Dorico only good for simple things?

Some days ago @University for Music, Vienna, I had a talk with the professor who teaches digital notation. I asked about Dorico. She told me, with Sibelius and Finale, any score imaginable can be produced. Dorico is only useful for simple scores.

What do you think? Is the difference between F, S and D really that big? Or is it habit that Dorico is not yet taught at the university?

But that is so vague as to be meaningless. If you mean some very specific modern notation techniques, then yes, Dorico cannot yet do some of those things. But as a professional musical who makes his living from Dorico, I find the characterization of it as “amateur” or “hobbyist” to be a bit offensive. And ignorant (I’ve heard this before, usually from people who know nothing about the software).

And it’s understandable that people use what they are familiar with. These other notation programs have many decades of a head start. And some of these professors have been using them for 30 years or longer. Of course they are going to use what they are familiar with. But I believe Dorico is unquestionably the future.

Edit: just to clarify, I understand you were asking the question and not necessarily saying that yourself.


I’d be curious to see some scores produced by this so-called expert on digital notation (whatever that means…).


Uh, wut?


One glance at @benwiggy ’s or @klafkid ’s scores would beg to differ…

I can only presume said professor either knows little of Dorico (Perhaps they last seriously investigated version 2?) or means advanced “modern” notation (and even then, dorico is no slouch… it’s mostly cutaways that are the problem at this point).


I’m guessing this professor only knows about the SE version, in which case she’s right. But oh my how wrong she is if she thinks that’s true of Pro.


There have been various reports over the years of performance issues when using hundreds of flows and very large collections of players. But I doubt that any notation program performs significantly better on those very large-scale projects than Dorico 5.

And performance is only one aspect of the experience. I can produce my work at least twice as fast, and with far fewer errors, than I ever could with Finale. I have maintained a SIbelius license, but I never found SIbelius to offer enough advantage to justify serious consideration of moving from Finale. Therefore, I can’t comment on how suitable Sibelius would be for large, complex projects.

I would disregard this professor’s opinion unless she can offer something more concrete. it sounds like she is not very informed, which one might think would be an embarrassing position for a professor of digital notation.


In my experience, at this point it’s a trade off.

The biggest thing Dorico cannot do are cutaway scores - that’s fairly obvious. Also some graphical things like breaking staffs and drawing elephants for 3 bars is not possible.
(There are more small details, somewhere I made a list once…)

But the ease and customizability of other aspects are not to be underestimated for contemporary notation:

  • handling of microtones is unsurpassed
  • custom playing techniques and glyphs, gradual playing techniques changes
  • custom lines which are absolutely stable regarding note spacing. I wouldn’t underestimate that at all!
  • instrument editor
  • easy and stable method to edit clefs and other music symbols

And the old „classics“ which are also significant in my opinion:

  • instrument changes
  • condensing, duh?
  • flows and layouts. never been easier
  • page templates and music frames for performance notes
  • the „set once never think again“ automatic layout.

Maybe I forgot something, but I am convinced that for most contemporary music Dorico is superior by now. Even workarounds I use are (slash regions for empty bars, chord regions to adjust instrument changes etc) are much more stable than how my scores felt like when still using Sibelius.

In the end I think it’s a trade off: surely one can do more in other programs, but everything takes so much longer. If it’s really important it’s easy and IMHO quicker and better looking to take the output of Dorico and make adjustments in Affinity of adobe.


Also it’s quite the question what she really teaches. Does she teach beginner level of notation for instrumentalists or is she doing research on the boundaries of conventional notation?
I at least see Dorico being used in more and more German universities, especially for arranging and low level notation classes for instrumentalists, because it’s so easy and the layout is such a no brainer.

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I think the person mentioned in the original post has confused the word “simple” with the word “conventional”. Mahler 8, for example, uses conventional notation, but you couldn’t reasonably describe it as “simple”.

I find Dorico Vs Sibelius to be roughly analogous to Mac Vs PC. Dorico and the Mac do what they do better than anything else out there, and what they don’t do, they don’t do at all. Sibelius and PC, you can normally bully into doing a slightly rubbish approximation of anything you want, but it will be slightly rubbish and take ages.


What is this, the 90s…? :rofl: Let’s leave those tired comparisons on the bonfire.

@Pepinello I’d seriously urge you to contact this professor again, and suggest she re-assesses her opinion. Dorico may be less fluent with more contemporary, graphical scores; but it can handle complex conventional notation much more easily and more attractively than the others.


It’s the 2020s and sadly still just as true…

Just like Linux has been on the verge of a major market breakthrough since the 90s, all modern pop music has been rubbish and nothing like the amazing music from 30 years ago since the 90s, and opera has been about to have a massive revival of popularity in young people due to some terribly good looking person singing it badly into a microphone… since the 90s. Some stuff never changes…


Pffff! Just another “professor” living in fairyland. Ignore them and only listen to people who can back up what they say with data and research.


Academics often don’t work in the real world (I can say that having been an academic - and apologies to any academics here who do have day jobs and get real work done :grin: )

But they’re in a position where impressionable people are constantly asking their opinion, so often they’ll give their opinions about everything, even if they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Somebody came here a while ago asking if he could notate as a Film composer, b/c his profs advice was that he wouldn’t be able to work fast enough. My response to that is, does that prof work as a professional film composer?


Arguably, the very definition of an academic is someone who does back up what they say with data and research.

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Great point but in practice it doesn’t work that way. It’s a big problem in STEM communication. Scientists do some research and discover something new - like some new battery tech, solar PV tech, etc. Gets interviewed, inevitably gets asked what it means. Researcher replies with “this could XYZ” - lead to unlimited energy, solve the climate crises, etc. Public hears this, but finds that 99% of the time that prediction does not occur, because academics know how to research, but not how to turn that research into reality (specifically product)

End result is, public ignores science because it never becomes true, or because it changes. The former is a false impression due to this inability of academics to communicate, and the latter is how it’s supposed to work (we change our minds when better information is available.)

Point being academics are not broad thinkers typically - that’s a different kind of person. They’re narrow, depth thinkers. So ask them about their particular research (getting to your point) and they’ll give you the best opinion in the world. Ask them about something outside of their research and they’re generally not better than anybody else.


Just to continue a little.

For me, the point here is what are the routes to help guide the professor make a more informed opinion.? Maybe her students bring ‘notice’ of how good/useful/easy they’ve found this new notation software to be (that they’ve been using in their ‘spare time’). Or, fellow academic staff recommendations; evidence coming to her from respected or favoured professional musician/performer/composer/conductor using the software… The list can go on.

The upshot, it’s obvious its a very tough, ongoing exercise to win proverbial hearts and minds.! Just getting it in to ‘young peoples’ hands to try for example, is a massive battle (especially given ‘free’ alternatives, etc.).

Anyone got any brilliant marketing/promotion tips or schemes up their sleeves.?

Other than building word-of-mouth (which hopefully will eventually reach the professor), I had the idea of pursuing ‘strategic alliances’ - they’ve always got to be worth seeking out… maybe with popular/like minded YouTube vloggers for example (i.e. offer Dorico as prizes to folk like Ryan Leach, who runs occasional composing competitions on his channel - he’s a Dorico convert) and such like…

Or, a social media ‘champion’ if you will - not a ‘product champion’… someone very active with plenty of followers on Twitter, TIkTok, Insta, fb whatever… someone enthusiastic (probably young/with energy)… They’re out there, doing stuff already; just need to look… :wink:

It also always nags me a little why we don’t see big parent Yamaha, flexing its muscles in Dorico’s direction a bit more. Maybe I’m wrong and they do what they can (in education field) already.? Who knows…


Each student must be his own teacher.
From vinylI have some great professor for music: Keith Jarrett, H. Hancock, Coltrane… unfortunately I never took a lesson with them.
take Dorico’s demo and make up your mind as a student teacher

She should have a chat with Alan Silvestri. And do some homework on updates.

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hell, I’d KILL for a chat with Silvestri.