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Notation software "analysis paralysis"

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Peter Klein

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Since I last posted, I've input a 3-minute piece with lots of meter changes into Dorico. So far, I'm really liking it. I am not at all afraid of keyboard shortcuts. In fact, I prefer them. I've always felt that keyboard commands are much better for things you do all the time, and menus are good for things you only do occasionally. The score "Setup" concepts are a bit daunting--when I read about them, they make sense, but when I stare at the Setup page, I get a little cross-eyed.

So far, I'm finding that Dorico's printed output looks noticeably better than Notion 6, but Notion's sound output and interpretation of articulation marks in the score is quite a bit better than Dorico's. As for getting the notes and marks into the software, I think that both Notion and Dorico are easier than Sibelius. It's hard for me to whether Notion or Dorico is the "winner" for ease of entry, as I'm not fluent at either yet. But a gentleman I know who has used and taught every significant notation program ever created says that Notion is faster. Regardless, I'm leaning toward buying Dorico anyway, as it does appear to be the future. Might as well get it on super-discount this week.
 

ag75

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A StreamDeck + Notation Express is a very elegant solution that makes it easy to find what you need. The combination is a huge time-saver. Notation Express is available for Dorico, Sibelius and Finale.

**Leigh
I use this combo and it’s been a lifesaver. I’m terrible with remembering hot keys and shortcuts.
 

Gerbil

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I use this combo and it’s been a lifesaver. I’m terrible with remembering hot keys and shortcuts.
Me too. One of the best purchases I made this year.

I use Dorico and Sibelius but most of the scores I get sent are created on Sibelius so it gets the most use. They can both create excellent looking scores so just go with what feels the most natural to use.
 

ag75

Senior Member
Me too. One of the best purchases I made this year.

I use Dorico and Sibelius but most of the scores I get sent are created on Sibelius so it gets the most use. They can both create excellent looking scores so just go with what feels the most natural to use.

Do you have the regular sized one or the XL?
 

cmillar

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I use this combo and it’s been a lifesaver. I’m terrible with remembering hot keys and shortcuts.
Yes, and I love that I can customize the most-used commands by placing them in the easiest ‘finger pushes’ for my left hand when I have my right hand on the MIDI keyboard.

For example, place the key for ‘dot’ input wherever it feels most comfortable to you,or even making a hot key for entering/exiting note input mode and placing it in the most useful position.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
I'm leaning toward buying Dorico anyway, as it does appear to be the future.

It sounds great, Peter. I'm puzzled why none of the copyists have adopted it. Maybe because they don' wanna change the way they work -- that they know works -- when the people for whom they work have absolutely zero flexibility about deadlines?
 
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Leigh

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Do you have the regular sized one or the XL?

I have the regular one and I'm tempted to get the XL and use the regular one at home.

Another plus about StreamDeck is there's a phone app that models the physical device. Very handy, too.

**Leigh
 

MauroPantin

I engrave little black dots
It sounds great, Peter. I'm puzzled why none of the copyists have adopted it. Maybe because they don' wanna change the way they work -- that they know works -- when the people for whom they work have absolutely zero flexibility about deadlines?

That was exactly what was holding me back. "If it ain't broken" and all that. Deadlines in this business are not only inflexible, but often times unreasonable. It is not a job where you can throw the dice on "I'll figure it out" by upgrading the software. Also, most copyist I know are (with all due respect) kinda old fashioned dudes. They don't want to mess around with new software, they don't care for it. Several I know are still on Sib 6.

For me, Sibelius works great, but the licensing just doesn't work for me anymore. I was hoping to stay up to date, but at the same time I'm not going to purchase it in full again, and renting the central piece of my livelihood makes me uneasy. Dorico seemed like the only recourse.
 

JohnG

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most copyist I know are (with all due respect) kinda old fashioned dudes

So true; some of those guys practically wish for quill pens.

Naturally, one can understand their reticence. You really don't want to be the guy on the phone with your composer, explaining "well, yes, we would have gotten the brass parts ready but we used a new software program...."

I cut loose from the annual license fee on Sibelius and I have a pretty recent, perpetual license. I think you wrote that your perpetual license went away somehow? or something? That is an inflection point, for sure.

I downloaded Dorico's demo but never had the time to try it. Maybe 2021? A lot of people here seem to like it and another buddy of mine does. For now, sticking with the big S.
 

MauroPantin

I engrave little black dots
I cut loose from the annual license fee on Sibelius and I have a pretty recent, perpetual license. I think you wrote that your perpetual license went away somehow? or something? That is an inflection point, for sure.

Sort of. The perpetual license does not expire per-se, you still own the software and can use it. But the "support" part of the license that brings about any updates that come out, that does expire.

Being that Sib is my main thing, I like to keep it updated. At the same time, the updates have been lackluster in the last couple of years IMO, so I naively decided to not continue the support until any significant changes were made, or at least some of the bug fixes and improvements I'd like to see come around (if they ever).

Thing is, once you're out of support AVID considers you SOL, you fell of the train and there's no easy way back in. You either crossgrade your perpetual into a subscription to get updates OR you get a new perpetual license to regain support. At full price, that is. To me, that's completely unacceptable. Long story short, if you want to stay up to date you are obligated to keep paying every year or every 2 years for the support plan.

This is just my take on it, but their business model feels wrong to me. It keeps users captive and provides no incentive for AVID to improve the software. I prefer the Steinberg model, which is the way it used to be with Sib and the way it is with Finale as well: simple paid upgrades. If they're worth it for you, you pay for them (just like any other product out there). And if not, you can safely skip and upgrade at another time. Maybe you upgrade at a higher price for skpping, but always in good faith.

I will continue to use Sib because it will take me time to be as proficient with Dorico. But as soon as I am, Sib will go to the backseat along with Finale, which I rarely touch anymore.
 

JohnG

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Thanks Mauro for your reply; I am a long-time Avid customer so I am familiar with that and certainly am not arguing with you.

I'm rolling the dice on skipping potential improvements. Hope I don't regret it, but for Sibelius it's not that expensive. Quite another matter for Pro Tools, but I have a recent version and anyway, I use it most of the time as a big tape recorder that I pass on to an engineer.
 

JJP

I put dots and lines on paper.
It sounds great, Peter. I'm puzzled why none of the copyists have adopted it.

Some people are starting to use it a bit. There are still some things that aren't quite there for certain copyist needs, but it's getting better all the time. The devil is in the details that most other people never consider.

At my place we've tweaked the defaults and built so many libraries into our Finale template that it's usually easier for consistency to import whatever we get into our main tool and work from there. That's how we maintain a uniform look across all parts, especially when we have scores delivered in multiple file formats from different people on the same project.
 

mducharme

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I've been using Dorico for everything for a few years now, and am happy. I can offer some specific details as to where certain things are lacking:

Jazz chord symbols - if fiddling with the options doesn't give you an appearance that you are 100% happy with, it ends up being a lot of work to customize the chord symbols as you need. One of the big issues is something like (#9)(b5) you can't customize on its own. You then end up making a custom C7(#9)(b5) and same for C#7(#9)(b5) and same for Db7(#9)(b5) etc. They do have tons of options for changing the default appearance of chord symbols without manual overrides, but there are some conventions they missed and so they don't always provide all options that are appropriate.

House Styles - they don't really support importing a house style at the moment. All you can really do is customize a blank file with the settings and use it as a template when you are engraving.

Collision Detection / Avoidance issues - Dorico is not nearly as good at this as Sibelius, IMO. The only things in Dorico that end up wasting time for me are in this area. First, there are not always options to turn off collision detection for particular items in the score. So Dorico can end up pushing things like bar numbers unacceptably far away because they are colliding, or Dorico thinks they are colliding. For instance if you have a low Tuba part, Dorico will often shove the bar numbers far below the staff. Last week I was working on a part and there were several systems of multirests with a random "Ob." text in the middle of the page. I finally figured out that it was for an Oboe cue at the top of the page and that the collision detect had decided to move it halfway down the page to avoid collisions. If you move stuff manually and then you make revisions to the notation, then they can go flying away again back to their default locations and you have to redo the spacing customization.

The other issue with collision detection and avoidance that I have is that it uses the *default* location of the item to determine the bounding box. This issue comes to play when you manually move something out of the way to avoid the collision. Dorico does not detect the collision is gone and still tries to prevent everything else from colliding with where that item originally was (not where it is now), so you can end up with things like extra vertical space between two staves for no good reason. This often happens when a rehearsal marker above the staff collides with a dynamic below the system just above - manually moving the rehearsal marker / dynamic to avoid collisions does not remove the extra vertical space Dorico added to get rid of the original collision. Again you can fix this by manually adjusting the staff spacing, but changing any notes later will cause the staff to reset to its default position and you end up with the extra vertical space again.

That big block of text above must really make it seem like I'm unhappy with it, but I'm not. It saves me time in so many other ways that I'm willing to deal with some of those things. But it doesn't surprise me that copyists are not wanting to jump onboard right away.
 
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JT

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So true; some of those guys practically wish for quill pens.
There is some truth to that statement. I'm a copyist and if I'm truthful with myself I have to admit I'm old fashioned in a number of ways. Finale is my workhorse because it works and it's the standard that most copyists use. We don't care what the new shiny toy is this week, but when Dorico starts to get a foothold in commercial usage, a lot of us will get on that boat.

As far as quill pens, I used a Pelikan 120 for many years. Had to manually fill it with ink. Used Judy Green onion skin paper. And I liked the "look" of it. I hate the handwritten fonts that notation programs use. But no way do I want to ever go back to the pen and ink days.

I had a session where I copied a couple of songs in the 80's for a Streisand album. She hadn't decided on a specific key for the songs, so I was told to copy each chart out in 2 keys. This was for a full orchestra, a lot of paper and everything copied by hand. I would have killed for a computer program to do this for me. Never going back.
 

JohnG

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As far as quill pens, I used a Pelikan 120 for many years. Had to manually fill it with ink. Used Judy Green onion skin paper. And I liked the "look" of it. I hate the handwritten fonts that notation programs use. But no way do I want to ever go back to the pen and ink days.

Same here, JT. There were some good things about the old days, including the AFM health care plan. As it once was.

Take care.

Never going back.

No. The computer eliminates so many errors and, as you pointed out, "new key? no problem."
 
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giwro

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There is some truth to that statement. I'm a copyist and if I'm truthful with myself I have to admit I'm old fashioned in a number of ways. Finale is my workhorse because it works and it's the standard that most copyists use. We don't care what the new shiny toy is this week, but when Dorico starts to get a foothold in commercial usage, a lot of us will get on that boat.

As far as quill pens, I used a Pelikan 120 for many years. Had to manually fill it with ink. Used Judy Green onion skin paper. And I liked the "look" of it. I hate the handwritten fonts that notation programs use. But no way do I want to ever go back to the pen and ink days.

I had a session where I copied a couple of songs in the 80's for a Streisand album. She hadn't decided on a specific key for the songs, so I was told to copy each chart out in 2 keys. This was for a full orchestra, a lot of paper and everything copied by hand. I would have killed for a computer program to do this for me. Never going back.
Not to derail this thread, but how cool is it that we get to rub shoulders with someone who copied charts for a Streisand album?

(And, I suspect that there are quite a few folks here who have similar stories, and yet they quietly interact with us and keep it to themselves....)
 
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Peter Klein

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Well, I tried to buy Dorico Pro today. I was able to enter my email and address and coupon code for the 50% off sale. Then I had to submit a screen shot of my Sibelius registration for the additional 50%. The order screen showed the correct price for the double discount. At which point I was told that the verification could take 2 business days, and the transaction would not go any further. It did not give me the option to enter my credit card.

Problem is, it's the evening of Dec. 3. Tomorrow is Friday. So if it really does take 2 business days to deal with, then that puts us into Monday Dec. 7. And the sale is only valid "until" Dec. 7, not "through" Dec. 7. If that happens, I hope they will still honor the sale. I sent a message to their customer service desk about it just in case, so they know that this wheel squeaks...
 

Daniel S.

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Problem is, it's the evening of Dec. 3. Tomorrow is Friday. So if it really does take 2 business days to deal with, then that puts us into Monday Dec. 7. And the sale is only valid "until" Dec. 7, not "through" Dec. 7. If that happens, I hope they will still honor the sale. I sent a message to their customer service desk about it just in case, so they know that this wheel squeaks...

Don't worry, we'll certainly honour the sale. If you have any problems, please email me directly at d dot spreadbury at steinberg dot de and I'll take it up on your behalf. (I'd be surprised if you haven't already by now received confirmation that your eligibility has been verified anyway.)
 

Thundercat

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Don't worry, we'll certainly honour the sale. If you have any problems, please email me directly at d dot spreadbury at steinberg dot de and I'll take it up on your behalf. (I'd be surprised if you haven't already by now received confirmation that your eligibility has been verified anyway.)
Welcome Daniel!! Love your work! I own every version of D. Hope the GUI can get some long attention re: Tantacrul video. Thanks for all you do!!!
 
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Peter Klein

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Don't worry, we'll certainly honour the sale. If you have any problems, please email me directly...

Thank you for the personal attention, Daniel. It's very much appreciated, and it speaks well for Dorico. Everything turned out all right today (Friday). I've made my purchase and joined the Dorico community.
 
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