Features for composers

Dear Dorico development team,

Composing with software is sometimes just a way to lay out hand-written music. But many times (or most of the time for some composers), composing occurs directly on notation software: this has advantages and disadvantages, of course, but mainly saves times spent on transcribing hand written music. I know many composers who compose directly on software and I myself do it shortly after sketching. I’d like to list some features that would be very welcome in Dorico:

  1. Composer tool box / plug-ins. This was already mentioned and makes sense. Retrogrades, inversions, rotations, along with other transformations in both pitch and rhythm would be very welcome and time-saving.
  2. A way to annotate a score with text that moves freely. This text would be movable in Write mode and would not be printed out, nor disturb any collision avoidance. It would be merely a way to annotate a score: things like interval content, durations series, etc, etc, etc… would usefully be annotated while composing. Many times I use system text in Sibelius to annotate important moments in orchestral scores. This annotation is repeated on brass and strings, apart from being present at the top of the score.
  3. Lines and other shapes. This would be part of the annotation resources.

Well, a lot more could be listed but these are, I think, top requests.

Thanks for listening!


#2. Don’t the new Comments provide for this already?

Very insufficiently… can’t even see the comments. They appear in the right-hand side tool panel…

Spin, the strategy I use for §2 is to annotate the PDF of the score in Adobe Acrobat after I’m done writing, and then revise it the next day beforehand. It isn’t perfect though, it can become hard to manage.


I compose exclusively in notation software. I don’t do it to save time transcribing hand-written notes.

I don’t think I’m alone, but I was never trained in composition, and I never started writing things out by hand. In order to write things out on paper by hand, I would need to be able to visualize it in my head. Otherwise it would be a mess. With practice I’m sure I’d improve, but I don’t see the point.

My mode of composition is to use the playback features of the notation software to directly demonstrate to me what something sounds like. I go through many short and quick iterations to converge on a melody and rhythm I want and to do a basic harmony or counter-melody. This is all done based on the sound. Sure I check notes for collisions / too much dissonance etc when it’s hard to hear with lots of layers you have to go back to the theory to resolve some things if that’s the type of music you’re writing.

The key point is quick iterations. If I can’t just hit some key and it will play a phrase I’m working on instantly (1s delay is ok), then I can’t do quick iterations and quick convergence.

It may sound like agile software development process. Well I’m a software engineer :slight_smile:

Adrien, if you’re interested in seeing your music performed live, you may be playing a somewhat illusory game with your “mode of composition”. A good amount of what you write will probably sound very different in a live performance. Real-world acoustics of live instruments being played in a concert hall is its own world.

You should be able to see comments in the score as speech-bubbles in the music, as shown in the picture on this page. If you can’t, choose View>Comments and check that there is a tick beside Comments - if not, click Comments.

They don’t show the content of the comment, that’s true, as otherwise that might cover a lot of the screen, but if you single-click a comment, its full information is highlighted in the Comments panel on the right, and if you double-click it, that brings up the dialog that shows the existing content of the comment and allows you to edit it.

Thanks, Lillie. I use a lot of annotations to guide my own composition. Being able to see them is essential. I also use a lot of colours and rectangles, let alone lines to mark up music material…

Thankfully I have also many decades experience playing in orchestras so I have a pretty good idea of how the render differs from what an actual performance would be. Typically the biggest issues here are relative dynamics between sections / soloists (e.g. winds vs strings vs brass etc).

But NotePerformer does a pretty fantastic job of smoothing all that out. I’ve bought expensive other libraries which are hopeless in this regard (not to mention all the articulations they lack).

I just uploaded a new post
“Proud to introduce my new idea for Smart Duration Note Input” where I think this is the most needed feature as a composer who struggle with defining the notes duration before I know how long am I going to suspend each note while Composing and Real time note input doesn’t allow me to pause between each entry to think where I want to go next:
Hope you will like it too! :smiley:

If you want to read all about this new concept - you can read my post in this thread:

Can I add that being able to save versions as composing goes along would be very useful?

Speaking of composer friendly features: The only thing in my composing workflow that I need another software to do is to record in a loop, so then I could use parts of that in the score.
Maybe an ability to select a vertical slice of the score and slide it backwards in time,switching places with previous music so i can shuffle motives and their timings.