Dorico 4.3 brings Key Editor power tools and chord symbol note generation


Today, Steinberg released Dorico 4.3, which adds a number of features, including more powerful controls in the Key Editor and a robust system for automatically generating notes on staves from chord symbols. Improvements in the areas of engraving, note input, and editing round out this update.

The corresponding update to Dorico for iPad 2.5 is also available now. The iPad update primarily addresses some compatibility issues with iPadOS 16.1, fixes some bugs specific to certain iPad models, and adds a few iPad-specific improvements.

Key Editor power tools

The Key Editor, a MIDI piano roll-style interface similar to what you might use in a sequencing application, was first introduced in Write mode with the launch of Dorico for iPad in July 2021 (only last year!) and was later brought to the desktop with Dorico 4.0 in January 2022. Each successive update added more useful tools to this editor, which you can work with in the lower “zone” of Write mode simultaneous with editing your score in a traditional notation view. In today’s release, the final feature update to Dorico 4, the Key Editor gets even better.

The Key Editor in Dorico 4.3 is now more flexible than it has ever been in the past. Instead of seeing only limited sets of parameters at a time, users can now opt to see as many different lanes of MIDI data as they want by using the new Add Editor button that appears in the bottom left corner. This allows you to see and edit the automations for related MIDI parameters of an instrument like velocity or any MIDI Control Change (MIDI CC) at the same time. You can also add a tempo automation track to the interface as well.

Key Editor with added editor
Add as many MIDI parameter tracks as you want with the new Add Editor button.

If you’re going to be working with MIDI in this level of detail in Dorico, you’ll also likely want to take advantage of the ability to copy and paste your lovingly crafted automation curves from one instrument to another, which can be a huge time saver for large ensembles. For example, the velocity curve for the violin 1, violin 2, and viola parts are likely to track one another very closely, so it would be easy to draw the curves in one instrument, copy them to the other, and use that as a starting point for any further tweaks.

Along the lines of moving between instruments, you can now also easily switch between instruments via a track selector in the Key Editor, rather than only seeing the instrument that is currently selected in the score. You can even see MIDI events for multiple instruments by toggling the lock icon and selecting them. From here, you can even edit the MIDI data for multiple instruments simultaneously. When multiple instruments are selected, you can make one of them the “primary” instrument of the group.

Key Editor with Multiple Instruments
View and link MIDI data from a collection of different instruments.

The lock is accessible via the command Toggle Key Editor Locked View, and if you find yourself working with it a lot, you can assign a keyboard shortcut or alias to it.

This works the other way, too: make a selection across multiple staves in your score, and invoke the Lock Key Editor to Selection command to open the Key Editor with the selected tracks locked in view.

There are more user interface and user experience improvements to be found in today’s update to the Key Editor.

It’s no longer required to switch the active section between the piano roll and the expression and CC editors; instead, all editors are operational at all times. You can now load any number of editors into the lower portion of the Key Editor and freely resize them, so it’s possible to load editors for velocity, dynamics, and any number of CC lanes as you may need.

Once you’ve done that, it’s possible to save this configuration and use it in other projects.

Editing in the piano roll has also become easier, as Dorico will now identify the type of edit you’re intending to make, and prevent unwanted changes of pitch or rhythmic position.

To help speed things along, you can use key commands to switch among the various Key Editor tools: Alt+Shift+1-6, with 1 through 6 corresponding to each tool. To zoom horizontally within the Key Editor, use G and H; to zoom vertically, use Ctrl/Command+Shift+G and H.

These are all different affordances for large projects with a lot of instruments and lot of detailed MIDI tweaks. This the kind of automation (in the workflow sense, not the MIDI sense) and batch processing power tools that have become a Dorico specialty.

Interpreting chord symbols (?!)

The other banner feature of Dorico 4.3 is the ability to convert chord symbols into staff notation simply and instantly while offering a large number of customization options. Previous versions of Dorico have allowed users to go the other direction: select a passage of notated music and Dorico offers a (relatively) reasonable guess at a chord symbol.

Now, the cycle is complete.

Generate Notes from Chord Symbols Options
Finding the right settings for your use case may take some experimentation, and there are plenty of handy options.

If a range of the score has chord symbols associated with it, you can simply select it and go to Edit > Notations > Chord Symbols and Diagrams > Generate Notes From Chord Symbols in Selection (whew, that’s a long trip through menus!). This will bring up a dialog which offers a variety of options for how the chord symbols will be “realized”, including the ranges, voicings, and even how smooth the voice leading should be!

Generated Block Chords accompaniment for Lizzo's "Juice"
These block chords were created from the default settings. Note that the default is for the generated chords to not include the bass.

There are a lot of clever features to explore here, but I want to call out a few that I think are particularly useful and well-done which relate to the rhythm of the realized chords. By default, you’ll get block chords that are re-articulated every measure (or every time the chord changes within a measure). That’s a great starting point, but I think most users would likely not want it as a finished product.

To mimic strumming or comping patterns, you can also ask for one note per beat, or even use a custom rhythm, which can be a rhythm already written in the staff, or one that is currently already written in another part. Imagine having written the top line in a horn part and then having the piano play chords with the same rhythm. Even if you’re only working with a piano part, you can write in the rhythm on a placeholder note, only to replace it with auto-generated chord voicings.

Chord rhythm only
I entered this single line rhythm in the piano as a framework for the Generate Chord Symbols feature.
Generated accompaniment from chord symbols
By telling Dorico to follow the piano for rhythm, it replaced my single note with chords. I’ve also told it that the piano should play the bass, so these voicings make a lot more sense than the block chords above.

I really like this feature for making a quick mock-up for someone who needs to hear something but doesn’t want to hack through the chord symbols themselves. I find the default settings to be mostly pretty good, but users will almost certainly need to do some experimentation. For example, I found that my piano-vocal scores were getting some pretty weird voicings until I discovered that the piano did not play the bass notes by default. That’s probably correct in just about any situation with a true bass instrument, but probably incorrect for most piano-vocals.

Other improvements

The Dorico team have built a reputation for feature-packed updates, and Dorico 4.3 is no exception. Rather than simply paraphrasing the release notes and version history, which is the “bible” for every last bit of new information about new releases, I’ll highlight a few of my personal favorites.

  • Barline Joins join the brackets and braces section of Layout Options. Previously, these were automatically determined by bracket groups, which while probably the correct thing for most users was limiting for users who wanted to do something else. Now joins and brackets are independent.
  • Chord Diagrams are now smarter when you want to mix some manually specified fingerings with others suggested by Dorico.
  • “Restorative Clef Changes” will save you time when jumping into tenor clef for just a moment in your cello parts. If you select a short passage rather than an individual note or placing the caret, inserting a clef change will also automatically insert a change back to the previous clef after. I see myself using this a lot.
  • Lyric alignment settings for those who prepare lots of music with lyrics, especially with multiple verses, there are some excellent new bulk controls for aligning syllables to notes in detailed ways, going along with some of the lyric improvements with other Dorico updates earlier this year.
  • Print preview will use the document’s page size rather than the page size selected by your printer driver when exporting graphics (PDF). I usually avoid writing “finally” in this sort of article, but his is a big “finally” for me!
  • Fun borders! Text items now have a variety of borders that can be set either at the Paragraph Style level or for individual items in the Properties Panel. Users have four options: rectangle, rounded rectangle, capsule, and angled ends rectangle.
Examples of the four new text borders in Dorico 4.3
Here are examples of the four text border shapes provided in Dorico 4.3.

Dorico for iPad 2.5

In addition to compatibility and technical updates for the latest iPadOS and hardware, there are the following iPad-specific updates in Dorico for iPad 2.5:

  • New buttons for popover navigation have been added, allowing you to navigate during lyrics, chord symbol, fingering and figured bass input.
  • To toggle between the different lines of lyrics, tap the icon at the left-hand side of the popover to cycle through the available lines.
  • It is now possible to use the up/down arrow keys on your external keyboard to choose different lines of lyrics in the popover.
  • During playback, the Keyboard panel shows the pitches of the notes being played.


Dorico 4.3 for Windows and Mac desktop is a free update for current registered users of Dorico Pro 4, Dorico Elements 4 and Dorico SE 4 users, and is available now via the Steinberg Download Assistant.

For full coverage of Dorico 4, please read our comprehensive review of 4.0, as well as our review of the Dorico 4.1 and Dorico 4.2 releases. For even further reading, the 4.1.10, 4.0.10, 4.0.20 , and 4.0.30 updates, each of which contains important information, along with our coverage of Dorico for iPad.

Dorico for iPad 2.5 is available in the App Store. If your device hasn’t already automatically downloaded and installed the update, you can find it in the Updates section of the App Store app on your iPad.

These are free updates for current 4.x users, and they cap off a year of huge strides for the application, particularly with regard to playback controls, batch processing, and flexible controls (like the Jump Bar and Remote Control API).

If you don’t yet have Dorico 4, it’s worth noting that Steinberg’s Cyber Weeks sale is now active. Until November 30, you can save 50% on new licenses, crossgrades, updates and upgrades for Dorico Pro 4 and Dorico Elements 4 in the Steinberg online shop and at selected reseller partners. You can also save 50% on the Lifetime Unlock in-app purchase for Dorico for iPad. (We’ll have more coverage on Scoring Notes of all the Black Friday deals in the notation software universe next week.)

In his post announcing today’s release, Steinberg product marketing manager Daniel Spreadbury said, “With the release of Dorico 4.3, we are planning to close the book on Dorico 4 development and start to look ahead to the next major version of Dorico. We have several interesting irons in the fire for 2023, but we can’t say too much about them at this stage.”

Looking back at the Scoring Notes reviews for Dorico 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2, it’s hard to believe all of the new features that have been added and revised just since January of this year.

For the latest information about compatibility for Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, and MuseScore, as well as links to the latest news and reviews about product releases, please see the Scoring Notes Product Guide.


  1. Bill

    Thanks Philip!

    It looks like many of the new features don’t have a default key command. Is there a way they can still be incorporated into an updated Streandeck profile (which I’m sure you’re about to release )?

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading!

      You’re correct that the new Generate Notes from Chord Symbols doesn’t have a key command, though it’s possible to create one. Also, it’s worth noting that this and many other features are available from the Jump Bar. The way we have Notation Express set up, it should be possible to add pretty much any command to the Stream Deck.

      Beyond Generate Notes, there are a series of newly added key commands that can be used within the Key Editor! Some of them even control features that have been around for a while but required mousing and menus before.

  2. Derek Williams

    All great news. Dorico is going from strength to strength! My next wishlist item is the reverse equivalent of Dorico’s powerful Condense Score feature, i.e. to explode an already condensed score, e.g. one created in Sibelius and MusicXML’d over to Dorico, to split into constituent individual instrumental parts.

    1. David MacDonald

      That’s a great idea. I think it would be pretty tricky to figure out, but very handy.

  3. Mike Philcox

    Thank you for this excellent article and overview of Dorico 4.3’s new features but to avoid possible confusion, you may want to correct one typo near the beginning re the updated Key Editor—the “Add Editor” button is in the bottom LEFT corner.

  4. Alec

    Thank you, David. There is a little feature you might mention as well, note divider alt+U in the note editor. @2:22

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