Dorico with a graphic tablet


I was reading the discussion about an iOS version of Dorico, and was wondering if someone has tried to use it with a graphic tablet on Windows or Mac. Are there advantages? Writing music with a pen is usually more a pleasure than typing it, but I don’t know what you can do in the current version of Dorico.

What I’m imagining is a way to quickly select the note duration with your free hand, and entering the note by tapping the staff with the pen. And, while in Play mode, drawing durations by dragging the pen on a pitch.

Users with a Windows tablet should get immediate use of it by drawing right in the score.

Has anybody tried?


I have a Dell Canvas which I use with StaffPad (where I usually develop ideas before bringing them into Dorico). Yes it’s possible, however Dorico at this point isn’t designed for a touch/pen environment. My dream would be to draw in the notation in Dorico as I do in StaffPad, however I don’t think that’s something the team would consider until they have a significant amount of demand for it (i.e. it would come much later, or not at all).

I can say though if you don’t mind transferring the XML files over, StaffPad does a brilliant job of inputting hand drawn notation (at least it does so for me). Though you’ll want to use Dorico for the next steps of the process where StaffPad is severely limited.

That’s very interesting, since a pen and tablet would mostly be useful during the early stages of a composition. So, integration between the two notation programs would be a savvy idea.

I’ve tried the same on a (non-Pro) iPad with Kawai’s Touch Notation. Unfortunately, that configuration is not very fast, and taking notes on paper is faster. I don’t know how it is on an iPad Pro. XML export seems fine.


I haven’t found a particularly good iPad app for this yet. Apps that recognize we’ll support Apple Pencil but have no way of exclusively using the pencil, so they end up picking errant input from palm and fingers. Apps that can use the pencil exclusively, have bad recognition.

If anyone knows of a super simple app where I can input using the pencil, and ignore finger-based input, please let me know. I have been considering a surface + staffpad for a while, it looks like it’s considerably better than anything on iOS.

For now, the best option for me on iOS is to import a template PDF and annotate it with the pencil. There’s no playback, but at least what I write is what I get :slight_smile:

Check out GoodNotes. I really like how it uses the Apple Pencil.

by pat
I have been considering a surface + staffpad for a while, it looks like it’s considerably better than anything on iOS.

Take a look at the last article posted to the StaffPad blog at in August 2018. They are working on a major update to StaffPad and many, including myself, think the wording suggests the new version will likely be available for iOS and the delay is, at least in part, related to waiting for an exclusivity agreement with Microsoft to expire. Regardless, the release of a totally new, rewritten version of StaffPad seems imminent and if you potentially interested in an iOS version I would hesitate to buy a tablet for its use until more details are available.

I don’t care for the music apps out there very much… I’ve tried most of the ones for ipad and just can’t get myself comfortable with them. I don’t have good luck with them correctly recognizing what I mean. I’d love an app that is just staff paper, with two tools: 1 a set of black and white ovals that your pen tip can just plop (and drag) wherever you want and 2 a pen to draw in stems, lines, markings, and whatever else. Turn it into true “manuscript” work, the main benefit being that you could easily place formed noteheads on the staff without having to scribble in black noteheads. I don’t want it to do math, care whether I have the right number of beats, snap to lines or anything. Just generate an image as if I’d drawn it on paper and let me put it into a notation app later.

I wondered about this… I’d definitely check staffpad for ipad out if it became available.

I wouldn’t be so sure about an “iOS” compatible StaffPad. One of the integral features to the design of StaffPad is the “active pen” available only on Windows (and perhaps Linux?). I can see some aspects of StaffPad transferring over, however I highly doubt the team would attempt an iOS release when it would always be missing some core functionalities.


I wouldn’t be so sure about an “iOS” compatible StaffPad. One of the integral features to the design of StaffPad is the “active pen” available only on Windows (and perhaps Linux?).

I agree that an active pen is central to the functioning of Staffpad. However, the iPad Pro is now in its third generation with an “active pen” with features very similar to that available to users of Windows 10 and, among other things, is widely used by artists to prepare drawings and paintings, etc. I have no knowledge of Staffpad’s upcoming new version beyond that outlined in the linked blog post in my earlier email but the biggest technical reason for Staffpad’s unavailability on iOS appears to no longer be a factor.

It might be a pleasure, but plonking noteheads on the correct pitch of the staff is considerably slower than pressing a button. (And indeed, drawing circles and beams and dots is at least as slow, even assuming 100% software reading accuracy.)

I love doing calligraphy with an ink pen, but I can’t do 60 wpm. A cheaper, more effective hardware purchase would be a MIDI keyboard. Two taps, and you’re done. :wink:

The app by Kawai uses a shorthand system, similar to what was used in the Palm notepads. For example, black heads are drawn by tracing a short line. It’s quite easy to learn, and very fast to input.