Dorico 3.5 Update

Today, May 20, 2020, Steinberg is announcing Dorico 3.5. So far they have posted a few videos on their YouTube channel, but at 9:00 am EDT (or 6:00 am if you live on the west coast of North America!) they will unveil the whole thing.

So far the most useful and desired features added seem to be the vast improvement to the VST plug-in playback capabilities. These are truly stunning and should make scores play back much more naturally.

The other is a search field for drop-down and other menus that have too many choices to find the desired one quickly. Now you can search to find what you are looking for. Yes, this is much like the Feature Browser in Band-in-a-Box, but in this case rather than being global, it applies to a single set of options.

If you can, tune in to watch this announcement live. If you have not yet subscribed, go to YouTube and search for “Dorico channel”. If you can’t watch it live, I’m sure the video will be archived there to watch later.


Now that I’ve seen the presentation I’m even more impressed. Wow! They barely got through the MAJOR new features in the one-hour demo with John presenting and Daniel answering questions in the comments section.

I cannot hope to cover even all that they covered in the official announcement so I’ll give you the highlights from my point of view. You should still watch the archived announcement demo on YouTube here.


We guitarists really lucked out with this update! For starters, we can add rhythm to TAB parts now, so you don’t have to switch between staves to play. You can show tapping with a “T” and also with dots. The search option I mentioned earlier can help find the guitar options. and it is a “sticky” search so that you keep the options you searched for on the screen to work with them. Alt-8 brings up the search dialog, appropriate to where you are.

Bends play back using pitch bend. Dorico 3.5 automatically creates the playback bend, but you can edit it as well, drawing with the pencil tool for really fancy bends. Double bends also display and play back too. You can use the popover to choose bends, scoops and other whammy bar techniques, including adding text such as “w/ bar”.

In Layout option you can “show chord diagrams at start of flow” and they show up automatically in the order that they appear in the song. You can edit all of these for fingerings, size, and even add different versions of the same chord. This is a great feature to keep your songs from becoming cluttered.

Note Entry

You can now enter pitch before duration (as opposed to the normal Dorico duration before pitch). The shortcut for this is “K”, and it allows you to hunt around for the note that you want, and then choose it and give it a duration. You can even do this with chords. It’s a very handy feature for composition or for transcribing by ear, and it is most useful with a MIDI keyboard.

Global vs. Local Settings

You can now enter local settings, say to make a change to a part that will not show up in the score. This could be a comment, moving an object for easier reading for the player, and so on. It was asked for and has been provided.

Playback Improvements

There are too many improvements here to list them all, but one of the most important is Mutual Exclusion Groups. Here you list techniques that cannot be played at the same time, such as arco and pizzicato for strings. This allows other techniques to be played together, for example pizz. and con sordino.

Expression maps are probably the most asked-for feature in Dorico, and there are great improvements in Dorico 3.5. The default expression map included in Dorico is for Halion SE which comes with it. However, other sample libraries such as NotePerformer and Garritan provide different playing techniques and options. Because there are so many libraries, and different options even within libraries, Dorico 3.5 lets you create your own expression maps for the libraries you own.  The example in the announcement video has an excellent demonstration of choosing shorter note samples for shorter note values. Since many sample players use one long note sample, they sound great with longer notes, but tend to “bleed” notes together in short note values  (say sixteenth-note) passages. If your library has different notes values to choose from, Dorico lets you choose a short value for a particular value of duration.  This is shown in the announcement video at the 14:53 mark. Quite a difference!

Figured Bass

If you use figured bass your dreams have come true with Dorico 3.5 since it has tons of new features! You can now enter virtually any style possible. You can set these easily in the score or with the popover. Dorico 3.5 will even calculate the proper figured bass for you if you give it the name of the chosen chord! It will even automatically transpose if you change the bass note. You can add hold lines as well, if you use them.

Having said that Figured Bass could cover an entire session on its own, John suggested checking out the Scoring Notes blog, which had a preview version of 3.5 and has a lot more information on Figured Bass (although even the team there said they would need another post to cover all the changes).

And More …

Just some more of the new features:

You can choose different colours or gradients for each mode to remind you where you are.

You can export parts of a piece as graphic; just choose a “slice” (any section of the visible screen) and export it with all sorts of graphic options.

There is now an option for “Hollywood style” final pages, which adds blank staff lines to fill the page.

There are more option for slur positioning, especially when a slur goes past the end of the current line. You can also get rid of some backgrounds if things get too cluttered.

Musicxml has many more features included for both export and import.

Some Indian Drum sounds are now included, as well as some others, in the application.


The Cost

I have only scratched the surface of the new features in Dorico 3.5, and with so many major improvements it has to be a paid update. I realize that times are tight for many people, especially musicians, but watch the video as well as Anthony Hughes’ other videos on the Dorico channel on particular features before you make your decision. There are a variety of prices for the three versions of Dorico, as well as educational pricing.

Much more information on individual features, as well as comparisons of versions and costs are on the Steinberg Dorico page here. The most expensive price for updating Dorico Pro from 3.x is $60 (US), so this is hardly a “money grab” from Steinberg.

My opinion is that Dorico 3.5 is well worth the update price, but feed your family and pay the rent first, and if you have anything left over this is a great choice for any musician.


Band-in-a-Box 2020 for Mac … WOW!

I reviewed Band-in-a-Box 2019 for Mac less than a year ago and, being an “annual-update-skeptic” wondered about reviewing it again so soon. No need to wonder — Band-in-a-Box 2020 for Mac is a fantastic leap forward!

Band-in-a-Box 2020  Box

Of course we can expect all sorts of additional RealTracks and instruments and styles, and there are many!, but the additions this year are so focused on truly upping your musical game that it seems almost like a new product. And it replaces the need for some other software and hardware, which I will get to but for now it seems like “Good-bye” to my Digitech Vocalist Live 4 harmony generator.

And before I go any further (in case you stop reading and decide to just buy it) I have to add that my online chats with Sales Support were some of the most pleasant interactions I have ever had with a vendor, even BEFORE it became obvious that I was a reviewer! Amidst ever more shattered nerves than usual, especially for support workers, I was able to have all of my questions answered politely and correctly (even a few moronic ones) and had all of my issues resolved before the chat had ended. Support such as this is rare but it seems to be a feature of the BiaB “family”, as I will mention later with my comments on Stelios Panos, a transcriber of great jazz performances for, and reseller of Band-in-a-Box products.


One of the best, most crucial additions is the Feature Browser. Crucial because there are so many new features that even experienced users are liable to need a reminder sometimes, and this is much more. It begins with a list of features from which you can choose, or you can type one in. It tells you the basic information about the feature you enter with buttons to take you to the manual page for that feature and also a video button if it is one of the features that has a video for it.  It also displays the Tool Bar on which it is found, its Hot Key if there is one, where it is on the Main Window (if it’s there), and other ways to launch it. If it has its own window with options and other choices, this is displayed as well.

But that’s not all. You can choose the type of features you are looking for by entering, say, “guitar”. This gives you all features that relate to the guitar. Or “video” to find all features that have a video on them.

Getting to the Feature Browser is easy too. If the chord window is open, just type “/” and Enter, instead of a chord. Or, with the Main Window click on the “?” button in maximized view, or in the Misc tab if in Compact view.

This is a terrific feature for a program with so many great features. We tend to know those that we use the most, but sometimes forget about those that could make our work easier or improve our music. Plus you no longer have to feel guilty for not reading the manual.

Try this yourself by calling it up, typing chord, then adding “builder” for the “chord builder” feature to really show what it can do.


Cmd-click or right-click on track button in the mixer > Select RealTracks > Find Best Sub. Not only do you get a long list of possible RealTrack substitutes, but the best ones are close to the top. Each works well with the whole song, but gives you different ways to explore it with different  musical styles and genres, especially if you pick a different player. However, even choosing the same player gives you insight into the subtle changes that can be used by the same person in a different performance but retaining their personal style.

You can even change to a RealTrack if the current track doesn’t have one.  Here you can choose a RealTrack, and choosing “All” gives you a bunch of new options to change even the type of instrument, and I really like the option to choose a family of instruments so that you can try out, say, all sorts of different guitars for a part (and there are a lot of guitars). You can even open an Artist Bio to learn about the player, and once in that browser you can choose any artist to learn more about them. Just one more example of the enhanced usability that has been added throughout this entire release.

Drag-and-Drop File Opening

I particularly like the drag-and-drop file opening, which simplifies all the choices if you just want, say, to load a basic MIDI file to start working on it. Not just BiaB files are supported, but audio, MIDI, and more. If you have a lot of files and need to search for the one you want, it’s nice to be able to just drag it into the app. This improves your workflow and lowers your blood pressure.

Multi-Window Display

Having more than one window open can be a real time-saver. Using the new multi-window display you can easily enter barlines in the audio window with the chord window still open. The demo of this process is particularly interesting, at just before the 27:00 mark of the BB2020 for Mac video referenced earlier. You can enter barlines to fix tracks that were not recorded with a click track by entering the correct spot for a few barlines. I won’t transcribe the process here, but I urge you to watch the video to see how easy it is to correct the timing of a song, as well as to find out how far the tempo changes over time (a lot of performers speed up over the course of an exciting song, or slow down in a bluesy one). Of course, you may want just a little deviance which gives a more human feel to some tracks, while others really do call for a “metronomic” beat. This is especially helpful for tightening up quick demos or just a band’s bad days’ work.

Track Thickening

One standard audio recording trick is to have multiple copies of a single track to give it a “thicker” sound. For example, many singers use double-tracking to make their voices sound better. John Lennon disliked this finicky process so much in the pre-digital age that the EMI engineers created ADT (Artificial Double-Tracking) to create a second copy of the original recording, slightly different by speeding up and slowing down slightly. Like the more modern digital recording studios, Band-in-a-Box now lets you use multiple copies of the same RealTrack on a single track, thickening it further by changing the panning of each (and usually lowering the volume as well). You can even add a different, related RealTrack for greater authenticity. I really like the demo that uses the _GLORY style thickened, as shown in the video on BB2020 for Mac.  The soloist really adds to the depth and realism of the choir.

Note that the video was adapted from the Windows version that has been on the PG Music site for a while now, and there are a few references to Windows that creep in here and there. Remember to substitute Command-click (or right-click) for Ctrl-click, and Finder for Windows Explorer. The folders mentioned are correct,  at least those that I have double-checked.

Thickening is really an extended application of the “Medley” feature where several instruments could “take turns” on one track; now they can play all together.

There are several different ways to start and use thickening:

1) pick a style that uses it (often with “thickened in the name)
2) pick a track from the RealTrack picker that has it applied to it
3) apply it yourself to any RealTrack that you like

There are great additions for blues and other styles with thickened horns forming sections in some truly great styles.

Guitar Goodies

Many of the new features are particularly useful for guitar and some are specific to it. For example, you now have FOUR different views of the Fretboard Window: the regular right-handed one, the new left-handed view, the student view (as if you are sitting across from your teacher looking at their fretboard), and the student view for a left-handed guitarist. 

Jazz guitarists will love the new Rhythm Changes and Jazz Blues RealTracks, the two most important progressions for any jazz player. Combine this with Find Best Sub and you have a serious jazz guitar learning environment.

Other genres are not skimped on. There are great 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s rock guitar styles, and the low-tuned metal styles are amazing with some thickening added to them. Double that for baritone guitar! And many of the new Country and Old-Time Americana styles will open your ears and styles to different and even “exotic” stringed instruments. And speaking of exotic, there are also new Latin American “island” styles and instruments for authentic Latin grooves including soka, merengue, and more. (But personally, I was most impressed by the new Blues RealTracks that really kick it. Maybe it’s my age showing?)

Eliminate Note Overlap

Better control of overlapping notes is vital for getting a true guitar sound. In this version, if you have different guitar strings on different channels you can stop notes on the same string from overlapping but leave notes on different strings ringing through. Fingerstyle players will now be able to accurately write and hear Chet Atkins-style “banjo-roll” runs, while any stylist can combine arpeggios with single-line parts and have the strings ring appropriately. A great addition.

Enhanced Notation Editing

While previous versions had the N hotkey for adding notes, the new M hotkey allows the addition of harmony to an existing note. The note is first presented as a 3rd above, but can be changed using the up / down arrow keys. The R hotkey lets you choose a rest.

So Many More Great Features

The program now automatically checks the key signature and warns you if your song material doesn’t match that key.

Files can now be saved as .xml, .mxl (compressed format), and .musicxml. This last one, musicxml, is particularly useful for guitarists, saving hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides.

The intro can now be just drums, or just bass and drums and the notation will reflect that.

You will also be impressed by the larger range of singer-songwriter styles that will really fire your imagination.

Multi-Riffs is now available in the full Band-in-a-Box (previously it was just in the plug-in). This creates 7 different “takes” of a section or entire part (like an automated version of a Logic “Takes folder”). These can be used to find the most suitable one, or combined (comped) to make a “best” version from parts of each.

Audio time-stretching has been enhanced to give much more realistic sound easier.

Chord Search has several enhancements such as letting you choose the level of exactness for your progression.

There are also enhancements to chord search,, and many enhancements and additions to RealDrums including many more notated ones.

Several user requests have been incorporated as well, including: drag from mixer to drop station; new options for bit depth and sample rate (as well as in main render dialog); customized track are shown with an “=”, settings in style are ignored for these as well; bar settings dialog lets you change them from within the dialog; new content is displayed when you start the program, with the option to download it before you get into your work flow, and many more.

BiaB Plug-in

The Band-in-a-Box Plug-in is still free with BB2020 and, of course, improved. It works pretty much like BiaB in your DAW, where you can drag the tracks you create in it into the DAW and process them there. You can harmonize in the plug-in and drag back to DAW either a track generated in the plug-in or its harmony in 3rds, 6ths, or both.

But you don’t have to drag any tracks into the DAW to hear them. You can play the music from the plug-in along with the tracks in the DAW merely by sync’ing them!

If you are one of the MANY fans of Stelios Panos, or are a jazz guitarist interested in the Jazz Guitar Masters, check out his “Django-in-a-Box” web site where you can find special deals on bundles of his transcriptions with Band-in-a-box for sale, as well as a page of videos that demonstrate several of his transcriptions as well as display their usage of various features in BiaB.On top of this, you get Skype support after buying a bundle from Mr. Panos! Special bundles that include ALL of the Jazz Greats  transcriptions (including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Louis Armstrong)are on this page, while a special “guitarists only” set that includes even the recent transcriptions of Johnny Smith and Tal Farlow is here. If you have any more questions, need support, or just want to thank Stelois Panos for his outstanding work you can contact him here.

IN SUMMARY: Band-in-a-Box 2020 is a huge advance over even BB2019, with easier to use, more powerful features that give you more information while creating more musical results. You have never had more control of more features which are now much easier to find. The move forward with this version is astonishing. Again … WOW!

My very highest recommendation. Just upgrade! Or if for some strange reason you don’t have it yet, BUY THIS ONE! It will change your musical life!

Stelios Panos – Johnny Smith & Tal Farlow

In my previous post I remarked that Pierre Bensusan never disappoints. The same can be said about Stelios Panos, whose passion for precise transcription of the music of jazz masters keeps their music alive and available for others who want to learn this art. His is a true contribution for all jazz players.

Stelios’ latest collection includes  45 songs/solos by Johnny Smith and 37 Tal Farlow songs/solos for Band-in-a-Box users. This is crucial, since it provides a more complete, immersive experience than any other software. You can hear the transcriptions on excellently sampled instruments with RealTracks while following along with the music in Notation, Notation with TAB, Chords, or on the Guitar Fretboard! I’ve never heard of any other software that comes close to this.

Note that along with the songs there are also several alternate solos from other years. Since we are dealing with jazz, several of the songs were performed (and are available) with different solos in different years. These document the players’ style as well as their changes over time.

The Johnny Smith section highlights his smooth style that made him so beloved, starting with his all-time classic Walk, Don’t Run. This was then covered by Chet Atkins, who actually asked for Smith’s permission to cover it in person. Chet’s version was then the basis for the version that the Ventures took to #2 on the charts! It’s hard to pick from just a few from the standout list of songs here, but there are jazz classics like My Funny Valentine, My Romance, and Swingin’ Shepherd Blues;  folk songs such as Black is the Color (of My True Love’s Hair) and Shenadoa [sic]; movie themes (Exodus); popular songs (Yesterday); and even classical pieces like Maid with the Flaxen Hair and Romance de los Pinos. And, of course, Johnny Smith’s “signature tune” Moonlight in Vermont.

Complementing Smith’s work is the Tal Farlow part of the collection. While both guitarists share a sophisticated sense of harmony, Farlow tended to be more adventurous. Combined with his blazing single-line playing, this gave his playing an enormous air of excitement that few musicians have matched. This is all the more remarkable since he was a self-taught guitarist who learned while listening to some of the jazz greats on the radio at work as a sign painter. Some of these transcriptions may be a bit daunting, especially for players with smaller hands. Farlow earned the nickname “The Octopus” thanks to his huge hands which not only gave him a huge reach but also moved with blazing speed. His style owes something to fingerstyle guitarists as he played the two lowest strings with his thumb, reserving these for a bass counterpoint to his melodies on the upper four strings (said to be due to his starting with a mandolin tuned like a ukulele!) and also tapping on the guitar for percussive effects. Whatever extra work it takes to learn Farlow’s tunes is more than repaid in your rapid advance in technique and sophistication.

Whether the chordal sections of Smith’s work or the blazing solo lines of Farlow, we have to appreciate the dedication of Stelios Panos in his careful editing of the fingerings which he places on a separate TAB staff (which you may have to turn on in either the Options for the Notation Window or Printing in Band-in-a-Box). Too many transcribers these days rely on the software to generate TAB, where the fingerings can be misleading to downright impossible.

Here’s an example of a software generated chord that I have seen a number of times (including in BiaB):

and a playable version:

You can imagine the hours and days it takes to proof-read all of the songs in a collection, so Stelios Panos deserves great credit for making his fingerings logical and playable. He takes as much care with the transcriptions, so you can be sure of getting the highest quality.

NOTE: This two-artist collection is meant for  Band-in-a-Box users only. (Unlike some previous sets, videos for non-users are no longer included.)

For more information on ALL Stelios Panos transcriptions and to BUY them go to

My highest recommendation for anyone with Band-in-a-Box.

Pierre Bensusan Book – Guitar Collection

Amazing coincidences do happen, so they are probably just coincidences. But they can still take us by shocking surprise.

To start at the beginning, when I was first studying classical guitar at university, a friend who had just returned from France brought me a record that “I had to hear to believe.” It was Pierre Bensusan’s first album, Près de Paris, recorded at the age of 16. I loved it on first hearing, and it is still one of my favourite albums. That was a long time ago, but I still take it out every 5 years or so and it strikes me again as wonderful as that first listen.

This time, after about 10 years, I listened to it on my iPod and was moved to get his first book “The Guitar Book” onto my stand and re-learn several of the songs. In the middle of the first song, I got a notice from Hal Leonard that Pierre had a new book out: “The Guitar Collection.”

Eerie? Maybe. Exciting? Definitely!

Pierre Bensusan never disappoints and his books are always more than mere transcriptions, although there are plenty of those: his entire Azwan album as well as pieces performed live. But there is much more in this fascinating book, which is divided into three parts.


This first part is devoted to music, the guitar, and technique. It is virtually several master classes. He discusses the guitar and its relation to the player in all aspects: playing, ear training, interpretation, singing, creating, improvisation, and much more. Any musician will learn a lot from this section alone, and by studying it seriously you will become a much better guitarist.

Pierre continues into DADGAD, its history as a tuning, and the artists that established it early on, before artists like Laurence Juber took it to higher and higher degrees of expressiveness. As  usual, he explains his own encounter with it and how it changed his style. The economy of this short section allows him to transmit large amount of information in few words. His writing all though the book is superb.

There follow a number of sections on technique covering position playing, fingering, specifics for the left and right hands, harmonics, and non-standard technique. He includes the important parts of theory that are crucial to understanding music and how to use them to “push the boundaries” and create your own style. This part ends with short sections on practicing, memorizing, and equipment. And we’re only up to page 40!


The second part contains “transcriptions of some performance pieces”. These are:

  • Chant De Nuit
  • L’alchimiste
  • Silent Passenger
  • Wu Wei
  • If Only You Knew
  • So Long Michael


Part three consists of transcriptions of Pierre’s album Azwan.

As usual, the transcriptions in notation and TAB are note-perfect and each one is well worth learning. For those of us who have, and cherish Pierre’s first book (and if you don’t have it, buy it!), there are no recipes in this book. But there are several great photographs and drawings, as well as explanations and comments on the songs. His comments are enlightening as to the inspiration for the song, or its meaning to the composer, and even the history of the area it is about or comes from. I won’t spoil the surprise, but we even get the derivation and meaning of Pierre’s last name, which is fascinating itself. (See p. 102 in your copy if you just can’t wait.)

This is yet another fantastic book from Pierre Bensusan, and even though it has been a long time since his first, it was well worth the wait. His advice is priceless and his transcriptions transcendent.

One final bonus, at least for me (and certainly others), is that the text of the “master class” parts are in both English and French, so for those of us wishing to improve our French this is a wonderful, painless way to do that. In particular, we can improve our vocabulary in music in general and the guitar in particular.

My highest recommendation.


And if you missed it, get this one too. You will never regret it!

Pierre B - book 1

UPDATE: For some reason comments are getting through today and thankfully so. A few of you (Michael M. you were FIRST) mentioned tunings. MOST of the songs in the new book are in DADGAD (at least one is in CADGAD), and the first book has several different tunings. I find these tunings exciting to learn and love the sound of them. Then again, I have one guitar that is ONLY tuned to DADGAD that I will retune to other tunings, and another only in standard tuning. I consider the time to learn DADGAD well spent, but it’s up to you. (A lot of us have time to learn things now, and you already know half of the strings – more if you use drop D tuning). I consider it yet another bonus if you haven’t tried other tunings, especially the beautiful ring of DADGAD.

COVID-19 Suggestions

By now I’m sure that most of you know about the pandemic that is sweeping our already-troubled world. All I can add to the information already out there is a few special thoughts for musicians.

I expect that you already know how to wash your hands properly, and if you don’t check for a video by your favourite musician and they probably have one along with one of their songs to sing while you wash. Remember to pay attention to the backs of your hands, especially your nails and UNDER your nails. Many of us use our nails to play and we don’t always think of what might be under them. I’ve even heard of musicians avoiding washing their nails for fear of softening them. That’s a small concern compared to potentially getting deathly ill or worse, killing someone else by your negligence.

Remember that soap “kills” the virus by breaking up the fatty (lipid) layer that surrounds the bad stuff. Of course viruses are not alive so they are not really killed; they are disassembled into harmless bits. Soap does this even better than alcohol, so clean your surfaces with soapy water (except for the electrical ones or screens, right?).

Sharing instruments is a bad idea right now. So is trying out new ones (or used ones) for the time being. If you get strings in plastic packages online it’s a good idea to clean the outside of each pack with soapy water, then rinse and dry. It sounds overboard but after seeing people working with fast food sneezing on it, I have to think that hygiene is not uppermost at places that don’t deal directly with the public and don’t think about passing on viruses just by shipping stuff. This is a special problem now that we have fast delivery with little time for the virus to just “die off”.

Just please be careful. No one is immune from this disease, there is no cure (yet), and you can have it and pass it one before you have any symptoms. I don’t want any of you to die, or even get sick, from COVID-19. And if you are in a group with a low infection rate that doesn’t mean that you cannot contract it, get sick, and die. Statistics deal with large numbers of people. YOU are 100% of you.

And if you get bored in self-isolation, or if you just like humour, Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics (SMBC) has made virtually ALL of his e-books available FOR FREE at

Thank you Zach Weinersmith for your generosity at a critical time. Laughter really helps.

Dorico Releases version 3.1.10 update

Dorico has just release version 3.1.10, a free update for Dorico 3 users. As Daniel Spreadbury tells us, this is pretty much a “bug fix” update, “a modest update focused on fixing bugs, with little to speak of in the way of brand new functionality.”

There are a few additions to the clef popover, and a unison trill that is handy for timpanists, but little else new. You can see all of Daniel’s announcement here.

Perhaps the most exciting news is that this is the last  update of version 3 (at least that is planned) and the Dorico team are hard at work on version 4.0!

If you skipped Daniel’s announcement page, you can download the update here. Don’t forget the Version History for a complete list of changes.

MuseScore 3.4.2 Update

If you have not been using MuseScore regularly you may have missed the update to 3.4, and the further update to version 3.4.2.

This version requires macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or higher (or Windows 7 or higher).

The 3.4.2 update includes a few fixes that may or may not apply to your music. The whole list is here. In any case, it’s worth downloading the update to stay current.

Finally, if you are not using Dorico, I’d recommend MuseScore. Now that Dorico has a free SE version, you can use both, choosing which one is more appropriate for your current project. But while SE is a restricted version of Dorico Pro (and Elements), MuseScore is the full package. This is a great time for free music software!

WaveLab 10 Mastering Courses

Would you love to master your own recordings but are concerned about the learning curve of the software? Steinberg is now recommending two courses by WaveLab Academy that focus specifically on WaveLab 10, a program that I heartily recommend. WaveLab 10 can not just save you a ton of cash — although it will — but it will also put you in control of the mastering process. No more “I paid all that money for THIS???”

The most disheartening sentence I heard from a reader who paid a big name studio big bucks to master their song was “I think I can hear a difference”!

I have not taken either course so I can’t say how good they are, but considering that Steinberg themselves are recommending them, I’d say they are probably really good. There are separate courses for Elements and Pro versions. The Elements course lasts for three weeks, while the Pro course goes for five weeks. Each is a combination of pre-prepared streamed video and live sessions where you can ask questions and get immediate answers. These live sessions are recorded so that you can re-watch them later.

You can get more information and register here.

If you have WaveLab, or are considering learning to master recordings, you should definitely check this out.



More on Dorico 3.1 and SE

Illness is so inconvenient for getting things out soon enough. FIRST, there is a very rare DORICO SALE going on until January 23, 2020 that you need to know about if you don’t already own it. You will save 30% on any single-user Dorico Pro 3 or Dorico Elements 3 new license, update, or upgrade.” See the Steinberg site here for more details.

Not having seven top-notch reviewers to work with, I urge you to visit our friends at Scoring Notes to get a full review of all the features in this major update. Here I will concentrate on the many new and improved features for guitarists which are well worth the wait! Many of the new features and improvements apply to the guitar’s notation and tablature but I will start with the specifically guitar-oriented ones.

Chord Diagrams

Chord Diagrams have new functionality that allows you to label a chord as you wish, even if it lacks the root and third. This is handy if you have other instruments playing them and want a rich sound. In this example (the same notes as the Scoring Notes example but from a current song of mine, really) I have a Dm11 chord but the bass has a riff that is heavy on the root and 3rd so the guitar has room for the 7th, 9th, 11th and the 5th on top. When I enter it into Dorico 3.1 this is what I get:

Note that the TAB is what I want, not the chord diagram. I used Engrave Mode to edit the chord diagram to match the TAB:

As Doug Gibson points out in his video, this involves an extra step that, while simple, would be nice if Dorico handled it automatically. I expect to see this in a future update. Note that this newly-created version of Dm11 shows up in orange, visually reminding me that it is non-standard.

One other nice touch is Dorico showing you which notes are missing, just in case:


In answer to several readers’ questions, now “yes, you can use T to finger the thumb on those bass strings”! Simply start fingering as usual (Shift+F) and type “t” or “T”. The thumb can be used for any string, or a combination of strings. I even got it to cover the whole Dm11 used above although in real life that would be quite a challenge.

Engraving Options now allows for collision avoidance for fingerings to the left of notes by placing them in spaces (where possible) which makes reading much easier.


Enough new guitar “ornaments” have been added to warrant their own section. In addition to the existing bend we now have “Bend with Vibrato Bar” (i.e. “whammy bar”), “Vibrato Bar Scoop”, “Vibrato Bar Dip”, and a “Vibrato Bar Line” that shows the length of the effect.



One very handy new feature is called “Local Chords” and it allows for different instruments to have different chords. This is something I have been hoping for but not expecting, so it was a doubly welcome surprise. Even for duplicating the same chord with one guitar in Standard Tuning and another in Nashville Tuning is common enough to want this feature. It is handier in building up complex chords in, say, a guitar duo where the preceding voicing for Dm11 might call for a more standard Dm7 or Dm9 in the other guitar. In that case we might even just name the earlier chord Am7 and the new one Dm7 or Dm9.

Speaking from a purely guitarist’s point of view, this opens new harmonic vistas of real originality. And it’s easy to do. Just call up the chord popover as usual (Shift-Q), type the local chord name, and end with Alt-Return. If you want to input a series of local chords you can “lock” the chord popover by typing Alt-L while it is open and your chords will now all be local; return to global chords by typing Alt-G into the popover. If you are alternating between local and global chords, hold Alt to switch to the other mode.


The free version of Dorico is well worth looking into, especially if you are working mainly with single voice songs, perhaps with a partner singing harmony. If you have used the Dorico Elements free trial version then SE will be familiar to you, except that you are held to 2 voices rather than 12.

Another great addition is the ability for Dorico Pro to run as either Dorico Elements or Dorico SE if you want to try them out, or if you are running a class that uses SE or Elements. To launch Dorico Elements, hold down Alt when opening the program. For Dorico SE hold down Command (or Ctrl on Windows).

I’ve just skimmed the surface of the new additions to Dorico in this fantastic update to 3.1. Remember to check out the very rare DORICO SALE going on until January 23, 2020 to save 30% on any single-user Dorico Pro 3 or Dorico Elements 3 new license, update, or upgrade.” See the Steinberg site here for more details.

For more information on Dorico 3.1, see the Steinberg Dorico site and for a terrific post on the new features be sure to check out the  Scoring Notes site.

Dorico Introduces FREE version SE and 3.1 Update

Dorico continues to delight us by introducing a new version, Dorico SE. This absolutely free version is limited to one or two players, but allows beginning composers to create great-looking scores.

Their press release tells us more:

Dorico SE brings a number of unique capabilities to free music notation software for the first time, particularly in the area of sound and playback, including:
• Sequencer-style Play mode, complete with piano roll editor, velocity editor, automation lanes for MIDI controllers, and a unique new dynamics lane that allows tweaking of the playback effect of dynamic markings written in the score.
• Support for all VST 3 instrument and effect plug-ins, in addition to the included HALion Sonic SE 3 sampler with more than 1,000 production-ready sounds, and a suite of 30 effects plug-ins.
• A full audio Mixer, with sends and inserts for effects, and a global effects channel.
• The same award-winning, high-precision audio engine found in Steinberg’s leading digital audio workstation, Cubase.
• Easy export of audio files in MP3 and WAV format.

You can download the FREE Dorico SE as well as the 3.1 update for those already using Dorico from the same web site here.

Learn about Dorico SE and how to use it on the Dorico YouTube channel here.

Stay tuned for more news!