Dorico vs Finale

No Finale is an easy software as long as you take it as a drawing software

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If you have the right hardware, something totally different to think about is StaffPad.

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As Romanos and wcreed have said, much depends on what king of music you expect to write. If you are writing “standard” choral or instrumental music, you will likely prefer Dorico. If you are writing music that relies heavily on custom music symbols and graphic lines and boxes, you will–at least at present–find Finale more flexible.

I use Finale and Dorico but find I mostly use Finale to start compositions with lyrics, since (at least after using Finale since its inception) I find the lyrics-entry screens more convenient. But once that has been done, I am almost always transferring the preliminary skeleton with lyrics to Dorico via XML to finish the project.


No problem - my Last Will & Testament is up to date.


Who gets your copy of Dorico in your will? Do they know the risk they are in? :rofl:

dangerous in the sense that I can’t use it anymore :joy: :joy:

It will be with me, in the casket. The Finale will go to my lazy nephew.


Is this when you decompose?


All things being equal, it is a no-brainer. The only reasons to work in Finale are:

  • You have been doing it for 20 years and can’t afford the learning curve of a different product.
  • You collaborate with people who use Finale exclusively
  • You aren’t in a position to buy a license for a second product
  • You work for a publisher that requires submissions in Finale
  • There is some obscure graphical thing that can’t easily be done in another product (very rare these days)

But considering you don’t have either product right now, I’d think the most important consideration is the point about collaboration. It will be to your advantage to be very fluent in the software that is favored at the music school you attend. For a long time, Finale had the edge here, but I doubt it is so clear-cut these days. Email the faculty at the schools you are considering and ask their advice. I know some of the faculty at one of your targeted schools, so PM me if you want help with that contact.

If the school doesn’t have any standard product you must use, then it comes down to your productivity and creativity. Personally I find the creative process far more open-ended with Dorico. When working in Finale, I always feel like a (rather incompetent) mechanic. Working in Dorico, I feel like a musician.


@Ian_Hook05 my recommendation to you is to focus on your music studies right now more so then mastering any particular tool. By the time you need to care about professional work the entire landscape could have changed substantially, not to mention that you don’t really know for sure what specific career in music you will have.

Both Finale and Dorico are both great programs, I happen to think Dorico has a brighter future which is why I am here trying to learn it myself, but really these are specialized tools and need to be justified with a “why” before you spend too much time on the “how”.

just my two cents…


@cparmerlee makes an interesting point about playing nice with your colleagues. That said, these days most places tend not to care TOO much as long as you get your work done and it is presentable. Sometimes particular professors can be sticklers, but general policy tends to be more open-ended. The computer labs might still only be equipped with finale and Sibelius, but you likely won’t be forced to use the lab as long as you have a laptop and your own software of choice.

Most of what I can remember doing in school could all be easily done in MuseScore without spending a dime. I would think most universities will be standardizing more on MuseScore for that reason alone. I don’t see it as a great problem at all, for that kind of task, that MuseScore lacks many of the pro features found in Finale, Sibelius and Dorico.

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You can really do Crumb with Finale? Even the one with the circle?

Anyway, regarding Finale vs. Dorico: the difference, in a word – Playback!

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I don’t have any factual data, but my expectation matches yours, that many universities would standardize around MuseScore, to the extent that they feel a need to standardize. You can do just about anything that college studies would require, and I’d think a professor would welcome having all the assignments submitted in the same system. There should be little resistance from students because it is free and is available for Windows, Max and Linux.

Can you please elaborate? I don’t really see that much difference. “Human Playback” in Finale is nice, but not much different from the results with Dorico using NotePerformer. And Dorico does allow a lot of detailed editing at the MIDI level. Finale’s MIDI support is really ancient.

To me, the key thing is that Finale hasn’t really had any meaningful investment for many years – since the buyout. The priority of the current owner is classroom technology (i.e. SmartMusic), and they are doing pretty well with that, ASAIK.

I keep Finale 25 installed, and maybe have a need to use it once a year. If I ever have a situation that requires Finale work, then I’ll upgrade to the current version, but I just don’t see any benefit from the very few changes that have been made in the last 3 years.

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Me too, but I am going to upgrade on the next version only because the version I have now 25, won’t run on OSX Catalina…

I’m still on v.25 of Finale. The difference is firstly: when you want to use options from multiple software houses. I got VSL working fairly well in Finale, but if I wanted to combine VSL and, say, NI Symphony Series, I don’t know how I’d go about it, and besides, getting it to work isn’t the same as being confident about what’s going to happen. Secondly, this is just gossip and rumour, but I heard that the crew that programmed the original human playback in Finale (which, at the time, was state of the art) moved on and didn’t leave documentation…

I don’t know about the internal documentation thing. I can tell you from 35 years experience in various IT management positions, it takes very strong management backbone to insist that documentation be maintained to the level that others could take over the project. I doubt there was anything sinister here, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the essential details were poorly documented.

As I understand it, very few of the Finale developers made the move from Minnesota to Colorado Springs. From the very first day, the new owner was clear that he was interested in the part of the software portfolio that was more like athletic training, i.e. repetition. And that is SmartMusic. That is their priority. They have done next to nothing with Finale since completing the 64-bit migration.


…which is a crying shame. I hate to see such established software languish, I don’t care which one it is. It’s painful.