Dorico 30-day FREE Trial Released

True to their word, Steinberg has released a FREE 30-day trial package of Dorico that you can download from here.

For any orchestral composer, this program is a must to try. The number of options for virtually musical object can seem daunting at first, but gives you incredible power to express your music in the exact form that you want.

There are some things missing that will frustrate guitar players and composers: there is no tablature, nor chord symbols. I am assured that these will come in time, but they are non-trivial items to add to so complex a program.

You may find that the learning curve is somewhat steep due to the evolving state of the documentation. If you are new to Dorico, watch the short instructional videos that will give you an overview of the program and its five modes. Try working along with them to speed up your learning. You should check out the Dorico Help page when you get stuck. Finally, the Dorico user forum is extremely helpful with several of the Dorico team members very active in answering questions and resolving problems. I suggest that you join right away.

Have fun, and remember that learning any new software takes time, so go easy on yourself.


Dorico Update 1.0.10 RELEASED

Steinberg has released their first free update to Dorico. As usual, the Dorico team has provided much more than they promised, with over 200 improvements in this first of several free updates.

If you already own Dorico, you can download the update here.

Daniel Spreadbury has written a detailed blog post on both the new features plus about 100 bug fixes (!) in Dorico 1.0.10. You can read it here as well as watch his own video (almost 13 minutes long) explaining what’s new.

You might also want to check out Philip Rothman’s Sibelius blog where he shows examples of several of the improvements. I’ll be posting my review of Dorico soon, based on the state of it with this update installed.

Finally, the promised 30-day free trial of Dorico will be available on November 30. If you haven’t bought it yet, definitely download it!

Dorico’s First Update Coming Soon

With Dorico’s first free update due in less than a week, I spoke with Daniel Spreadbury to get the real facts on what we can expect it to contain. I also asked specifically about the questions that were most on your minds (from your emails and comments).

About this update, Daniel says: “Our 1.0.10 update is focused on fixing the most important bugs reported by our early customers, improving the performance of the software, and adding a handful of new features.”


To improve playback, VST Expression Maps will be supported, so we will hear the effect more expression marks.

A transposition dialogue will be added to transpose by a specific interval.

The ability to edit staff spacing directly in Engrave mode will be there.

Several performance enhancements will speed up certain problem areas as well as the program in general.

As with any version 1.0 software, there is a need for general bug fixes, and these will be integrated as well.

While not specifically addressed, we hope to see pitches sound as notes are selected; more options for selecting multiple objects; and sub-bracketing and sub-bracing.


By far the greatest number of you wanted to know about the manuals and if there would be tablature included in this update.

OK, the bad news first: there will be no tablature or chord symbols added in this first update due to the amount of time they will take to develop. We will definitely see them, but we don’t know when.

The good news is that the manual will be greatly enlarged, and continually updated as new features are added. As far as Daniel could say, the manual will be available in Japanese, German, Spanish, French, and Italian, as well as English. Because it is a work in progress, along with Dorico itself, it is unlikely that a PDF version will be available in the near future.


I still believe that Dorico will be the future of notation software. Several people have told me that they have completed non-trivial projects in Dorico with no problems. For them, the update will make it even better. Those of you who have written about doing lead sheets and guitar or bass with tablature will have to wait a bit longer, and either use whatever software you currently have (I’m using Sibelius 7.5 for these, although it is hardly bug-free!) or you can get a free copy of MuseScore 2.


Remember that this is Dorico’s first update, and that it has only been out for 6 weeks (or will have been when the update is released). Given that it has taken four years to get to its current state, it’s unrealistic to expect major additions just yet. The next few updates will give us a much better idea of where Dorico is headed. Meanwhile, learning its interface and getting comfortable with the different modes is valuable training.

Quality FREE Guitar Videos

A lot of guitarists and other “experts” have been putting out a series of videos that review gear, or teach technique, or give other fascinating facts. Some are better than others, some are just a matter of taste. A lot of them follow a formula that I mentioned earlier when talking about Jim Lill. The idea is to give away high quality videos, and then make some money by using patreon to sell memberships or sponsorships, as well as selling books, T-shirts, or other “merch.”

One of my very favourites is Phillip McKnight. He always seems to have the most interesting gear at hand, and he shows a great understanding of it from both musical and technical points of view. You can see the wide variety of topics he covers on his YouTube channel here.


Just some examples of what he covers besides his excellent gear reviews: How to Greatly Improve Your Telecaster’s Tone for $3; Guitar Pedal Hacks; What Guitar Amp Would I Buy for $500?; and one that surprised me and inspired to me to share this channel with you: Two Pedals that Every Bedroom Guitarist Should Have, which was actually sent to me from my friends at Guitar Player. (I would have guessed the Boss one — I use it myself — but the other was a pleasant surprise!)

Since Phillip has just changed the format of his video production scheduling, you should check out his update video here. Besides learning about his various activities, you can also win tickets to the January NAMM show. Well worth a look!


MuseScore Has Major News

I’ve featured a lot of news on Dorico on this blog (and I will have more exciting stuff soon), but I have not forgotten the FREE scoring program MuseScore. For those who don’t need the high-end state-of-the-art features of Dorico, MuseScore is an excellent alternative.


First, Dave Conservatoire features a free MuseScore Crash Course on their YouTube channel. So far there are 20 videos to show you everything from installing the program to adding multiple voices and much more.

Second, Mark Sabatella’s excellent guide Mastering MuseScore: Make beautiful sheet music with MuseScore 2 has been updated to ver. 2.0.3. You can get it from or


Finally, and most exciting, the MuseScore team has begun work on MuseScore 3. This is set to be a long-term project, adding “intelligence” to many of MuseScore’s functions, and should result in a pretty amazing product. You can follow the progress of MuseScore 3 on the MuseScore blog.

Yes, this idea of a development blog does remind me of Daniel Spreadbury’s terrific one for Dorico, and obviously the MuseScore team have learned a thing or two from him. Then again, it was Daniel who advised me to look into MuseScore for you folks in the first place, and from the responses I’ve received many of you love it.

Slate Takes On the Entire Recording Process

For those new to Slate Digital I’ll give a short history,  then the new software and hardware. If you are already familiar with Slate, scroll down to NEW SOFTWARE.


When I first wrote about Slate Digital they had begun marketing plug-ins that emulated analog recording gear well enough to fool the ears of some of the best engineers and producers in the business. In fact, it was Mixerman who gave me the heads-up on Slate, and since he had been so adamantly against using plug-ins I had to hear them for myself. I was amazed.

As they continued to produce more and more software, they also moved into hardware with their MTX/MTi touch screen controllers for the plug-ins so that their emulations were even easier to use than the original hardware. (In his book #Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent, Mixerman’s MTi console is virtually one of the characters, showing up at several key moments and always there in the background of his studio.)

Hardware continued to develop with the Virtual Microphone System, where a single mic and pre-amp is programmed to emulate some of the finest (and most expensive) mic & pre-amp combos in history, many no longer available commercially. Another dream-come-true for any studio owner.

As the plug-in list grew, Slate re-wrote the rules of selling plug-ins by selling subscriptions to EVERY plug-in that Slate makes, PLUS some of the finest plug-ins from other partners (their EVERYTHING Bundle).As of this writing, the price point has held at $14.99 per month for an annual licence; and $24.99 per month ONLY for months that you use the software; if you don’t use it some months, you don’t pay for it for those months.


Ever improving, this month Slate announced the VerbSuite Classics Digital Reverbs. By partnering wisely Slate is able to include “eight of the most popular professional digital reverbs from the past forty years” — some of which have never before been emulated — in a single plug-in. VerbSuite Classics uses LiquidSonics proprietary Fusion IR processing, which captures the actual tone of the modeled reverb and so “is able to reproduce the evolving character of modulating digital reverbs for the first time.”And since the EVERYTHING Bundle includes all updates and new plug-ins, bundle users have access to this suite of reverbs automatically and immediately. A similar set of Repeater Analog Modeled Delays is coming soon and will be available the same way.



The Slate Control is an analog monitoring device built as the “official monitor section of the new RAVEN MTX mk2, and the RAVEN MTi2.” It can be used as a standalone monitor control or be retrofitted into existing setups.



Slate has given the greatest gift to studio owners of all sizes by providing state-of-the-art processing and hardware at incredibly low prices.Their continual additions to the EVERYTHING Bundle makes it one of the greatest deals in all of music history!

What DORICO is, and is not (yet)

Thank you for all of your email (and even those who managed to sneak comments in via the spam filter). Since spam has been a problem on several blogs I’ve left comments turned off here. However, anyone can still use the email address that former Just Jazz Guitar readers have from my columns there: drdavejjg which is still up on gmail.

I had planned to do a review of Dorico, but due to an unavoidable delay and the proximity to the first update, I thought I should address some of your concerns first. While I do appreciate your concern about my sanity, I can assure you that Dorico is the new paradigm in music notation. The software is brilliantly written and the number of options sometimes defy belief. Still, it is not perfect (what is?) so let’s take a closer look at areas of concern.


By far the most concern I’ve heard is that the first release was “incomplete.” My take on this has consistently been that marketing will only wait so long for a product to sell. Those of you who have managed to avoid the corporate world may not know that departments are typically divided into cost centres and profit centres. Cost centres, such as Human Resources, cost the company money but are necessary expenditures, while marketing is a profit centre (if it doesn’t produce enough profit, goodbye company). Research and Development (R&D) is an odd combination of both. It is most often a cost centre, but is expected to come up with new products that will produce profit. The team that created Dorico was given 4 years to be a cost centre, an almost unheard of amount of time to develop a new product, especially given the talent in the group. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that the project was so close to completion of a viable first version that there was too much pressure to hold it back this close to the Xmas shopping season. What is included shows the power “under the hood” and also betokens very good things to come.


Dorico is undoubtedly missing features that most of us would like. Guitar and jazz articulations and tablature are the ones most of you have requested, and are also ones that seem to be high on the “to do list” for the Dorico team. In fact, many of these will likely be in the first of several free updates that should appear near the end of November.

Aside from that, Dorico’s developers have been incredibly forthcoming about missing features in release 1.0. It takes a great deal of confidence to be able to say we won’t have these features in the first release, and from the outcry over certain missing features we probably have a good idea of their current priorities. From what we have seen, I believe that we can expect these features to be as extraordinarily robust as Dorico has been. It is true that some people have found actual bugs in the software, but the ones that I have seen are pretty arcane. If you are not a computer science major, you may not know that it is mathematically impossible to test every possible route through a program, which means that unless it’s mindlessly simple, any program is bound to have unexpected problems (bugs) and Dorico has had fewer than any project of that complexity that I am aware of.

Finally, check out the list of features that Dorico contains, and note how many exist ONLY in Dorico and no other notation program.


There is a free trial version announced and said to be coming with the first update. I always think it is wise to try new software in a trial version if you are unsure of whether to buy it.


Although none of you have written about this, I saw some lively discussion of the copy protection of Dorico on their forum. First, with code this valuable I think it is naive to assume that they are going to make it easy to pirate. You can use it on one computer, or if you use the USB eLicenser “dongle” you can use it on up to 3 (I don’t even have three computers that I would use it on). I already have two dongles for programs from Slate Digital, Vienna Symphonic Library, and other high-end programs. Sure, they can be inconvenient, but if these companies didn’t make enough money to continue putting out new products we’d all lose, so for me the inconvenience isn’t even worth considering. I have a USB hub that I put the dongles on and leave it plugged in; it even adds more USB ports to my laptop.


The documentation that exists is very good and broad, but not very deep. It is also all in English. This is set to be rectified along with the first update. Obviously documentation can only be written after programming is complete, so the rush to market almost always leaves documentation lagging for a while. Dorico does provide enough resources to get a project completed, but it may take some time.

The System Requirements web page also has 7 short tutorials that are packed with information. Daniel Spreadbury does these himself, and they will get you up and running in less than 10 minutes (or about half an hour if you watch all 7, which is not really necessary just to start working). These tutorials are mostly overviews, and there is more in-depth information in the Dorico user forum, in  a thread titled “Frequently asked questions: try this thread first“. It is so helpful I printed a copy to a PDF file to have it on hand without needing to be online (although that means checking periodically for updates to it). The FAQ complements the tutorials very well. Finally, there is an online manual being started, but much of it is covered in either the tutorials or the FAQ, but it is worth checking out if you still have questions, or if you’d rather read than watch a video to learn. Again, this manual will be fleshed out and should be available in different languages by the end of November.

The forum is very useful because Daniel Spreadbury and members of the Dorico team are quite active in it. There is already a dedicated user base that discusses issues, problems, and solutions, so it is a very good place to check out for answers and just for ideas.


Dorico is an excellent program that still has some important features under development. If you need these features, then it makes sense to wait for the first update. If not, there is good reason to buy it now and start learning its interface. Even if you plan to stay with another program, I would urge you to try the free trial version to see what you are missing.

I will do a complete review of the program after the first update, which is a couple of weeks away.