MS4 compared to Dorico

Please remove if this is inappropriate.

I’m curious to know by anyone who has actually used this new version of MS, what sorts of things can it NOT do that Dorico can? Are there any things it can notate that Dorico as of this time cannot?

The examples I saw were nice, but seemed to involve relatively straightforward neo-tonal music. Can it handle anything remotely more complex engraving-wise?

How is it at showing/hiding staves? Ossia staves? Divisis? Grace notes?

It’s a pretty long list. For starters, MuseScore doesn’t support open meter, microtonality, condensing, DTP-style text frames, ossias, divisi, multi-movement works, harp pedal diagrams, cues, Insert mode, musical manipulations, etc., etc., etc. It doesn’t have anything like Dorico’s popovers, or jump bar, or time-saving input tools like inputting across multiple staves, or sophisticated tools for managing musical logistics. Etc., etc., etc.

You can think of MuseScore as being functionally equivalent to where Sibelius was around a decade ago, but with significant upgrades in terms of the quality of the default sounds (for the kinds of music for which they sound good), and some much improved algorithms for horizontal music spacing (though vertical spacing is still a weakness).

That’s a fantastic level of functionality for a free product, of course, but it’s got a long way to go in many areas before it approaches the level of sophistication of Dorico Pro. You can be sure the MuseScore developers will be working towards ticking things off that list, of course, but we won’t be standing still waiting for them to catch up with us. And they appear to have some serious software quality issues right now that will inevitably take some time for them to address (I took a quick look at their forum yesterday and there were more than a dozen pages of threads started in the last few days, all reporting issues of various levels of severity, and the vast majority of which have as yet had no input from either the full-time team or even the more prominent developers in the community).

It’s also worth spending a moment to consider the wider business model: all of that development work costs a lot of money, and the money doesn’t come from sales of the software itself. Plus, despite the fine words about the importance of open source software and how it can never be taken away from the community (true sentiments, with which I agree), the bits of MuseScore 4 that people are most excited about – the new sounds themselves, the sampler engine, the MPE system – don’t appear to be part of the open-source project, so they are subject to the whims of the parent company. How many other important parts of the product will also be created in a proprietary, closed-source fashion in future?


Daniel, that opening paragraph of yours would have been ample.
It’s obvious from that short list that MS4 is definitely not ready for prime time.
Probably a nice free tool for beginners and hobbyists.

Thanks for the response.

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nice and fair answer from Daniel, however to have a bigger picture I’d be interested in knowing the opposite from users of both softwares : what MS4 can do that Dorico doesn’t do yet ? And what does it do better (except for the new sounds) ?
I’m sure there are things that can be looked that way !?
(like for instance some other “lesser” softwares like Guitar Pro still have a much better handling of tabs and all fretted instruments related techniques, like bends/harmonics/etc…)
Or even UI-related things (like for instance to create a project, it’s been improved in Dorico 4 but I still like Tantacrul’s proposition in his video on Dorico much more as it’s much more efficient, clean and with less steps than the current way of creating a custom project from scratch)

Would not one expect that to be featured on the MuseScore site and forums?

I don’t know I haven’t checked them out yet, but I don’t think anyway it’s in their philosophy/state of mind do directly “attack” competitors by saying “we do this way better than Brand X”, hence my interrogation.

Every software and workflow has its strengths. I like the look of the new score setup in MS. And if you’re into clicking and dragging things around, it seems it works well for that.

And every deeply-entrenched software user will suffer from confirmation bias: “This workflow is the best because it’s what I’ve become used to.” For my part, I can’t imagine efficiently using the workflow that Ms seems to have.

And that’s the biggest thing for me: efficiency. You can get good results in any notation program, but at what time cost?


6 posts were split to a new topic: Open source applications that can replace commercial equivalents

you’re very right, efficiency can often be biased by habits from other softwares ; however at times it can be objective, namely when clearly the amount of steps to do something is much less in one software versus an other.
I tried MS3 and didn’t like at all the workflow, however for instance the two other things I mentionned (handling of fretted techniques and UI thing to create a project) can be quantified and are definitely possible improvements.
Despite trying to have an entire new philosophy (that I mostly much enjoy), in some cases doing things differently for the sake of it rather than for actual efficiency is not necesarily the best option.
Like you say when you mention time cost, creating a new project in Dorico and adding new instruments, despite being better than in V3, is still not as easy/fast/clear than what Tantacrul proposed for instance.

Well, I don’t think score setup is slower in Dorico. All I meant was that I like the look of MS score setup. It seems to make sense to a new user (which seems to be what they care about above all else).

And I agree, efficiency is not subjective! Much of my (niche and repetitive) work in Dorico these days is quite fast.

…but I don’t think anyway it’s in their philosophy/state of mind do directly “attack” competitors…

You have seen the video where the product owner and head of design for MuseScore spends an hour attacking a competing product, six months after taking on that job, right? Just because it doesn’t appear on the MuseScore web site, if his employers didn’t want him to make a video attacking a competitor, they could have asked him not to do it, so we can only assume that they actively support it, and understand the ways in which they can benefit from such attacks.


just tried using shift-P : unless I’m doing something wrong, every instrument I add closes the pop-up and loads it (into NP for me as it’s my default).
Meaning that rather than having a list of all the instruments I want then adding them to the score and they’re all loaded at once, I gotta do shift-P every time and “lose” time when they’re loaded ?
Plus if I decide not to add an instrument, there’s no way to close that pop-up, no quit button nor for instance pressing escape to shut it, the only thing is to click on an other tab like Write for instance and go back to setup…

Same for the Ensemble builder.

If you look at Tantacrul’s video for instance it’s much easier : you have both Single and Ensemble players buttons in the same tab, you just have to pick your instruments and decide if it’s gonna be single or ensemble, it creates a list, then you create your score.
Whereas now it’s 2 separate pop-ups and no way to even close them if you change your mind, so I’d say way too many clicks compared to what T proposed in his video from 2 years ago.

It may be a wash, but you don’t need the mouse at all. Shift-P (or Shift-Alt-P for section player), and type the name until it’s highlighted, then hit enter, then Shift-P again.

If you’re adding many instruments in the same family I can see how clicking would be faster, but this is very fast as well. Especially if they’re instruments in different families.

Anyways, we’re talking about seconds. For a function you do only once per project.


not sure of what video it is, I’ll go check on his youtube channel.
But before joining MS I think he made a lot of fair points in his video on Dorico (and some others unfair I agree as well), I actually think he loved Dorico (despite being critical) and tried to give you guys ideas for improvements, because he definitely “stole” some of your ideas to put them in this MS4

Yes. I pointed out the same thing a couple of days ago. Does not bode well. It’s a highly premature release. Perhaps they thought Christmas was a psychologically good time to release. I don’t think users are going to be abandoning Dorico in droves once they actually use MuseScore 4 for a short period of time.

I was briefly impressed for a very short time. But already I can’t take it it seriously after looking at the issues, the fact that it does not support Adobe Creative Cloud fonts - for one trivial thing that affects me - and you can see the serious bug list will take a year or so to address I imagine.

Also, although it is open source, that can change. There’s no legislation that says open source cannot be made proprietary in later versions, and this does happen, where companies leave earlier versions open and close later releases for monetization purposes. Just saying. Already quite of lot of MuseScore is proprietary in nature. And MuseScore is owned by the Muse Group company and has paid developers as well as open source ones *I don’t know the ratio), not exactly a full open source model.

Although I am a great proponent of open source and run all my servers for various things (like Discourse) 100% open source, when you stop to think, say there is a bug that affects you in MuseScore, how likely are you to go into the code and fix it? So, you’d have to appeal to the developer community for that, and like any open source project they are fairly small and constrained for resources. So the fact of being open source in practice may not be of as much help as it sounds. And the forum shows no signs from developers of any fixes coming or even acknowleged.

In short, currently MuseScore is an OK program for a certain set of users, but comparing MuseScore 4 to Dorico 4 now seems like comparing chalk and cheese.

I suspect questions like the OP about how good MuseScore 4 is at doing things would be better asked on the MuseScore forums, interesting questions though they may be.


No, that’s exactly my point. He had already been working on MuseScore for a good six months before that Dorico video arrived.


This is an odd comparison; tab and handling of fretted instruments is its whole raison d’être, so I would hope (at least in the interim) that it would be superior here. Of course I want to see this functionality make its way into dorico, but I don’t know that guitar pro is “lesser” so much as “specialty”. It has also had years of development prior to Dorico coming along, and was intensely focused on this one area that whole time, whereas Dorico had come along later and has to focus on a substantially broader set of needs (and still leads the market in many categories).

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yeah I just meant lesser in the sense that it’s much less complete and versatile than Dorico, just specialized, hence why I put this word inside quotation marks :wink:

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The nice part of MS4 is that it will make itself even stronger in the beginners market. So, Dorico will have to focus even more on the more advanced/specialized features!


It largely depends on what you mean by “beginner”.
If MS4 can’t do condensing, extra staves, ossias, etc… then it’s not usable by a 1st year undergrad in composition because they won’t be able to apply what they learn to their notation.