Well, no, Lilypond is not generally easier than Dorico – for most things. But in the chorus of ‘how wonderful Dorico is’, and there’s a lot of truth to that, I would still like to voice some dissent. Mostly because I think Dorico is on the right track.
I’ve been using Finale since Windows 3.1. Before that I wrote a program in C to do my own scoring, which worked passably well, but gave me a profound appreciation for how ridiculously hard it is to engrave music generally. I’m a Linux/Windows Systems Engineer C/C++ for many decades. I have built hardware MIDI devices from the chip level. As a musician, I have performed on the glass armonica with the Blue Man Group and at the Kennedy Center, and have a fair number of commissioned works to my credit.
I want to do polymeters. Those are preposterously hard to do in Finale.
I struggled with Sibelius. In my experience their paradigm for initial score entry was quite reasonable, but editing existing music was a nightmare. That is my experience with Dorico. What is GOOD about the Finale paradigm is that if I’m editing bar 7, I’m only editing bar 7. With Dorico when I edit bar 7, I am also affecting bars 8-666. You would think that when I’m done editing bar 7 and return it to its original length, bars 8-666 would return to normal, but that hasn’t been my experience — after editing bar 7 I am finding I am having to go through and fix bars 8-666. (I note in passing that the online tutorials seem to emphasize initial score entry, not editing existing music.)
I’ll stipulate my difficulties are because I “don’t grasp the interface”. Obviously!! And if you find it easy, I’m sincerely happy for you! But there you are – in spite of working through all of Dorico’s online video tutorials, and more on YouTube as well, and I have a better than average grasp of all this technology, and working with Dorico for over a month now, I still apparently don’t grasp the paradigm for how editing existing music is supposed to work. That hardly seems like ‘intuitive’ or ‘discoverable’ to me. I think the Dorico paradigm is mostly there, but I’m thinking there remain details that are just f-ing me up.
Also, at present Dorico does not support adding an ‘unknown’ instrument – if it’s not in their list of existing instruments, you’re in for a lot of work. For example, I play the ‘glass armonica’ – an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin and for which Mozart and Beethoven composed. Not in the list.
Related, at the moment I want to score a piece for organ for which I need THREE staves for the manuals instead of the usual two (still need pedals.) Each staff with its own meter. (I’ll be playing it myself).
Dorico is open before me and – how the hell do I set this up? I’ve found a YouTube (not Steinberg) video how to set up a blank staff – maybe 8 steps per staff (?) and not at all apparent how to adapt this to my requirements.
So I’m doing this one in Lilypond. Their paradigm may be annoying but it’s transparent: every time I edit bar 7 and return it to it’s original length bars 8-666 are good. Lilypond has no problem with adding a staff for ‘garbage disposal in C’.
As I said at the outset, I think Dorico is really on the right track. Keep on keeping on! But for some things it still hasn’t reached the tipping point of getting the job done for me. And at present the editing paradigm remains something to dread. Initial score entry is great, but I dread anything more than trivial edits to existing music.