DORICO – Steinberg’s Eagerly-Awaited Notation Software

Dorico is the big music news today (May 17, 2016)! Steinberg has announced the name of their software as well as its availability in the 4th quarter of 2016.

Dorico is the latest, but is it the greatest? Certainly Steinberg thinks so (with good reason, which I will get to), claiming that is “redefines the gold standard in scoring software.” I can’t comment on that because I have not seen it, but I have read Daniel Spreadbury’s blog Making Notes and the attention to detail as well as their design for modern processors and operating systems is just amazing. Imagine dedicating one expert to creating the code for note ties for a year! Lest you think that might be overkill, imagine the power in a CPU with four cores (pretty standard today) where three of them are rarely if ever used by an application. I for one tend to get frustrated by this when my “state-of-the-art” program keeps me waiting while what should be a background process ties up my whole machine.

Am I getting off topic here? Not at all. We need a new paradigm of software development that combines features with speed, ease-of-use, and great end results. This is what the Dorico team has been working at. We need software that creates great-looking scores “right out of the box” as well as being customizable in every feasible way. Again, this is a task the Dorico team has set for themselves. Finally, we need software that has been built with a timeframe that allows it to be driven by a standard of excellence, not by artificial deadlines of marketing. That Steinberg allowed a brilliant team the time they needed to create such a product demonstrates a commitment to quality that is rare in the world of software and deserves the highest praise.

Of course Steinberg had good reason to place their trust in the Dorico team. Led by the brilliant Daniel Spreadbury, this is the core of the group that made Sibelius the state-of-the-art in music notation software years ago, only to be “downsized” by Avid with their acquisition of the software. Steinberg wisely scooped up the team and gave them the freedom to create a new “gold standard” and they seem to have done that and more. As a composer, musician, and computer scientist, I am in a somewhat unique position to view Dorico’s development and from my perspective (from reading Making Notes ) my appreciation has moved from admiration to amazement.  Dorico seems to have solved problems that its competitors have not even realized yet.This is not going to be a case of feature-matching between essentially similar products. With Dorico, Steinberg has introduced a new level of software that would require a complete rewrite of existing software to attempt to compete, a long process during which Dorico will no doubt continue to refine and progress.

Will it be popular? It took me four tries to get back on to the Dorico site this morning, so it looks like I’m not the only one looking to check out details. If you are at all interested in notation software, you must check out Dorico.


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