I would encourage you to try to keep related material in a single project. As Leo pointed out, switching between projects is slow (I believe it’s because the audio engine reloads each time). Feel free to conduct the experiment yourself, of course – I suspect you will soon be frustrated.
Beyond the practical aspect of avoiding audio engine reload time, keeping your material in a single project lets you make effective use of the powerful player-flow-layout relationship in setup mode. Here are some examples:
Create separate layouts for ideas vs compositions. These are effectively different “buckets” to view your flows, and you can configure them differently. So maybe you have an ideas layout that allows multiple flows on a single page and doesn’t show flow headings. Then you have a compositions layout that puts flows on separate pages, and shows flow headings. You’re able to quickly navigate to individual flows and compositions by pulling up the correct layout and scrolling around. Caveat: Dorico will play the flows in the order they’re listed in Setup – which means if you have an “Ideas” layout, and your flows are laid out “Idea 1” “Composition 1” “Idea 2” and you play from the beginning, then Dorico will play “Idea 1”, then be silent as it passes over “Composition 2” (which exists on the playback timeline but isn’t viewed in the “Ideas” layout), and then play “Idea 2”. This is confusing at first but you get used to it (and it has to do with how it handles playback associated with videos). So the basic rule is, if you want two flows to play in succession, they need to be next to each other in the flows setup – regardless of how they appear in the layout.
Create “compose” and “arrange” layouts for different perspectives of the same flow data. To use this, make a new flow. Open the “compose” layout, which only has pianoforte* instruments, and write the tune. Now open a new window / tab / panel, and view the same flow in the “arrange” layout, which has the different instruments involved in your arrangement. Copy from the “compose” layout into “arrange”, or simply use it as a guide to write new parts directly in “arrange.” All system information that you create in “compose” (meter, tempo, system text, chord symbols, bar lines, etc) will carry over into “arrange.”
- I use pianoforte instruments in my “compose” layouts because under the hood, Dorico considers “pianoforte” as a separate instrument from “piano”, even though they sound the same. This is a useful trick so that when importing a flow into a different project, I can use the “merge into existing instruments” option. If I set the compose instruments as piano, then the first track would merge into the first existing piano track in my score. But because I use pianoforte, the full score piano stays untouched, and my compose tracks will be merged into any existing pianoforte parts, or new ones created if necessary.
Create layouts / flow configurations for different ensembles in the same project. Did you know you can create solo piano, big band, and orchestra arrangements all in a single project? Use the “Add Ensemble” option in setup to build up a mega orchestra: Triple Woodwind, Big Band Horns, 4321 Brass (delete the extra trumpets and trombones), Harps / Celeste / Piano, Jazz Rhythm section, String Section. Now when you make a flow, you de-select all of the players, and add only the ones you want to participate in the flow. You have all the players at hand, and can configure a piano solo, big band, tuba concerto, woodwind + string orchestra, whatever your heart desires.
Create “focus” layouts as needed. Sometimes I just want to zoom in on how the flute and strings interact. Create a “Custom score layout,” select the flow(s) that you’re working on, select the players to focus on, and there you go. Now you are focused on a single group of instruments in a single flow, but you can switch to a different layout to see / hear the full arrangement (or a different focused selection!)
Only add complete, keeper flows to “Full score” layout. Most of the stuff I have in Dorico is transient, and is only used for building up a finished piece. Anything complete that I want to keep goes in the “Full score” layout so that I can easily see what’s done, without all the mess getting in the way. It feels really good to add a flow to “Full score”!
Print ideas to paper. Dorico is pretty comfortable to write in, but I usually prefer to write away from the computer, at the piano. Dorico’s beautiful notation makes it really slick to print out some ideas and bring them with me to the piano to play with. At first I printed to PDF and viewed them on my iPad, but it’s a pretty small screen and can only show one page at a time. So by printing to paper, I can have as many pages as will fit on my piano stand, or I can tape to the wall and use the ideas as guides for improvising.
I hope you find some of that useful. Whether you use any of those specific ideas or not doesn’t really matter… my point is to illustrate that the relationship between players-flows-layout is really powerful. Once you wrap your head around it, you can use it to organize a ton of music if you want to, including all aspects from initial ideas to full-blown arrangements.
Also I just want to shout out the other composers a bit. Dorico really works as a compositional tool and I hope it gets some more love for that use case going forward – it doesn’t have to just be about notation