Note input, copy/paste, repeat note

Hello Daniel, everyone!

What is the basic process of inputting notes with keyboard and mouse? the power users of PRODUCT A use the numeric keypad and mouse extremely quickly - will DORICO have note length values assigned to keyboard keys? numbers?

It would be great to here how one inputs a series of notes - presumably this will be the first step of a steep (but enjoyable) learning curve for users switching from PRODUCT A?

I can’t wait!

There are occasions when one needs to swap a passage of notes from one instrument to another. Since clipboard can only hold one copied phrase, PRODUCT A (!) allows selection of a passage and alt-click will directly copy and paste (without affecting clipboard contents) so that one can swap parts say between soprano & alto for a few bars.

PRODUCT A also has a repeat function which is brilliant when used in combination with the arrow keys allowing fast passages of notes to be entered by repeating the note then using down or up arrows to position the next one. I can write folk tunes out in seconds with this technique, as they often use dozens of the same note length in a row.

Thanks for your effort in answering peoples questions, Daniel - it must be tedious and tiring but it gives us trust that you are doing things right with Dorico.


Dorico is designed to make note input comfortable if you only have the basic set of keys on a laptop/notebook keyboard – there’s no requirement for an external numeric keypad, or indeed a MIDI keyboard.

The numbers along the top row of the keyboard choose durations (6 = crotchet/quarter, 7 = minim/half note, 5 = quaver/eighth note, etc.), while 0 is natural, - is flat, and + (actually = on a UK keyboard at least) is sharp. Note names are entered using the letters A to G. Articulations use the four symbolic keys to the left of the Return key, with Shift for the second set of four articulations. You build chords by first hitting Q (for “quord”) and then type the letter names of the notes you want to add to the chord, from the bottom up (you can add modifiers to add notes explicitly above or below when you type the note name if need be), then either hit Q if you’re finished with chords or hit Space to input a chord at the next position.

Start a new voice by typing Shift+V (you can have as many voices as you like on the same stave), and then hit V to cycle between all of the voices you’re already using on the stave. Grace notes are entered after hitting /. Rhythm dots are made with the full stop/period key. You don’t really need to input rests, so you can instead just hit Space to leave a gap and Dorico will fill the gap in with the appropriate rests. Hit ; to start inputting a tuplet: a pop-over appears in which you type the ratio. Hit : (Shift-:wink: to stop tuplet input. Hit S to start a slur, and Shift-S to stop it.

You can also hit R to repeat the note to the left of the caret during input, and then repitch it. Repitching notes is done using Alt+up/down arrow (the arrow keys on their own don’t edit the music, they only ever navigate, like in a word processor).

One of these days I will perhaps make a little video that demonstrates all of these things. I hope you will find the note input method logical, easy to learn, and most of all both powerful and efficient.

Hi Daniel,
regarding to note-input with a midi-keyboard. I am a bit stubborn when it comes to input and would always prefer pitch before duration. Will it be possible to set this as a global setting?


Not in the first version, Andy, no. I’m afraid we’re duration-before-pitch people, at least for the time being.

:smiley: at least I know whom to blame for the mess I will create in the first serveral weeks :wink:

Thank you, Daniel!

This sounds very well thought out - I’m so happy the repeat function is there. Anything which allows input without scrabbling for a mouse is always a bonus!

Can you explain a little more about how the copy and paste functionality will work?
I always thought it would be great to have a clipboard which could handle more than one thing i.e. CMD+C+1 would copy something into clipboard position 1, CMD+C+2 into position 2. CMD+V+2 would paste from clipboard position 2.
But maybe one can’t use letter keys on the keyboard in combination with numbers and presumably CMD+Shift+number will already be in use for some other function…
For a function like changing long passages between players (especially when there are 3 or 4 players notes to swap round), this would be much more intuitive than the way Sib does it at the moment.
This is probably what the ‘Ideas’ function in Sib was all about.
I found myself adding an additional instrument to use as a blank placeholder for those times.

I also hope the chaps at Editors Keys will create a set of keyboard stickers for Dorico for its release - that would help with the learning curve.

Thanks again!


Philip Rothman’s blog post about the Dorico announcement details the note input mode with a graphical keyboard map — very illustrative:

first of all congratulations to finally getting close to a release of this exciting application! Feels good to have a so engraving dedicated person in the front of this. My dream to get an app to fullfill advanced engraving needs.
About note input:

  1. Can you use a keypad like in Sibelius?
  2. Can you change note values and then “type” pitches with a midi-keyboard? ie, can you use a midi-keybard independant from duration?
    The combination of a keypad/midikeyboard is for me the absolutely fastest way of notation. Faster than writing by hand.
    For me this would be crucial.

Best wishes,

During note-input can I step back and change the duration and the step forward again to continue entering notes?

If so I could program a LUA-Script to simulate duration before pitch.

Our note input method does not use the external numeric keypad at all. The plan is that you will be able to redefine the default shortcuts, so if you want to map things onto a numeric keypad, you’ll be able to do so. Step-time input from a MIDI keyboard is going to be included, though it’s not yet working as we have yet to be able to receive MIDI from the audio engine, which is in the process of being integrated at the moment.

My main objection to duration - before - pitch is that (as with Sibelius) is I cannot freely play and tryout ideas without inputing notes. Am I missing something? It also would seem very advantageous to have the Finale note input method option if at all possible.

Will Dorico require the use of the escape key as in Sebelius?

In Sibelius, if you select a staff for input and then deselect it, midi thru will remain active for that instrument, so you can try out ideas without inputting any notation. Once you get used to the workflow of escape out and clicking into selection for preview before entry, it is pretty intuitive. As you say, FInale’s mechanism of duration after pitch for step-entry facilitates trying out ideas on the keyboard before input.

To me, the workflow for getting music entered via midi / step time in Finale and Sibelius seem equally efficient, and making the adjustment between programs seems natural and intuitive.

About Q for Qord, is it possible to select an entire unison line and add a 3rd above or a 6th below with a single command?

Not at the moment, Claude, but I’m sure this is something we can add at some point.

For now, you can enable the “Lock Durations” button in the note input toolbox, then engage chord input, and work your way through the existing melody, adding the necessary intervals by note name, and hitting Space when you want to move on to the next rhythmic position. It’s not as fast as making a selection of multiple notes and adding them with a single keypress, obviously, but it does remove the need to change note duration at every position.

Although it’s a pity, especially since “Product A” does this very quickly and I would use it often, I’m sure I could even find a workaround involving copy/paste/voices that would work even faster with longer melodies. I’ll experiment once I get the software. Still, it would be very useful to add this capacity.
It has been a bad habit of mine to use scoring software without truly thinking in terms of note names (something that is generally recommended) but rather in terms of “geography” on the staff. Hence my reliance on thinking more in terms of intervals, and my odd habit of entering music using a repeat command and up/down arrows. It seems quite obvious that I will finally have to eschew those practices and join the rest of the notating world!

Hi All,

I’ve been following Daniel’s blog and any other Dorico-related news with great interest. I recently heard a podcast where he mentioned that Finale and Sibelius bear the imprint of the times in which they were created, and I very much agree.

I’m a long time Finale user, and I find it to be exasperatingly dated in many ways. One thing I specifically don’t like about it is how often it takes you out of your creative musician mindset and forces you to think like a piece of software.

As an example, if you enter any chromatic pitch in Finale, it will guess what the spelling of that note should be. So in C major if you enter the note Ab and Finale guesses it’s G# you have to change the spelling. So far, no big problem. The problem is that if that is the first of 16 Abs in that bar, it’s going to call it G# 15 more times. It’s true that you can enter a whole measure of wrong spellings and then correct them all at once, but it forces you to look a whole bars of crazy spelling while trying to think about the harmony therein. It’s extremely un-musicianly, disconcerting and tedious.

One thing Finale does well is to let the user decide if they’re going to use a mouse and typing keyboard, or a musical keyboard, or a combination thereof for input. Reading in this thread that Dorico will only work with a typing keyboard is a deal breaker for me, 100%, I’m sorry to say. Removing the primary stock-in-trade tool of most composers - the musical keyboard - as well as removing the ability to quickly and easily audition and enter choices about chord voicings, makes this a tool I would never buy or use. I can imagine no scenario where I would trade my lifetime of musical keyboard skills for my poor hunt-and-peck typing. And being unable to enter whole chords in one go makes it an order of magnitude worse.

One more thing: using the keypad along with a MIDI keyboard in Speedy Entry in Finale means that I can enter music almost as fast as I can hear it, and I never have to look at my hands. Typing on the number keys across the top is, at least for me, a much less sure handed operation.

It would be amazing if someone developed software for novelists or screenwriters so that in a pinch they could even capture their ideas even without access to a typing keyboard. But to write such a program and specifically forbid the use of a typing keyboard would be utterly lacking in common sense. Most people in those professions are so accustomed to using that tool that they hardly know it’s there. Diverting their attention from being creative to learning some bizarre system of word entry invented for a piece of software would be as counter-productive as possible. For me, doing any kind of musical input without access to a musical keyboard is just as useless.

I would think that the best solution with respect to note input is to make it possible to use just a typing keyboard, or a typing keyboard with a MIDI keyboard, and let the use decide what works best for them. Also, a simple Key Commands feature such as in Logic and other software would let the user map note values and other commands to whatever keys they prefer.

My overlong 2 cents…

Steve, we will of course support MIDI keyboard input, just as soon as the audio engine that is currently being integrated allows us to achieve it. We expect this to be before 1.0 is released, but if not, it will certainly come as quickly as possible afterwards in a free maintenance update.

Since I grew up using a 10 key adding machine I touch type both it and a standard keyboard so I use left hand for note name and right hand on keypad for duration. Quick, efficient, and no need to take my eyes off the score.
Will I be able to map the durations to my keypad? I certainly hope so.
(Curses and imprecations directed at all laptops sans keypad. May they overheat and blowup.)

Yes, you will be able to assign shortcuts to the numeric keypad as you wish.

Thanks Daniel. I thought so but wanted to be reassured. We are all such fragile creatures.