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

FYI: you can already move notes without affecting note spacing. When you click on the square handle, you’ll see a circular handle appear below it…

If the Steinberg forum had a “beating a dead horse” icon, I would use it here, but I completely and fully agree. When copying from a pencil score, duration before pitch is at worse equal in time spent to enter as pitch before duration, and in many cases is better. I’m fully acknowledging this fact. If I’m working from a pencil score it’s a toss-up which is faster so I don’t really care. But for a composer or transcriber who is using a computer-attached MIDI keyboard for composition or transcription directly into music notation software, duration before pitch is certainly slower and more cumbersome. This is a verifiable fact. Exiting and re-entering the input cursor thousands of times in the course of writing a piece is certainly slower than not having to exit and re-enter the cursor for a user using pitch before duration input. This calculation is without even considering the many times a user may touch the MIDI keyboard when inspired without regard to the mode or input method selected, and then have to delete many bars of nonsense. IMO without question, the single most time effective upgrade Dorico could offer the composer or transcriber is “pitch before duration” MIDI input.

Wess said: "Because the natural human way of thinking drives in this direction.’

Well, I must not be human then, because I definitely think duration first. I think, in general, when a person says that everybody thinks a certain way, the statement is almost always wrong. Humans are diverse.


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You can change those key commands in the preferences > key command :smiley:

I don’t know anything about German or Russian music education, but that seems very strange.

I think any musician (except absolute beginners) should to be recognizing and thinking about pitch and duration simultaneously when reading or playing music. The statement seems to be confusing the order in which you teach a complete beginner what the symbols mean, and what you do when you already know what they mean.

The fact that if you write using pencil and paper, you are forced to make several different marks on the paper in some sequential order not simultaneously, seems irrelevant. For example if you write tablature with pencil and paper, there is no reason why you have to write either pitch or duration first, because there is no physical connection between marks representing the two different things.

I concede I’m less dogmatic about the philosophical basis for the universality of pitch-before-duration… although like Todd, I’m still pining for it.

If I’m pitching Dorico to a friend or colleague, and if I find out they’re committed to pitch-before-duration, it’s the one point I can’t defend in good conscience.

Thank you very much to all of you for these almost immediate replays and interesting thoughts,

your posts made me thinking and analysing further the structure of the program.
Therefore, one more time I went to the very beginning of the PDF manual, where the philosophical base of the software was thoroughly explained.
Now I believe, that “Pitch before duration” would be good for input with only computer keyboard, however (after several tests) I do realised that (duration + pitch) is much fastest using MIDI keyboard.

As I mentioned in my first post, I am using Finale for more than 25 y. And ironically, I’ve used MIDI input only once (just for TV show).
The reason – “pitch before duration” does not work that way.
Probably I need to change my attitude (inputing notes in Dorico) and to start using either my digital piano or synth as input controller.
For composing directly it would be faster, indeed, as I use to play/orchestrate in Cubase.
Apparently, the only exchange I have to do is to switch the q-note symbol from 5 for 6 and that’s all.

My next challenge would be to check how Dorico behaves on contemporary scores like these two, linked below.

(page 160 and few more with gradients contain additionally embedded EPS graphics from Illustrator )


(no additional graphics, Finale input only).

As a conclusion: the best two things I found in Dorico for me are:
the unbelievable responsibility and support from the team, as well as the great forum help.

Thank you guys


BTW, is there a “search menu” in this forum?

I like the method pianoleo mentioned in February. Using a midi keyboard, I’ll choose a voice and key in the melody without worrying about duration. Then press “I” and quickly correct that voice. It’s just right arrow and number keystrokes and goes fast. This works well if you are copying a lot of notes from another score.

If, instead, I enter the notes correctly the first time with one hand on the midi keyboard and the other on the numeric keypad, it goes ok. Well, mostly. It’s easy to hit the wrong duration key and not notice for awhile. Especially when the duration change frequently, I manage to make quite a few mistakes. Well, maybe that’s because I’m looking at the paper score and not the computer keyboard, midi keyboard or the screen.

Anyway, the insert feature and voices makes it work ok for me, either of these two methods. Haven’t used Finale in a couple years except to convert old files to xml.

Wess, you can search the forum using the search box in the top right-hand corner of every page, but in fact it’s normally better to use Google site-specific search because phpBB’s built-in search engine is pretty terrible. This is discussed in the FAQ for new users thread.

One advantage of “duration before pitch” is that the procedure works the same whether you’re using a mouse, computer keyboard, or MIDI keyboard, so a common approach allows you to use three different input devices in much the same way. “Pitch before duration” only works (with any kind of efficiency) with a MIDI instrument, so you must have an alternativemethod as well. That said, we have no great philosophical objection to “pitch before duration”: we just haven’t yet given it sufficiently high priority to implement it, though we have talked about it a fair bit. Although I can’t promise it, it’s highly likely it will get implemented in 2020.

I was trying to find complex (orchestral or chamber music) scores input with Dorico, however it appears to be difficult task. I’ll keep searching…
However, thanks!

I have a whole concert’s worth of music I have to finish writing before Wednesday, and the amount of time wasted constantly going back and forth between composing and inputting is driving me crazy. I guess for those that write to a pencil score at an actual piano, or have a second keyboard with audio available for composition it doesn’t matter, but I don’t and as the deadline approaches I might just have to write in Finale and XML it over for formatting and layout.

Does anyone have a better workflow for composing directly into Dorico other than leaving and re-entering the input cursor a zillion times while writing using a MIDI keyboard?

Wess, I’ll PM. Can you be more specific as to what you’re looking for? Contemporary notion?

At one point I set the bottom note of the piano to toggle note input on and off. Sounds cool in theory, but it didn’t work for me. Maybe if I had given it more time…

Well, without wanting to sound elitist, yes. (It’s probably more about age than elitism. I started composing working in a room with a desk, pencil, and paper, the nearest piano was 5 minutes walk away and probably being used for somebody else’s music lesson anyway, and home computers didn’t even exist).

But learning to imagine something and then write it down “right first time” isn’t going to get the first job finished by next Wednesday, however much time it will save in the long term.

That’s an interesting idea! I can set A0 to stop input, but I’m not sure that’s really faster to find than the ESC key. The main problem is after leaving the input cursor there’s no way to easily restart input without clicking somewhere. I can set A#0 to restart input to wherever I click, but of course just simply double-clicking is faster if I still am forced to click somewhere. A true “toggle input” command could be useful to automatically either leave the input cursor or restart where the user last left off.

For this type of arranging work I actually write most of it in my head. Certainly concepts and the basic harmonies are usually done away from any keyboard at all. I teach a master’s level course in arranging at a university and have had a lot of arrangements recorded (I’m on 6 Grammy nominated recordings including 3 wins, plus a Latin Grammy win, Emmy nom, etc.), so I’m pretty experienced and can work really fast. When I sit down at the keyboard I’m usually working out the specific voicings and immediately inputting them. In Finale, I can do all of that without ever leaving the input cursor. This project for example is 45 minutes or so worth of music for 6 saxophones, piano, bass, and drums that the reed and mouthpiece company that I endorse has hired me to do each year for the past 10 years or so. The basic arrangements are pretty much all planned out in my head before I even sit down at the computer, it’s just figuring out the specific voicings for the instruments and putting them in their respective staves. I hate “explode” type of arranging, as I much prefer to make sure all players have strong individual lines, generally no repeated notes unless the lead has them (tonguing these throws off phrasing), no awkward enharmonics, etc., so I write directly into each individual staff. I wasn’t even told the concept for this year’s show until just recently, so I’m under the gun here, and didn’t really adequately estimate how much slower duration before pitch is for composing.


Dorico has one great advantage over Finale – the real time input.
Just plug a MIDI keys and play/rec. It’s amazingly fast. Since all the music is in your head – no doubt, you’ll input it in a minute.
However, in order to improve the input you’ll need to check for reference Dan Kreider’s site (it’s under his signature above).
He has created a PDF, where explains properly well (inc. screen shots) the most important and essential thing about “how to”.
It’s risky to input huge amount of pages with a new program, but this is a challenge, too.
(Sometimes, being under stress, I orchestrate and input in Finale very fast, too). However, we are talking about Dorico.
Apart from that: before to spent two weeks with this program, I use to input my orchestrations initially in Cubase, to export them as MIDI file, to open it and to edit, edit, edit… in Finale…
Dorico is all this in one package – compose, play and see it! For such Finale-boys like us simply reassign the note durations and that’s it.

You do not need to worry about the layout – luckily, the program takes good care about that.
Last night I read the whole materials in Dan’s site and realised that this is the only notation program, that is dedicated to the musicians and not to publishers. Stop thinking about Finale at once (as I did this mistake last week).
Just think about Dorico as an ultimate sequencer/recorder with instant layout function.

Last night I switched on my hybrid grand, connected the midi to the macbook and played. Following the aforementioned ideas for fast input it’s amazingly fast to re-edit the glitches (using Insert mode) if needed. This program is “all in front of your eyes”.
Finale is known for its graphical perfection primarily for contemporary music, but these are two different leagues.
Therefore, go ahead with Dorico and enjoy it.

Good luck!

I’ve never used Finale, but I’m curious about the pitch-before-duration technique, and I can certainly see the benefits in terms of being able to audition pitches before you enter them.

Just one question, though: does this method commit you to hitting a duration key for each and every note? Does that mean that if you need to enter, say, a scale in quavers, you need to hit the pitch on the midi keyboard first, followed by the same duration key, for each and every note in the scale? If I’m understanding it right, that means that entering music with lots of different pitches at the same duration will be slower than the Dorico way, whereas lots of different durations at the same pitch will be faster, other things being equal. Curious to know whether I’ve missed something about the way the Finale system works?

You’ve missed something - as I understand it, Caps Lock acts as a toggle to keep repeating the same duration.

I have very little use for real time input. I mostly am writing for mid to larger ensembles, and I’m constantly inputting a single note as I figure out the exact voicing, then arrow up or down to input in next staff. Shift-arrow to enlarge the cursor is actually a big time saver for homorhythmic passages, but I almost never use real time, as the most time consuming issue when writing is not writing single lines horizontally, but figuring out the voicing vertically, then checking voice leading horizontally and altering as required. I can’t see how real time helps me at all. What slows me waaaay down is the added step of exiting the input cursor to play on the MIDI keyboard, then re-entering it to input. I don’t have this step at all in Finale.

LOL! I actually forced myself to learn the Dorico note durations. Now I screw them up in Finale!