Tricks for more efficient note-entry?

@david-p I honestly don’t know, David. I’ll try and find out and get back to you.

@lafin Ah. That make more sense! Personally, I don’t use the space bar, it’s arrows all the way for me. I use the right arrow to advance to where the next note starts and any rests in between notes are created automatically by Dorico.

On the rare occasions where I do need to input a rest I’ll enter a note duration and then the rest icon in Metagrid. The advantage of doing it that way round is that it enters the rest, advances the caret and then turns the rest off. I’m forever leaving things like that on - now I don’t need to think about it.

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I have found that the spacebar can advance the cursor in larger steps, depending on what note value is selected. In 4/4, selecting a semibreve causes it to jump one bar at a time.


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I think Metagrid could be quite useful to me. The only time that I find the QWERTZ and mouse interface slow me down is when inputting notes. As most of my work with Dorico is in transcribing already composed pieces, I do this first. After that is done, the formatting and use of Engrave mode is not so repetitive , and I would probably only use Metagrid for navigation. But the use of Metagrid, just for selecting notevalues alone, would appear to offer a significant increase in speed in reducing the hand movements. Others who spend their working live sitting in front of Dorico will find more uses, whereas I assume I can use Metagrid for the other programs I interact with.


Sure. I think the reason I settled on the arrows is that it’s just the one key and over time I’ve become pretty nifty at moving it to where I want quickly. If I want to go to the next bar (or further) I use Cmd / right arrow.

It doesn’t work so well when the Rhythmic grid is cranked up high. :frowning_face:

Possibly worth being aware that the arrow keys “move” the caret, whereas Space “advances” it. For items that have duration, like gradual dynamics, playing techniques, trills, lyrics etc, if you want them to extend with the caret you have to use Space. Similarly with tuplets, if you advance with Space, the prevailing tuplet ratio continues (e.g. you can continue inputting triplets at later rhythmic positions without re-specifying the ratio) but the arrow keys end tuplet input.


I am a bit late to the party, but as I have spent much time on this subject I’ll just post my setup.

Like many in the thread I do mostly transcription work, entering existing music.
And like many, I keep my right hand on the numpad, left hand on midikeyboard. Eyes on the source PDF!

I do however try to enter as much information as possible in one pass. Of course there are exceptions to this – the nature of the music will dictate what is the best way. But that is my preferred method.

To do this I have reprogrammed shortcuts and programmed macros with AHK (I am on Windows). Depending on what the score needs, I also adjust my macros for that. Most is the same always though. Right now this is what I have on the numpad:

0 = advance caret
Comma = dot
Enter = tie
1–7, 9 = durations
8 backspace (used a lot :wink: )
Plus and minus = upper and lower enharmonic
/ = grace note on/off

… and now the fun part with combination keys. First key is held down like a modifier, then second key, then release.

{ENTER} and…
0 = fermata
period = mordent
1 = pizz
2 = arco
3 = tr
4 = f
5 = mf
6 = ff
7 = p
8 = mp
9 = pp

{*} and…
1 = staccato
2 = accent
3 = staccatissimo
4 = arpeggio
7 = start slur
8 = stop slur

{0} and…
1 = treble clef
2 = alto clef
3 = tenor clef
4 = bass clef
5 = treble 8va bassa

{3} and 1 starts a triplet
{3} and 0 ends it

After the first pass I only have to go back for correcting beaming patterns, and adding of slurs. If there is just one or two slurs on a page, I add them on the fly, but if there are many of them it is mostly faster to add them after.


Unless you have a written out crib sheet, that is a lot of shortcuts to memorize, without the help of the Dorico system for making them memorable!


Agreed, and I do look at the crib sheet sometimes even if there is a certain logic to the layout. I must confess that it is partly modeled from the modified version of Simple Entry mode of Finale that I was using before. For instance, Enter+4 for forte and Enter+7 for piano is so ingrained into my muscle memory that I never even hesitate.

To me, this is quite close to a dedicated piece of hardware for note entry – and I do not find it a problem to use other standard shortcuts or mousing when I am off MIDI keyboard.

After a while the only problem with this method is that I can input faster than the program is responding.

I’ve set my num. keyboard for note length where the numbers are the actual note length.

7=thirty second

Easy to remember. I use the same shortcuts across all applications.

I’ve decided actually that I like using Finale’s duration layout, but on the top row number keys rather then the NUM keypad. That puts quarter note on the 5. Then to the right of that you have half and whole. The left you have 8th and 16th. Those are the most common durations, I can float my hand over that top row…and they are in a single row rather then a NUM keypad layout which always causes me to have to think too much, I don’t want to think about is nearly as much. I am getting a stick on little Braille dot sticker to put on the 5 key so that I will be able to feel it when I slide my hand up that direction. (also putting Braille dots on the OPT keys and possibly a couple others; undecided yet. The ones I have to reach for and move my hand from home position on the QWERTY… There is already a bump on the F and J keys, so its easy to get back to that position by feel, but when I have to reach to the num row, I need the braille and I think it will help. Same with when I go to the modifier keys…the braille will be on the OPT, which is in between CTRL and CMD, so it should be easy to feel for that and go from there.

I think once I have a MetaGrid or StreamDeck, I will not be worried about trying to remember too many keys. I just want to have on the QWERTY the ones that I will use so often and frequently that they become second nature where what matters more is how they are positioned, then whether the actual key has a name that makes any sense for the function. Its more about being able to keep my hand in one place and reaching my finger in a direction that makes sense for the function…for example, reaching right for higher durations and reaching left for lower durations.

This approach really only works with pitches by MIDI or else I have to move pitches to numpad, which I very well might do! I know, backwards of what everyone else is going, but I’m just thinking outside the box now. I figure if its a key that I have to remember and associate the keynote with its function, then I’d rather have it on the MetaGrid and then I can just look at the button and select the right one without remembering anything.

For the QWERTY I want it to be efficient finger movements.

If one hand is hovering over the top row numbers, does it really make any difference as to whether 16ths through to whole notes are the 3 to 7 keys or the 4 to 8 keys?


No it could be centered on anything but don’t forget numbers to left are lower duration and numbers to the right higher

Dorico’s defaults are
4 = 16th
5 = 8th
6 = quarter
7 = half
8 = whole

How is offsetting the defaults by one key/note value an improvement?

Relax, I was responding to the previous poster who had their own numbers in the opposite order.

But also the reason I chose 5 for quarter note was simply because up until now I have had both NUM keys and top row available for durations and in the NUM pad I do prefer to have quarter note on the middle key.

Since this thread is a “tricks for more efficient note-entry”, and I didn’t see this idea mentioned…

I’m not a keyboardist, and while I touch-type the computer keyboard, a music one is nowhere in my muscle memory. In one of the videos Alan Silvestri did on the Dorico channel, he mentioned his approach and it totally clicked with me and I wish I’d known this years ago: add bars, enter play/record mode with a reasonable tempo, and bang out only the rhythm using two fingers on any two notes on the keyboard. After the rhythm is entered, select the first note and plunk out all the pitches using the keyboard having “lock duration” enabled, so there’s no need play them in time. I take another pass for articulations/slurs/dynamics/etc, and then I can usually move on from entry to layout.

I have only 25-key MIDI controller so have to octave up/down occasionally as I enter pitch values (I should get a 37-key), but this approach has vastly improved my input speed— or at least it feels that way to me.


I believe Alan Silvestri goes one step further when it comes to e.g. long string chords - he puts in all the attacks but doesn’t worry about length. Then he uses the Edit > Duration > Extend to next note function to fill in the gaps.

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