Behind the scenes with Dorico, MuseScore, and a Finale font tool


Here in the NYC Music Services print shop we’re in full production mode, churning out music for Carnegie Hall’s incredible Link Up education program in which elementary school students learn to sing and play an instrument in the classroom and perform with a professional orchestra. More than 90 orchestras worldwide are participating in the program this year, and every single one of them will receive a 20 lb. box of music from our shop containing full orchestral scores and parts to a complete show.

Ready to ship: Some of the sets of music to The Orchestra Sings, a Link Up show produced by Carnegie Hall
Ready to ship: Some of the sets of music to The Orchestra Sings, a Link Up show produced by Carnegie Hall

This is the seventh year we’ve done all the music preparation and printing for this worthy program, featuring a mix of standard orchestral repertoire and original music by Thomas Cabaniss and others. As you might imagine, it keeps me quite busy during high time and it’s tough to fit much else in, including writing blog posts.

Not to worry, though — there have been plenty of goodies in many corners of the music notation field over the last few weeks. Here are some items from behind the scenes you’ll definitely want to know about, if you don’t already.

Behind the scenes with the Dorico team

Just published today is a video featuring Steinberg’s Dorico development team directly from their offices on Old Street in London. The seven-minute piece shows the team working and talking about their in-development program, eagerly awaited by many in the field. “Our small team,” Daniel Spreadbury explains in the video, “working with the support of our colleagues in Hamburg, has already achieved some things that will make users of this software really able to achieve stuff faster, more easily, more simply then they can in other programs, and we’re very proud of the level of achievement we’ve attained so far.”

Developing MuseScore 3.0: Making things easier

MuseScore 3.0, the next version of the popular free music notation software, is currently under development, but many new features are already being touted as making the program “smarter, faster, and easier than any MuseScore you’ve seen before,” according to a recent post on the official MuseScore blog.

Some of the improvements are things that users of the commercial scoring programs have long taken for granted, like showing a preview of the note duration on note entry:


Others, though, are truly innovative and impressive, like a PDF copying assistant that can recognize the basic structure in a PDF (systems, barlines, line breaks), provide a blank score matching those specifications, and synchronize it visually with the PDF, making it easy to transcribe what you see on the right into the empty measure on the left, as demonstrated in this video:

Music font comparisons and upcoming Finale plug-ins from Elbsound Studio

Over at Robert Puff’s Of Note blog, developer, arranger and engraver Jan Angermüller has published a lengthy post detailing his online music font comparison tool. The tool has more than 150 fonts in its database and can quickly be used to do an A/B comparison between two different music fonts with the click of a mouse, using four different music examples.

The Music Font Comparison tool
The Music Font Comparison tool

What’s exciting about this project is that it was the spin-off of a powerful Finale plug-in that Jan is working on called Perfect Layout, which is being promised for release sometime later this year. According to the description on the site, Perfrect Layout “optimizes the page layout in the score and all parts of a Finale document with one click. It includes more than 90 features of standard music layout tasks from cue note handling through collision elimination to spacing and part optimization.”

More new features in the next version of Finale

Over the past few months, MakeMusic has been slowly revealing what the next version of Finale will look like. Today, notation product manager and senior editor Mark Adler wrote on Finale’s official blog that the next Finale, known as version 25 and slated for availability later this summer, will have better support for large time signatures in scores without cumbersome workarounds in the parts.

Dashed slurs which take on the contour of a normal slur (as opposed to the kind currently available in Finale, which only support dashed slurs of uniform width) will also be possible, Mark said.


Updated at 2:08 pm with today’s news from the Finale blog.


  1. Isaac Weiss

    Hi Philip,

    Just a note regarding the shadow note with mouse input in MuseScore 3: it’s not quite correct to say that “users of the commercial scoring programs have long taken [it] for granted.” To this day, Finale’s stem always goes up: ;-)

    Thanks for the mention!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Isaac!

  2. Max Tofone

    Thanks Philip for this update…

    I am wondering how MuseScore is equipped for playback. Does it allow to use third party sample libraries?

    Thanks in advance…

    1. Isaac Weiss

      MuseScore 2.0.3 (the current version) supports the SoundFont format and has limited support for SFZ libraries; the next version will have full SFZ support, too. Others can be connected via JACK audio, but that’s a hassle.

      1. Max Tofone

        Thanks Isaac for your kind feedback on MuseScore playback through SFZ libraries.

  3. Bob Zawalich

    I enjoyed the video tour of the Dorico office. Thanks, Philip!

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