Composing with Dorico vs Cubase


This to the folks who like to write and score music rather than folks who lay samples in projects.

I this post, I assume we really don’t care about the effect plugins and mixing and mastering process. I like to put the dynamic markings, etc.

I have written in the past with Finale and I had a good experience and in Cubase (on Mac), not so good as I spend over half of the time dealing with crashes, etc. especially with Cubase score editors since Cubase 8.5.

Now that I switched to Dorico and I would like to see how other fellow composers are doing.

Composing with Dorico vs Cubase
  • I use both, but I compose in Cubase more efficiently
  • I use both, But I compose in Dorico more efficiently
  • I use only Dorico and it is just fine for composing
  • I use only Cubase and it is just fine for composing
  • Dorico is NOT suitable for composing
  • Cubase is NOT suitable for composing

0 voters

It would be great if you could explain more in writing.

Hello there! I am a composer working with music for theatre, film and television. I use (and love) both Cubase and Dorico. I think scoring software and DAW software have different roles. I use a DAW to create a performance. When I track MIDI from VST sample libraries, I focus on how it sounds, with no thought at all on how it is notated. Because the slight imperfections in timing might be exactly what makes the performance work. In the notation software, the goal is of course the opposite - to take the performance and make it readable to another musician. Therefore, I mould the compositions in Cubase first, and then move to Dorico when I need to create scores for the live musicians. This process is of course different for every composer, often depending on what “school” you are from, and how your head works (a highly individual thing!). I am one of those “in the middle”, who has had music education, but notation or reading music is still not my strongest side (also because of my ADHD, to be fair). I still compose by ear, first and foremost. So to me, Cubase is the creative tool where the ideas are transformed from my head and onto music. Then I use Dorico to translate that into readable music (I have never actually used Cubase’s own score editor). But I only notate the parts that will actually be played by real musicians. If that means a full orchestra or only a couple of studio musicians varies from project to project, budget and time constraints :slight_smile: Quite sadly, these days the whole score might end up as 100% sample libraries, but that is another debate…

But I guess what you’re saying is that you have a notation background and not very much a DAW background. In that case, I think Dorico indeed could work as a highly creative tool where you could do the whole process (especially coupled with NotePerformer for the most realistic playback of all the hairpins and playing techniques). Some of my film composer colleagues here in Norway previously used Sibelius for that kind of workflow, and are now moving into Dorico.

Thank you for the feedback.

I consider myself pretty fluent in Cubase but the score editor lacks support for quartertones and also not stable and crashes ( on my Mojave iMac) often. I’ve had over a hundred crash files and nothing got fixed. Despite many of these were reported to Steinberg.

You mentioned sample libraries and not caring about notation. In Dorico Pro, one can add any effects and VST libraries both as insert and send effect and also use the play option to do automation and many more. As in Cubase score editor, I suppose one can have display quantize in Dorico if a person chooses to record in real-time.

I use to write music ( not for films) in Final and before that in Encore long ago! I use also the calssic harmony and orchestration techniques say NIKOLAY RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Principles of Orchestration book! I am not comfortable with Cubase the chord track especially when you cannot bypass it for a MIDI part and the whole track will use the same “follow chord” settings.

Ah - Encore!! Those were the days! :smiley: That was the first scoring software I used too, about 20 years ago!

Right, yes, Dorico allows for a greater flexibility in fine-tuning the playback options compared to other scoring software I guess. You can also specify “playback note length” on a note-to-note level in Dorico’s Play View. It’s an incredibly clever and forward-thinking program! :slight_smile:

Steinberg has made some improvements to the scoring editor in Cubase 11 it seems, but I don’t know about these bugs. Sad to hear that you’ve had a hard time with it. I have never considered using a built-in score editor at all, in Cubase or any other DAW. It always seems more like an afterthought to me, than a serious contender for notation work over dedicated notation software. :slight_smile: (I have never used Cubase’s chord track either.)

I use chord track for pop songs and it works great although it is very limited. I am not going to score in Cubase until I see Score editor doesn’t make Cubase crash.

I suppose Steinberg is holding off on introducing it gradually for the later versions! I wish I could customize the voice leading for different groups say for woodwinds, etc.

I agree Dorico has awesome UI and have good UX with it.

PS. The encore was great on old Windows. I don’t remember any bugs!