Some feedback on Dorico (via Tantacrul video)

So for a while now I’ve been a MuseScore user, but I wanted to use notation software that not only let me compose, but allowed me to use VSTs to load high quality instruments that I could use to make woodwinds and strings sound more realistic. Dorico is actually fantastic for this, and it’s fantastic getting to use strings that don’t sound incredibly bad (like in MuseScore).

I just activated the trial of Dorico Pro 3.5. I’m going to be on the Tantacrul bandwagon and complain about some of the features when it comes to using the mouse. The software seems designed for keyboard shortcuts. I don’t have an issue with this. But some things are counter intuitive. For instance, inputting notes manually, I have to double click a rest to get the caret and sometimes this will allow me to input notes with the mouse instantly. But sometimes it doesn’t for reasons I’m not really sure of? I’ve looked up some tutorials on the official Dorico YouTube channel but none have answered why I have to sometimes type shift+N on top of double clicking to enter notes manually with the keyboard.

One feature I find slightly infuriating is note playback. If I press the select button, I can go from note to note with the arrow keys and hear playback. But if I don’t and just click on a note, it doesn’t really allow me to do this during write note. This is due to being able to select the duration within the bar where I want my next input, but it feels a bit janky compared to MuseScore’s method of just, well, keyboard shortcuts to define rests and then entering manually.

Another feature I don’t understand is having to do alt+arrow up or down to move a selected note. Why can’t this be as simple as selecting a note and pressing arrow up or down for moving a note by a semitone? For that matter, why can’t notes move by a semitone to show accidentals like in software such as MuseScore or Sibelius instead of having to use a keyboard shortcut like 0, - or = for accidentals, while selecting the note, while hovering over the area for that accidental to come into effect? It’s very slow and tedious ON a keyboard compared to a mouse in these two pieces of other software and adds more time to the process. Sure, a few seconds doesn’t seem much for one instance, but when this happens in a project over 60 bars + in length with multiple accidentals, all those seconds add up and interrupt the flow state for composition.

The reason I feel like better mouse controls, not just keyboard shortcuts, for Dorico would be better would be to use them in conjunction and to not have weird jank get in the way. Like I want to use the keyboard to input notes right? So I type EGBDE on my keyboard which gives me E4-G4-B4-D5-E5. But it goes to E5 instead of say E4. So I have to now use the following keys: Ctrl+alt+down arrow. With a mouse this is far quicker to do.

In Sibelius and MuseScore, as long as I have the same note value, I can input multiple notes to say make a chord in a given “player”, let’s say piano. But on Dorico, I have to double click or press enter on a rest or note to activate the caret, and then press shift+V to allow that second note to be entered. Like, why? Why can’t I just input that note there and then, based on the current notes value? I can see WHERE this might be useful, because your second voice within the player might have a different note value, but it’s so tediously and grinding to a halt slow that I don’t understand this. Trying to write Bach Chorale music with these shortcuts is just a nightmare.

I’m wondering if any of these issues could be fixed? It seems very much like the software is designed for you to be using a midi keyboard rather than keyboard & mouse.

If I’m being an absolute n00b and there are much faster, efficient methods of note inputting on keyboard and piano that circumvent some of these gripes, let me know. But having stuff that literally breaks your flow state for composition is a huge red flag, and for the past week watching tons of tutorials on Dorico to try and up my flow state with the software, I just feel myself gravitating back towards Sibelius or MuseScore and just importing XML files into it for using better sampled instruments instead.

Welcome to the forum, Yogrimbo.

Yes, it absolutely is. We have certainly prioritised efficient keyboard input and editing above mouse input and editing. This isn’t to say that we think the mouse isn’t useful, but when we have made trade-offs in terms of implementing features we have tended to favour the keyboard over the mouse. I expect that over time we will continue to add new ways of inputting and editing that use the mouse, but it’s certainly fair to say that the most efficient way to work in Dorico is to use the keyboard, and not the mouse.

It’s not really clear what you mean here. You can always show the caret by double-clicking on the staff, or on a note/chord or rest, or you can show the caret by typing Shift+N, and often (depending on what’s selected) by hitting Return (though Return is technically the shortcut for “edit this” not “start note input”, which is why if you have anything other than a note/chord or rest selected, you get the relevant popover instead of the caret).

With mouse input, if you have something selected, clicking on a note value will edit the selected item, and then show the caret. If you have nothing selected, clicking a note value loads that note value onto the pointer so that when you click, a note of that duration is created. Perhaps this explains the difference you’re experiencing?

In Dorico, the arrow keys only navigate; they don’t edit. If you really feel strongly that you want up/down arrow on their own to raise or lower the pitch of the selected note, you can do this by assigning that shortcut in the Key Commands page of Preferences. You can choose either e.g. Raise Pitch by Step to move stepwise, or Raise Pitch by Chromatic Step to move a semitone at a time.

You can raise or lower a note by a semitone using Shift+Alt+up/down arrow, which will show an accidental as appropriate.

Dorico always chooses the note in the closest octave to the last note you input, so if you press E after inputting a D, Dorico will always input the E one step above the D, rather than the one a seventh below. This makes sense because, if you have to play the averages, melodies (and even bass lines) are more likely to move step-wise than to move in sevenths. However, if you know you want to input the E in the octave below, you can type Ctrl+E (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) to choose the lower octave; conversely, if you have just typed, say, A, and you now want the next note to be E a fifth above rather than a fourth below, you can type Shift+Alt+E to make Dorico choose the upper octave.

To build a chord in the same voice, hit Q and then type the note names you want to add to the chord, building from the bottom up. You don’t need to create a separate voice. You can also use the Shift+I popover to add notes by interval. So, for example, to add the second and third notes of a triad above the root of G, you can either type Q, B, D, or you can type Shift+I 3,5 to add notes a third and a fifth above the selected note respectively.

Dorico’s note input shortcuts are not “a nightmare”, but they do require you to keep an open mind and to spend a bit of time learning them so that you can work efficiently.

Yogrimbo, stick with it! Dorico is truly the best notation software, if you’re willing to give yourself over completely to its workflow. In the meantime, feel free to ask questions here or on the Facebook group as often as you want, and you will almost always get an immediate answer.

Welcome to the forum, Yogrimbo. As previous replies have hopefully already shown, Tantacrul’s video is far from the best Dorico tutorial out there. In fact, pretty much every time Martin states “in Dorico you have to do x” is misleading - there’s always a better way. Keep an open mind and keep asking the questions, and please don’t assume that you’ve already found the only way to do something in Dorico.

As to what’s “intuitive”, a lot of the time “intuitive” seems to mean “what I’m used to”. On this thread alone, you’ve come mostly from MuseScore, I’ve come from Sibelius and Dan Kreider’s come from Finale. Nothing in Dorico is going to feel instantly intuitive to users of all three of those, all of the time. Let’s take your point about arrows up/down, for instance: In Sibelius, left and right arrows hop from note to note but up and down arrows actually change the pitch. That inconsistency can’t be described as intuitive to a new user - it’s just what you’re used to.
The good news is that if you’ve learned your way round Sibelius and MuseScore, there’s no reason you can’t learn your way around Dorico. It’s easiest if you leave your preconceptions at the door, though :slight_smile:

Dragging a note by exactly one octave, or placing a note on the correct pitch position, is much more fiddly with a mouse than pressing buttons on the keyboard. Unless you’re zoomed in sufficiently, in which case you can’t see what else is on the screen.

I’ve used several different notation programs, and there isn’t a single one where using the mouse is faster. The same is true for other apps, like Photoshop, where ‘serious’ users will use the key shortcuts rather than mouse wherever possible.

Hello Dorico team and colleagues,
Well, yeah, Tantacrul’s tutorial on Dorico isn’t the best one. But I believe his idea was more oriented towards the software design and
what complete beginners could achieve with minimum knowledge about how Dorico is structured.
Actually he also gave very good and reasonable ideas for GUI design improvements, for faster project creation, which I hope to see realized. :slight_smile:
Check the video from 19:29 - 29:30 min.:
https://youtu.be/S-3wEC6Fj_8?t=1169

All these suggestions by Martin will bring serious improvement to Dorico, and I hope the team would think about to integrate them! :slight_smile:

Best wishes,
Thurisaz :slight_smile:

Thurisaz, respectfully, this topic has been beat to death and everyone’s a bit tired of it. There’s no need to post a link to the video…

Dan hello,
The topic may be beat to death, but there are some reasonable suggestions like the ones related to the Setup mode and the adding of
instruments. :slight_smile: Yes, Dorico is great, I like it a lot, but this won’t make me blind for it’s weaknesses, which could be improved in order
to have better workflow.
Dan, I recommend you to check this interview with Hans Zimmer about Cubase. Until 07:22 min.:
https://youtu.be/14lF6hfbyhc?t=368

Best wishes,
Thurisaz :slight_smile:

Tantacrul has his own notation app to play with now. If he wants to spend a few years trying to turn Musescore into a free Dorico rip-off, good luck to him.

Rob hello,
Well, actually he doesn’t. Martin Kaery was hired by Ultimate Guitar (the company owner of MuseScore) on the position of main UX designer. But MuseScore doesn’t belong to him. We’ll see how far this app will go led by Tantacrul. :slight_smile:

Best regards,
Thurisaz

The Scoring Notes interview with Martin certainly suggested that his role, “Head of Design”, goes some way further than UX.

Leo hello,
Yep, he is responsible for the overall design and workflow from when he was hired. :slight_smile: I think the next version of the application (MuseScore 4) will be
the one which really will prove his talent and skills. :slight_smile:

Well, as Marc Sabatella said in the comments about the release, it took 4–5 years to get from Musescore 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3.

But he also says they are quite confident they can do something that is much more ambitious a lot quicker than that. Yeah, right.

Yogrimbo, another useful way to select the correct octave for a note is to set shortcuts for next note up or down; I use K and M.

Great advice. I use the + and - buttons on the right number pad.

I have switched notation programs twice, the first time from Finale to Sibelius (by a strange coincidence, only a few weeks prior to the 2012 layoff of the Sibelius team by Avid), and the second move to Dorico. I used Finale for four years and Sibelius for 6 years.

IMO, the things that seem counter-intuitive are often only because you are used to a different way of doing it. Dorico’s method can be really fast, once you get used to it and becomes second nature. I am faster now entering music in Dorico than I ever was in Sibelius or Finale before. However, it took a few weeks to get there, during which time I was slower than I was at Sibelius. I think it really takes 40-80 hours of work in the software for you to really get faster than you were with the old program.

If you can stick it out and practice, I’m sure you’ll find (like me) that Dorico’s defaults typically allow you to notate things faster than you could have in Sibelius.

Though K is the default for Pitch before Duration, so you may want to choose another key, or reassign that one, as well.

I stumbled upon tantacrul’s video today randomly, not through this forum. The guy is spot on with the usability issues. Ok, the junk ending was a bit over the top, but he has many valid points and I honestly believe usability is the secret sauce Dorico needs to be clear winner.

For example, today I discovered another inconsistency/puzzle. As Tantacrul’s puts it, instead of ribbon there are tabs with clear separation: write is for writing, play is for playing. Yet, to import a midi track to a specific instrument, you can (only ?) do it in Play, not in Write mode :question: :nerd: :question:

Clearly Play is not for (just) playing anymore. It’s not a verb. It’s becoming a Piano roll. UI should follow.

Not to mention, I was trying this before in Write, which doesn’t work (why on earth not?). So I thought it was not possible at all. By intuition, you will never think this should be in play, I bet user experiments would confirm that. And making UI so intuitive that the user manual is not needed - which is tantacrul’s key message.

Or they could change the word on the Play tab, to “Audio and MIDI manipulation”. That would give the exactness you’re looking for?

The very idea that any pro level software’s capabilities and features can be entirely assessed just by looking at the screen is a pipedream. Apps like Photoshop, Logic and Dorico have abstract concepts that cannot just be deduced visually. It’s absurd.

It’s easy to make the UI so intuitive that the user manual is not needed. Just delete 99% of the functionality from the application.

After all, people like Mr T who never read manuals will never guess it is there, and their own imaginations will never think of any use for it anyway, so why bother to provide it?