Playback Loop, Dear Dorico Team stop Ignoring that feature

Dorico is on the way to becoming an ‘appropriate tool’ for a growing number of collaborative, educational, and production level applications.

It happens one small feature at the time; and, it turns out that a basic set of user configurable loop points is the ‘foundation’ for gradually adding deeper features like markers and hit points, tempo calculation tools, instant variation toggling, interactive music lessons, workbook assessments/tests, and more.

Aside from a loop being helpful in making adjustments to plugins hosted in the mixer, tweaking instruments, or building expression data in the CC lanes (mentioned earlier in the thread)…

From a ‘compositional’ perspective…

Many people who score for film/video or compose gaming modules prefer working in traditional notation where possible. It’s often essential to collaborate over matters, and a nice score is far easier to communicate with than 732 tracks in a DAW loaded with busy player piano looking scrolls.

With each new version of Dorico, workflows become possible where a composer could stay primarily in a single App (Dorico), and compose music to fit specific timing restrictions inherent in a growing set of demands for modern day composers (precise cue points in video/animation/etc).

Yes, a set of loop points could be quite helpful. Even more so if media hosted in the video player stays in sync as well. Having a section of a project loop indefinitely until ready to stop it, or remotely change the loop points can be VERY helpful in figuring out what to do to best compliment the media the score might ‘accompany’. Being able to mute/solo different variations/staves in/out at will can help a good deal with making arrangement and harmonic decisions to better jive with synced media.

While quite a few things might be mixed in a slaved tracking DAW instead…currently, Dorico must be the Master Transport for such setups.

When composing for film/video/animation, it’s also helpful to be able to manage multiple versions or takes between any two given points in time. I.E. During collaboration you could easily demonstrate, "This is how it sounds if we have strings carry the theme. click click And here is what it’s like if we use Wood Winds instead click click And this variation does voice crossing among sections for a more jarring effect, click click and this one doesn’t use the voice crossing effect.

There’s more to it than ‘production environments for passively consumed products for the entertainment industry’. Someday Dorico might be able to crank out interactive learning modules in a format that’s ready to publish online, theory tests/assessments, ear training exercises, and more. A quick and easy set of ‘loop points’ would be a fundamental necessity in making these sorts of projects a reality.

If the proper remotes and command lines (scripting) comes about, it might even be possible pack some derivative of Dorico into stuff like Yamaha Electronic Pianos…incorporating ‘lessons’, play along arrangements, improvisational drills, etc.

Baby steps though. No one expects such things to happen over-night. Loop points would be…baby step one towards a lot of other ‘possibilities’.


There’s no need (continually) to write essays.

As @MarcLarcher rightly says, Daniel and the team set their own priorities and are well aware of how different user workflows.


There is always a need for qualitative databases for further research. Essays are ‘helpful’, as they include a thesis, supporting statements, searchable keywords, and more. They’re also a little better at avoiding getting ‘personal’.

Engraving is a current focal point, but there is a decades old (and still growing/changing/evolving) interpretation and playback engine in the product as well. Designers do get ideas from users, and make notes for long range models, and integrating potential for merging technologies.

Scores can and should be ‘interactive’. Loop points for power users of various sorts will make a great corner-stone for possibilities.

Be it later, or sooner, I’d welcome them.


I completely agree. Luckily, it’s being kept alive by organists, and jazz musicians, and baroque specialists.

The French school of organ playing, in particular, is VERY big on improvisation. Certainly, any competent liturgical organist (of any stripe) should be competent at it.

But you’re right on the whole that it’s a forgotten art. I was one of the only students where I did my undergrad who could improvise to any degree of presentability. (At least in the classical vein. The jazz ensemble worked on it too, obviously.)

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At first it might not be much different, maybe even more convoluted.

Baby steps…

  1. Add the ability. Get it in ‘the wild’ to see if users ‘break it’. Fix it if they do.

  2. Have Dorico sprout a set of ‘ears’ so he can communicate with other hardware and software. Provide and document ‘back doors’ to make use of the initially ‘dumb and clunky’ loop points. MIDI Remote Control (I.E. Send a program change to call up a ‘preset’ with specific loop points memorized). Provide ways for ‘scripts’ to make use of it. Provide command lines and alternate methods to launch such scripts.

The baby step leads to more and bigger steps and possibilities.

Such loop points would be quite ‘fundamental’, but it could most certainly lead to MANY very ‘creative’ applications.

At first it might seem that this is mostly of interest to ‘performers’ or ‘production workflows’; however, such a baby step could ultimately lead to innovations in collaboration, education, assessments/tests, and real time generation of scores through various types of AI and web serving technologies.


The whole discussion seems quite pointless to me. If you read Daniels comments on the forum on this topic, it doesn’t so much seem to be a question of „if“, but rather „when“. So we can all sit back, relax and wait?


This may be what you are saying here, Brian, but having Dorico able to communicate tempo changes to its VST’s (something I think the Team does want to implement) would be a precursor to being able to use loops effectively.

The ability to attach GA clips to Dorico drum tracks appears to be a step in this direction, and we know the Dorico Team likes to implement difficult features in successive stages, so I think we are headed in the right direction.


I can think of some scenarios where Looping as described by OP would be useful already (outside the scope of VST instruments).

I too want those VST Parameters registered (Tempo, Time Signature, bar/beat, Sample Count, and more)! For me, personally, implementing these VST protocols will be immediately more useful as well, still, I’m with OP, and all in for a basic ‘loop point’ thing through the play tab that can ‘grow and evolve’ with time :slight_smile:

I have no idea which should come first, the chicken, the egg, or maybe both at the same time?

It can (and will) wait. For now we just need to use some other tools and workflows (that cost a little extra time/effort/money), make do with what we have, or go without.


It’s still a good time to suggest any particular preference for the way it is eventually implemented.

And probably if I had my way, I suggest a fancy loop system where each sequence of loops uses the color option. One play through, gets you one note color, then when it plays through again that first color is muted and the next play over leaves a new color. Then the first two colors are now silent and the third color starts.

Then you have an auto play back where you can hear them again in sequential order. So, once your satisfied with all the variations, you select one color you like, invert the color selection and delete all the others leaving your preferred playthrough for minor editing.

Easy for me to say, I’m not a programmer.


This kind of looks like the (amazing) arranger track in Cubase.

Yes, for architecting pieces of music, or trying out different structures, the arranger track is wonderful.

I always find Brian’s “essay” both interesting and useful.



Same here. I sit up whenever his name pops up in a thread. His posts are always worth a read.

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The lack of a dedicated, flexible looping function and a type of ‘scratchpad’ for trialling alternative ideas are the only things holding me back from using Dorico.

It’s so odd that old Atari ST notation sequencing software such as C-Lab Notator had it all back in the 80’s. I dare say there is nothing around today that equals it for flexibility that would encourage experimentation (if THAT is your thing!).
Sadly today, the offerings available are DAWs mainly with a focus on audio, and for MIDI have unwieldly keyboard scroll editors and okay notation features.
The excellent notation software such as Dorico has its emphasis on engraving (for those who may already know what they want) rather than experimentation.
I may be in the minority, but I would love to see Dorico take on some more flexible options, for the way some of us compose.


I suppose it is even odder that finale doesn’t have it then, since it is just as old.


…well because Finale (and the usual suspects) are and were primarily notation/engraving software, Notator was primarily MIDI sequencing software, which also for its time had advanced notation features.

You could compose in any editor you chose - score, numeric, keyboard scroll or matrix, with them all open and active at the same time - the tiny Atari monitor screens were a limitation unfortunately… It was quite easy and quick to make changes in say velocity or note duration with all the editor windows immediately updating those changes.
If Notator was still supported and maintained today and had features like VST and expression map support, I’d be still using it.

This gap in features between primarily notation software and sequencing software still exists today as it did back then, but now with that emphasis on audio, MIDI seems to be a secondary consideration and companies that make DAWs have their hands full already satisfying what they consider is their target buyer and loyal supporter.

C-Lab split up and eventually Notator morphed into Emagic Notator Logic and arguably changed for the worst in some aspects but improved in others IMO.
Emagic Notator Logic was then bought by Apple and is now of course Logic Pro.


Notator was - and to some extent still is - pure genius. So many great records were created using this software. I use it these days for creative purposes and for another workflow. Atari ST with 4MB of RAM, UltraSatan hard drive, modern mouse and a normal flat VGA monitor instead of small SM124 is fully usable. This program is so transparent to use, if you know the main principles, that works just like a musical instrument.

And yes, when comes to looping, that would be a great addition to Dorico :slight_smile:


I had a 1040ST with a 2meg RAM aftermarket kit as my first 16bit computer back in nineteen eighty weird. Made the mistake of choosing a color monitor (thought I wanted to play games but never did much) so began the MIDI journey with KCS Omega and Hybrid Arts stuff (Creator/Notator and Cubase needed Monochrome).

Had stuff to plug into it and it’d also run DOS/Windows, and Mac stuff up through OS9 or so.

Late 90s 16bit Atari stuff could be found all day for a song and a dance, so I acquired a couple of STacy 4 machines, a Mega 4, and a Falcon CT2b, plus racks of external kit to go with it. Those were so much fun. Eventually acquired all the goodies…Cubase, Logic, Notator, Creator, Log3, Unitor, Export, SMP24, SPDIF, ADAT and so forth.

It did take up loads of space and gradually got relegated to ‘storage areas’ without the best climate control around it, so I decided to let all the Atari stuff to go a Studio/Collector who would keep it under better conditions, take good care of it, and probably USE it often since he’s into true retro and ‘self-built’ analogue synths.

I do miss the tight MIDI timing, and how quick and easy it was to manipulate MIDI events and sequences.

I don’t miss needing a trailer to do a simple gig (and at least an hour of setup and testing time). I don’t miss needing an expensive mixing console, a 120lbd flight case on wheels, and another 35 lbds of cables running everywhere.


I will use current tense for Notator references from now on, as it is still in use by some enthusiasts.

I still have my hefty Notator manual in pristine condition (that’s how intuitive it was to work with! :smiley:) and was just looking up all the options that are available just in Cycle mode (used for playback, recording, merge/overwrite drop ins) - I would suggest any music software developer read that section alone just to get an idea of all the creative possibilities in implementing such a feature.

The Loop function, as distinct from the Cycle function, is used as an optional track parameter and mainly used for playback alone - though track parameters can be set and active prior to recording or other means of input. This feature alone is great for repeats on a per note or bar basis - used in conjunction with the delay parameter (plus or minus), one could get really creative!

The Pattern track and Arrange track mutes are also an indispensable creative feature. Notator doesn’t have a dedicated scratch pad for testing ideas - it doesn’t really need one. By using the mute/unmute feature, one can simply audition different versions of musical ideas without dedicated data loss.

After a long lapse from music (just a hobby for me) and being disappointed with the current offerings, I also decided earlier this year to buy the UltraSatan (such a bad name :imp:), a modern mouse and a larger monitor to run my 4meg Atari ST. It was great to fire it up again and to revisit some old Notator compositions.

I’ll persevere a while trialling other PC notation DAW software (tried most), but may have to, like you, incorporate may aging Atari ST into my home studio. A shame there is nothing around that is emulating Notator like features. You are so correct in saying Notator was and still is pure genius!


Not ever having to write to film/video (being a hobbyist), I cant imagine how difficult it must be to come up with the appropriate score without having a loop/cycle function in the software. How does one arrive at that easily without testing musical ideas first without such a tool? I guess some people are gifted in how they can just "know’ or feel what is correct for a scene. Perhaps its just a matter training, experience and a large amount of discipline.

In the educational realm I can see how a loop/cycle feature would be indispensable for training purposes. I can see how some of the ideas you expressed in your post could be implemented by interfacing with Dorico - i.e. sight reading lessons that looped over a written score with the students live performance evaluated against it. Given Dorico’s sophisticated integration of it’s graphic score with its playback engine, it would be something to contend with!