An academic researcher by the name of David Meredith developed an algorithm called PS13 that calculates the most appropriate pitch spellings for tonal music, even without reference to a key signature, and that algorithm (with a few modifications, dare we say improvements) has been implemented into Dorico’s engine, though it is not yet exposed in the user interface of the software.
As far as I can see this algorithm seems to work great for baroque until Beethoven handling diatonic modulations. Beethoven modulates in the development of the first movement of “Eroica” from Eb major up to e minor. We will see if PS13 can follow those modulations.
But what about Schubert through R.Strauss? (I would like to see the statistics!) The modulations often are chromatic with sudden relationships between keys a third apart? And Debussy: the harmony structure often is not anymore functional, harmony (key) is just colour.
For those scores I personally don’t like to give myself into the hand of such an algorithm. (If you look at photoscore from Neuratron with the promise to recognise music by scanning you know what I mean. I often spend more time in corrections than I would to having written the notes by myself.)
Let’s take an example: The famous flower duet in Act 2 of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is written completely in the key signature Ab major, over 22 pages in the orchestra score with roughly estimated 300-400 accidentals. These accidentals result of frequent changes of “underneath” keys within Ab major. If you analyse you find areas of Gb, A, C, E, D, Bb (all major) and some more. Some modulations are “correct” according the theory of harmony, mostly the keys are just shifted one next to the other (without “warning”). All notes are spelled according to the secondary key with double sharps etc. The different key areas are extended from 2 bars to more than 20 bars. We find the original Ab major only once again, about in the middle of the whole duet.
To match up with these hundreds of accidentals there would be a simple solution for musicians with knowledge of the theory of harmony: Define a temporary key that (with invisible key signature) overrides the main key signature for a selected range.
I tried hard to give a rough idea how that could look in Dorico. Please take a look at the screenshot. It would be nice to have this idea discussed in the forum because the note spelling is a fundamental issue.
With this option of a temporary key you could respell the 22 pages of the duet with hundreds of misspelled notes in five minutes selecting the appropriate ranges (just one player, the respelling should work global and also in accordance with transposing instruments with key signature) and then clicking the Apply button. (Only few misspelled notes would remain to be respelled manually.) The selected range could be just one note or even the whole flow. So far, I doubt PS13 could do this job that well.
As you can see in the screenshot there would be three progressing stages of respelling notes. First you could try out what PS13 would do according to the main key signature. Next step would be to respell selected ranges manually with a temporary key. And finally you could run PS13 on the basis of the temporary key to respell the left overs for the selected range.
Everybody who suffers seeing misspelled notes (as I do) could define the temporary key right away on note input. The shortcut probably would be Sh/Alt-K, and for returning to the main key signature Sh/Alt/Cmd (Ctr)-K.
All this only could work if the table of spelling is consistent for all key signatures equally. Then you could compare on the basis of the tables which notes are spelled in which way and try out different temporary keys.
Unfortunately in 1.0.30 notes in all key signatures are spelled as if there were C major. For example in b minor A#/Bb is spelled as Bb. This cannot be meant seriously and must be a bug. As far as I remember in 1.0.20 it still was ok.
So, dear and honourable Dorico-Team, please fix that and give the users the possibility to define temporary keys with or without PS13.
P.S.1: Please correct in the German hub, category orchestras Waldhorn into Horn (Hr.) and Bassgeige (ridicolous!!) into Kontrabass (Kb.)
P.S. 2: Even knowing that nobody wants to hear it anymore I want to add my voice to the chorus that claims more integration of Dorico into Cubase or vice versa: Especially complete transferring of the key editor with all controllers (in order to handle VSL) and handling the tempos with cubase’ tempo track, both ways: dependent or independent of Doricos tempo indications.