At this point, several hundred musicians have performed my Dorico-produced material and I have been very persistent (I’m sure at times annoyingly so) in soliciting feedback from them. As I posted last December or January, the feedback has been excellent and back then I even received some unsolicited comments, which was surprising but very nice indeed.
Negative comments were almost completely restricted to what the engraver did (that’s me!), but there were two little things that were program-specific and thought I should present them here even though they are minor.
The first – and this one was mentioned more than once – is about the default size technique’s text. I love the placement of it, but even I was surprised of its small size at first, though I did nothing about it initially. Once it was mentioned, I raised the size of it while reducing the size of default text as well so that the two would be at the same size since I use default text for techniques that are not yet implemented in Dorico. Even then, last Friday, one musician thought it was still too small at that she needed to circle them (lighting was not optimal in that gig, I must admit). Pretty much everyone who mentions this is over 45, so their eyesight is being altered with time. My own eyesight is not improving either, so I sympathize. Of course, it’s easy to change the default size and now I do it as a matter of routine, but why was it designed so small in the first place? I think the default is too small.
The only other detail was mentioned only once. It was a clarinet player who had to play in both A and Bb and he brought up a very subtle point. Dorico follows Gould’s convention that the key signature change which accompanies an instrument change should occur after the last note of the previous instrument. This makes abundant sense most of the time, however it will create more awkward readings when there is an intervening key change. Here is a non-musical mock of an instance where there is one empty measure before a key change during an instrument switch.
This type of “superabundance” of key signature changes is what he thought looked awkward, and it it certainly a waste of space. I checked several clarinet parts in the symphonic repertoire and found out that, regardless of what Gould has to say, there is always an effort made to avoid this. Almost every time, the key change which is associated with the instrument change is pushed to the global key change (if there is one, of course). In Daphnis et Chloé, there is even an instance where the Bb clarinet plays in Db (for a KS of Eb), there is a key change to C later on and normally the player would still use the Bb clarinet, but Ravel needs the low concert Db the and so asks the player switches to A (for a KS of also Eb). Since they both use a key signature with three flats, there’s actually no key change noted in the part. But as you can see in the mockup below, if I do something similar in Dorico, we end up with a “non-key-change key-change.”
I realize that such a thing would require some very sophisticated coding. Also, it does not bother me particularly (except maybe that last one), but I believe it’s still something that should be considered in the future.