First Use Observations

I’m sure a lot of this has been covered and/or added to the list, but here’s what I found in my first use of Dorico. The task was to make a lead sheet starting out with a piano score.

I’m working on a Surface Pro 3 with Windows 10 and 8gb memory. I use both the Surface screen and an external monitor. I was using keyboard for notation input.

Dorico Problems/Deficiencies that I noticed:

  1. When I drag Dorico into my secondary montitor and maximize, the menus don’t refresh their display during this process. So the first time they are used, a lot of information is missing. The second time a menu is used, it is “refreshed” and looks correct.

  2. When entering a rest, it doesn’t show up until later, until after a note or two has been entered. Similar with dotted notes that show up as tied notes and accidentals in tied notes show up twice, that is, until after another note or two are entered, then these things display as expected.

  3. Chord symbols - hopefully in the works! The export as musicXML and import into Sibelius hack does the trick for now.

  4. Hiding unused staves in a piano part. I make a lot of lead sheets and only occasionally enter any notation into the bass clef unless there’s a specific bass line or piano part. The rest of the time the bass clef is empty so it would be great to be able to hide the empty bass clef staves.

  5. I’d like to be able to change pane/window sizes by dragging the borders.

  6. Fonts: It would be helpful to display all used fonts in the project at the top of the font list. If you’re like me and have hundreds of fonts in your system, it takes a while to scroll around and find the ones that were used before to keep things consistent.

  7. Include other music fonts or support for them (perhaps already is.)

  8. Audio preview note, maybe have an option for that because if I’m notating from something in my head it’s nice to know that I’m hearing stuff right.

  9. Fermatas: when I put a fermata in the treble clef of a piano score, Dorico adds one to the bass clef, and they don’t line up if it’s just a whole rest in the bass clef. These fermatas are hard linked or something because I’m unable to delete one without the other.

  10. Hopefully the next update will include a jazz package for not only chord symbols but more ornamentation and tempo/style names (swing, latin, etc…)

  11. Like to see more control over note positioning via mouse drag in the engrave panel. I could be wrong (first time using it) but I can’t find any way to drag notes right and left to increase or decrease spacing.

  12. Overflow text in a text frame in the engrave panel shows up outside the frame because it’s incorrectly positioned. Dorico correctly figures out how much text to display to fit within the frame, but it looks like it’s calculating the text position using all the text instead of using just the visible text so the text that is displayed appears to be out of the frame. Deleting enough text to fit in the frame or resizing the frame to display all the text fixes this.

  13. It would be cool to double click on a page in the Engrave pane and have that page focused on in the score display.

Dorico Good stuff:

  1. Selection tool is super smooth and when I delete music, the rests are timed and placed perfectly. No more getting two half note rests in an empty measure!

  2. Note spacing looks great.

  3. Software runs very smooth.

  4. I like how the writing and engraving sections are separated (though you can do a lot of the engraving functions in the writing pane, which is also cool.)

  5. System breaks: outstanding. This is such an easy way to group measures!

  6. Overall look and UI is nice and polished. Tools and workflow are nicely integrated. A lot of complex stuff going on in the background, although it seems like there could be another layer of advanced options here and there.

  7. Rehearsal marks position themselves intelligently! This is so nice.

  8. Graphics panes work great - although I’d like to be able to choose between virtual cropping of the image or resizing the image. For example, if I bring in a large graphic in and then want to display only a piece of it, have an option to virtually crop it by dragging the handles of the graphic pane. Maybe make ctrl-drag handle be virtual cropping and regular drag handle image resizing. Hope that all makes sense.

  9. Printout is very nice as well.

Dorico doesn’t have what I need to make it my sole notation software at this time because most of what I do is lead sheet or piano based and almost always uses chord symbols. However, I am going to join the club and start using Dorico as much as I can for entering notation. If I have to export as musicXML and do finish work in Sibelius for now until Dorico has matured, so be it.

Great job with the first major notation software release in like, 15-20 years!

Thanks for your feedback. Regarding fermatas, Dorico is positioning fermatas correctly according to conventional practice: if you have a fermata on one staff, then it also must appear on all other staves, and Dorico will work out the note or rest on each staff that is sounding at the same time as the note on which you created the fermata, and will put it there automatically. You can’t, in Dorico, have a fermata on only a single staff.

Chord symbols will not be included in the first update, 1.0.10, coming at the end of November. To do chord symbols properly will take time, and we aren’t going to rush them to get them in and have them implemented in a half-baked fashion. This will be better for everybody in the long run.

That’s what I figured with the fermatas. It would be cool, however, to maybe be able to unlink them if I wanted to get rid of one.

Chord symbols: take your time and get it right! Absolutely. No problem jumping into Sibelius for those kinds of things at the moment.

Printout problem: I am now noticing that bar lines through the grand staff have a 1 or 2 pixel shift to the left or right. The point where it happens is the same across a system but different for each system. Could be in the treble clef, space between staves, or the bass clef. The pixel shift spot seems to happen with a pattern, that is, it seems to move by 100 or so pixels each system. It doesn’t happen with Sibelius so I don’t think it’s the printer. Not a big issue, but wanted to mention it.

I assume you don’t see this problem in the print preview on the screen? Could you take a photo of what you’re seeing on the printout and upload it here?

The print preview is fine, just the printout.

That’s very peculiar. Can you tell us about your system configuration and the make and model of your printer?

If you make a PDF from Dorico, and then print from Preview or Adobe Reader, does the problem persist?

In regards to “problem” #2, rests don’t appear right away. That is because Dorico is waiting to see how to best draw the rest. Which is why “Good things” #1 happens. You get a whole rest instead of 2 half rests because Dorico understands what should be, based on conventional music notation practice. It might seem odd at first, but using the orange ruler above the staff to see where you are is very helpful, and then you can trust that Dorico will add the correct rest, written in what would be considered the best practice.

Also in regards to “problem” #2, with dotted notes showing up as tied notes. This too is based on conventional music notation practice. This is actually pretty great, I think. It shows where the “big beats” are in the music. Also, if you decide to insert music before a tied note it continues to notate it correctly. There is a icon on the left side panel that looks like a G clamp. It is force duration. My understanding is that using it will go back to the way you notated the rhythm (dotted half, for instance, as opposed to quarter tied to half). But I think this may cause issues if you need to insert music. Daniel sees to warn against using it, unless you know exactly what you want.


Hi Daniel,

I think this assumption is somehow too strong. There are situations in new music where a fermata is placed on just one staff, especially when players are playing rather independently. I have attached an example (done in Finale). We need to have that flexibility.


I think in your example, Robert, you can think of the fermata as applying to one group of musicians playing together, and not applying to a different group playing together in a different “time base” (for want of a better word). The intention is that, in the fullness of time, Dorico will have proper support for these kinds of multi-time base situations.

Hi Daniel,

I made PDFs using two different pdf printers as well as the built in Dorico PDF export. None of them showed the shifting of the bar line.

My setup is Windows 10, Surface pro 3 with 8gb ram. The printer is fairly recent, an Epson WF-3640 hooked up via wireless network.

Upon very close inspection using a magnifying glass I notice that the shift isn’t a horizontal straight line, it’s a 45 degree diagonal line - that is, it looks like the line sheered at an angle with the “point” or longer edge of the top bar line on the left.

Here’s one more observation. The file is a piano grand staff. If I choose to print the full score from the Print pane, the shifting bar lines problem does not come up. If I print the piano part, it does. The only difference I can see is that in the piano part I’ve forced the systems to be four measures each and that it prints “piano” in the upper left corner.

You know, I’m beginning to think that the little shift in the measure line is more of a printer issue than anything else. I’ve been experimenting with printing lines from various apps and I am starting to notice this pixel shift issue here and there on other very thin vertical lines. Sibelius might be immune to this because of how I set up my engraving rules to have thicker bar lines (easier to read in low light club situations!) whereas the default bar lines in Dorico are thinner by a pixel or two.

I would also have my suspicions that the printer might be having a problem with keeping a consistent alignment as the paper travels under the heads. It looks to me like output from an inkjet printer, so it could be a problem with the paper feeding mechanism, perhaps?

What about something like a critical Urtext edition wherein the editor would want to replicate the fermata distribution precisely as given in the source? In some Bach chorale preludes, for example, you’ll see a fermata marking the end of a chorale phrase, but only in the voice with the melody (eg. the Orgel-Büchlein). Could “multi-time base” support adapt to this situation as well?

Probably not, no! But of course in this situation, if the pause is actually going to be performed, then it will be performed by all of the musicians together, so in fact this is a regular fermata in the common practice with which we are all accustomed: the issue is simply that you don’t want all of them to be shown. So providing some means of hiding some fermata symbols for a fermata that will nonetheless be respected by all the performers is certainly something we will look at doing in future.

Sounds good. The music is so vast, and there are so many situations!

Thank you,

For a 2-staff instrument such as Piano (or “Choir” as you mentioned may soon be included) with multiple stem directions in homophony, it would be good if Dorico could automatically show a fermata above the upper staff and below the lower staff, and not in between.

Another, quite traditional, situation in which this comes up is a pause for a cadenza by one player, while all the other players wait to come back in at its conclusion. The other players need a fermata, while the soloist will simply play all the notes written (in most cases there will be “too many notes” for the meter), no one of which bears a fermata.

(I had vowed to myself that I would never make a “Sibelius does it this way” comment – actually I first started with Finale – but the Sibelius keypad that includes various kinds of fermata also has a “remove fermata from this one staff” key, to address this very situation. Otherwise fermatas in all parts are indeed linked in Sibelius, as in Dorico; with good reason, but there needs to be room for the occasional exception, I think.)

Often there are fermata at the end of phrases within the soloist cadenza part, but with a single fermata over a rest for the other parts.

Just wondering aloud here: This sounds like it’s overloading the more usual meaning of a fermata, so that rather than just indicating a pause, it’s more of a synchronisation point? Would that interpretation be understood automatically by players?

Yes, that perfectly makes sense as in “wait here until someone else has stopped playing”.