Asking Dorico to punch above its weight

Now that my wife and I have completed our various respective Messiah performances, including one that we did together, I have taken it upon myself to make her a more legible part from Dorico for one production that she does yearly, and for which the cello part has become too small and difficult to read (both our eyesight are definitely undergoing some transformations!). The idea of using Dorico is, at face value, a real winner, because she can then have an annotated part for any version of it with any set of cuts since flows makes that possible and easy. Also, I can work it in a way that layouts have breaks at proper places so she can spread up to four folding pages when necessary, which is often, as most cellists who do Messiah know, especially if they do it with a single cellist, which is the case for that particular production.

I have finished the part, largely through scanning, exporting to xml, importing the xml in Dorico, cutting and pasting into flows, and editing. As easy as it seems, Dorico does slow down substantially as the number of flows and measures increases. At over 3,000 measures and 60 odd flows, that single cello parts now edits VERY slowly. Simple commands, such as adding a single note, can take four seconds to complete. This is unfortunate since – as I was doing this work – I thought I should perhaps go a little further and make my own performing edition of the whole set, since I will be conducting it with a period ensemble group for the first time next December and I wouldn’t mind a set of parts with my own markings, ornaments etc … I’m going to try, but the program’s speed on such a large project is bound to make it much more difficult than it should (I’ll be too busy until the summer anyway).

I am bringing this to everyone’s attention because the concept of flows is one of incredible elegance and has so much potential. However, it would be a shame not to use it optimally because of performance issues. I am not a Finale user, but I do realize that Sibelius gets rather annoyed with very long projects as well, but since it doesn’t use flows, it tends to force us to use separate files for separate sections anyway. So while I’m not surprised at Dorico’s sluggishness in such circumstances, I do want to point it out since the concept of flows – in theory – should allow us to write a very large score without difficulty in order to truly fulfill the potential of this software.

Having said that, since I am the type of used that is in the middle of the “features’ Bell curve”, I find myself writing in Dorico far more frequently (in fact, almost exclusively) than I thought I would by now.

I have come across this problem too. For such scores (with numerous Flows) I tend to use what I call a “Focus Layout”. In that Layout I will include only the Flow that I am currently working on. While not applicable to all tasks, this approach brings down the work load for Dorico considerably.

That is a brilliant workaround. Thank you very much for sharing it with me. In the end, unless Dorico gets speedier later on, I can write the rough entries for all parts, and then use this technique to do real editing afterwards.

Just for interest’s sake… Finale doesn’t (IME) slow down with large projects, but doesn’t deal at all elegantly with mid-score major changes, making it unwieldy for large projects in one file.

could we have a peek into that score/cello part?

Well… At this point, it’s the whole score … couldn’t help myself. It was extremely slow going, and so real edits (the lyrics are of course a mess since scanning music with lyrics is always an issue), will have to real wait until the summer. So, I’m not sure I want to post this very large file on a public forum at this point since it reflects a considerable of work. I can certainly post pics, though I doubt that would be helpful to anyone. I would certainly email it to the Dorico people if they have an interest, although I would have to assume that they have already played around with “multiple players/multiple flows” files before and are already aware of the performance issues those create. In the end, a long project with one flow is a bit slow, but workable; however, a long file with more than 20 flows gets seriously bogged down.

I encounter the same problem with a project of about 10 flows for eight players. Writing notes is to slow to work anymore, so I’m working on separate files and after that I’m going to try copy and paste into the flows of the project file.
This is a time-consuming process, so for really benefit from the “flows”, Dorico needs to work on its “speed”.

Very true. However, even though it’s a work-around, Alexander’s solution above really does work, although in my case, I had to restart Dorico and reopen the file after I created the focus flow. But I can work at normal speed on the selected flows now. Very handy.

Another thing that I forgot to mention: when working with the Focus Layout, I do not only restrict the included Flows, but often also Players. This has not even to do with speed (although it actually might help with a large score), it is just convenient to include just the elements that are really relevant to the current task.

Scores like this are very valuable to us for testing and optimisation. We have lots of scores that are big (which we can simply import from MusicXML) , but we don’t have many that have a larger number of flows and been input by hand. If you are happy to send it to one of us then it would be very gratefully received.

Consider it done!

… except I’ll need your email for such a large Dorico attachment …

… which I found. It’s on its way!

Not even just multiple flows. I played around with entering some of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides, which is 267 bars in one movement, with ~20 instruments, and it was already pretty laggy. Not 4-seconds-for-one-note, but bad enough to be very noticeable and workflow-impeding.

I have to say that I haven’t really experienced that in a much longer piece I composed last month for slightly larger orchestra. What platform was that on?

Alexander’s solution (working in custom focus flow) works indeed. After a restart of Dorico that is.
Thanks for the help.

Funny. I imported a large movement into Dorico. The XML file was 17MB (exported from a 428k Sibelius file), and the resultant saved Dorico file is 7.6MB. The file has 23 instrumental staves and is 547 bars of 2/4 with notes as small as 32nds. I find that it responds just as quickly, if not quicker, in Dorico as in Sibelius.

The Mendelssohn used to be one of the examples in Sibelius. If you have it you might see how well that performs after it has been imported into Dorico.