Platform-Independent Documentation
The documentation applies to the operating systems Windows and macOS.
Usage of musical terms
This documentation uses American terminology for musical items throughout the documentation.
In our documentation, we use typographical and markup elements to structure information.
How you can reach us
On the Help menu you find items linking to additional information.
First steps
This chapter helps you to get started with Dorico.
Getting around
The following sections give you an overview of the user interface and introduce you to how Dorico is structured.
Starting a new project
After getting a first impression of the Dorico user interface you can get started with inputting your own music. In this section, you learn how to set up a new project.
Writing music
Once you have set up your project, you can start writing music.
Dorico concepts
The following sections give you an overview of the design philosophy as well as concepts on which Dorico is based.
Design philosophy
Key musical concepts
In order to work efficiently with Dorico, it is important to understand the conceptual model of the program.
User interface
The user interface of Dorico is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible while keeping all of the important tools at your fingertips.
When you start Dorico, the Hub opens. The Hub keeps you up-to-date with the latest information and assists you with organizing your projects. It consists of the News section and the Projects section.
Dorico provides a project window and floating windows.
Setting up your workspace
Dorico enables you to set up your workspace according to your working style.
Setup mode
In Setup mode, you can determine the players and instruments for your project. You can also create and manage flows and set up layouts.
Project window in Setup mode
The project window in Setup mode contains the default toolbar, the music area, and the status bar. It provides panels with all the tools and functions that allow you to create players and assign instruments as well as to specify the layouts and flows for your score.
Project Info dialog
For every project and every flow that you create in Dorico, you can specify project information in the Project Info dialog.
Layout Options
The Layout Options dialog provides multiple options that allow you to make changes that affect the way the notation is laid out on pages of each layout.
Before you start writing music, you must specify the players that are playing one or multiple instruments.
If you add an ensemble in Dorico, multiple players are added to your project at the same time.
You can assign instruments to solo and section players as well as to ensembles.
Player groups
Grouping players together means they are positioned together in the score, numbered independently, and are bracketed together according to the ensemble type chosen on the Brackets and Braces page in Engraving Options.
Flows are separate spans of music within your project, for example, movements or songs.
Layouts allow you to present the music in your project differently for different purposes. For example, part layouts only include the music that player needs to play whereas full score layouts contain all staves in the project.
Write mode
In Write mode, you can create your music. You can input notes and insert notations into your project.
Project window in Write mode
The project window in Write mode contains the default toolbar, the music area, and the status bar. It provides toolboxes and panels with the tools and functions that you need to write your music.
Introduction to inputting and editing
Dorico distinguishes the processes for inputting and editing music.
Notation Options
The Notation Options dialog provides multiple options that allow you to make changes that affect the way music is notated for each flow.
Note input
There are several different ways to input notes.
Notations input
You can input many types of notations both during step input and by adding them to existing notes.
Splitting flows
You can split flows at specific rhythmic positions.
Engrave mode
Engrave mode allows you to manipulate and modify every item in your project. You can determine how the pages of your project are formatted for printing or exporting.
Project window in Engrave mode
The project window in Engrave mode contains the default toolbar, the music area, and the status bar. It provides panels with all the tools and functions that allow you to format the pages, systems, and properties of individual notations in your score.
Engraving Options
The Engraving Options dialog provides multiple options that allow you to make project-wide changes to your project by changing the graphical appearance and position of items.
Master pages
Master pages in Dorico allow the same formatting to be applied to different pages in different layouts.
Frames allow you to position your music, additional text, and graphics anywhere inside the margins of a page.
Page layouts
In Dorico, the layout of pages is determined by their margins, the master page applied to them, any casting off values applied to them, and the padding of frames.
Text formatting
Dorico combines different settings for the appearance of text, meaning that you can format fonts and texts in different places depending on their function.
Note spacing
The positions of notes relative to each other, and the automatic gaps between notes, are known as note spacing.
Staff spacing
The positions of staves relative to each other, and the automatic gaps between staves, are known as staff spacing.
Play mode
Play mode allows you to set up your project for playback. You can assign VST instruments, adjust the mix, and change the sounding duration of notes in playback without affecting their notated duration.
Project window in Play mode
The project window in Play mode contains the default toolbar and the event display, and also a toolbox and panels that contain all the tools and functions that allow you to set up your project for playback.
Playback Options
The Playback Options dialog provides options that allow you to make project-wide changes to how the music you have written sounds when played back. These options affect playback, regardless of expression maps and patches.
The playhead is a vertical line that moves during playback, showing the current rhythmic position. It is also known as a playback line.
Playing back music
You can hear the music you have written in playback from the beginning of your project or from a specific point.
The Mixer allows you to control the sounds produced in playback, both for the master output and on each individual channel.
Transport window
The Transport window contains all the transport functions in Dorico. It contains some of the transport functions available in the toolbar and additional transport functions.
Expression maps
Expression maps tell Dorico how to use appropriately the patches and sounds in the VST instruments that you have loaded into your project.
Percussion maps
Unpitched percussion instruments are played back using patches that map unpitched sounds onto different MIDI notes. The pitches required to produce different unpitched sounds vary by device, sample library, manufacturer, and so on, and have no connection to the position of percussion instruments on five-line staves.
Played vs. notated durations
You can show notes in the piano roll editor in Play mode with their played duration or notated duration.
Print mode
Print mode allows you to print your layouts or to export them as graphic files, such as PDF and SVG.
Project window in Print mode
The project window in Print mode contains the default toolbar and the print preview area as well as panels and sections that provide all the tools and functions that allow you to prepare printing or exporting your layouts.
Printing layouts
You can print layouts individually or multiple layouts together. You can specify print settings for each layout independently, for example, you can select different printers for different layouts in the same project.
Exporting layouts as graphic files
You can export individual layouts as a variety of graphic files, such as PDF or PNG.
You can print layouts from Dorico projects to any printer to which your computer is connected.
Page arrangements for printing/exporting
Dorico provides several page arrangements that you can use for printing/exporting your layouts.
Duplex printing
Dorico allows duplex printing, which means that you can print on both sides of each sheet of paper.
Handling page sizes and paper sizes
Dorico handles page sizes and paper sizes differently.
Graphics file formats
Dorico supports multiple graphics file formats.
When printing/exporting your layouts for publication, you can include typical annotations. Publishers and printing bureaux can use these to identify and register the printed image correctly or to embed the exported graphic file into a desktop publishing application.
This notation reference contains information about the accepted conventions for presenting different notations and how to change their appearance and placement in Dorico. It also contains more complex ways of inputting notations if applicable.
Accidentals show that the pitch of a note has been altered so that it does not conform to the current prevailing key signature.
Articulations are markings that are drawn above or below notes and chords. Articulations tell a performer how to attack a note or how long to play a note relative to its notated duration.
Bars indicate a usually regular segment of time according to the number of beats, which is usually determined by the prevailing time signature. Bars are separated from other bars to the left and the right by vertical barlines.
Barlines are vertical lines that cross staves in order to show how music is divided into bars, according to the time signature.
Bar numbers
Bar numbers provide a crucial reference point for music that has multiple players, and make the chronological sequence of the music clear. They indicate where players are in the piece, which allows them to co-ordinate themselves easily in rehearsals and concerts.
A beam is a line that connects notes with tails to show rhythmic grouping, which varies according to the metrical structure of the current time signature.
Note and rest grouping
There are generally accepted conventions for how notes and rests of different durations are notated and grouped in different contexts.
Brackets and braces
Brackets and braces are thick straight and curved lines in the left-hand margin that show instrument groupings.
Chord symbols
Chord symbols describe the vertical harmony of the music at a specific moment. They are frequently used in jazz and pop music, where players often improvise around chord progressions.
Clefs and octave lines
Clefs and octave lines provide crucial information about the pitch and register of notes.
Cues are passages of music shown in instrumental parts that are played by a different player, usually to help orientate players before entries or solos following a significant passage of rests.
Dynamics indicate the loudness of the music, and can be combined with other instructions to give the performer a detailed understanding of how to perform the music, while also leaving room for interpretation.
Fingerings can be added to music to recommend which fingers players should use for notes. This can be useful for music aimed at players learning the instrument and for difficult musical passages where certain fingering patterns make the notes much easier to play.
Front matter
Front matter in Dorico is a broad term that covers all information included before the first bar of music in scores.
Grace notes
Grace notes are notes without a fixed duration, which are intended to be played quickly. They are scaled-down versions of normal notes, and are commonly shown with a slash through their stem.
Holds and pauses
Different notations are used to show where the established rhythmic flow of the music is interrupted, either with a moment of repose or a short silence, before continuing. The most subtle effect is produced by a tenuto mark, with more significant effects denoted with holds and pauses.
Key signatures
Key signatures are the markings that show the current key of music by indicating which notes in the scale for that key are sharpened or flattened. They are shown at the start of each system on every applicable staff.
In Dorico, the term lyrics is used for all text that is sung by singers.
Notes are shapes that are positioned on staves to indicate musical pitches. Notes are most commonly shown with oval-shaped, round noteheads that are either filled or void depending on their duration, however there are many different designs of noteheads that you can use.
Ornaments are markings that indicate multiple notes are played in addition to the notated pitch. They are used to decorate music, such as in Baroque music, which is highly decorated with trills and other ornaments.
Arpeggio signs
Arpeggio signs are vertical lines that indicate chords are to be played arpeggiated, or spread, so that the notes in the chord are played very quickly one after another. Arpeggio signs are normally shown with wavy lines similar to trill extension lines.
Glissando lines
Glissando lines indicate a continuous transition between two notes, which can be smooth or in chromatic steps. They can have straight lines or wavy lines, and can be shown with a text indication or as a line without text.
Page numbers
Page numbers are used to give each page a unique number, and indicate its position relative to other pages. Just as in newspapers and books, musical scores and parts use page numbers to make sure the music stays in the correct order.
Pedal lines
Pedal lines indicate to performers which piano pedals to use, and can also give performance instructions, such as how far down to depress the pedals and when to lift the pedal to clear the resonance.
Playing techniques
The term playing techniques covers a wide range of instructions intended to tell performers to modify the sound of the notes they are playing, for example, by changing their embouchure or changing the position of their bow, or by modifying their instrument, such as adding a mute or depressing a pedal.
Rehearsal marks
Rehearsal marks are an ordered sequence of letters or numbers, which along with bar numbers, provide a reference point for music that has multiple players, and make the chronological sequence of the music clear.
Repeat endings
For music with repeated passages, repeat endings show which bars are played at the end of each repetition, with different endings each time if required. They are also known as volta lines, or as first and second endings, but in this documentation, we refer to them as repeat endings.
Rests are markings with a rhythmic value that indicate no note is played for that duration. Each note duration has an equivalent rest, for example, a quarter note rest is different to a sixteenth note rest.
Slurs are tapered, curved lines that join notes to indicate legato articulation and phrasing.
Staff labels
Staff labels are used to identify staves in music containing multiple players, and are positioned to the left of systems, before the initial barline of each system. Staff labels indicate the instrument or instruments currently playing the music on the staff or staves to which they apply.
A staff is a line or group of lines on which musical notes are notated to indicate the pitch and rhythm of music. Pitched instruments use the traditional five-line staff and unpitched instruments often use a single-line staff.
Stems are vertical lines that extend from noteheads that are a half note or shorter in duration. In combination with notehead design, they allow the duration of each note to be clearly identified.
Tempo marks
Tempo marks indicate how fast music is played, often with a combination of text instructions and metronome marks.
A tie is a curved line that joins two notes of the same pitch, and a tie chain can be created by joining multiple, adjacent notes of the same pitch with a sequence of ties.
Time signatures
Time signatures indicate the meter, and apply to all bars from where they first appear until a subsequent change of time signature is found. Meter describes the rhythmic pulse of music, and its division into beats and bars.
Tremolos are thick, slanted lines that cross individual stems or are positioned between multiple stems. They are used to indicate that notes are repeated, either individually or in sequences of multiple notes.
Tuplets indicate where a beat is divided into a different number of subdivisions than is usually expected according to the current meter. They can be used to fit more notes or fewer notes in a beat than usually exist in a beat, according to the usual pattern of subdivision.
Unpitched percussion
The term unpitched percussion covers all percussion instruments that are not tuned to specific pitches. This includes instruments such as bass drum, guiro, maracas, cymbals, and shakers.
For many instruments, such as flute or trombone, each staff usually contains a single musical line in a single voice that is read from left to right along the staff. When multiple, independent lines must be shown in a single staff, each line can have its own voice.