Any tips on producing a piano vocal score from my musical?

I’m just in the middle of upgrading the RAM to a huge 8Gb and a 250Gb SSD. First impressions seem good. My PC was struggling to cope with Dorico and ten flows with 4Gb.

I’ve orchestrated parts of my musical. I haven’t completed the whole thing yet, but have about nine or ten numbers and cues, all done as separate flows.
The vocals in places stretch to 4-part harmonies and in the full score I have all singers (7) as separate parts, as they are sometimes in combinations doing ‘chorus’ lines and sometimes as solo characters.

For rehearsals I began giving each singer their part plus the piano part. As the piano part was playing in all flows, I had to manually uncheck the piano part from flows which different singers were not in, otherwise their copy would have just the piano part for that flow. Dorico warned me that removing a player from a flow would also delete the music from the flow. I made a copy of the ‘master’ project before saving these altered arrangements of players and flows in versions called ‘SINGER 1 VOCAL SCORE’. Is this the correct way to do this?

I then wanted to produce a piano vocal score which would include all of the different singers’ material in one lead line. Most of the time, there is one or a group of singers singing the same part (words) although they could be in harmony. I found that this could easily be achieved by starting with the main melody line, then highlighting any harmony part, one by one, using copy and paste, I could turn the ‘chord’ button on, highlight the relevant note in the main melody line, use ‘force stems up’ and paste the copied part in. If it was in three parts then just do the other part in the same way. This would really quick and effective…is there a merge facility that would have done the same that I haven’t found yet?

I also took some time to download the DORICO instructional videos so I could watch them when I didn’t have internet access. There is so much info on them that I’m glad I did so.

  1. In big projects, Dorico can be slow even with powerful computers. If I recall correctly, I think Daniel has said that there has been made some improvements in this area for the next update. However, if you’re having performance issues, you can speed things up by creating a temporary layout that only contains the flow you’re currently working on. This lightens the calculation burden. I’ve also found that closing all other tabs makes a big difference.

  2. I would rather uncheck the unwanted flows from the layout. Select the layout in the right hand panel (setup mode), and uncheck the flows in the bottom panel. This way, the music remains in the piano part, and you don’t need a separate file. Another way to uncheck the flows is by right-clicking the layout name -> Flows.

  3. There isn’t a proper merge function that combines several parts automatically. You might find the ‘Paste into voice’ function more flexible and possibly faster than you’re current method. You’ll find it in the edit menu and the right-click menu.

Thanks Anders…I’ll look at those suggestions.

Rather than addressing individual points, it’s probably easier if I just explain what I’ve done in similar situations:

Have one project that contains everything (just in case this isn’t exactly what you’ve done)

Have a layout called “Working Score” that contains absolutely every single stave. For the avoidance of doubt, that’s:

  • Seven individual vocal staves

  • One lead vocal stave

  • Piano Part

I’ve copied and pasted from my seven individual vocal staves into my lead vocal stave in the same way as you.

Then I have separate layouts that do the following:

“Short Score”
Contains everything but the seven individual vocal staves

“Full Score”
Contains everything but the lead vocal stave

“Singer Score 1”
Vocal stave 1
Piano Part

“Singer Score 2”
Vocal stave 2
Piano Part


Every layout includes every flow, and I’m pretty sure there’s no exclusion that ever triggers the warning message about deleting music.

A little warning about computers and Dorico’s efficiency:

I sent a Dorico project to Daniel Spreadbury (basically the guy in charge of Dorico) a few weeks back. This project contained twenty-something flows (about 100 pages of score), each containing Piano + (maximum) 3 Vocal staves. The file had got extremely slow when switching from Write Mode to Engrave Mode (and back again), doing anything in Setup mode, and altering master pages.

The answer that came back was that Dorico IS getting more efficient- there will be clear improvements in the next update. That said, my computer isn’t really good enough to run such large files in Dorico. For the record, I’m running a 2015 13" Macbook Pro with 512gb SSD and 8gb RAM. The thing that would make it quicker with Dorico is more processor cores. Apple basically only make dual-core (two core) laptops with 13" screens - if I want to speed Dorico up I either need a 15" Macbook Pro or I need to move to Windows. A cursory search indicates that Dell and Asus make a few smaller laptops with quad-core processors.

Thanks for sharing these good news, Leo.

Sorry to drag this off topic, but this might interest some of those who are considering upgrades: I just upgraded from a 13" 2011 mbp with the cheapest configuration (although I changed to a SSD a year ago), to a mid-spec 15" 2017 mbp. I now have 16gb of ram and a 2,8ghz 4-core processor. Even though the difference between these computers are huge, I honestly don’t think I can notice any difference in Dorico. I haven’t measured anything, but it doesn’t feel like I bought a new computer.

This tells me that the problem lies in the software. I’m not saying this to complain - my slow projects has been really big, and although I experience some occasional waiting, it’s still an incredible advantage to have everything in one project. I’m sharing this because those who feel they need to get a super computer should wait and see what future updates might bring.

Al, one more tip for you:
Make sure to make all your master page edits before the project gets too big. In it’s current state, it’s almost impossible to edit master pages in big projects. Daniel has promised future improvements to this.

Anders, how many flows do you have in your largest projects? That seems to be the significant thing with Dorico getting slow…