Question and FR: Faster input with computer keyboard

Because after 6 months of full time use, brainstorming as a composer is still more difficult in Dorico than in Sibelius

I’m still searching for the best equivalent of Sibelius’s briljant way to ‘stack’ thirds. For example, this simple figure of 9 notes:

In Sibelius, that’s:

c 3 3 d 3 4 e 3 3 esc

That is 10 keystrokes, 5 of which are the same, which makes it extremely simple and without thinking. When I come up with these chords, I can input them in under 1 second (far faster than realtime).

In Dorico, the equivalent I know is:

enter c e g space d f b space e g b esc

30% more keystrokes, 83% more different keys. Please keep reading when you think that this is not a big deal.

This may not be a big deal if you are either an engraver (not brainstorming in Dorico) or a pianist (inputting chords by midi). But I don’t have a piano and use computer keyboard note entry as my instrument of choice to compose music. I would really like to switch to Dorico for this after 15 years of Sibelius, but it would be so nice if it weren’t 83% more complex (in this example, which is quite representative).

I have to think a lot more, not only about the root note name, bot every other note name too, which makes this figure 3 to 4 seconds to input. I use Dorico a lot, but for brainstorming I now returned to Sibelius because it’s so much faster.

(As a side note, when making an error in the note duration, I have to revert to the mouse, because there is no shortcut to select an entire chord, which also adds significantly to the time and complexity.)

(And another side note: forgetting to switch chord mode (q) also adds significantly to the total time, a complexity Sibelius doesn’t have.)

I have 3 questions:

  • Do you (Dorico developers) have plans to improve the composer experience in future versions (as opposed to the engraver experience, which is superb already)? I’m not only thinking about the number of different keys that are needed to input music, but also e.g. better auditioning tools like scrubbing.
  • Do you (all users) know other shortcuts to input these notes with less keystrokes and less different keys with Dorico now already?
  • Could you please resist replying that you “shouldn’t” compose in a music notation program?

Thank you for taking the time to read my long post. I understand that the primary focus of Dorico has been engraving, and I’m very happy that my music looks so much more beautiful now since I switched to Dorico for engraving purposes.

If you prefer thinking in intervals, why not use the Shift-I popover?

Please, pianoleo, less keystrokes, and less different keys, and less complexity, please, instead of more of all of those.

Using the Add interval popover:

enter c shift+i 3 , 5 enter d shift+i 3 , 6 enter e shift+i 3 , 5 enter esc

That’s a whopping 24 keystrokes instead of 10, a 140% increase. You can only reduce that to 21 (110% increase) by choosing a shortcut for shift+i without shift.

If this is true, I’d sure like to see it. 10 keystrokes in 1 second = 600 keystrokes per minute = 120 words per minute. As to “less than one second”, pretty unlikely particularly given the same key is used five times, IMO.

I make this 16 keystrokes (and this is intentionally slow so you can see what I’m doing - I work quicker than this but no way could I ever do this in under one second).

Thank you, Pianoleo, for taking the time to come up with this, but it’s still 3 keystrokes more than my Dorico approach (and also more complex in my opinion):

enter c e g space d f b space e g b esc

i really don’t ask to copy the interval-based approach from Sibelius. I simply ask for a simpler solution that has as few different keys and keystrokes as the Sibelius example (even fewer would be great but I don’t think that’s possible). So I’m not asking for ‘easy to learn [with a Sibelius background]’ but ‘blazingly fast to use in the long run’. I made this topic after owning Dorico for 2 years and using it full time for 6 months. I learn very quickly and I can learn any approach.

See attachment. This is realtime. (That is what happens when you practice on your instrument (be it a piano or a computer keyboard with Sibelius) daily for many years :laughing:)

The jump after the first frame is because Sibelius reflows the page when inputting the c.

It happens to be an octave higher, but that’s a tie between both programs anyway because sometimes you want the middle c and sometimes the higher c.

(Imagine being this fast with invoking the interval popover three times! And by the way, also Dorico’s current performance makes this speed of inputting notes currently impossible.) (20.8 KB)

I am glad that I am not the only person who has to think hard about the letter names of notes. I dont understand this: I know what they all are in five clefs; but it makes me feel so stupid when I have to do this to input notes. Perhaps it would be easier had I learnt solfège in France – I have friends who can sing Figaro Overture at top speed using this method!

Alt-click and R are the only fast way that I know to input notes, and they are basically what I learned in Sibelius. I dont think of the note names when I use ms paper – I just hear in my head, oir sing, the next note and know where to write it. My approach to Dorico is the same, and having to exchange modes is probably what slows me down.


I don’t really want to get in an argument, but I can get your Dorico method down to roughly a second, too. I don’t think you’ve been practising hard enough :wink:
My input method almost always involves a MIDI keyboard, so it’s not like I’ve had practise, but I don’t find it hard to think in note-names (perhaps because I’m a pianist?)

fewer keystrokes, fewer different keys and less complexity…

Haha you’re right, I did not practice specifically for this example, but this is only a small example and I want to input all my ideas this fast. Although one hand above the three, only sometimes pressing 2 or 4 is really easy, and in a few years’ time I will be faster with the current Dorico way, but presumably still ±30% slower compared to Sibelius because of the increased number of keystrokes.

I understand that music engraving has been the primary focus for Dorico (and not without result, as said) and I’m really curious if there will be additional note input options or methods for composing in future versions.

Any key combination is going to be sub-optimal compared to a MIDI keyboard, on which you can play as many as 10 notes in one keypress. If you’re after efficiency, then that’s the tool for the job, and I’d say the vast majority of people - particularly Composers - using any notation app use one.
Many people here use the Akai LPZ-25, which you can buy for the price of a cheap night out.

Making one less-common usage more efficient may have ramifications for the efficiency of other, more common key sequences. Currently, pressing 3 on a note changes its duration, rather than adding a third: for me, that’s certainly more useful.

That’s also useful to me, so I won’t suggest to copy the Sibelius approach completely. I simply wanted to express that even in the long run, computer note entry is more complex than in Sibelius and that I hope that the team will introduce additional ways in the future. Taking a midi keyboard with you is less practical than only a computer, so I think even the best pianists sometimes need superb note entry by computer keyboard.

I’m sure the Dorico Team has a mind-reading entry system in store–just as soon as everyone thinks alike.
Someone on the Finale board suggested this years ago, but unfortunately the Finale Teams never managed it. :laughing:

I assume you mean Akai L**P**K-25, which costs about €45. I have been wondering about taking a chance on one of these, but at that price it seems little more than a toy!


I use one if I’m travelling. I wouldn’t want to practise Bartok 2nd Concerto on it, but it works fine for note input.

Yes, LPK, not LPZ. For ‘playing on the go’, it’s perfect. It’s the same width as my 15" MacBook Pro. As Leo says: ideal for note entry.

I use the MPK. Keep it in my bag. Certainly not a toy. Built well and reliable. MPK isn’t wireless but LPK is.

Ahem. The “LPK25 Wireless” is wireless, and the “LPK25” isn’t :wink:
We’re veering a fair way off topic, though - I don’t understand why the OP is averse to a small MIDI keyboard, but they’ve made quite clear that they are averse to MIDI keyboards.

I do get his point. Once you’re invoking modififer keys and key combinations, it really is much less ergonomic.

I really wish there was a way to keybind specific pop-over results without actually invoking the popover (3:2 triplets is another one that comes to mind).