A different perspective . . . [long, alas]

I ordered Finale 1.0 when it arrived in 1988. It cost $1000, and one ordered it from a local dealer who would then mentor the purchaser through how Finale worked (at least that was the plan). It came with outstanding printed documentation, in three separate volumes, beautifully illustrated.

Phil Ferrand had learned to program in C++ in order to realize his vision. It was brilliant; a database where everything was stored.

However, the difference between the vision and the reality was often a wide one. The program crashed a lot; the database could become confused, one had to conform to the logic of the program . . . there was no other choice. Slurs were drawn on the page, and they might move from one session to another. Articulations didn’t always stay where they were placed either. Everything was in a primitive state in comparison to what we expect today. No dynamic parts. No easy way to do cues. No PDFs. One printed .eps files, which were very large and often became corrupted.

Finale 1.0 was only for Macintosh. Those of us with early PCs had to make an investment in a Mac, the SE30 at the time. 1 MB of RAM, no hard drive, one floppy drive, and it cost over $4,000. 9-inch monochrome screen.

Why all the ancient history? Some people know only Finale and Sibelius. When I bought Sibelius in the late 1990s, one had to purchase an Acorn RISC-PC computer, and Sibelius 7 was installed. It was very fast. Great computer. Great program. But slurs were still drawn on the screen between notes, and one couldn’t copy between files. It matured.

Then there was Graphire Music Press. Great graphics. I could call the programmer with questions.

And Igor Engraver. Great use of AI, but glacial interaction between input and what appeared on the screen.

SCORE for the PC. It was written in Fortran in the 1970s and still has the best spacing routines. It has command line input like Lilypond, but each item on the page could be changed by up to 18 parameters.

And there were many others . . . many others. I didn’t mention Notion because I could never make it look “engraved” enough for my clients.

Each of these programs was the brainchild of one person, or in the case of Sibelius, two people. With the notable exception of SCORE, which remains because a small number of engravers keep it alive, only Finale and Sibelius remain. Notion, too. They others never had the opportunity to mature.

The birth is [relatively] easy. It’s what comes next: the painstaking addition of features that really work, that will tell whether Dorico or any other music notation program survives.

At one time, the only word processor worth mentioning was MS Word. Now there are dozens of word processors, a fair number of page layout programs, vector drawing programs, etc., all vying for our attention.

I have had the good fortune of watching Dorico develop from the beginning. I had no illusions that it would be #1 right out of the gate, far from it. But I also understood that the depth of understanding of music notation was much deeper than anything that came before it, and I believe that it will become the premiere music notation software in short order. Be patient. Learn it. Understand it.



I remember Igor!

From what I recall from playing around with the demo a decade or so… it had by FAR the best playback of any system ever, despite just using general MIDI sounds… the humanizing of things like trill performance and phrasing was really outstanding.

there is so much more in dorico than sibelius (and much, of course, still missing) that it only engenders excitement. I have quite a few works in score, including orchestra works. the control was phenomenal and playback simple MIDI. wonderful program but runs in dos windows these days. winscore never really worked for me. music press is also very interesting, I may be wrong but I see a shine in dorico out the gate with playing with it and reading posts on the forum as help that make be the successor for score that sibelius never was.I can only quietly think to myself " I hope they don’t blow this opportunity."

probably the expectations of new people to the vast field of notation are influenced on (by?) good freeware programs like MuseScore. You learn them to know as a kid, play around and get serious in due time. This might be the real problem behind the expectations of some people. Have you ever tried MuseScore? Compare it to your experiences with the beginnings of Finale, that would be very interesting, I suppose. Times really have changed…

I knew Sibelius with v 1.14 for windows and worked with SCORE already 30 years ago as well. The opportunity to work with Finale arose in the nineties, I did not like it at all and never tried it seriously again, even when Finale Notepad was an option.
Only SCORE was ever serious enough for me, even if you have to work with a DTP program in addition. Yet I could not afford to buy it for myself, I only worked part time in the publishing company of my brother with it. In the last years, I had to work a lot with Sibelius for efficiency, SCORE took too much time for most tasks I have to fulfill (no professional engraving). When SCORE became affordable for me, I was probably one of the last persons who bought a copy from Leland Smith, only two years ago. Still some tasks are best fulfilled with it and nothing else.

In Germany we have a bunch of programs which try to fill the niche between expensive professional programs and useless cheap programs, especially in the education department. There are forte, Ludwig, Primus and more. Capella is a semi-professional program which had a great potential yet was not flexible enough. As for the others, I do not know. (I had to work a bit with forte, but was not thrilled).

I still own my Igor copy as well. Very nice fonts and good usability. A pity it did not develop further in its time.

What about Amadeus? Is it still alive? Encore was quite professional, I heard, never used it though.

Interesting discussion. Is it the right place for it or did I digress too much?

It would be fair to compare it to MuseScore which gives very nice results and is (at least for me) very easy to use. I hope and think Dorico will become better than MuseScore but the gap between a free and open source program like MuseScore and Dorico (and Sibelius and Finale) is too big. Our conservatoire students are not going to spend this money. I hope my institute will buy Dorico if it becomes really better than Sibelius which has gone a long way from the original nice and clear Mac/Windows program to an ugly program with too many (amateur) options. Never liked Finale, though tried and mastered it to some extent. Started with Encore Windows, I think 3.x

I believe it is. A most powerful program. There are a lot of ideas there to consider for any new engraving software.