Creating a score from individual typeset physical orchestral parts

I want to create a score from physical instrument sheets to be supplied to me. What’s the best way of doing this? Scan individually as pdf in Photoscore and export each as music xml to Dorico and create score there, or aggregate all into one pdf in Photoscore and export the one large pdf into Dorico and use Dorico to sort out?

I suspect that Dorico will be better at collating separate parts into a score.

And you’re confident that scanning, checking, and correcting from Photoscore will be faster than playing in each part?

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Use PhotoScore to identify the notes and then do everything else in Dorico using lots of xml files.

PhotoScore to xml can work well, with some caveats:

  1. PhotoScore exports v2 xml files.
  2. Three specific problems I’ve encountered: a) Dorico does not recognize a “double flat” token, only “flat-flat”. This causes the import to fail, but you can easily fix it in a text editor; b) PhotoScore’s multi-rests do not import (they arrive as a single bar rest). This can cause mayhem; c) If there are many complex tuplets and multiple voicings with different tuplets in each voice, Dorico will give up. (One workaround is simply to delete those notes in PhotoScore and add a text comment to remind you to edit in Dorico).
  3. Because PhotoScore was developed in collaboration with Sibelius, the “export to Sibelius” route is much more reliable. Use Sibelius to create your xml file.
  4. I never use PhotoScore to read text or articulations, and often avoid reading lines/slurs - it is simply too inaccurate. Test how it is going to behave by reading a single page of your pdf and then adjust settings.
  5. Proof read your PhotoScore file for correct key signatures and clefs (especially key changes to C/Am - if they are not made explicit then the previous key persists!
  6. Don’t be too ambitious - scan each part-movement to a separate file and the aggregate.

Caveats aside. PhotoScore has saved me many, many hours of effort.

In addition to the comments above, if any of the parts are transposing instruments, be sure to tick that in the reading options of Photoscore - otherwise it will be a real mess. It might also be best to view your Full Score in transposed view when copy/pasting the part into it - review carefully to be sure it is correct.

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Thank you all for your replies above which are educational!

Benwiggy - yes I’ve encountered the time it can take to correct one manuscript Photoscore scan which is why I asked the question for a more practical route forward - I also have SmartScore which has similar manuscript challenges but don’t have Scan Score which I think Dorico uses unless its in the Pro package. what do you mean by playing in each part. So what do you mean by “playing in each part” - I cant see a reference to it in Dorico.

Thanks Janus - I think you’re recommending that Dorico should do the heavy lifting and let Photoscore, or Smartscore which I also have, capture the bulk of the music for cleaning up in Dorico. I can see that 2b) can cause mayhem, 2c) need careful attention,3 might be a challenge since I dont have Sibelius having chosen Dorico, and 4, 5, 6 reemphasizes that the key to success is being methodical, attention to detail, and patience. Since I have both Photoscore (Pro) and Smart score(Pro) and would get ScanScore if it made sense - which would you recommend? given that I have Dorico 3.5 Pro - thanks

Thanks DWlarson - excelent tip on transcoding and ticking the right box in Photoscore since some parts will be transposing since I want to adapt from orchestra to a wind band. Are you suggesting that I create the Full Score in Photoscore? or which scanning software would you recommend for getting my parts into Dorico to work on, transpose, transcode, create full score etc


Dorico isn’t tied to any particular scanning software. John Hinchey did a nice round-up of all of the big ones, recently - see A review of optical music recognition software - Scoring Notes and listen to the podcast.

I think Ben’s point, and it’s a fair one, is that it can sometimes be quicker to use your eyes and fingers to read the part and play it straight into Dorico (and then correct by hand), rather than scanning into the computer and then correcting.

I mean Note Entry with a MIDI keyboard. I do a lot of this, working from 18th-century manuscripts that only exist in parts. I enter the notes into Dorico directly from each part in turn, to create the score.

Thank you both - excellent pointers and information

This weekend I scanned a few Schütz pieces into Photoscore. Technically, fairly simple music, and the score was a digital PDF, therefore, supposedly, clean and crisp. Yet, Photoscore (Pro) made a bl**dy mess. Breves were missing, most lyrics were off and had to be corrected, or typed in anyway. (Can’t they teach the software that it’s quite unlikely to encounter uppercase characters in the middle of a word? Well, apart from some Celtic languages, maybe. :sigh:)
I might’ve entered everything faster by hand. I’m pretty fast in Dorico note entry nowadays. A little exercise pays off.
IMO, it’s easier to keep track of what you haven’t done yet (articulations, dynamics, bowings, whatever), than to keep track of the garbage you still have to clean up.

Thanks for the heads up PitorB