The future of scoring music of the future

Hello, I am a contemporary composer, and I would like to present my point of view about the Dorico.
First of all, I’m not a native english language speaker, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes.
Second, I’ve read the manual and search this forum (but there are hundreds of posts), so if I will ask about the problem which was already discussed, again, I apologize for it.

Currently I’m testig a trial version of Dorico, I didn’t went very deep to it, because it takes a lot more time, much more than one month. I am trying to solve the notation problems, which are very important for my work, and - I believe - for many other contemporary and experimental composers, wchich are maybe not the biggest group of notation software users, but - without doubts - group with very serious attitude to what they are doing.
For many of contemporary composers it is extremly difficult to use notation software, because everytime they are working with new piece, they have to fight with the schematic nature of the software. Each piece is new music world, with new laws and new logic. This is because we experiment with playing technics, notation of the time in music, synchronisation with other media, freedom of performers, graphic notation etc.
It is clear for me, that any good notation software have to have his own logic (and personality) nad it’s good if it respect the rules of classical music, because the classical-attitude composers can do their work very fast. So the way to help the contemporary composers is to allow them to use their imagination how to brake the rules or to add something they want to add (I will explain it below). To allow the softwere for a things that seems to be irrational, from the classic point of view.

The reason of this post is, that I’m trying to figure out what is the future of Dorico and how much is it open for the composers, who needs the notation tool for express their very personal imagination. Dorico team did a huge, good job. They are working very hard and seems to me very, very open for the dialog with the users. But sometimes I’m reading the answer for the user’s post started from the words: „Why do you want to do this?…” with seems to me like: „This is irrational…”. That’s why I’m not sure about the direction of Dorico future, because this mean, that from the Dorico point of view the most important is convention of the past music and strict, conventional classifications of music elements, and I don’t know if I will be able to do my work on it.

Now I have a few questions/suggestions. Relatet to my previous words, but they are not arguments for what I have said.

  1. Players. Is it possible to create custom player? E.g. I invented a groupe of new instruments (my own construction). I need to define their cleffs, transpositions, names, number of lines in staff, groups/brackets, etc. The same situation we have, when we are composing for traditional instruments from different culture or with a lot of different electronic media like: live electronics, fixed/non-fixed multichannel electronic, lights, etc .
  2. Microtonality. In the theory I can change my tonality system in Write mode, but when I choose other than 12-EDO and click somewere, it’s coming back tu 12-EDO. Besides, if I want to have a key command, I found only two options in preferences: „microtonal” and „Illegal accidental”. When the composer is writening a microtonal music, he needs to have acces to many different accidentals and possibility to create his own graphics or input different glyphs for different fonts, for strange whole tone divisions (maybe it is possible in the option „new tonality system” in Write mode). And the same thing is with e.g. microtonal trills.
  3. Hiding the elements. We gain much freedom if we are able to hide any object in the score. Is it possible to hide lines in staff to have this kind of - Lutosławski like - effect (I mean the graphical arrangement of the instrumental parts, not aleatorism)?
  4. Cleffs and line in staff. Is it possible to add unconventional cleff by choosing the glyphs from different fonts or graphic? Like in Helmut Lachenmann scores, when the pitch of notes don’t meen the register, but rather it is graphic representetion of part of instrument. If it possible to put unconvenional number and positions of lines in staff? Like in this example, when lines represents the position of playing inside the grand piano (low, medium and high register).
  5. Glissandi and lines. Dorico has two types of glissando: straight and wave-shape. It will be good, if I could choose random line-shape or choose repeated glyphs to achieve wide variety of shapes. The other thing are lines. Can I draw the line, wchich is:
    a) horisontaly or verticaly fixed
    b) preceded/ended by arrow or any different glyph
    c) stretchable
    d) with the words above/under, etc
    e) continous, dotted or made by glyphs
    f) attached/not attached to the note
    This gives a lot of possibilites, like: improvised, random wave-shaped, timpani pedale; gradually transition from sul ponticello to sul tasto, synchronisation lines, time signature with seconds, not the note durations, etc.
  6. Why can’t I copy and paste frames (music, text. graphic). It will give me a lot of freedom with engraving.
  7. Notehead shapes. When I invent my own instrument (or just invent playing technic), sometimes it’s good to define play technic by the shape of notehead. Now I have about 20 types of shapes and I can’t choose from the variety of different fonts. BTW the way of changing the shapes based on words description it’s for me not inuitive. Even if I know what e. g. „circled notehead” means, I have to find it (among other words) and check it how it looks like. Choosing basing on a graphic would be much faster.
  8. Can I freely move the notes inside the bar and even to move it outside the bar without changing their assignment in Write mode?
  9. Cross Staff. It seems, that I can do cross staff notation only beetwen the instruments of one player. But what about this example?

    Should the composer assign all the orchestral instruments to one player?

Thank you for advance for any reponse. I appreciate your work. If my words sounds unkindly, it is because my poor language skills.
I really want to buy and use Dorico, but I am full of doubts. Thats why I’ve written this post.
All the best.

Welcome to the forum!

I’m not sure I would read so much into it - I believe many of these question are meant for clarification. In general, I think the developers are very open, and they know that users have a huge variety of needs. I also think they are open to implement solutions for stuff that isn’t fully covered semantically.

  1. There’s currently no way of editing either instrument definitions, clefs, playing techniques, ornaments etc, but the developers have repeatedly stated that this is planned. I find the editors that are implemented, such as the chord symbol editor, very powerful and easy to use.

  2. Regarding “it’s coming back to 12-EDO”: After selecting 24-edo, you need to insert a key signature. You can create your own by clicking the + sign. From the same dialog, you can indeed create your own accidentals - from other fonts or even from graphics. With a note selected - shift+alt+up /down cycles trough the divisions.

  3. There isn’t a general ‘Hide’ function, but there are some workarounds. You’ll find some informative answers on the future of this topic here and here. For your example - it might be possible to achieve something similar in Engrave mode, using different frames.

Far from me to try to substitute him, but f Daniel pops up, the most likely answer you’ll get from him is “we know; someday”. Dorico has been available to the public for one year, and it has plenty of catch-up to do in a myriad of areas. No omission is to be interpreted as an explicit snub to any particular notation practice. The team have communicated clearly, from the very beginning, that they are committed to implementing native solutions to all mechanics of notation, and, so far, they’ve proven it by delivering the best features available on the market. They seem particularly proud stating (or quoting third parties) that the updates the software has seen this past year have taken Dorico from “not being able to do x” to “the best way to do x” immediately, with no extra steps. Speaking of contemporary notation practices — to which I’m very much sensible, being a composer on the more adventurous side as well —, the radically different way Dorico conceptualizes meter is a good example of the team’s commitment to bringing things to the 21st century. Yes, sometimes Dorico might make you feel a bit locked up in regard to some matters. But giving the user freedom is most likely a matter of putting more work into development, not less.

As andgle said, 24-EDO only works with a key signature, for some reason — probably so the engine can handle transposition, perhaps? Create an open key signature by typing atonal into the popover. You can now select 24-EDO or any other tuning system and use the accidentals. Mind that you can edit all of this: both the number of EDO and the accidentals to be used. Bravura, Dorico’s default font, has glyphs for 20 different sets of accidentals you can use.

Other than that, I’m afraid no one can answer your questions. Not even the team, as Daniel has stated that only after the December update ships will any concrete plans for a short-term future be considered.

Del_Gesu, thanks for your post. Luís, in particular, has said several of the things that I would have said in response to your post. Dorico is very young, and we are doing our best to address the needs of a broad user base with very divergent needs. We certainly have plans to add support for aleatoric techniques, for cut-away scores, for more flexibility in changing the design of elements like clefs and noteheads, for lines of various types, for customising of instruments, and so on, but these things will all take time to add.

For your question #9, where you show cross-staff beaming between many different players in the orchestra, I can see how perhaps this information might be useful to the conductor to help him see the overall shape of the gesture (though I reckon most conductors comfortable with tackling this kind of music could probably work it out for themselves), but how would this information be conveyed to the players in the individual parts?

There’s currently no way of editing either instrument definitions, clefs, playing techniques, ornaments

For mere notation, you can already create custom playing techniques using text. The text tool is already rather flexible, e.g., allows to include arbitrary symbols from the SMuFL font or any unicode fonts. I am currently working on a piece where I am using all sorts of playing techniques not already built-in into Dorico. The main downside is that these are not recognised for custom expression maps, and thus are ignored during playback.


I am using custom lines and arrows, e.g., for notating transitions between different playing techniques, which I simply create in a graphics application (e.g., LibreOffice Draw), and then insert as graphics frames (svg) in the score. Very flexible and works pretty well in principle, but is a bit fiddly.

If you want to have multiple equal lines/arrows then copying these graphic frames needs a trick: in engrave mode, select the frame you want to copy, and on the right-hand side select the page you want to copy it to. Then control-click the page to which you want to copy it and select “Copy Selected Frames to Selected Pages”. If you copied a frame onto the same page, then they are exactly on top of each other and initially cannot be moved separately. There is another little trick: move them together, and then undo – undo moves only one of them back.

If you want to have lines/arrows of different length by the same thickness then you have to create multiple graphics files in the graphics application, because resizing a graphics frame scales the image. So, you likely want to ensure that graphics frames with lines/arrows of different lengths are of exactly the same high (and the same thickness in your graphics files), but Dociro conveniently shows the size when resized with the mouse.

So, overall it is already possible, but currently a bit fiddly.

Thank you for all your responses. Your engagement – both, users and developers - your fast reaction on my post makes me really optimistic about this software.

First off all I would like to clarify one thing. I know that Dorico is very young and have many things to improve, and it’s very hard to meet the expectaions of all users, and my needs aren’t in the mainstream, hence they are not priority. The purpose of my questions is to find out if the things, that I need (and don’t exist now) will be develope in the future, or developers have completely different thinking about some aspects of the software and they never develope it in that way, because Dorico has different logic (and maybe different customers target).
The second purpose of my post is that maybe some things, that I’m writting about, will be advise the developers will want to use.

I don’t think this information could be – in a simple way – conveyed to the players in the individual parts. I have to edit it independently in the full score and in the parts. There are two ways
a) I have to create another document for the instrumental part and copy from the full score the bars, wchich have conventional notation.
b) Dorico will let me edit the full score and the individual parts in more independently way. At the bars, wchich this strange cross-staff notation appears, I have to input the notes - in the individual parts - in conventional way.

Your question was good example of what I’m talking about. Dorico won’t let me edit the score with this kind of cross-staff because it thinks, that my priority is to have fast edition of individual parts than the unconventional cross-staff notation in full score.
There are some cases, that my full score looks very different than individual part scores and I don’t want when the software tells me: „This is impossible, because I can’t coneyed this to the individual parts”.
Of course – in this case – I could do a trik and made full score as an one player with many instruments. And create new document for the instrumental part. I can accept it, because my piece is out of convention. But I have to have possibility to notate this cross-staff, and it’s not about the lack of proper Dorico interface, but rather - the way how Dorico is thinkig about the logic of scoring.

Coming back to my first words – I’m trying to find out this kind of examples, that I won’t do in Dorico because it thinks different. I have no problem, if the lack of possibility exist because of young age Dorico.

I know - and understand very well - that needs of composers of contemporary music aren’t the priority now, but I wish in the closest future there will be big update which will make Dorico „The best way to write contemporary and experimental music”. :slight_smile:
For example the wind multiphones (and graphical fingering), „hand made” graphics, and changing the number of staff lines within particular bar, like in this example:

It’s usefull also when you have to notate multi-percussion instrument or electronic media.

I think for now, when some composers have to do very complicated graphical thinks, the way to make their live easier is simply improve the method of copy/paste frames (especially graphic and text). And drawing the lines (I described the parameters of this lines in my previous post: „a), b), c)”, etc.). To let it be positioned free or attached to bar position (or note).

Thank you again for your engagement!

Don’t read the team’s questions with despair. There are many times when the developers ask questions simply to understand how/why a feature is useful. I’ve seen many examples across the forum where something wasn’t obvious at first (your cross staff beaming is a great example) and once a use explains how/why it’s a good idea, they take note. I thought Daniel’s question was a good one. He’s questioning why but also approaching it from a developer’s point of view, wondering how they could implement it. Your explanation of differently notate parts makes sense. It does pose a problem as far as implementation is concerned… But I would’t interpret that questioning as being written off. Personally, while it wouldn’t apply to me, I find all of these user questions fascinating to ponder.

simply improve the method of copy/paste frames (especially graphic and text)

Daniel: the use of graphics frames directly within scores would be much helped if

  • Such frames could be copied more easily
  • The zoom factor could be set directly to ensure different pictures share the same
  • With a fixed zoom factor, different sections of an image could be shown, e.g., to easily change the length of a custom arrow or other sign by resizing the frame (and possibly moving its content around a bit) without changing the zoom factor
  • Ideally, the image could be also rotated (e.g., for custom arrows or other signs to point into different directions)

Just a few ideas that are likely not too hard to implement but would open up new possibilities to include graphic elements freely into the score :slight_smile:

Igor Strawinsky use this kind of notation in several late compositions. I didn’t see the parts, but I think there are different ways to solve this. Either you show the players a second (maybe smaller) line with the corresponding instrument or you notate it the classical way with rests and so on. In the last case only the score uses the cross-staff beaming. The parts separate the voices into two.

at 5:00; 7:00; 7:14

Hello again,
my trial period is finished, so I decide to summarize some of my thoughts.
I would like to remind two statements from my first post:

First of all, I’m not a native english language speaker, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes.
Second, I spend a lot of time reading the manual and reading this forum, but there are so many posts and topics, that is very hard to read everything. I just want to present my perspective.
I really appreciate efford of a Steinberg team (especially Daniel) to reply to so many users. I care about Your time, thus don’t feel obligated to reply to my post.
Some of my topics are the questions (because I don’t know how to do some things), some of them are just tu share with you what - from my perspective - would be good to implement in next updates.

Now I see, why Dorico is, what it is. Lack (still) of many functionalities (e.g. divisi, instruments brackets, etc.) is because Dorico thinks about it in holistic way and don’t want to do something, which is compromise and workaround. E. g. if I want to have “laissez vibrer tie”, I have proper switcher, if I want to implement violin playing technique, I’m looking it in “playing techniques” and then - “strings”. The music elements appears in the proper place of the graphic interface, accordingly to music convention.
This is the best way to create perfect scoring software, but there are two thinks, that is good to take into account:
– this way of software developement causes, that some of the users (specialized in particular field of music) will have to wait long time to get things, which they really want;
– reality will always be more diverse than any convention, same as music of the future (this is in title of this topic). Beside of wide range of conventional possibilities, it’s good to have big flexibility in engraving elements, to be able to do even irrational things, from the perspective of convention.

Below some of more detiled things, which I would like to present/discuss/ask:

  1. Instruments and brackets. I know, that this topic was discussed hundreds of times, but I would like to start from this, because it is really crucial to be able to finish any of my score. I need to have possibility to create instrument from scratch. To assign name, cleff, transposition, groups and brackets, number and position of lines (instead of 5-line notation: 2-line, 4-line, 1-line and even 0-line. And possibility to change this in any bar).

  2. Playing techniques:
    a) I would like to have possibility to attach particular playing technique to many different instruments by choosing the notes and clicking on the technique in right panel. Now I can do it e.g. with dynamics, articulations, but not with playing techniques
    b) when I’m changing the placement (from above to below) of some playing techniques like “down/up bow”, “jete”, the symbols appears like in mirror
    c) “sul pont./sul tasto”. It would be very handy to can choose the other symbols for it: SP, ST and N, like in Kaija Saariaho scores:

    Especially, when I have a lot of transitions between sul ponticello, normale and sul tansto, and I need to make an arrowline.
    d) transitions from one technique to another. What I like in Dorico, it is that many of functions are native, not workaround, like e.g. gradual style of crescendo. It would be perfect to have the native way to do a gradual transitions from one technique to another. By the use of switcher.

  3. Toolbars: it would be great to have more flexibility in case of size of the toolbars. Now they are occupy a lot of space.

  4. Parenthesised rest and noteheads.
    a) Noteheads - e.g. in this case:

    (this is from Jay Schwartz score)
    b) rest – e.g. in case:
    [see the post below, I can’t attach more than 3 pictures in one post]

After laissez vibrer tie is good to have rest parenthesised to make clear, that during the “rest” the instrument still resonates.

  1. Clefs - I can’t choose a group of instruments and change them type of clef using one “clik” in toolbar. I need to do it one after the other.

  2. Grace notes and removing rests:
    [picture is in post below]
    In this case I have to voices and I want to remove rest in second voice, where I have “tutti”. It’s impossible by the command “remove rests” or “starts/end voice” because the previous grace note is attached to this rest. It would be good, if the grace note could be independent to the rest. Of course I can change the colore of rest to invisible or change size to 0%, but it’s an unnecessary workaround.

  3. Crescendo shape. This is not on top of the list of priorities, but it would be great to have possibility to change shape of crescendo, like this:
    [picture is in post below]

  4. Glissando in chords.
    [picture is in post below]
    If I will choose all three noteheads and click on “glissando”, it still connect only one notehed to the highiest in next chord. The same is, when I want connect lowest: the most logic thing would be to connect it to the lowest note in next chord, not highest.

  5. Brackets in percussion instruments.
    I know, that for now Dorico treats pitched and non-pitched instruments like they are different families, so they haven’t got the common bracket.
    The way to have common bracket for particular grup of players (which are playing on instruments from different families) is to create a “group” in setup mode. It works accept the percussion instruments. I have 3 percussion players, everyone have a couple of instruments. I want to have commont bracked for each player, so I created 3 separate groups in setup mode. And Dorico still don’t want to give me proper brackets.
    [picture is in post below]

  6. Backups/CRASHES. Doricko from time to time crashes in random situations. For now I know only one way to make it crash every time, when I’m doing it: click the note, press “shift+D” (to make dynamic), write “f” (to make forte) and then click - instead of enter - in right toolbar for making dynamic by mouse, e.g. forte. I know this is irrational, but Dorico should not crash in this case.
    Why I’ve written “backups”? It would be perfect to have backup which is making from time to time, not only when I click “save”. In Dorico it is very important, because it still have crashes, quite often.

  7. Instruments name: I want to create glockenspiel, and in italian it is “campanelli”, but in the instrument list in Dorico (when I choose italian names) I have “campanelle”. It’s strange for me. Is it the same instrument?

  8. Key commands. It would be great to have more flexibility to have key commands. Especially for the items in right panel (like playing technique). There are a lots of icons, so it would be very difficult to have it all in preferences/key command. The solution is to have e.g. five unsigned slots and five key commands, to which I can temporaly assign any icon (like sul tasto or glissando), when I need to make particular object a lot of times in particular project.
    I hope I expressed myself clear.

  9. Poli-metrum (time signatures):
    [picture is in post below]

Imagin, that I have this kind of time signatures in my piece and my piece is almost ready. If I want to have independent time signature in one player (e.g. I want to add solist in my orchestral piece) and I will do it - it will change only to next global change of time signature. It would be good to be allowed to choose range of bars (by clicking on it) where I want to have independent time signature. Now I have to assing for the rest of instruments (orchestra) independent signature in every time signature change.

  1. Players list in setup mode and play mode:
    a) If I don’t want to see players in players grups, I could hide it. There is the same with instruments. But when I will close and open Dorico, I see all players again. It would be very handy, if I could close the list of players in particular group and after save and relanch Dorico it will appear just like I did.
    b) in play mode if I want to see detiled information abot particular instrument, I have to first click on player name and then on instrument name. When I have several dozen of instruments, it’s not so handy. It would be good to have quicker acces to that. I don’t know how. What comes to my mind is to have possibility to horisontal extend list of players and if it will be long enough, it will show more and more informations (like vst instrument, channel, etc.). But this is only my first thought.

Ok. Now for the conclusion, at last but not least, I would like to say: yes, I bought full version of Dorico, because I hope - this is the future of scoring:)

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On your glissando point, bear in mind that you can control/cmd-click the note at the start and end of where you want the gliss and then add the gliss. If you do that three times in succession then all three notes in your chords will have gliss lines.

I know this. I didn’t write it clear. I just hope to have quicker method to do it. To choose whole chord and create multi-line glissando to another chord. Or to choose lower note from first chord and do not have to choose lower note in the second chord, but to have it automaticly by clicking “glissando”.

we must remember that the function of the score is to facilitate performance and the notation is to be clear and transparent to the performers so that the sound can be best performed. I have seen so often that the score became “the thing”; not to minimize the final score and any notation app that helps us best articulate it (I come from the days when it was "our choice for anything we could draw on ozalid paper:). it’s really a problem to make a buck at this software business by appealing to so many different needs. I am very impressed with what dorico has done in such a short period of time and what appears to be their commitment to the future. Ever since computers came into the picture from the hand-written score there was an element of compromise (more compromise than not); but I am already finding dorico to be more transparent to the process of composition than others (except for maybe score, and age is its issue). all being said, I do not want to go back to the pen and paper with its problems of editing, issuing parts, etc). Keep our vision clear that the sound is the thing. I am not pointing fingers at anyone but just getting a sense from the thread (and other threads).