Seeking Advice for Large Orchestral Composition Workflow

Hello,

I’m new to Dorico and currently working on orchestrating a piece for woodwinds and strings. The music follows an ABABA form, where instrumentation and harmonic segments alternate and change section by section, with the climax occurring in the final A section. I’ve completed orchestrating the first two sections, AB, and now I’m considering how to utilize Dorico’s features to expedite and enhance my composition process for the remaining three sections, ABA. While I understand I can take a linear approach to write it up to the end, I’m curious about other ways Dorico can support my Large Orchestral Composition Workflow beyond typesetting notes and copy-pasting, say by utilizing different views, cues, Lua scripting, etc.

Inspired by Steinberg’s motto “Creativity First — Our Passion for Music Inspires,” I’m eager to learn how Dorico can further aid my compositional process.

I would greatly appreciate insights from fellow Steinbrg’s Dorico team and fellow composers.

My System:

  • Windows 11 Pro,
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H with Radeon Graphics, 2900 Mhz, 8 Core(s), 16 Logical Processor(s)
  • Two curved 34" wide screen monitors
  • Dorico 3.5 pro. Downloaded D5 and trial expired.
  • Yamaha KX8
  • A high-precision mouse with 18 Programmable buttons
    Wacom Pro Pen Tablet

PS. would upgrade to Dorico 5 if I am convinced that the upgrade will make my workflow more effective

What version do you have now? SE? Elements? Pro?
Have you downloaded the Dorico Pro 5 trial?

Dorico 3.5 pro. Downloaded D5 and trial expired.

Galley View with instrument filters might be very useful when you have music sections linked to specific instrument ones. Condensing is one of last things I’m concerned about unless it is required of me to give a sort of final draft. Cues is certainly also one of the last things you should do. It all boils down on what type of music you’re writting, explode is useful to give each instrument a line out of a chord, for example.

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Recently I found this depends on machine specs. The slug laptop I am using (i7 with only 8gb ram) gets so bogged down in my big Orchestra score with normal editing (beachballs, stopwatch icon) that opening tabs is not worth it. Or, if you have dual monitors, it would also be a big workflow difference (especially if one monitor is vertical).

On my better machine where speed is not a problem, I do a horizontal split (2 windows). Then open up a different tab for the early material. Then edit in the other tab for the new/later material. i.e. cut & paste between the windows. Or, create a new full score layout which enables condensing and use that as the bottom window view. Change score layouts to show bar numbers for every bar and then turn off galley view bar numbers (because they obscure things sometimes).

Make keyboard shortcuts for the special paste commands (duplicate to staff above/below; move to staff above/below), etc.

If you don’t like Galley View (it can sometimes be annoying especially if forgetting Instrument Filter is turned on during a cut & paste because then some instruments are not properly copied) then duplicate the full score layout and change the new one to have a big Page Size with Landscape, then, edit in page view which is more horizontal.

There are some things 3.5 won’t have. Maybe like adding notes across multiple staves with midi keyboard, I think. Which can be fast if using a piano to enter notes. Rehearsal marks at both top and bottom, stuff like that. Galley View with instrument filters is essential for focusing on one instrument group.

Add a couple sketch staves and keep track of things with system text attached to those staves. They can be easily excluded from the conductor’s full score layout.

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Well not sure why type of music is important. Let’s assume that I have the piece already written for solo Piano.

Not sure that capability exists in Dorico 3.5, so using (temporary working) layouts might be the best course.

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What’s helped me most are

Running Dorico on a fast machine.
Having a good monitor screen.
Maximising the quality of playback (in my case Noteperformer 4, NPPE, BBCSO).
Working exclusively in galley view until everything is written (i.e completely forgetting how it looks).
Adding a piano to each layout while I’m writing to enable me to try out ideas and reduce the score.
Using Cubase to block out the architecture of the piece.
Filtering galley view by instruments to work on knotty problems.
Colour coding major motifs so I can see where they are used at a glance.

I find using flows for different parts or versions very helpful. This way, you can quickly copy a flow and try another version of the same passage, and it is still easy to maintain an overview.

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There are some functions of inversion, retrograde, mapping to different scales etc that I think came with Dorico 4?
In any way, there are so many improvements in D5 compared to 3.5 (designated soloists, instrument creator, major improvements in condensing, instrument filters, library manager etc etc)

… it’s worth updating!

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Thank you @Derrek @RichardTownsend @klafkid @Sergei_Mozart @superblonde @Johannes.Maas for your very useful suggesions.

Those functions are very useful. Three features from Cubase in Dorico would be very useful.