What a gift the surprise update to Dorico 2 is! The new features in Dorico 2.1 are deep, as is usual for Dorico. They also extend previous capabilities to continue the maturing of playback and less usual notation styles.
Daniel Spreadbury’s blog post is filled with the details of the new features as well as the improvements to many others, several of which might well be called new features themselves. The blog also includes several short videos by Anthony Hughes which demonstrate the features and many improvements. In fact, the first video manages to show you the new features and many improvements in TWO MINUTES. After this incredible introduction, the following videos go into details with the same brilliant condensation, allowing you to see and hear a great deal without taking too much of your time.
Steinberg’s own page has a concise list of features and improvements if you want a quick overview. Another interesting source of information is the version history, available in PDF format from the Dorico 2.1 download page. Unlike most, this is a history that is well worth reading as it is more like an updated manual than the usual dry history pages of some other products. And as usual, the Scoring Notes review covers the update in depth.
So what does that leave me? Well, I’ll answer several questions I’ve had about Dorico and some wish lists as well.
Jazz musicians will love the depth of swing added to Dorico. You can choose how hard you want your music to swing either by choosing from standard settings or you can set your own level. Best of all, you can have the amount of swing depend upon the tempo, which is how swing is played in the real world. This is one of those little details that scream that a computer is playing your music, since constant swing of any duration can sound bizarre when the tempo gets really cooking. And of course Dorico lets you set where the amount changes and by how much, if you want. Of course the defaults are great too. This is just what a notation team needs: brilliant computing pros with great ears.
For those of you waiting for microtonal playback, it is here in a substantial way. This is not the old pitchbend trick that wreaks havoc on chords but actual microtonal shifting of each note. And it is implemented within the program, allowing you to choose from an array of menu options. No more messy workarounds. Once again, Scoring Notes does a great review of this feature in fine detail.
More subtle improvements include loading of instruments in the background rather than making you wait as they load. For those who prefer not to hear sound as they write there is a “Silence” playback option that does not load sounds, saving both time and RAM space.
Slash regions have been a great addition, and now they will play music underneath the slashes so that you can hear it as well as view the chord changes and rhythms.
Getting the update is a no-brainer for those with Dorico 2 (Pro or Elements).
The update also makes using Dorico much more compelling for jazz composers and arrangers as it gives them both sophisticated notation and playback. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has even glanced at Dorico that there is more to come, and jazz playback features are high on the list of upcoming additions. If you are still not convinced, download the free trial version and try it out. After all, using the program is more informative than all of our words about it.