Thoughts after using Dorico for a few weeks.....

I downloaded the demo and had a few plays. I was disappointed that there were no demo scores in which I could guage what Dorico could presently do, and more importantly what it can’t at present. I bought the crossgrade as much to support the team for future development rather than what the program will currently do, as after working with it for a while, it soon becomes apparent that this is the beginning of the journey.
I think the foundations have been set out well and after watching Daniel’s presentation about where the program will venture I thought I’d add my own thoughts as to what I consider important.

My current setups (touchscreen PCs Quad Core Q8200 with 4Gb RAM, i5 laptop with 4Gb Ram & SSD) are not the latest kids on the block…but are no slouch either. I would expect a well written program to easily be handled with these specs. As it is, Dorico is slow on note input and lyric input, much slower than Sibelius 5 or Notion on the same machines. I don’t think this is down to the hit Halion puts on the specs, but if it is, then I’d like a way to limit the sound production in hogging processing power. When writing choral parts, it seems ridiculous to have any of the ‘ah’ or ‘ooh’ samples that are loaded in…even more ridiculous when the parts are singing words! For these occasions all I need is the simplest piano tone generator as a voice to confirm my pitch selections. Equally, if the actual score writing bit of the program can function quicker with a leaner sample playback structure as an option, then much better this is chosen when inputting. After the input has finished if a kind of ‘render’ type operation can then be performed, where the score data is made super efficient and then tweaking of playback can be refined, that to me would be the way I would do things…that is finish the ‘visual score’ and then tweak the playback. I am no programmer so I don’t if that is the way things are undertaken, but I buy a scoring package primarily to produce music I can give musicians, with the mock-up often done in a DAW or all-in-one solution like the Yamaha AW2400.

If anyone can give me advice on how to use Halion with respect to the above I’m all ears.


The only way in which I could imagine HALion causing Dorico to be slow on your computer is once your projects start getting large enough that your 4GB RAM is fully consumed, at which point your computer will get a lot slower as it has to use virtual memory (i.e. your disks), which is inevitably a lot, lot slower than using RAM. Dorico does use more memory than other scoring programs for comparably-sized scores, and I know the team has ideas about how we can reduce memory usage to some extent in future. It might be that if you’re able to add another 4GB RAM to your machines, you would experience faster performance.

IMO, Dorico’s slowness is its one big disadvantage. It’s not enough from stopping me to work with it, but it makes it rather hard to work with big scores.

I have a brand new stationary computer, with a 4 core 3,4 GHz processor, and 16 GB of internal memory, and still projects tend to be very slow, as soon as you have more than a few flows. And we’re not even talking big orchestral scores, but projects with something like 6 or 8 flows for voice and string quartet.

The updates have improved the performance significantly, but we’re still nowhere near the speed of, say, Sibelius. (Not that I’m going back to using Sibelius.)

As far as the playback is concerned, after another day of tweaking, I’m using an i5 laptop, 4Gb RAM and a 250Gb SSD. I’m using Asio4All driver and setting the ASIO Buffer Size to 2048 samples, Buffer offset at 10ms has definitely helped playback. I’ve also removed voices such as ‘OOhs’ for vocal lines and have just one offering of Halion opening, which of course gives you up to 16 instruments. I had to adjust the octave setting of ‘Finger Bass Guitar’ in Halion as the playback octave from the score (lowest E on 4-string electric bass being one leger line below the bass staff…although sounding one octave lower, this is the standard notation for electric bass). The problem with this is that when you click on a note to audition it in ‘WRITE’, it now sounds another octave down.

I’m going to experiment today to see what kit drum scoring I can do and playback.

I wouldn’t spend too much time investigating Drum scoring, as that is not really supported yet (at least Drum Sets are not). You should realize that you can have more than one HALion instance opened in a piece of music with many instruments.

Though having more than one instance of HALion active when you’ve only got 4GB RAM might not be a great idea, for the reasons I outlined in my original reply in this thread.

True. I forgot the OP was working with 4 GB RAM.

I have been using Dorico for only a week and despite some beginning difficulties I think this might be a great program for the future. My strategy was to take a piano trio score that I had already engraved beautifully in SCORE and try to replicate the same work with Dorico. The manual doesn’t really exist and the help doesn’t help very much. But still within a few days using simple trial and error and what I know about SCORE, Finale, and Sibelius I was able to input almost everything relatively quickly. Pedal markings don’t exist yet and there were some bugs with layout, but by and large it was ok and looked very very good. When I think about Ver. 1 of other programs that is quite a feat. I have been working with other programs since the 80s and anything new takes a lot of getting used to. I think younger newbies will take to it very well.

The biggest problem from my point of view is just how much should be automated and standardized and how much one should be allowed to tweak the engraving manually to the standard one wants. Especially with final layouts and fine tuning. My philosophy would be: the program should make a suggestion for layout with the ability to specify how many pages and how many lines per page. Then it should be made easy to adjust the measure placement for exceptions or special wishes (like page turns etc.) This is the philosophy of SCORE. In my first try I had the layout I wanted already because SCORE did it for me with its fantastic algorhythm for placement of the right amount of material in a system. The one Dorico created was not very good. But I trust that it will get better. I am looking forward to it.

Thanks for your feedback. I would be interested to hear how the layout that Dorico produced for you wasn’t very good: can you provide any specifics about what we could improve?

The layout that Dorico made did not have the optimal number of measures in a system and also the number of systems per frame were sometimes different on each page. Of course I was able to tweak it until I got it where I wanted and I had the SCORE layout to use as a model. It is not even very difficult when you know how. (Congratulations on that!) The parts had the problem that where a system started with a whole rest or multimeasure rest I couldn’t tweak it. It wouldn’t allow any movement either between systems or frames. In these 2 parts that was the case on only 2 systems close to the end and was not something to lose sleep over. But for future pieces the issue will need to be addressed. I think it has to do with the fact that you can’t highlight a whole or multimeasure rest. Or just a bug? I don’t know.

What I like the best is the Page program in SCORE where it gives you a layout for so and so many pages, x number of staves per page. You take a look at it and if you agree then good, if not, you do what you can to change it for the job at hand. A tall order, I know. But since Dorico provides an easy way to move measures around the corrections won’t be too time consuming. That is what I hate the most about SCORE and where Dorico will be a great improvement.

One more tiny request for later would be more % variables for making smaller staves in a score. 60%, 75% and 100% are not really enough. I found 60 a bit too small and 75 too large for the Violin and Cello staves in the full score. (My taste of course) Very small detail but deserves thinking about for the future.

In retrospect as I have been asking myself for the last 30 years, how much can be automated for ease and comfort and how much should an engraver be able to override defaults for his or her own special needs. As long as the override is not too hard I even prefer to make a lot of decisions myself. I get angry only when a program won’t let me do what I want. Or makes too many hurdles to get to what I want. Actually I need a program that will read my mind. How does that sound? LOL But Dorico has made a very good beginning. I liked especially the automatic cautionary accidentals. In my very chromatic music just that saves me an awful lot of typing. That is obviously a feature geared to modern music needs. Thanks for the good work. Hang in there! My next project will be to engrave something from scratch and see how that goes. So more on that later.

Thanks very much for your feedback. We certainly plan to implement features to allow you to specify the number of bars per system and systems per page in the near future (not in 1.0.30, but hopefully in the following update). Under the hood, Dorico can also provide any size you need for a staff, so we just need to add a bit of UI to allow you to choose something other than 60% or 75%, which we’ll also try to do soon.

For the issues you had with formatting in parts including multi-bar rests, you can select the barlines before and after multi-bar rests, and use those to specify the bounds of a Make Into System or Make Into Frame operation.

Nope, clicking on the barlines won’t work either when combining into one system. I tried it several times in several different places. No go.

Unless you are trying to make some staves (Violin, Cello–is this a piano trio where the strings must be smaller?) a different size from the rest of the score, are you aware of Layout Options > Page Setup > Space Size, which lets you set the rastral size of all staves in a layout to almost any size?

Yes, I know this. I set the rastral size for the piano part as the main size for the full score. Then the Violin and Cello parts I always do smaller than the piano. The options are 60%, 75% and 100%. Daniel assures me that in future versions that will be expanded to include other percentages. In this case I would prefer a slightly larger raster size for the 2 solo parts that 60%. My guess would be 65 or maybe even 70. Very very picky I know. But those are just my preferences in this particular job.