Questions from the Unitiated


I am a composer who recently stumbled upon Dorico, and let me tell you, I am floored with the progress that has been made on the program so far and am extremely interested in its future direction. Conceptually (and apparently in terms of execution, if the reviews I have read are to be believed), this is the product the market has sorely needed for some time now. It’s like the Vivaldi of notation software.

I have a handful of general questions and comments about the project, some of which seem to have sort-of related threads elsewhere - but it makes more sense to dump them all here than resurrect age-old conversations. I have not committed the time to trying the program out yet myself, but am confident I would be able to adjust my workflow to match the unique philosophy of Dorico, and would like to time my use of the trial to when it is a little more feature complete before actually dropping money on it.

Without further adieu:

  1. Obviously, I can’t expect any sort of development timeline privy to the team, but how soon can we expect more robust support for third-party VSTs/expression maps/etc.? I suppose the point of Dorico is to get us as musicians back to thinking like musicians rather than technologists or publishers, but building in functionality that matches at least the MIDI-editing capabilities of major DAWs would be a stupendous productivity boon - it effectively negates the need to use a DAW at all for composers interested in producing their meticulously notated works.

  2. As I have not yet used the program, could some explain to me how flexible tempo adjustments are? Is there/will there be support for more DAW-like tweaks to tempo a la automation, or perhaps “inflection points” to tween the tempo to as a means of simulating rubato? The current implementation seems pretty versatile per the feature overview sheet, but I’m wondering how well it stacks up in the real world. This is one area where DAWs have had an inherent advantage over traditional notation software, although Finale’s entirely automatic Human Playback feature is pretty good in certain use cases.

  3. It was mentioned in another thread a long while back that the Dorico team has been in touch (at some point) with the team responsible for StaffPad. This is tremendously exciting for me - I use StaffPad as the bread and butter for my composition, and later export into Sibelius for engraving purposes. Has any additional thought gone into this, perchance? Even as things stand, as I understand, Dorico’s MusicXML import function strips files down to the absolute necessities and rebuilds them according to Dorico’s own algorithms, which is fantastic and already bodes well for a unified workflow between the two programs. Technically, is it conceivable to hook StaffPad into Dorico as an alternative/enhanced write mode? I don’t know if this would even be possible without a conversion to UWP format, which Qt seems to be taking its sweet old time with. If not, even an integrated “copy/paste” functionality between the two would be a sort of dream come true.

  4. Are there any known plans to make the interface moddable/skinnable? Sibelius has not been strong here (for at least as long as I’ve been using it), and last I checked, Finale’s implementation was still stuck in the 90s. Most DAWs (including Cubase) are not exactly kind to the prospect, either, although Reaper treats it quite well and the community has responded.

  5. How well (if at all) does Dorico integrate with NKS (Native Kontrol Standard), given its use of the Cubase playback engine? If not, what are the chances that something like Dorico joining Cubase as an NKS-compatible host is implemented in the future?

Cheers, and sorry for the bombardment!

Briefly (on the bits I feel qualified to answer):

  1. This is something that we aiming to improve in the next update (not the imminent 1.0.30 update, but the one after that which we are currently working on. It will be a process of gradual improvement, and we have lots of ideas for how it will develop.
  2. We hope that some form tempo editing in Play mode will be possible in the next version. In the fullness of time I expect that it’ll feature curves, etc.
  3. A huge amount of effort goes into the UI design of Dorico, which dictate the structure of the API. It would be very difficult for us to make it generically skinnable. It’s not likely to be a priority for us.

A couple of further points from me:

  1. We continue to talk to David at StaffPad about ways we can work together, and I wouldn’t rule anything out as a possibility in the fullness of time. However, we do have a lot of core functionality in Dorico that we need to focus on first, so I hope you’ll be able to be patient waiting for this to arrive.

  2. We haven’t given this any thought (despite the fact that NKS was designed in part by another former colleague of ours from the old days who is now working at NI), but it’s something we’ll definitely give some consideration to.

Thank you both, I greatly appreciate your responses and will be eagerly watching this product develop for some time to come!