Dorico Pro 2 ushers in some DAW-dropping enhancements

Dorico, Steinberg’s music notation application now has my full attention. Dorico Pro Version 2 indicates the start a phase of deep focus on a suite of tools to enhance the creation of music for media, as well as many fine-grain improvements for the printed music presentation itself.

Dorico Pro 2 pays particular attention to two groups of users: people working in music for media, such as film, TV, and games; and people working in genres like rock, pop and jazz – basically any idiom that involves a rhythm section.

Video, Markers and timecode

If you work as a composer, orchestrator  in film, television, video games or other production environments, and you start your workflow in a DAW and then transfer everything over to your favorite music notation application via MIDI or MusicXML, you’ll want to check this out.

If you are a music copyist working on film or game soundtracks, or a music engraver working for publication, even if you currently have no use for score-to-picture tools yourself, you should be paying close attention to Dorico at this stage, since you are likely to start seeing music coming to you from some the aforementioned composers and orchestrators as Dorico continues to mature.

I hope to cover some of the really nice engraver-worthy enhancements that are in this version in more detail in subsequent posts.

Dorico 2 capitalizes on the video engine used in Cubase and Nuendo, and includes a number of new features for managing timecode, markers and tempo. The video engine supports the most commonly-used video formats, and support for even more formats is forthcoming.

H263 and H264 video is supported in both MOV and MP4 containers, while Apple ProRes, DV/DVCPro and Avid DNxHR codecs are supported in MOV containers. DV/DVCPro and MJPEG/PhotoJPEG are supported in AVI containers. All the common frame rates (including 23.976, 24, 24.975, 25, 29.97, and 30 frames per second) are fully supported. (Videos with variable frame rates are not supported at this time).

If you are already familiar with Dorico’s basic architecture, videos are attached to individual project flows; if you a working with a longer video (for instance, a number of separate cues or even across several reels of a film), you can attach the same video to multiple flows (each with their own timecode offset), to allow you to work with different sections of video with each flow. You can either attach the video when in Setup Mode, or, when in Play Mode, you can simply drop the video onto the Play timeline.

The preexisting soundtrack of an attached video can be played back in sync with Dorico’s score playback, with its own fader / mute in the mixer.

Much like working with digital audio or video files in a DAW, attached video files are not embedded in the Dorico project file, therefore external video files must be included with your Dorico file for collaboration.

Either elapsed time or timecode can now be displayed in the Transport window. You can set this on the Timecode page of Playback Options.

Dorico 2 can display timecode and Marker labels on the score page with a number of formatting options available, including above the top staff of the score, on a dedicated timecode staff, or above a particular bracketed instrument section.

Dorico can help you figure out the most appropriate tempo for a section of your video using its new Find Tempo feature. Choose a desired Beat unit, then choose the lower and upper range of desired tempos and Dorico will show you a list of options with the number of frame non-matches at these given tempos so you can choose the ideal tempo to match the most hit points.

Dorico also allows you to use its tools for composing to picture such as markers, timecode and finding tempo without the video attached. For instance, if you have markers placed for various hit points, you can use the “Find Tempo” feature to line hit points up easily using just the Markers and the timecode.

Graphical Automation of MIDI controllers and Tempo

Dorico 2 includes new tools for fine control over tempo and continuous MIDI controllers.  There is a time track at the top of the event display in Play mode that allows you to edit the tempo of your project. You can draw in curves or create a smoother, linear gradual tempo change by using the line tool.

The Play window now also contains an editing lane for MIDI controller data. Currently, although only one CC data lane can be displayed at a time, it is possible to create data for multiple MIDI controllers for each instrument.

Large Time Signatures

Several new options have been added for time signature display. New Time Signature Design options in Dorico 2 allow Normal, Narrow Serif, Normal Sans Serif and Plain font display.

The narrow, sans serif option looks very similar to the big time signatures offered in Finale and Sibelius, and there are a few other options as well.

You can either center placement of large time signatures vertically within  bracketed groups, or have the time signatures display at the tops of bracketed groups.

System Track

The system track is a new user interface feature in Dorico 2 that makes it easier to add and delete bars or to select music on all staves in the system. If you hold down Option / Alt while the system track is visible, grid lines conforming to the current rhythmic grid value are drawn on the system track, allowing you to make partial bar selections by clicking and dragging across the system track.

Rhythmic and Slash Notation

Dorico 2 now fully supports rhythmic slashes and bar repeats for rhythm section parts. Slash notation is a type of overlay which can either appear by itself over bars containing default rests, or in connection with existing notation (analogous to the Staff Style feature in Finale). Rhythmic notation is created using actual note entry and provides a pitch-less representation with the appropriate slash or diamond noteheads.

Bar Repeats

Hand in hand with the new slash notation, bar repeats, common in jazz charts are supported in Dorico 2. There is also a bar count feature (especially useful for single bar repeats) to help players stay oriented when playing a repeating pattern for a long time.

Petaluma Music Font

No version of a music notation software package with the above jazz notation shorthand options would be complete without a hand written music font, so Dorico 2 comes with one.

A new handwritten music font family called Petaluma is included with Dorico 2. The family consists of three fonts – Petaluma, Petaluma Text, and Petaluma Script, with more than 1350 musical symbols and 500 letter forms.

The font appears to be loosely modeled after the Krinitsky font used by Sher Publications for the New Real Book (without getting too close, of course!)

Divisi and Ossia Staves

Dorico 2 provides a mechanism to create a divisi in section instruments that will divide, specifying how many staves should be used, and how each of those staves should be labeled.

Dorico then takes care of managing those staves for you automatically: there is no need for you to arrange for a change in divisi sections to occur at a system or frame break, as Dorico will automatically show unison music in each divisi staff as required if a divisi either starts or ends in the middle of a system. When the divisi section ends, you simply create an instruction to restore tutti, and again Dorico manages the removal of the additional staves completely automatically.

In this version, playback of divisi passages is on a single channel, but in a future release, it will be possible to assign each soloist and section within a divisi passage to a separate channel, in order to provide completely flexible playback of divisi passages.

Ossias are used to show editorial recommendations for performance, or deviations between different sources, or to show an easier variation that can be played instead of the original passage;  Dorico 2 has comprehensive features for handling ossia passages. An ossia can appear over or under the main staff or staves of music.

Playing Technique Dialog and Editor 

Dorico 2 allows you to create and edit playing techniques, with the new Engrave ▸ Playing Techniques dialog. Text or graphical symbols can be assigned to one of these groups – Techniques, Dynamics, Lengths or Ornaments, and further assigned to a category such as strings or unpitched percussion.

The main editor window gives you complete control over object type (Glyph, Text, Graphic) etc.),  placement appearance above and / or below, which VST playing technique it is assigned to, whether the element is invoked and stays active until changed or whether it is for a specific single event, and whether or not it is shown in cues.

The little pencil icon below the object preview takes you to the Playing Technique Editor where you can do fine grain edits.  Here, you can create and edit instructions from text, glyphs or imported SVG, PNG, or JPG graphics.

Of course, a watercolor splotch isn’t something you’d typically see in a music score, but you get the idea. You’ll be hearing more about this area of Dorico in the future, as it holds a lot of promise for playback as well as visual design.

NotePerformer Support

Concurrent with the release of Dorico 2, NotePerformer 3 by Wallander Instruments is being announced. If you are a Sibelius user, you may already be familiar with NotePerformer, and Dorico users can now take advantage of this amazing orchestral sound modeling software.

This is all just scratching the surface, of course. In the future, I hope to be able to provide more detail about some of these features, as well as areas I was unable to touch on in this post.

Here is an overview of the new features in Dorico 2 from Steinberg’s press release today:

  • Play video in sync with your project, add markers, and manipulate tempo to compose to picture
  • Edit tempo and MIDI controllers in Play mode with familiar graphical automation control
  • Add ossias, handle complex divisi writing for string sections, and change the number of staves used by an instrument with smart new staff management tools
  • Quickly write rhythmic slashes and bar repeats for rhythm section parts
  • Hollywood-style large time signatures draw attention to meter changes in action-packed film score cues
  • Quickly select, insert, and delete material with the new System Track
  • Powerful new tools for arrangers, including multi-paste, explode, reduce, and tools to scale existing notes into tuplets of any ratio
  • Playback of repeat structures, including repeat barlines and repeat endings
  • New popover for adding tremolos and repeat endings
  • Edit the appearance of playing techniques and notehead sets, and define new playback behaviors for playing techniques in VST Expression Maps

Visit the official Dorico 2 page for the official press release.

Learn more details about Dorico Pro 2 on the Steinberg Making Notes blog.

Read an in-depth Review of Dorico Pro 2 on the Scoring Notes blog.

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