Dear Dorico team. Writing chords in Dorico vs Sibelius. Requesting minor changes


I am learning how to use Dorico, and I really love the software. However, after practicing by transcribing some piano pieces, I am not convinced that your way of writing chords is faster or better then Sibelius.

In Sibelius, I can enter a note, and then press a number to add an intervall above, or hold shift and press a number to add a intervall below. I don’t even have to know what note it is as long as I know the interval.

Writing chords in Dorico is not as efficient. I have to press Q to change to chord mode, and press the letter of the note I want added. The problem with this, is that even though I am quite experienced in music theory, it does take a little bit of time to think. “What is the sixth of note X again?” when I could just press 6. Boom. Done.

Or am I missing something? I am not using a MIDI-keyboard, as I enjoy working on a laptop anywhere I go. Do you think your system is faster when I have more experience? As of now I don’t see it. I wish there was a faster way to add interval above or below than pressing shift+i and typing the number…

Hi @Sindre and welcome to the forum!

(Edited as I somehow missed your reference to this at the bottom) The note tools popover is the closest equivalent method in Dorico I’d say, although it allows you to enter multiple notes by interval. For instance, you could enter -4,3,6,8 to add notes a fourth below and a third, sixth, and octave above all at the same time.

In Dorico 4, its capabilities have been expanded to include musical transformations including retrograde and inversion.

Functions that change things or input something by design generally use more than one key, as it’s very easy otherwise to have a passage selected, go to press W to open the part layout, and accidentally brush a number key as well and add notes a 2nd above all selected notes (which has definitely never, ever happened to me…). Likewise, the arrow keys navigate the selection around without changing anything, you need to add Alt/Opt to start moving items or repitching notes.

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I understand. And maybe I will get use to this in time. It’s only bothering me at the moment, as it takes more time.

Want to add a note a forth above a note:
Sibelius: Mark note, press 4.
Dorico: Mark note, shift+i, 4, enter.

This is twice as many actions to reach the same goal. I find it very inefficient. I know things are different when switching software, this particular one just surprises me as everything else seems to be much more efficient in Dorico than it was in Sibelius. Could you at least forward my concern to the development team?

Of course, I appreciate you taking the time to answer me, and I understand if this is just something I have to accept. I will still continue to use your software, as it is very great.

It’s normal for it to take a little while to get comfortable with a new software, I also had to switch from Sibelius and it took me a bit of getting used to.

I think something like this is unlikely to change significantly, but perhaps other options might be worth considering/investigating, like the Stream Deck (which I don’t use personally, but I hear it’s relatively easy to set up a command with that that would open the popover, enter say “6” for a sixth above, and close the popover again with one button).

I have remapped Q (chord mode, which I don’t ever use) to the interval popover. On an English keyboard, it sits up near the numbers. Select a note, Q, 3, Enter - adds a note a 3rd above. Fast as you can type it!

I like that numbers change the duration of the selected note(s). Very handy when you need it!

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If you are adding multiple notes to a chord, that single extra step is of diminishing importance. And as @DanKreider observed, using numbers to change durations is way more useful than adding intervals (IIRC changing rhythm in Sibelius was a royal pain in the backside).

Rather than nit-pick over a single process, why don’t you compare the total keystrokes required to produce a fully engraved work? FWIW my experience has been that Dorico is significantly more efficient than Sibelius.

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This is a forum focussed on a particular notation software. I’d say if nit-picking is going to happen anywhere, it’s here! People are more than welcome to share their experiences and frustrations.


I don’t disagree. However, the size of nits should be picked in context. I would not have commented had the OP claimed “I find it relatively inefficient”.

My 2¢: Indeed, adding intervals in Sib takes fewer keystrokes. But in practice that makes it too easy to change the notes accidentally when navigating around, and not notice.

Dorico was designed from the ground up to disallow such errors. And that gives us professional copyists the confidence we had been needing for decades in the integrity of the entries.

(Also, regarding the topic title, what you describe as a “minor change” would not be minor!)


This is the OP’s first post in the forum. Hopefully we can all share some compassion with what it feels like to be still settling in to a new software and encountering those corners where differences to other software you’re familiar with jump out at you, and make sure the OP feels welcome to come back and ask whatever it is they need to ask, whenever that is.


But it is realatively inefficient. Your counter argument is: I should focus on every other aspect of the software that is more efficient to Sibelius. Sure. All in all I probably will save time using Dorico. I am 100% certain that to be true, after trying 3,5 for a month and upgrading to 4 today – I am indeed positive towards this great piece of software. However, I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t “nit-pick” about something I personally believe could be improved. However, I understand people are happy with the way it works, and that I’m a minority here. I can see how it can be reasuring to some people that accidentally pressing a button won’t change your score so fast, even though I never had this problem.

I could look into macro software and remapping. I use a keyboard with a numpad, so if I used the numpad for the shorcuts that the numbers normally do, and programmed a macro that means " 3= shift+i, 1, enter" and “Shift+3=shift+i,-3,enter”.

Anybody know if this could be possible? Otherwise I guess I could look into a macro keypad, but I would prefer if programming your own shorcuts is possible…

It is possible, as I commented above. You can use Q, or another key.

And it’s not binary: either we like Dorico defaults or we don’t. I’ve changed several things, and learned to acclimate to the majority of the defaults. Your mileage may vary.

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I agree - it is relatively inefficient. Unfortunately the number keys are mapped to the durations. This allows Dorico to be keyboard agnostic - unlike Sibelius, you don’t need a numpad to write notes efficiently into the application, and unlike Sibelius, you never have to leave your keyboard and touch the mouse, which saves a lot of time IMO. To achieve this they have sacrificed a certain speed when inputting chords, which is unfortunate if you do it a lot.

The good news is if you’re entering the same interval for a number of chords, you can just select them and use the interval popover, and it’s suddenly much faster!

What’s the takeaway? This little bit of your workflow is slower, other bits are faster, and on and on go the comparisons of similarly featured software products to the end of time…

Yes—I seem to recall one of the development diaries talking about the fact that they decided quite deliberately to structure the key commands such that they would work on laptop keypads (ie—no reliance on num pads).

@Sindre do be sure to take a look at all of the key commands that you can change in the preferences pane; there are an extraordinary number of things that can be assigned custom shortcuts. Also, the new jump bar can speed certain things up as well. I concede that doesn’t solve all your woes, but it could certainly improve other bits.

@DanKreider I think you misunderstand. I know I can change (shift+i) to Q.
You are explaning: how I can replace one keyboard comand. I’m wondering if I can program a shortcut to do a series of tasks:


and of course


I’ve been looking through the key commands in preferences, but I don’t see a way of doing what I’m describing…

No, for that you would need a macro. That’s correct. I’ve used AHK on Windows to do just that, in combination with a Stream Deck.

Hi Sindre!
Welcome to this forum; I hope you find this space a secure and welcome place to share your findings, opinions, frustrations and recommendations. That’s what makes this forum richer.

I hear (read) you regarding the efficiency of chord inputting. I write a lot of chords and with 10+ years of using Sibelius, I got to be very fast. So I had the same encountered feelings when transitioning to Dorico. So many fabulous things! But some annoying details (in my perspective) that could make my life easier in my transition.
I’ll be honest: Sometimes I still would prefer if the chord input method by default was like Sibelius, just pressing a single number for the interval.
But in time, I’ve come to appreciate the usefulness of not having that. This is just MY experience. Using negative numbers for downward intervals, less accidental mistakes and unwanted notes, and finding out that the extra keystrokes have not slowed me down a bit in my chord input velocity. It was annoying getting used to a different workflow, but really, not that a drag…
I hope you can find at least something useful in the annoying bits, so as to color your journey in exploring Dorico.


@JosueViera thank you for your great reply. And also thanks to the rest of you for your great inputs! I’m going to look into makro-solutions for this spesific task.

I look forward to beeing a part of the Dorico family. Community seems great so far :slight_smile:

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