Dorico as the Ultimate Transcribing tool? (Creative mis-use of video track)


I’m right now working on a huge arrangement project, 26 christmas songs for choir, rythm section, brass and strings - all in one project. :slight_smile:
This involves lots of transcribing stuff from recordings.

Just want to share one of the real time-savers that makes working with Dorico great: The ability to work with video tracks.

Of course, when transcribing songs i don’t actually need video, just audio playback - but until we can work with audio background files in Dorico, this is my workflow:

  1. Convert the mp3 that I want to transcribe to a .mp4 video file (using ffmpeg tool for this, with a single .jpg file as “still” picture)
  2. Attaching the video file to the current flow in Dorico’s setup mode, and adjusting the Video Start offset so that playback begins at first playback beat. (This is a bit tricky - some kind of graphical interface where you could see the actual waveform would be great…! :slight_smile:
  3. Mapping out the whole song with bars, rehersal marks, tempi and tempo adjustments etc. so that the notation playback stays in sync with video playback.
  4. Just start playback, listen and transcribe - without ever having to mess with playback from another application or device. Always in sync! :slight_smile:

As said, this saves lots of time. Still, things could be easier:

A. The ability to directly import background mp3/waw/* as background track as alternative to video. The ffmpeg conversion described above is a bit fiddly and takes time.
B. Easier, more intuitive adjustment of Video Start offset.
C. Midi Playback Controller (Mackie Control etc) interface for controlling playback using jog wheel, levels etc.

All thumbs up to the great Dorico team! Looking forward to future featurest for making transcribing even easier.

What about you guys, what’s on your Transcribing with Dorico wishlist?

Best! / Jonas


Yes yes yes! At the moment, I’ve got the file open in audacity, and constantly switching. Pressing play accidently in the wrong program is a real headache! This is a great idea. And I support wholeheartedly any plans the team have to make transcribing easier!

Note-first input!!! Transcribing is so much faster in Finale where I can just figure out what the notes are and then immediately input them without leaving the input cursor. In Dorico, obviously any time I touch the MIDI keyboard it is going to input notes if the cursor is active. That means anytime I need to use my keyboard to transcribe the next phrase (or sometimes even transcribe just a single note in a difficult to hear passage) I have to leave the input cursor, figure it out on my MIDI keyboard, then re-enter the input cursor to input, then leave again, etc. All this entering and leaving the input cursor is just way slower than note-first input where I never have to leave the cursor the entire time I’m transcribing.

Honestly, I usually just leave Amazing Slow Downer or Transcribe! open while transcribing into notation software. Both are already great transcription tools and I’d rather see the Dorico developers spend their time to improve notation elements rather than incorporate transcription features. Just my $0.02.

Fair enough. But displaying a waveform would be cool? Maybe they could grab that from cubase? If it’s not too much work, I’d love to see that.

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Pitch-before-duration. Pretty please. But I’ve requested this so many times that I’m in danger of trolling… :sunglasses:

I would absolutely love to import audio for transcription, but this has been requested many times.

Here’s one: the ability to set a different rhythmic unit for the metronome. When I want to slow down a section, I click on the metronome… and it defaults to quarter notes. Even if I was in 6/8. Then I have to do maths. :cry:

@theduke: Yes, speeds up the transcribing flow soo much…! :slight_smile:

@FredGUnn: Yes, I agree that the current input style might be less ideal. I have two 88 keys, one midi controller in front of me for Dorico input and one piano on my left for messing around, rehersing, trying out passages…
My main point regarding the trancribing flow is just accing mp3/wav/* attachment as an alternative to video file attachment. All the main functionality is already there.

I really LOVE the way I can transcribe in Dorico - it has really made that whole process so much easier (and faster)
Sure there are more improvements that could make it even better but I have to agree and give props to the Dorico team - this has been a great tool for me when I need to transcribe!!
My challenges still seem to be around getting it to sync with varying performance timing but I can usually get things close enough that I can here what I’ve written along with the actual recording (via video file of course) that things make logical sense.

Yeah, that would eliminate the need to constantly be entering and leaving the input caret. Unfortunately due to space allowances (well, and budget) I’m only going to have one 88 key MIDI keyboard attached at my workstation. If we are requesting features that would make Dorico better for transcribing, then virtually all the features of the other programs I mentioned would be necessary for me to transcribe fully within Dorico. Features like adjustable speed settings, variable programmable EQ, looping settings, various types of spectrum analysis, etc.

Here are a couple of pages of McCoy Tyner’s classic solo on “Blues on the Corner” that I transcribed about 3 weeks ago when I was teaching pentatonic substitutions in my Advanced Improv class. This still took me a while (8 pages - 6 choruses) but would have been even more time consuming without using the tools mentioned above. I have some friends with ridiculous perfect pitch that could probably have done it without, but I transcribe a lot and rely on those features. Dorico would need to incorporate those types of features to be an “ultimate transcribing tool” IMO.

I use Reaper to do the audio, and I’ve mapped a few hotkeys using Autohotkey so that I can control it from within Dorico. Wondering if it’s possible, using this video import method, to start and stop the recording (preferably with the option to resume from the same place each time, or from the stop position), without leaving note entry mode?

I use Transcribe. I’ve assigned global shortcuts to it. In this way I can play and stop the audio without leaving Dorico.
I think that could be very useful to import audio or stems. Many of us use Dorico to transcribe arrangements and this could really improve the workflow

We do certainly have a number of ideas for tools to help with the transcription process in the future. There are some technologies in Cubase that would definitely be helpful. This is not something I expect us to be working on in the immediate future, but in the medium term I am hopeful that we will be able to produce some pretty good assistive functionality in this area.

I use the video track too. I import audio in Logic, set the tempo and tempo changes and export the audio into a movie and a midi file. In Dorico I can import the movie and the tempo track from the midi file, so it runs in sync. I mainly use it for additional arrangements on top of existing tracks. In my case some projects for pop-rock band with orchestra.

Cool! If you are looking to implement transcription features, the following are some playback features I frequently use in Transcribe! or Amazing Slow Downer:

  1. Tuning - Often a recording won’t be A440, so some tuning features are necessary to play back the recording at pitch
  2. Speed Control - Obviously the ability to slow a recording down is very important for transcribing. Transcribe! even includes a 70% button as that seems to be a very useful percentage.
  3. Panning and EQ - Both are very useful when trying to isolate a particular instrument while transcribing.
  4. Looping - Setting a region to play back on a loop is often helpful when trying to accurately hear a passage.
  5. Pitch Guesses or Spectrum Analysis - Pitch guessing is so inaccurate that I often forget to even activate it, but it occasionally has been helpful. Chord guesses are usually useless, at least for the kind of work I do, but I could see them being useful for others.

@Daniel As a first step, just being able to choose audio file attachment as an alternative to video would be great!

How much do we want to bet that as soon as Dorico provides for an audio track, some will start lobbying for multi-track audio? :confused:

Some people would probably like multi-track audio output, as well. If I have a sample library that was recorded in a real physical environment in surround sound, why can’t I export a surround sound audio file from Dorico?

(Note to Daniel: that is nowhere near the top of my wish list, but it is a real wish)

You can imagine the reaction of the “Let’s merge Dorico with Cubase” partisans to this. :slight_smile:

This is great for mockups as you can then export an audio file out (which you can’t do in Sibelius). But for me it gets a bit tedious when I don’t want to hear the source file as I’m working. There is a great app called “Transcribe” buy 7th string, that you can run in the background (with keyboard shortcuts) with Dorico in the foreground.