Let's talk about the one thing holding Dorico back

The music school I attend (Berklee) announced that they would be adding Dorico to the software bundle for the Film Scoring (now called “Screen Scoring”) program starting this fall. This got me excited, since I was already a Dorico user prior to this announcement. But knowing most of my Berklee colleagues are trained in Finale I can already tell there is going to be a learning curve especially those involving Dorico’s unique way of handling things like note durations, which leads me to this image bellow:


Let’s pretend you have a chain of tied whole notes like in the image, and later on you decide you want some dynamic changes in the middle so it’s more expressive. In other notation softwares you would simply click one of the whole notes and hit >. Not in Dorico. First you need to hit U to untie everything, then you insert the dynamic changes you want, then you tie them together again. You can’t just select a whole note in the middle then hit > or < or open the dynamics popover, everything gets selected all at once, because that is how Dorico handles note durations.
This was a simple example.
Let’s now imagine that you are composing in a large orchestral score (something that people in the Screen Scoring Major do a lot), on a compound time signature (something Dorico handles really well by the way) and you have a section full of those long durations with dynamic changes. You better be a decisive kind of composer, cause if you want to change anything in that section you must be ready to face Dorico nightmare.
You could argue “well that’s just how Dorico works and you have to manage wasting your time doing then undoing things just to change one single staff in the orchestral score in a very slow manner because that’s how it works”… Well… No! If something is unpractical there should be a change (or at least an addition) that overcomes this unpracticality. My idea was: Don’t change anything about how Dorico handles note durations, how about just adding an alt-click, or ctrl-click (or any combination of alt-click-shift-click) that selects THAT specific note in the middle of the tied note chain, then I can make whatever changes I want (simple or complicated) without having to do and redo stuff redundantly?
So yeah, this is the one Dorico quirk that I came across most regularly (in literally every project I worked on it) that is really frustrating. Are there any others you think are worth talking about/fixing, knowing that there is a large userbase about to join into the Dorico-Cubase ecosystem?

This has come up so many times, and I don’t mean to be dismissive, but it’s really quite easy to achieve using the caret.


Having said that, I do concede that when I’m asked to clean up Dorico scores received from composers, dynamic errors are typically the most common issue.


I was doing this just an hour ago, and it is not difficult. I like this method:

  • In the top staff, break the tie at each point where dynamics should attach.
    For this example you can just select the note and hit U to get 4 separate whole notes.
    If you need to cut mid-bar, place the caret and hit U.
  • Add the dynamics. This one takes 3 steps, no caret needed, just the popover.
    (You can even do the middle hairpin without the popover.)
  • Re-tie the notes (select the first and hit T 3 times).
  • Select the passage, filter for dynamics, and duplicate downward.
    (I have keyboard shortcuts for both of those.)

This would all take me less than a minute.

Yeah in this case I would probably just as soon split the tie at the third bar, add the dynamics in two groups, then re-tie.

Your two mental errors are first to think in terms of notes being tied. It is just a single note of long duration notated according to convention. And second that dynamics are connected to notes. They are not, they are positioned in time, even though they may often coincide with the start/end of notes.

Understand this and your brain will be freed from the limitations of other notation programs.

If I do have a gripe about dynamics, it’s the difficulty of relocating the peak of a hairpin pair without affecting either end.


I struggle with same problem as well - but I’m curious. How would the other programs handle the situation where you want the dynamic to start on the second beat of bar 60?

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All of the above replies. Also I think you can insert multiple lines dynamics at once by extending the caret across the instruments and using the popover to insert the dynamics.

I will admit though it took me a while to get this method under the fingers, and I had the same problem as you going into it - it’s not immediately obvious, especially if you’re used to selecting things graphically rather than semantically.

It’s another example of something for which Dorico relies on educating its users - it’s like expression text in Sibelius - so many people don’t realise it’s there. Blindingly obvious to people that take the time to learn though…