Dorico vanishes when trying to import MusicXML

I am doing two projects this week where I have a PDF with a transcription of a pop tune. They were completely literal transcriptions that each go on for 10 or more pages. The performer asked me to reduce this to something more like a lead sheet that would actually be useful in performance.

I don’t know what program generated the PDF, but I suppose it was either Finale or Sibelius. I ran it through the PDFtoMusic Pro app, which does an amazing job of interpreting directly written (not scanned) PDFs and saving as MusicXML.

The first project imported into Dorico. It was pretty messed up with time signature inconsistencies between staves. But I was able to cut and paaste to use most of it. I finished that project in about 4 hours.

Now I am doing the second project – which is similar to the first. The PDF is from the same transcriber. When I open it into PdftoXML Pro, it interprets things quite well, and I can do a realistic playback from within that app. Basically it seems to be 98% intact. I save that to MusicXML. When I open import that XML into Dorico, Dorico just vanishes without any message.

I tried importing the same XML into Finale 25. That imported successfully. It wasn’t perfect. A few measures had the wrong numbers of beats, but all the staves were consistent. Basically it looks pretty similar to the original PDF, minus some text expressions, slash notation and other odd bits.

I exported that Finale file to another XML. I then imported that XML into Dorico. That completed, but it was a complete mess. Staves were completely inconsistent. The file was basically unusable.

As this is copyrighted material, I don’t want to post it here. I will be happy to provide it if somebody is able to research the problems, especially the Dorico crash.

Some additional details:
PDFtoXML has an option to create separate XML files for each staff. When I did that, I found 2 of the XML files imported OK and 2 caused Dorico to vanish. What is peculiar is that there should only have been 3 staves (a piano grand staff on every system and a vocal line that appears on most systems. The two XML files that imported OK were actually fragments of the vocal part, only a few measures in each one. That seems a very peculiar way for PDFtoXML to organize the information, but when importing that into Finale, the music all ended up in the right places.

For this particular project, I ran it through SmartScore which reconstructs scanned music. That is a lot less accurate than PDFtoXML, but it got most of the material into Dorico for me.

I have had similar issues sometimes too. Doing the xml import into Sibelius, making little corrections there, exporting to .xml seemed to have worked for me quite well in those cases.

Please zip up the problematic MusicXML files and put them here. PDFToMusic Pro is a wonderful application but it does produce MusicXML files that have some quirks compared to other applications, and Dorico is not as hardened against idiosyncratic MusicXML syntax as other more mature applications. If you provide the files we should be able to determine what’s going wrong.

MuseScore has pretty good MusicXML import and export, and it also gives error messages for problems importing MusicXML. You might not be able to persuade PDFtoMusicPro to do a better job, but at least you get a list of where the problems were. (And MuseScore is free, so there’s nothing to lose trying it).

They contain copyrighted material, so I sent them in a private email.

If you take the Finale route, be sure to select all, and run the included plugin “check region for durations….” It will spot under- and overfilled measures and let you adjust them manually or automatically (by stripping excessive notes and/or padding rests). It will not spot errors WITHIN tuplets though (to which Dorico is particulaty sensitive) but it’s still a great help in producing edible MusicXML for Dorico… and as Rob says, MuseScore is a great free debugging tool for MusicXML :slight_smile: