Advice for working on big MIDI orchestration sessions

Hi Everyone!

Just wanted to see if anyone could offer any advice or approaches for tackling large MIDI orchestration jobs in Dorico. In particular, regarding poor performance which (I think…) is due to the (necessarily ) high number of “players” involved when distilling down the composer’s MIDI. I’m running a 2010 Mac Pro with dual quad core Xeons and 64gb of ram. Dorico is running of an SSD and the playback template is set to silence. Not the latest and greatest, and I’m not opposed to planning an upgrade, but the performance is pretty frustrating when I have to work on the large orchestra MIDI sessions, especially when compared to my other programs (which I obviously detest for various other reasons…)

I clean the MIDI first in DP and then import a SMF into a template.

My old method in ‘the other programs’ was to bring in the cleaned midi to a dump file and copy the notes into the finished template file. Unfortunately there is a horrible lag when switching between two open files using Dorico, which is kind of prohibitive to this approach after a while.

I think all the constant layout calculations are what is slowing it down right? It seems utterly primitive but I’d love to turn them off while I’m in galley view and just moving the notes onto the right staves… Wondering what you all do to handle this kind of task in Dorico? It’s downright wonderful when it comes to producing the finished engravings but I’ve just gotten so frustrated with the performance on big jobs that it’s really starting to do my head in!

Looking forward to any solutions there may be.

Hi mate,

I have a similar situation. Running a 2017 MacBook Pro (with top specs) and an Ultrawide monitor.

I’m considering buying a new computer to solely run samples off (through VEP). I think that this will go a long way to solving my problem… but I’m still researching this.

The other thing I’ve done is duplicated plug-ins, and also purged samples once I’ve finished an instrument.

That’s all I’ve got for ya!

Hey thanks for your advice!

I actually think we are talking about almost opposite sides of the coin! I haven’t got any samples loaded at all and my playback template is set to silence - it’s just a lot of midi that I am orchestrating down to a regular orchestral score for recording purposes. I wish this was slick and smooth but it’s just like chugging through mud. It is only in the realm of 1-5 seconds but it really adds up and breaks my flow - at least it encourages me to be very precise because any mistake is extra annoying…

I guess that’s what I get for trying to reply at work haha, sorry for misreading!

You should upload the project and a diagnostics report so someone can check it out thoroughly. Does THAT help? Lol

What do you define as a “large” project in this context? Number of players, length of piece?
Do you have condensing activated in some layout? Disabling it while editing can give you a big performance boost.


Thanks @Estigy! Your question made me realise something - I don’t consider this a big or large score. It’s actually just a normal session it’s just that Dorico seems to run a lot better when the session is smaller: like if I’m just doing a strings orchestration or something.

The types of scores that (for me) Dorico has a hard time handling are when I have a whole orchestra MIDI sequence to put into a finished score to record. So I might have 30 staves for the finished orchestra score plus between 30-80 midi tracks from the cleaned up MIDI sequence. I try and reduce as much as I can as I’m doing the cleanup but in some cases I actually create new midi tracks where a composer might have written disparate voices on a sustain patch, for example.

I don’t have condensing on. I’ve cleared out all the unnecessary layouts and only have the single full score. I have disconnected and disabled (in Dorico prefs) all my MIDI input devices at the moment. The program itself feels great, like moving around and everything is completely seamless. It’s just everytime I do pretty much anything it takes about 5 seconds! I have my doubts that it’s anything to do with my machine in the sense that I’ve done many scores in Sibelius of this scale without any of this lag . Not that I enjoyed it, for many other reasons, and not that I want to suggest that I should keep my old workflow. Far from it in fact! I would simply like to know what the recommended approach for this common (at least in my line of work) situation - because it sure feels like I am doing something wrong!

Thanks everyone.

From Dorico’s point of view, a project with 80-120 staves is certainly large. The problem won’t be RAM or disk speed, I’m afraid, but purely CPU grunt and Dorico’s computational efficiency. Even though Dorico will be splitting things up as best it can to make best use of the available CPU cores in your computer, because it has to marshall all the results together (in the middle of processing, at the point at which it needs to space the music, and at the end of processing, when it produces the final result), there are still practical limits on how much parallelisation can be performed.

If you have the option to set up temporary custom score layouts that contain, say, the destination string staves and the source string staves from the MIDI data but omit all the others, so that you’re down to, say, 30 staves in that layout rather than 120, that will help, but I realise that might not always be convenient.

In Dorico 4 we are introducing two new tools that are designed specifically to help make these kinds of MIDI orchestration jobs easier. I don’t want to talk too much about them because I would like to retain some element of surprise as to what features are coming, but please keep an eye out for Dorico 4, as I think it should help in a couple of ways.

Dorico 4 will also have improved performance in some areas, but we know there is always more we could do to try to improve its computational efficiency, and Dorico 4 will not be a panacaea in that regard – though I certainly hope you will not find any circumstances in which it is slower than Dorico 3.5.!