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This documentation applies to the operating systems Windows and macOS.
Usage of musical terms
This documentation uses American terminology for musical items.
In our documentation, we use typographical and markup elements to structure information.
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Dorico is based on a number of key concepts that come from its design philosophy.
Design philosophy and higher-level concepts
Deep design considerations are required to create a notation software like Dorico, which might be of particular interest to users familiar with scoring applications. Dorico has a forward-thinking design that is led by musical concepts rather than computational convenience, and this provides many benefits.
The user interface of Dorico SE is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible while keeping all of the important tools at your fingertips. This chapter introduces you to key aspects of the user interface.
Project window
Dorico SE’s main project window allows you to access all the options and tools you need to work on a project. You can open multiple project windows for the same project or for different projects.
Workspace setup
Dorico SE enables you to set up your workspace according to your working style.
Preferences dialog
In the Preferences dialog, you can make permanent settings for your workspace and define key commands.
Key Commands page in the Preferences dialog
The Key Commands page in the Preferences dialog allows you to view all the items and functions that can be assigned key commands, change existing key commands, and assign new key commands to items and functions that have no key command assigned by default.
In addition to opening and importing/exporting projects and other file formats, project and file handling also includes auto-save and project backups.
When you start Dorico SE, the Hub opens. The Hub keeps you up-to-date with the latest Dorico information and tutorials, and assists you with organizing your projects.
Starting new projects
Dorico SE provides several ways to start new projects.
Opening projects/files
You can open Dorico SE projects at any time and in addition to other open projects, for example, if the project you want to open is not listed as a recent project in the list in the Hub. You can also open MusicXML and MIDI files.
Projects from different versions of Dorico
You can open projects that were last saved in other versions of Dorico than the one you have. In such cases, Dorico SE shows a warning message to make you aware of any implications.
Missing Fonts dialog
The Missing Fonts dialog appears when you open a project that contains a font that you do not have installed on your computer. It allows you to select replacement fonts that are installed on your computer as substitutes.
File import and export
External files are files in different formats than Dorico projects, such as MIDI, MusicXML, or tempo tracks. It is possible in Dorico SE both to import and export different types of files.
The auto-save function stores a version of the currently active project at regular intervals, including new projects you have not explicitly saved yet. This reduces the chances of losing significant amounts of work if you accidentally close a project without saving or in the unlikely event that Dorico SE or your computer crashes.
Project backups
Dorico SE stores backup versions of your projects each time you save them explicitly. By default, the previous five saves are stored as backups.
Setup mode allows you to set up the fundamental elements of the project: instruments and the players that hold them, flows, layouts, and videos. You can also determine how they interact with each other, for example, by changing the players assigned to 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 add players and instruments as well as to create layouts and flows for your project.
Project Info dialog
The Project Info dialog allows you to specify information about the whole project and each flow within it separately, such as the title, composer, and lyricist, as these might be different for different flows. You can then refer to these entries using tokens in text frames.
Layout Options dialog
The Layout Options dialog allows you to change various aspects of each layout independently. For example, you can change the physical properties of the layout, such as page size, staff size, or margins, and how the music appears and is laid out, such as note spacing or staff labels.
Players, layouts, and flows
In Dorico SE, players, layouts, and flows are all connected to each other. Because they exist in the project rather than in a single score, you can, for example, have players and flows saved in the project without showing them in the full score.
In Dorico SE, a player can represent an individual musician or multiple musicians in the same section. Players hold instruments, so you must add at least one player to your project before you can add instruments.
If you add an ensemble in Dorico SE, multiple players are added to your project at the same time.
In Dorico SE, an instrument is an individual musical instrument, such as a piano, a flute, or a violin. Human voices, such as soprano or tenor, are also considered instruments.
Player groups
A group represents a collection of musicians that are considered together, such as one choir in a work for double choir or an off-stage ensemble. Player groups can have their own brackets, depending on the bracket grouping set for each layout.
Flows are separate spans of music that are completely independent in musical content, meaning they can contain completely different players from each other and have different time signatures and key signatures. A single project can contain any number of flows.
Layouts combine musical content, as represented by flows and players, with rules for page formatting and music engraving, and allow you to produce paginated music notation that can be printed or exported in various formats. For example, part layouts only include the music for that player whereas full score layouts contain all staves in the project.
Player, layout, and instrument names
In Dorico SE, you can use three different names to refer to the same player in different contexts. This allows you to show relevant information in different places in the score.
Flow names and flow titles
Whenever you add a flow to a project, the default name of a flow is Flow plus an incremental number. In Dorico SE, flows have both a flow name and a flow title, which are the same by default but can be different if, for example, you want to organize sketch versions of flows without affecting their displayed titles in the music.
Dorico SE supports the use of videos within the program as well as the associated notations, such as markers and timecodes, and allows you to find appropriate tempos based on where important markers occur.
Write mode allows you to input and edit your music, including changing the rhythmic positions of items, changing the pitch of notes, and deleting notes and items. The available toolboxes and panels allow you to input all the notes and notation items that are most commonly used.
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 required to write your music.
Inputting vs. editing
Dorico SE distinguishes the processes for inputting and editing music.
Rhythmic grid
The rhythmic grid is a unit of rhythmic duration whose value affects certain aspects of inputting and editing, such as the amount by which items move. However, it does not control the duration of notes and items that you input.
Note input
In Dorico SE, you can only input notes during note input, which is when the caret is activated. This allows you to input notations at the caret position at the same time as inputting notes, and also reduces the risk of you adding notes to staves accidentally.
MIDI recording
MIDI recording is a way of inputting notes into Dorico SE by playing them in real time on a MIDI device. This can be particularly useful if, for example, you prefer to improvise your music rather than plan pitches and note durations in advance.
Notations input
You can input many types of notations, both during note input and by adding them to existing notes. In Dorico SE, notation is a broad term that includes many different items, including articulations, slurs, dynamics, and more.
Editing and selecting
In Dorico SE, there are multiple different ways you can select and edit the items in your project, from selecting items individually to making large selections covering multiple staves.
There are different ways you can navigate around the layout currently open in the music area, such as moving the selection to different items or bringing specific bar numbers or pages into view. Many navigation methods function in multiple modes.
In Dorico SE, signposts indicate the positions of important items or changes that cannot be seen in the score, such as key signatures with no accidentals, hidden items, and rhythmic feel changes.
Arranging tools
Arranging tools in Dorico SE allow you to allocate notes to different staves and voices quickly and efficiently.
Splitting flows
You can split flows at specific rhythmic positions. Flows in Dorico SE are independent of each other, meaning they can contain different players and have different time signatures and key signatures.
Comments allow you to add notes or instructions at precise positions in your project without affecting the music. They are considered annotations in Dorico SE, meaning they are not printed by default.
There are various ways you can control the layout and formatting of pages in your project, including changing the size of pages and adjusting note spacing.
Engrave mode
Engrave mode is only available in Dorico Pro. It provides finer controls over the appearance of your music, such as positioning items graphically wherever you want and creating/editing master pages that determine the appearance and layout of pages.
Master pages
Master pages function like templates in Dorico SE, allowing the same page formatting to be applied to multiple pages and in different layouts.
Flow headings
Flow headings allow you to show the titles of flows immediately above their first system automatically. They function like templates, in much the same way as master pages, allowing the same flow heading formatting to be applied to multiple flows in different layouts.
Dorico uses boxes called frames to position music, additional text, and graphics inside the margins of pages. In Dorico SE, you cannot input or edit frames, but frames on master pages control the formatting of pages in your project.
Music frame chains
A music frame chain is a collection of music frames that show the same selection of music in a set order, often in sequence. Music frame chains can include any number of frames, including only a single music frame.
Page formatting
The formatting of pages in Dorico SE is determined by a number of factors, including the layout’s staff size, page margins, the master page applied to them, any casting off values applied to them, system and frame breaks, and frame padding.
Staff size
Staff size refers to the distance between the top and bottom lines of staves, and can be expressed as a point size or in another supported unit of measurement, such as millimeters. For individual staves, you can use a scale size of the default staff size in the layout. The most appropriate staff size depends on the intended purpose of the layout.
Casting off
Casting off is the term used to encompass fixing the layout of pages of music, such as setting the number of systems per page. In Dorico SE, you can fix both the number of bars per system and the number of systems per music frame in each layout independently.
Frame breaks
In Dorico SE, you can use frame breaks to push musical material into the next frame, which is usually on the next page, meaning you can use frame breaks to create page breaks. For example, you can use frame breaks to insert page turns at specific positions in part layouts.
System breaks
System breaks are where musical material reaches the right page margin and must continue on a new system, usually below the previous system on the same page or on a new page. Dorico SE automatically arranges music across systems so that notes are correctly spaced and legible, but you can also control system breaks manually.
Tacet is the indication used to show that a player does not play anything in an entire flow, which might be a movement in a symphony or cue in a film score. In Dorico SE, you can generate tacets automatically.
Condensing is the process of showing the music for multiple players on fewer staves than normal, usually by allowing multiple instruments of the same type to share a staff, such as Flutes 1-2 or Horns 1-4.
Part formatting propagation
The propagation of part formatting involves copying the layout options and system formatting that determine the layouts of pages in specific part layouts and applying them to other part layouts. This can save time when formatting similar parts.
Music Fonts dialog
The Music Fonts dialog allows you to change the font used for notations and glyphs project-wide. Any font you use for notations and glyphs must be SMuFL-compliant.
Text objects vs. text in text frames
Text in Dorico SE can exist as a text object, added to individual staves or as system text, and in text frames, which are fixed to the page rather than the music.
Note spacing
The positions of notes and rests relative to each other, and the automatic gaps between them, are known as note spacing.
Staff spacing
The vertical positioning of staves and systems within frames is known as staff spacing. Staff spacing calculations consider the height of staves and the necessary gaps between staves and systems.
Play mode allows you to change how your music sounds in playback, including by changing the playback template and assigning VST instruments, inputting automation, adjusting the mix, and changing 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.
Event display
The event display in Play mode is the equivalent of the music area in Write mode. It allows you to view and edit your music, but focuses more on how it sounds in playback rather than its notation. The event display presents your project in a similar way to that used in a digital audio workstation, or DAW, such as Cubase.
Tracks are rows in the event display that represent time horizontally from left to right. They allow you to control multiple musical elements in a project simultaneously but independently of each other.
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 listen to the music you have written from the beginning of your project or from a specific point. You can also use the playback key commands in any mode.
Repeats in playback
Dorico SE supports the playback of repeat structures, including repeat endings, repeat barlines, and repeat markers, provided all the correct jumps and sections are in place.
Swing playback
Swing is a style of performance where equally-notated notes are played in a regular pattern of alternating longer and shorter notes, which commonly entails eighth notes being played as a quarter note triplet followed by an eighth note triplet.
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 playback and MIDI recording functions, such as rewinding and fast-forwarding. It contains additional and more precise versions of the playback functions available in the toolbar.
Playback templates
Dorico SE uses playback templates to allocate sounds from VST instruments and MIDI devices to the instruments in your project.
Endpoint is the term used for the unique combination of inputs and outputs that together allow the correct sounds to be played for each instrument.
Expression maps
Expression maps tell Dorico SE 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, sound library, manufacturer, and so on, and have no connection to the position of percussion instruments on five-line staves.
Playback techniques
Playback techniques link together the notations you input into your music and techniques/articulations in sound libraries in order to produce the correct sounds in playback. They are used by expression and percussion maps to trigger the appropriate commands, such as key switches or control changes.
Played vs. notated note durations
You can show notes in the piano roll editor in Play mode with their played duration or notated duration.
Print mode allows you to print your layouts or to export them as graphics files, such as PDF and SVG.
This notation reference contains information about the accepted conventions for presenting different notations and how to change their appearance and placement in Dorico SE, both for individual items and by changing default settings.
Accidentals are shown beside notes to indicate their pitch, both when notated on a staff and written out in text. In music based in Western tonality, they usually 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. The most commonly used barline is the single barline between adjacent bars, but there are different types, such as double or repeat barlines.
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 and meters. In Dorico SE, notes are automatically notated to fit within bars.
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.
Chord diagrams
Chord diagrams represent the pattern of strings and frets on fretted instruments and use dots to indicate the stopped finger positions required to produce the corresponding chord. This demonstrates the specific shape of chords in a compact way and is useful if a particular voicing is required.
Clefs are the symbol at the start of every system that give the notes on the staff context; that is, the clef tells you which note of the scale applies to each line or space of the staff.
Octave lines
Octave lines indicate where notes are played higher/lower than they appear in the score or part. They are dashed or dotted horizontal lines with an italic numeral at the start. The numeral indicates the number of pitches by which the phrase is changed, such as 8 for one octave and 15 for two octaves.
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.
Figured bass
Figured bass is a shorthand that uses figures to specify the harmony above the notated bass notes. It is particularly common in Baroque and early Classical music and in the parts of accompanying instruments, such as harpsichords and viols.
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.
String indicators
String indicators are commonly used in guitar music to tell performers the string on which they should play a note, particularly for pitches that are possible on multiple strings.
Front matter
Front matter in Dorico SE 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 SE, 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, but there are many different designs of noteheads that you can use.
Harmonics are pitches produced by touching resonating strings at specific positions along their length, allowing the corresponding harmonic partial to sound. Harmonics often have a high pitch with a glassy, purer sound than stopped pitches. There are two different types of harmonics: natural and artificial.
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 as vertical wavy 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 wiggly lines, and can be shown with a text indication or as a line without text.
Guitar bends
The guitar bend is a technique commonly performed on electric guitars, where the performer pushes strings out of their normal alignment after notes start to sound. Bending strings tightens them, which produces the characteristic pitch fluctuation.
Guitar techniques
The term guitar techniques covers a range of techniques typically associated with guitar music, such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and pitch alterations that use the vibrato bar on electric guitars.
Jazz articulations
Jazz articulations in Dorico SE cover a range of note ornamentations that are idiomatic to jazz music, and brass instruments in particular.
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.
Harp pedaling
Harp pedaling is a broad term that covers the specific requirements for notating music for harps. This primarily involves harp pedal diagrams, which are often necessary due to the way in which modern concert harps change their tuning.
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.
Lines can convey a variety of meanings in music, such as indicating which hand to use in piano music or a gradual change in bow pressure. In Dorico SE, lines can be vertical, horizontal, or angled between notes and have different styles and appearances.
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.
Markers are labels locked to a particular position in time, most commonly in relation to a video. They typically indicate an important moment that requires musical prominence, and composers often use them to help shape the writing process.
Timecodes indicate an exact position in time, usually in the context of a video. They allow precise synchronization between multiple elements, such as music and moving images, and can be used as a reference tool.
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.
Repeat markers
Repeat markers show that musical material is to be repeated, but unlike repeat endings, repeat markers often involve jumping to different positions and sections in the music instead of moving through the music consecutively.
Bar repeats
Bar repeats indicate that the musical material in preceding bars must be repeated exactly, but without notating that material again. Bar repeats can comprise groups of one, two, or four bars.
Rhythm slashes
Rhythm slashes are diagonal lines positioned on staves that are used to indicate that performers should play something, but without specifying the exact rhythms and pitches. They are often accompanied by chord symbols to indicate the set of notes the performer should use.
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.
Divisi is when players split, or divide, in order to play multiple lines of music, commonly for a limited passage, before returning to play together, or tutti. Divisi passages can be notated with all lines on a single staff or across multiple staves.
Tablature is an alternative notation to the five-line staff, and is used for fretted instruments. On tablature, pitches are indicated by fret numbers positioned on lines, each of which represents a string on the instrument. As tablature is commonly used for guitars, it usually shows six lines.
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. They are also known as tempo changes, tempo indications, and tempo markings.
A tie is a curved line that joins two notes of the same pitch. When notes are longer than the maximum duration of a bar in the prevailing time signature, they automatically appear in Dorico SE as tie chains, that is, a sequence of adjacent notes joined with ties.
Time signatures
Time signatures indicate the meter of music, and apply to all bars from where they first appear until a subsequent change of time signature. 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 be a separate voice.