAR doesn’t select the tied note it contains. So I suppose the originating bar is the only bar one can click on to select the tied note within it.

Anyways, it seems like I should just remove the reference altogether, as it’s not crucial for an introductory scope. Users will discover this behavior themselves I guess.

Clicking on the second BAR doesn’t select the tied note it contains. So I suppose the originating bar is the only bar one can click on to select the tied note within it.

This is one of the habits that seems to be more difficult for me to unlearn, coming from Sibelius. It’s totally logical, but I still keep clicking in bars expecting to select a tied note.

Fraid not. One hand lives on the MIDI keyboard; the other hovers above the computer keyboard, so I always favour single key-presses.

On the other hand, you’ve made the effort to write this and I’ve already said I don’t have the time; so I have no right to complain :wink:

Haha, I don’t mind. Trying to walk the line in this document between unabashedly offering my opinion on what’s best for the sake of brevity, and recognizing that other users (who’ve used Dorico far longer) do things differently. I’ve already learned about a half-dozen new things in the short bit I’ve written.

Now, if a user came along and said they preferred entering notes by mouse-clicking on durations, we might have to agree to disagree… :wink:

pianoleo and others, any thoughts on this? Is this accurate?

"When asking the question, “How do I change X?” there are five primary places to look:

• Notation Options
• Layout Options
• Engraving Options
• Properties Panel
• Dropdown/Right-click Menus (should I call this “Context Menus”?)

…If you can’t find your solution in one of the first three sections, your desired change is localized rather than global. If you can’t make your change easily using any of the five sections, your desired change will need to be accomplished as a workaround instead of a native function.

The principle for best practice could be summarized this way:

• Global changes are best.
• Localized changes are often necessary.
• Workarounds should be your last resort.

If you find yourself repeatedly using workarounds, or making localized changes, look for a global option."

I like this. I think “Context menus” would be my choice.

It might be worth slotting in something about editing Master Pages rather than overriding individual pages, here, but equally I can see why you wouldn’t want to over-complicate things by adding fringe cases.

Oh, and in Write mode the Write menu is occasionally useful, just as the Engrave menu often is in Engrave mode. I primarily use the Engrave menu for rejigging fonts, but now I come to think of it, I barely ever touch the Write menu…

Dear Dan,
I think you could explain the philosophy behind Layout options (layout dependant but for ALL the music of the project), Notation options (flow dependant) and Engraving options (works for all the music, whatever flow or layout is concerned). Actually I 'd put Engraving and Layout options first and then Notation options, by order of magnitude.
Context menu is perfect, but you can explain it’s the right-click menu: I’ve been surprised this month to help different people who did not know that “context menu” term