Finale User Starting in Dorico

Hi! I’m Sean, and have been a Finale User for approx. 15 years?

I’m having huge difficulty with note input in Dorico. Some of it seems very confusing to me, which might just be due to being used to Finale. I’m not very good at learning new programs, so some of this might just be me being stupid. Here’s the main things I’m having issues with:

  • I have a bar that starts with a rests in 3/4. It’s a quarter rest, then an eighth rest. I’m in the note input mode, press comma, then y to input the rest. It doesn’t show the rest, but moves the carat over. Is there anyway to make it show the rest I input? I’m just a pretty visual person and it throws me off that I can’t see it.

  • Is there any other way to input notes other than using the note names or a midi keyboard? I’m getting frustrated with them not appearing in the right octave and then having to adjust the note position; it’s slowing me down considerably. (maybe I’m just doing something wrong?) This might just be due being used to adjusting notes and their positions on the staff before or after inputting them via the up and down keys, in combination with shortcuts like shift+up/down arrow for an octave. I have a feeling like this might just be something I have to get used to, but my hands just feel clunky.

  • Is there any way to rebind any of the shortcuts? One of the (perhaps few)things in Finale I loved was being able to rebind almost all the shortcuts for all the different tools and switching between them. I used to play StarCraft a lot, and to issue commands in it you would use key-bound shortcuts. A lot of them are kind of ingrained in muscle memory, so in finale I did a little of rebinding them to things like that; or just stuff that was easier for me to remember like programming my custom lines/shapes to things “A for big Arrow” and “T for Tiny Arrow”.

  • Lastly, whenever Dorico is open, no audio works in any other program. This is silly but I actually like to listen to music when I’m inputting things and especially when I’m engraving. Does anyone else have this problem? Is there anyway around it?

There are so many things in Dorico that just look so much more efficient and I’ve been blown away by some of the features demonstrated in various presentations and videos! I’m so grateful to the Dorico team and all of their hard-work, and the switch came to me due to wanting to write a micro-tonal piece for a friend of mine and having Finale’s options being incredibly poor to the point of being non-viable- and having a friend of mine show me some of the amazing things you can do in Dorico (that has playback??? how incredible). There are pieces I’ve wanted to do but felt unable to do without resorting to doing everything by hand, and having Dorico appear as an option is something I cannot express in words how thankful I am.

First, welcome to the forum, Sean.

  1. You usually do not have to (or want to) add rests. If your (orange) grid is in eighth notes, move the caret to the appropriate position and enter your first note. Dorico will add the rests.

  2. You can use the mouse, but that is usually the least efficient way to enter notes. Each note you add via the QWERTY keyboard (or whatever your native language keyboard is called) goes to the octave nearest the note before. You can use CTRL+ALT+Arrow (or the Mac equivalent) to jump the note an octave. You can use ALT+Arrow to move the note up or down diatonically.

  3. You can define/redefine shortcuts via the Preferences > Key Commands menu.

  4. Go to Edit > Device Setup > Device Control Panel and de-select the Allow host operation to take exclusive control checkbox.

I echo the welcome.

Derrek’s advice is good. I also came from Finale.

Basically, you have to forget everything about Finale and how you used it. Watch the tutorials. Read the instructions. No offense, but from the nature of your questions, it sounds like you tried to just jump in without any preparation. That can certainly result in some initial frustration.

Give yourself over to the Dorico way, and you’ll find yourself acclimated much more quickly. I can’t imagine going back to Finale now. It took me about a week to get comfortable, two weeks to get moderately proficient. That was more than two years ago!

Also, if you run into problems, don’t dink around and waste your time. Ask here!

Another Finale exile here. I would spend some time getting used to Dorico’s existing key commands before changing them and assigning new ones. Many of them are very logical: N for Notes, L for Lyrics, R for Repeat. Arrow keys work in consistent ways, and adding a meta-key to the arrows performs a consistent effect. You’d be hard-pressed to come up with an alternative that fits as well.

" I have a bar that starts with a rests in 3/4. It’s a quarter rest, then an eighth rest."

Another way to do this is once you are in Note Input mode, you could “input” your desired rests by using the spacebar. No rest(s) will appear until you actually input a note, but pressing the space bar advances the caret to the correct position.
Using this example:

  1. select empty bar (bar rest highlights)
  2. Press ENTER or Shift-N
  3. Press spacebar (caret advances a quarter note length in the grid since a quarter note is the default value when entering Note Input mode).
  4. Type 5 and press spacebar (caret advances an eighth note in the grid - still no rests are drawn, don’t worry)
  5. Type your desired rhythm number and pitch (the correct rests appear as well as your first note in the bar).

Just another way to do this - by using spacebar for each rest and ultimately getting the caret in the correct position to enter a note.

I’d like to add my own welcome to the Dorico community, Sean. It’s natural to feel a bit of frustration when trying new software after so long, but I urge you to keep going. I promise you, you’ll find it’s worth it. Many thousands of musicians have learned Dorico after years of using another scoring program and are now working more quickly and efficiently than they ever were with their previous software. You will join them, and we’re here to help you make the transition.

One specific thing you might be interested to know is that if you were a big Speedy Entry user in Finale, Dorico 3.5 has a very similar input method now: take a look at the documentation for pitch before duration input on page 19 following in the Dorico 3.5 Version History PDF. You might find this more familiar and comfortable.