Pitch before duration and 5 instead of 6 for a quaver (as in Finale)

Hello community,

i am a professional engraver and Finale crossgrader as you can see, have been using Finale for over 20 years now.
I am quite fast in Finales speedy entry and was very lucky when in some Sibelius version there was an option to switch to Finales keyboard layout and entry behaviour (Bad habits, but a matter of workflow if you have to sometimes work in different programs)

Is there, or will there ever be an option to switch it that way in Dorico, would be a killer feature for me:

Pitch before duration and key 5 instead of 4 for a quaver


Hi all
I have same problem🙃

You mean 5 instead of 6, right?
You can change those key commands in the preferences > key command
Type quaver in the search field and change the value. You might want to change all rhythmic values though

Yes, that’s right, sorry!

Ok, that’s one step in the right direction,
but it’s not possible to change the behavior to first specify pitch and then duration?

This is a screenshot from Sibelius 7.5 Preferences, this works quite nice for me…

At this time you cannot use pitch before duration in Dorico. The subject has been raised, but AFAIK it has not been scheduled.
I wish this were not so, but one has to admit that there are more important capabilities that users are waiting for.
I’m sure the team will get to it eventually.

Dorico is quite different from Sib or Fin in many aspects, and Daniel has explained that it’s worth to try the Dorico way — i.e. forget the habits from other software and try to understand the musical logic they stuffed into Dorico…
Take a breath and dive!

I used Finale from it’s first version then later switched to Sibelius. I then moved to Dorico because I believe in the team producing it and at first I posted exactly your question on this forum. I changed the default note keys in the key commands to the Sibelius keys and tried workarounds etc. I kept my options open by moving files back and fore between Dorico and Sibelius but very quickly realised Dorico is in a different league to the other two programmes, far superior… more creative. I switched Dorico back to the defaults and moved 100% to Dorico. Best thing I did. The most important thing was to let go of ‘How can I do what Sibelius/Finale does’ and go the way Dorico does it. I won’t list the many many ways it proved to be the best way to work but just to say follow Marc’s tip- Take a breath and dive! The level of support from the team and the people on this excellent forum is fantastic too.

Thanks for the kind words :slight_smile:
And yes, great forum with lots of helpful pros here and Dorico seems to be the future in software engraving. Thought it could be Sibelius some years ago but i disliked very much it’s strict architecture. The program always forced me in a workflow that was not mine so i sticked with Finale, and with the plugin-help of Jari Williams, Tobias Giessen and Robert Patterson it was quite comfortable.
But i always hated Finale as a program, no real inventions from the company itself, they left to good ideas to the plugin programmers and every 130€ update they brought out every year was mainly a bunch of corrections that should have been free. But they feeded the customer and added just one small feature that was useful for me to get rid of a workaround i usually had to go - a love-hate relationship.

I will give Dorico a try in a professional situation in the near future, but i usually do the big orchestral pieces, filmmusic and operas which i had to do in almost no time … had to find the right project for it

Sorry for my english, not my language

I agree with everything you say about Finale. It would feel even older and less ‘cared-for’ without JW, TG and RP’s plug-ins. Robert was on here a while ago. One of the things that gives me confidence in Dorico is that the actual development team are as responsive, curious and proactive as JW, TG and RP.
I also changed my shortcuts to Finale’s when I started with Dorico, but have reset them to Dorico’s defaults (apart from using shift-1 and shift-2 to filter). At the moment I’m spending equal time in each, Dorico for fun and Finale for work, and coping with the different entries and shortcuts with little trouble.
75% of entry is now quicker in Dorico (despite decades of Finale). Complicated piano writing with multiple voices and chord notes on each voice is way slower than Finale still (for me…). This is mostly ‘headspace’ related.

Pitch before duration would be a great feature to add. I find myself in and out of note entry mode constantly because anything I play on the keyboard gets notated. I would like to be able to play on the keyboard, find the right note or chord and then have it notated after I press the number for the duration. This would save so much time.

You can of course hit Esc to leave note input (i.e. so the caret no longer appears) and keep playing on your keyboard, which will prevent things from being notated, and then hit Return or Shift+N again when you want to keep inputting.

I understand that it’s better to do the Dorico way and not to change the keyboard layout to Sibelius or Finale. (Although the Dorico shortcuts remind me of the good old days of WordPerfect…) But I believe it would be better to have the keyboard layout consistent. For example: I prefer the numeric key block for entering the duration. I can use all keys as on the normal keyboard, but not the 7 it doesnt’t bring a half note (minim is the english word, I guess) but a brevis, so we have the brevis two times: on 7 and 9. If this is a feature I don’t understand it.

Hello Steve,

As a previous long-term Finale user, I started with it shortly after it first came out, I agree with your above quote.

When I moved to Dorico I decided to learn to use and to become accustomed to Dorico’s way of working. It took a while and, of course, the inevitable learning curve and now I’m working so much faster than I ever could in Finale.

The team have put in a considerable amount of thought, time and planning to design Dorico’s way of working. It never occurred to me to request a change because Finale or another program did it differently.

I’m really glad I became accustomed to Dorico’s way and now, when I do open Finale or one of the others, I miss Dorico’s approach there.

Sorry for rising the deads - but before we move to v3 (probably this summer), I would like to add my vote:
Although I really love Dorico - I would also like to request the “Pitch-before-duration” feature, since while composing I always think first what is the note that I hear on my mind and play it - only then count how long is it going to be played, this is much more intuitive for the way I’m thinking.
So I always go back and forth between the ESC button and the Shift+N - almost on each note I press to go in and out of the note entry and fix the duration.
I really would love to overcome this type of forcing me to count in advance each note that I’m about to play.

Finale always had Simple Entry and Speedy Entry warring factions, who each saw their way as better and hated the other method. Dorico is similar to Simple Entry (though with some much more powerful functions, like Insert mode, the implicit creation of rests, etc, etc. It’s good that “duration first” is being considered for the future.

I’ve changed the 0 key to “make a rest of the current selected duration”, which is like Finale, but I’ve resisted changing the numbers/durations. I think there’s a danger that if you start changing those, then do you make 9 a tuplet key, etc, etc. How far do you go?

…And then 20 years later, someone asks you why you’ve got all these funny key shortcuts, and you say “Oh, because I used to use this other program 20 years ago.” :laughing:

It doesn’t take long to get accustomed to the change. Even if you have to use both apps concurrently.

Thanks for your reply.
I’m not talking about the shortcuts numbers and not talking about getting used to a new SW.
All I’m saying that I wish for an option of “Pitch-before-duration” since this is the way I’m composing.
I first think of what is the current note, then only when I think of what will be the next note - I know how long the first note duration is.
Therefore I have to switch between note entry (shift N) and edit (ESC and change duration) again and again.
That’s what I wish will be enter to the next release.

Jerome, one workaround is to enter a series of pitches, then exit input mode (Esc), turn on Insert mode (I) and alter the rhythmic value of each note (using the numbers, or using the lengthen/shorten shortcuts). Also, Enter is quicker than Shift+N and achieves exactly the same result.

Jerome, I agree totally and much prefer pitch-before-duration. It has been discussed several times on the forum. Daniel has said this option will certainly be added, though there is not a specific timeline.

Being brand new to Dorico, I’ll put in a vote to have the option to use ‘pitch before duration’ as well…but only if it’s done the Sibelius way, where automatic note spacing takes effect.

It’s amazing that Finale, who started the ‘Speedy Entry’ game, still has the ‘squished up mess’ of notes when using Speedy Entry. Talk about an ‘inspiration-killer’.
Most composers (if trying to use the software to actually compose instead of using pencil and paper) would like to be able to ‘noodle around’ sometimes before committing to specific notes or harmonies.

I know you can switch in and out of Dorico ‘Write’ mode very quickly…but, I think a ‘pitch before duration’ option will sell even more copies of Dorico.

I’m just switching over to Dorico after hemming and hawwing about it, and am resigned to the ‘duration before pitch’ because of everything else Dorico can do so well and make so easy.

Dreaming about ‘pitch before duration’…

I can’t agree more.

After dedicating more that a week to Dorico — reading in details over 1200 pages user manual and testing most of its features, I do think that “pitch before duration” needs to be implemented. Not because Finale and Sibelius have this for decades. Because the natural human way of thinking drives in this direction.
Each trained musician starts to recognise first the pitch and than note value. At least the German and Russian music edu. systems relay on that. Imagine: you take the pencil and first you put on the rostral the note head, followed by stem and flag (if needed).
This is so natural. However, even the accidentals come after the duration (when I compose on paper, but this is individual, I admit).

A suggestion to the developers – could you add some “exceptions” to the well defined rules, that govern the whole program, since there are many uncommon situation mostly seen in contemporary music. Moving individual notes need to be improved – not to add additional space between them when more than one note has been selected, but to move (nudge) them am block without this to effect any spacing.

All what I wish for Dorico is to become alternative to Finale for the highest lever of contemporary music engraving.
For instance – an embedded graphic editor. It would be highly appreciated, as well as changing beam thickness.
If there are such in near future, I would definitely switch from Finale to Dorico without any hesitation. Right now it will stay on my lap top for testing.

BTW, few days in a lecture about computerised music notation, my unbiased students were surprised how a simple score being typed in Dorico (just out of the box) looks so much better compared to Finale and Sibelius. However, I could not completely answer to their question, too, “why the pitch must be after the duration”. The only explanation I gave was, that this program suggests primarily using MIDI instead of computer keyboard, considering also the chord (interval) input. IMO this option needs hardly to be reconsidered for adding an alternative option for comp. keyboard.