Praise, mostly

I’ve been learning Dorico by copying Ravel’s Introduction et Allegro. It’s a piece I admire very much and I thought it would be a rewarding study for musical reasons as well as teaching myself to use the software. Success! I am really pleased with how I was able to get Dorico to handle almost all the tricky notational intricacies of this score. Dorico is a real pleasure to use, even on my 11-year old iMac. I love the way Dorico takes care of so many aspects of making a score look beautiful—I almost don’t have to think about it, whereas in other scoring softwares I’ve used it is massively time-consuming. This score doesn’t need condensing, but WOW! Fantastic job Dorico! As you can probably tell, I’m very happy with the app. So what could be improved?

Some things I couldn’t do in this score:

  1. French beaming
  2. French note names for Harp pedalling
  3. Simultaneous natural and harmonic notes for harp. This is not strictly speaking a Dorico issue, as I don’t have any Harp sample library where this is possible, but it could have been worked around if it was easy or possible to add an extra harp part (for harmonics only) and completely hide it while retaining its playback (see 5 below)
  4. Staff labels. Ravel writes “1er VIOLON” and “2d VIOLON” on the first system, subsequently “VONS” between the 2 violin staves. I don’t know how to achieve this in Dorico.

Some things that were more difficult than desired:
5. Hiding things—I found that the French tempo indications like “Ralentir”, “Accélérez” etc. are not understood by Dorico in the same way as “Rallentando” or “Accelerando”, so it was necessary to hide the Italian words using the bottom panel and “hide” their dashed lines by custom sizing them to 1%. Is there going to be a “hide item” option?
I now realise I could use the tempo track in Play mode and not worry about having to enter and hide Italian words/lines.
Ravel’s score hides most of its tuplet numbers, and I kept being fooled when copying and pasting passages with hidden tuplets—unless I was showing signposts (which take up a surprising amount of screen space and can obscure other items), tuplets are not selected when selecting an entire measure. Surely this should be changed? Who doesn’t want to copy tuplets as part of a bar?
6. Finding the exact place to click. It’s really hard to select a stem—could we have a slightly larger active zone? Ditto barlines, especially in Engrave mode, I found. In Play mode there seems to be a really tiny active zone for the vertical adjustment of lanes. Also, could we have a way of expanding and contracting all lanes at once, rather than having to do them one by one? This would be great in Setup mode as well.
7. UI inconsistencies. I’ve asked about this before, but I’m including it here for completeness. Usage of the Delete key: in Setup mode I can use it to remove a player, whereas in Play mode I can’t use it to remove a VST instrument. Nor can I press delete for anything in an expression or percussion maps, or a playback template. I would expect that if I’ve made a selection of something, I would be able to delete it with a keystroke.


5: You can change the text of a rallentando marking to ‘ralentir’ in the Properties panel. Similarly, you can set whether it shows a line or not there.

Ah, thanks for this, but I can’t find where to choose “no line” I have only solid, doted or dashed as options. Am I missing something?

Dotted, not doted, haha!

In English, I believe it’s called “gradual style.”

Oh, I see, good! Thanks, Dan.

  1. Concerning hidden tuplets: this is a direct consequence of the flexibility that Dorico allows concerning tuplets. Just like the fact that time signatures and barlines are a non-destructive overlay on the underlying music, a tuplet always exists independent from the notes which it contains. I agree that in some cases, the signposts could be a bit more discreet. But their behavior is completely predictable, which is (imo) a good design decision and very unlikely to change.

That is a fair point. I’ll have to remember to show signposts when copying/pasting certain things.

This is so beautiful I printed it out on 11x17 to hang on my office wall. Love it.

Thanks, Romanos401! We are fortunate to have such tools.

There is one other thing I couldn’t do, that is have correct playback for this passage:
Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 09.48.26.png
The playback is like the bottom line, with non-triplet eighth-notes. Not sure whether this is possible without having the correct playback somehow hidden, and the correct notation silent…

Sorry - this is possible in play mode, but not setup mode

Assuming you are using solo players (not sections):
1_ Right-click > Staff > Add Staff Above
2_ Input the playback version in the additional staff
3_ Toggle the Suppress playback property on the “display” passage
4_ Delete the + 1 staff signpost

Oh, that’s great! Thanks so much.

I had an idea that independent voice playback might be the answer to the “simultaneous harp natural and harmonics notes” issue from point 3 above.
I tried something simple at first, routing all notes in voice 3 to a harp harmonics instrument, but the visual feedback in Play mode was at odds with the voice I thought the notes were in. Then I found this:

This explains my difficulty, but I gave up trying to make this work, as the naming disparity makes it too complicated (for me anyway) to know what to do, and how to tell whether what I’ve done is what I really want, and has in fact occurred.
Perhaps there would be a way to make this more clear in a future release?

Yes, we hope to improve this in the future. The difficulty here is that in notation terms, Dorico’s approach to voices is quite fluid, and voices can be magicked into existence at any point, and the voices in Flow 1 can be completely different to the voices in Flow 2. During playback however, this creates a tension with the requirement that if you wish every voice to be played separately, then it has to have somewhere to go, and we have to work out how to connect the (eg) 4 voices in Flow 1 and 3 voices in Flow 2 to the 4 allocated channels in the plugin. A common requirement is to have a solo/gli altri divisi change so you need to load an extra solo violin patch. But the actual voice (specifically it’s internal ID) is different in each Flow.

Currently we don’t have a mechanism to track the relationship between voices in different flows, which is why the system for assigning them is quite unwieldly at the moment.

Thanks for the explanation, Paul. Very complex, how does your head not explode sorting through all this?

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