"live" composing in Dorico

I have always used Cubase to compose and then (after some cleanup in the key editor) transferred the material to Finale (where I am completely proficient, and have been for many years) for creating engraved scores for publication and performance parts. Now that Dorico also seems to have a key editor, similar to Cubase (which I am used to), what would the procedure be in Dorico 4 Pro to compose (“live” with input from a MIDI controller keyboard)? This would be interesting to to be able to do that and stay within Dorico for the score and parts creation as well. I had followed Dorico’s development since the beginning and also bought the first version, which was, alas, useless to me at that point and I have never used it nor upgraded. Now, however, it might be possble to take the step and work only in Dorico. I’d be grateful to hear how “lve” input works (advantages? disadvantages? etc.) Thanks for any input.

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Dorico works very well for live MIDI recording, in my opinion. YMMV. You’re playing to a click, quantized as desired. You can easily clean up durations and voices, and Dorico 4 adds excellent polyphonic note detection.

I reviewed the MIDI recording portion for this review of Dorico 4. You can see some examples of recording to a click.


If you are very accurate in your playing, Dorico makes an excellent transcription of what you play on the keyboard. It even recognized the internal polyphony.

If you like to play with a more free tempo, it might be better to record with a sequencer (I use Logic with Smart Tempo enabled), and then import the MIDI file into Dorico. Its transcription ability is in action also when importing.


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In a podcast I believe Daniel noted that the Polyphonic transcription doesn’t work only for file system MIDI import, but also for live transcription. So there’s been no better time for people who play in their lines.

that’s already what I am doing with Cubase (into Finale). I’d like to try and just stay within one software if possible. By the way, if you record in Dorico, is it necessary to establish a time signature first or can you just keep entering notes and later apply time signatures (and changes to them, depending on the content, not necessarily the same all the way through)

You can always adjust the time signature after the fact, yes.

Indeed, in the review I posted above, I show some examples of recorded polyphony. Here’s a particularly impressive one, unedited:

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Without wanting to be condescending, that looks rather simple. What would happen, do you think, if I were to play something like this?

A demo/trial version of Dorico 4 will come out soon, probably by Feb 1, and that should allow you to try the latest version before making your final decision.

Great, this I will probably do. Are Dorico demo versions fully functional? Could I, for instance, use my Garritan GPO5 VST instruments with it?

You can use Garritan sounds in Dorico, and if you use the Aria Multi-player that lets you send each slot to a different output channel pair, you can send them smoothly into the Dorico mixer.

@benwiggy made some Expression Maps for GPO that you can find here. You’ll need to download them, but then GPO should work fine.

Good to know, thanks.

Sure. You’d need to record it in two takes: One for the top staff, and one for the grand staff below it.

The example I posted is actually far more complex than yours in regards to the handling of polyphonic music, which is what is so revolutionary about this new version of Dorico. To my knowledge, no other software handles recorded polyphony as well.

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And apparently trills, grace notes and the like (as you well know since you were a beta tester).

Cool stuff, but playing in music isn’t my thing. I look, think, write notes, do a bunch of copy, paste, and now will be looking into heavily using the Note Tools popover (formerly known as the intervals popover).

I wonder which is faster, play in versus write in? Depends on the music I suppose. Playing in seems too slow to me b/c it has to be at tempo, whereas I can toss in notes at any speed.

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I spent that last couple years working on my 18th century improvisation skills and tried it with a prelude - simple plan of Page one, 7/6 to V with cadence, ascending 5/6 to I and cadence.

This first part is “Page One” - just the progression from the first page of the Well Tempered, with figuration. Last bar moves to the 7/6 sequence but it’s pretty much the same type of transcription. Playing sixteenths on a half note grid against a click. It caught the polyphony, kind of, but there’s too many errors with the triplets and a lot of other problems.

If anybody has tips glad to hear them, but this is about as simple as I get.

The timing should be fixable through a combination of slower tempo, different quantization, and omitting triplets.

The polyphony is easily solved. Select all notes and press 4. Change voices as needed. Then use the function to extend duration to next note.

How do you omit triplets, is that a setting? Don’t see it looking around.

Hm, dropped to 50 (admittedly this morning I’m in the mixing studio which has a crummy CME keyboard but it sounds OK) and a quarter note grid, same result basically.


Also, check your MIDI input latency to make sure it’s accurate.

OK, here I’m just playing the first bit of Page One as is, better. Pretty much nailed the first bar, if the following were the same that would be in the bag

Here’s the score (e.g. the goal of the transcription)

Not bad. I hate playing to a click, but I’ll noodle with it some more, thanks Dan.

But it points to the issue I always have with this kind of thing, which is under-eager quantization. I hit the final bar bass note a little early so it grabbed the sixteenth before, which admittedly can be easily fixed.

But again with this since it’s a repeating pattern, probably faster to just do the first bar then copy/paste move. So maybe a hybrid approach is the thing - play in some small, simpler parts, then use that for copy/paste material.