Post-mortem on my first professional project with Dorico

The project in question was creating a string quartet arrangement of a pop song to be used at a friend-of-a-friend’s wedding. After many months since Dorico’s release (I bought it the day it came out), and knowing full-well it would take no time at all to do the music with Finale (which I’ve used since version 2.1 or something like that ca. 1994), I decided to bit the bullet and stubbornly use Dorico and figure it out while doing the project.

This is the first music notation project in which I did not use Finale in any way, shape, or form.

The music was completed and sent to the client a little while ago, and I must say, it looks gorgeous on the page. But for me having used Finale almost exclusively (hardly ever touched Sibelius even during Daniel’s-and-company’s time, today using Dorico for the first time was a foray into a different universe where almost nothing I know from Finale really had a place and use.

This is the first project since 2001 in which I did not use a MIDI keyboard for input. Half the time, I used QWERTY entry, and I know very well once I get the hang of it, it will probably be my go-to method of note-entry over even my MIDI keyboard. That is saying something.

Having the functionality of Write Mode separated by a click (need to learn the hotkeys) from that of Engrave is something I will need to get used to. With Finale, it’s very easy to just click on the pointer icon to move stuff around, but then again, it’s just one click to get to Engrave mode.

I did not do dynamics that much, but the way one can do fp and other things like it with Dorico is nothing short of magical.

My bane was frames - a concept wholly unknown to me in Finale. Specifically, the failure of the viola part to let me put all systems into the first page. One lone system on page two… The other parts cooperated fine, and I will send an email to Daniel (if that’s all-right with him) with the file in question as I know I did something to the viola part’s framing to disable that ability to bring that last system onto the first page where it would have been able to fit.

One thing I was very grateful for (among many) with Dorico is how well-behaved staff systems seem to be. Sometimes even with the latest version of Finale, I will space systems evenly with one or more pages at the back of a score or part clumping up against each other. Additionally with some files, I have to adjust system borders system by system to make absolutely sure there are no collisions. Maybe there’s something with Finale’s functioning I’m missing, but cosmetic work can sometimes take as long as music-entry.

Even with my inexperience and quirks with the program, I enjoyed using Dorico immensely. I am convinced if the Dorico team is allowed to keep at its present course and trajectory with Dorico’s development (wonderful name, btw), Dorico will de-throne the old war-horse Finale as my go-to music notation software solution for my professional and other music notation work.

Bravo, Daniel and crew, and bravo to Yamaha for allowing all this to come to pass.

Why Yamaha ?

To fit all the music in one page, go in Engrave mode (Ctrl or Cmd+3), select the first note or rest, ctrl-click or cmd-click to select the last musical event of the part, and click Make into Frame on the left panel (or shift-F). That should do the thing ! You might also need to reduce the space size a little : ctrl (or cmd) shift L, page setup, select the alto layout and change the space size. That’s it !

… they are the Steinberg owners … :slight_smile:

Thanks, I did not know !


your posting could have been written by me. I’m a long time Finale user too, never bought Sibelius and just finished my first pages with Dorico. And even better: What you wrote about using Dorico is nearly exactly what I think about it. The only difference is, that I mostly use my MIDI keyboard for note input.

Comparing MakeMusic (or Klemm Music in Germany) and Steinberg, I feel that Daniel and the whole team take my postings seriously and even confess bugs in Dorico. And they seem to do everything to eliminate these bugs as soon as possible. With Finale, I often get no answer at all or they blame everything on MacOS … and many annoying bugs exist for decades.

Thank you Daniel and Steinberg for giving us such a great product and beeing so customer-friendly.


Just a comment about keyboard entry. While I have played around with the QWERTY keyboard entry system, if only so I’ll be familiar with it if I’m ever caught needing to edit with just my laptop, I find using the MIDI keyboard for pitch even more convenient because it eliminates any confusion about which octave of a pitch to use.

I admit that the trade off currently is that accidentals are sometimes enharmonically wrong; but IIRC the Team is working on a routine to improve that, which will be great.

I only use MIDI keyboard entry and for me, that frees up all those keys for shortcuts for example: B for beam, E for (erase) rest, C for (change key) transpose…
I just realized that those keystrokes are available anyway. They only make note entries when in note entry mode.