Big Scores

I Hello everybody.

I have a general question.

I’m working with the the free Dorico Demo for about a week now, and I think its really pretty impressive.
I worked on another Notation-Software (Mister Spreadbury is pretty familiar with) for the last 19-20 years and I’m pretty fluent on it, but the are multiple reasons for me to change to Dorico.

My main issue that makes me still struggling about this decision is: Because I work mainly in musical theatre, I usually work with pretty Hugh scores (400+ pages).

On the platform I’m working on right now, this can become quite annoying, because things are getting really slow (yes, I know, I can split my score into four scores and connect them in the last step of working, but this sometimes is not a solution, because changes very often has to be made super late in the process).

I had very high hopes, that, because of the new concept of Projects and Flows, Dorico would be able to handle these things way smoother than my actual software.
Now I imported a xml file of one of my last shows, and the result is anything else then satisfying. The score is something around 300 pages and its nearly impossible to work with it because Dorico is getting SO slow. On my old platform I was at least able to do some layout work. On Dorico this nearly impossible.

So my question is: Can I blame the slow behavior of Dorico on the xml. import, or will I have to face this problems always, when I’m working with big scores on Dorico.

Ten years ago the sales-manager of my software told me “you have to deal with it”. I highly appreciated this statement back then and now I’m really curios what his answer would be for Dorico (especially because its the same person).

I really look forward to any answer and I’m curious how the experiences of other users regarding this topic are.

One last thing: Please excuse my poor English.



2017 iMac
4,2 i7
1 TB solid state

Welcome to the forum, Stephan. Have you already split your 300-page score into multiple flows? That should help improve the performance somewhat.

Hi Stephan,

I am in exactly the same situation, coming from Sibelius and working with big scores for Musical Theatre. And I also was somehow disappointed in the beginning with the behaviour of the software.
My experience with Dorico so far is:
Yes, it is slow when you change or set up things like new players, instruments and so on. And sometimes you have to wait for Dorico to finish some background stuff for no obvious reason.

But when you start working in your prepared score, it’s alright. And when you start preparing the final steps and get everything ready to print, it’s much, much faster and easier and more comfortable than anything I worked with before.
I don’t have any experience with xml-files though.


Hi Stephan,

I just can confirm performance issues with big scores. I have a big film music score with more than 60 instruments and some hundred pages. It contained about 20 parts (flows). After splitting it into individual flows - one per file, the performance is fine for me on my 12 core ThreadRipper CPU with Windows 10 and on my MacBook Pro from 2015.

When I am done with all editing I will combine all flows back into a single file.
Best regards, Felix

Most olf the time, when I have performance issues (which is getting more rare, I have to admit), rather than separating flows into files, I work on focus flows which only include the flows I work on. You have to restart Dorico and make sure that flow is present when you restart. I prefer this to recombining, but that is personal.

Thank you all for your feedback.

@Daniel: I´m trying to separate the score into flows, but each separating process takes 4-5 minutes and every 4th attempt leads to Dorico Crashing… (I just decided to buy Dorico today anyway. The new deal is just too tempting).

@Christian, thank you for your answer. If you don’t mind, I will contact you via PM. I’m really interested in your experiences and your strategys.

@Felix: Thanks for answer. This is kind of what I was afraid of. Coming from Sibelius I’m really used to this kind of workaround. Just hoped, that in this new, sacred land of Dorico, these things would we different (I still think Dorico is a great tool).

@Claude: Thanks a lot for this tip. I don’t get the concept of Focus Flow right now. Have to dig a little deeper into Dorico. But it sound great. The recombining is a really annoying concept I spend a lot of time with in the past.

Again: Thank you all,



Stephan, I think Claude actually meant to write ‘focus layout’, i.e. a layout specifically for working on one flow at a time, and maybe even a subset of the instrumentation.

Are you using Condensing? Turn that off while your splitting Flows, and turn it back on when you’re finalising the score.

Dear StephK,
I’m very happy to know you’re becoming a new Dorician — as an opera singer and a big Dorico fan, I’m always happy to know that people from musical theater come and join us. Many new things to learn from you, I’m sure !
What Claude was referring to is, if I am not mistaken, that you can create as many layouts in Dorico as you want/need. That’s the right column in Setup mode. When you select a layout (part layout, full score layout or custom layout) in that column, you can tick which flows it will contain and which players. This means you can build yourself very quickly (well, not so quickly with your huge file) one custom score with all players and flow 1, another with all players and flow 2, etc. What’s very interesting to know is that, if you select one of these layouts and do not open the real full score with all the flows, Dorico won’t be recomputing the casting off and all its magic (especially condensing) in flows you’re not working on. Which leads to a greater reactivity, efficiency, you earn a lot of time in the end. Keep the engraving works that are layout dependant for the end, when you leave those focus flows and go back to the real full score, because you might be making changes that do not reflect on the real full score (but this might have changed since the local/global properties feature, so powerful… I still need to explore). Anyway, I hope this explanation has not confused you more!

Rather than creating a separate working layout for each flow, one can create one working layout with all instruments (or even an appropriate subset) assigned and then check the flow one wished to work on as appropriate.

My apologies, I indeed meant layout. You do have to be careful though, if you open the full score while working on a focus layout, Dorico will likely slow down again. Since version 3.5, and after a significant computer upgrade, which I needed anyway, I find things quite a bit snappier, but immense projects such as writing out the first act of a Wagner opera will still slow things down.

You might not think so, but Audio buffer sizes can matter even when you aren’t playing back. At one point I noticed that Dorico was idling at around 60% when not doing anything - with the majority being consumed by the audio engine process. Raising my buffer size changed that. Save a cycle… gain a cycle.

If this is MusicXML, try turning off Playback Options > Repeats. Impossible repeat structures can really slow Dorico down even outside of playback, in my experience…

Thank you all for your replays.
Images digging my way through the score. Its a little bumpy, because there are a million things redo, but hopefully at the end of this I will be familiar with this new program.