Missed opportunity

I’ve been using Dorico Elements for about 18 months, (off and on, because I often drift back to Musescore which is easier to use and more flexible),
I do believe that Dorico is a capable programme. What spoils it, is that it is overly complicated and thoroughly unintuitive; it reveals itself as something amusing for clever software designers and engineers, but presents an upward struggle for the ordinary musician who wants to concentrate on music creation and not on wasting time delving into the myriad menu and formatting options.
I shall have to persevere with the programme, (unless I write-off the £85 spent on it ), but it is not a happy collaboration.
The manual is an even bigger disappointment ! Not the place for an aspiring user to learn something; seemingly just a vehicle for displaying the more ‘clever’ options within the programme.


Tha manual is a great reference, but to get started with the program, there are a number of preferable resources on the Resources Page.

One of the greatest hurtles newcomers to the software face is where to look for things. Dorico has a logic to its semantic layout once one takes the time to learn it.

(There is no such thing as intuitive.)


I believe I wrote unintuitive.

It’s not intuitive in the sense that you can’t just gawp at the screen and figure out how to do everything. :grin:

This is largely because Dorico attempts to cater to the whole gamut of music notators, from simple lead sheets and hymns through to Boulez, by way of Monteverdi and Duke Ellington. You can construct simple pieces very quickly and easily, but it also has to be possible to do more sophisticated things easily, too.

I’d suggest that you can get very far from learning a few key concepts, and there is a wealth of tutorial info, as videos or follow-through guides.
Once you’ve grasped a few things, you’ll find that Dorico often behaves in the same way across the whole app.

If you tell us exactly what you’re struggling with, then maybe we can shed some light on the problem, and you may find that’s the ‘lightbulb moment’ you need.

(Mind you, ‘discoverability’ is a much vaunted claim of MuseScore, and I don’t always get very far with it before I have to read up on something, either.)


Hi @peter10

the time that you spend learning the logic and the possibilities that Dorico offers, will be rewarded x10 by the time that you will save in your future projects.

In the suggested link by @Derrek you will find many helpful links. In particularly the SwitchSession possibility: a free service that helps you directly via Zoom. (Before that, I suggest you go through the First Steps Guide 1 and First Steps Guide 2, also available as PDF, and the other resources).

The Manual, as said, is a Reference. It is not intended as a linear source for learning, but you find in it very detailed explanations of the functions, with a big amount of links to related aspects of these functions.
And if you have a specific question, ask in this Forum and you will receive an answer in minutes.
I hope your perseverance (supported by the suggested learning workflow) will soon reward you.


Stick with it - it will quickly become intuitive…


Thank you to all for encouragement to persevere with Dorico. I shall try to spend more time familiarising myself with the technical demands of the programme and becoming more at ease with it. Reading everyone’s views suggests that the fault lies with me, not the programme! And sorry to Derrek for misinterpreting his comment about the word intuitive.


Peter - as others have said, the “Dorico First Steps” guide is essential. Enjoy your Dorico journey!


Dorico First Steps helped me a lot!


Now… if one really wants to criticise something, I would not start from the manual, which is just great!
The fact that PDF or web search filters are not perfect … well, that’s another story!

Yes, definitely use the First Steps guide. I used something similar when moving from Finale to Sibelius (the Sibelius equivalent of the First Steps guide) and when moving from Sibelius to Dorico I really missed having something like that, but they finally finished it a couple years ago.

You are fully entitled to your views - I have used MuseScore and Sibelius I the past, and occasionally use MuseScore if the score comes from there. I find Dorico to be intuitive - once you get into the thinking behind its design. And this is where I feel judgement of any ap needs care - assuming familiarity with MuseScore will serve you well in getting the best out of Dorico is unsound. Each app is unique - so rather than early judgement , gain fluid familiarity first. The resources available for getting used to Dorico on the Dorico YouTube channel are particularly good.

The manual is a reference - there are many simple short videos to help you get started and the quick start guide is a simple reference card for the shortcuts to get you inputting a score.

There are many thousands of users who are very happy with Dorico - so perhaps that is evidence enough to encourage you to accept using Dorico needs to be learnt . Lilli who wrote much of the manual is a user of the app , not a techie programmer, and she is always helpful - her aim is to make the manual useful and usable by all - an aim and an achievement I can uphold and endorse from personal experience.


It’s so subjective… I tried both Musescore and Sibelius after 20 years with Finale and having used Dorico for 4 years, and I found both M and S to be absolutely frustrating and opaque. M was a bit better, since everything was clickable, but it felt quite uncomfortable and inelegant.

Doubtless if I had spent time in either of those two softwares and learned their logic, I could have been functional!

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I’m on the struggle bus whenever I attempt to use finale. It is horrendously Byzantine.


Of course, Dorico’s not perfect either, and the team have revised or improved the UI in direct response to user comments on this forum.

So if there are specific stumbling blocks that you’re not able to get over, it’s well worth saying exactly what they are.


I remembered yesterday also a very short and useful video by @Anthony_at_Steinberg for getting started (with SE but applicable to the whole Dorico family)
(beyond the First Steps videos and PDF, of course… :wink: )

Also a great resource for help is this forum. I feel almost guilty how often I found help here and couldn’t help others…

It would be nice if the forum software simply deleted the word intuitive every time someone typed it. I used Finale for about 5 years, got fairly fluent with it. Switched to Sibelius, and was up and running in a few days - very easy transition, and Daniel’s manual was brilliant. My switch to Dorico was bumpier, but I stuck with it as its output was superior. I still sometimes have to look things up, but if one wants a program to do all Dorico is capable of doing, the it will entail a learning curve.

I am sometimes reminded of an advertisement I saw for a bass: “suitable for both the beginner and the professional.”

I want the features Dorico has. It’s up to me to learn them.


The issue with “intuitive” is that usually “intuitive” ends up meaning “works the same as program X that you already know how to use”. Open-source office suites like LibreOffice feel more intuitive the closer they behave to Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint, which everybody uses.

MuseScore seems taken the route of aping as closely as possible the way that Finale and Sibelius work, and not implementing anything differently from those programs. The logic there seems to be that it is easier for users to keep things the same, even if it means after the growing pains, there would be great efficiency gains by making things different. It is similar logic to the reasons that the United States still uses imperial while the rest of the world has moved to metric. Short-term pain (from learning something new and different) for long-term gain can be a very worthwhile trade-off.


Really? From the same Martin Kearny who made a lengthy video criticizing the Sibelius interface, in which he also dismissed Finale with the words “because it’s terrible”. …?

May God have mercy on us all…

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