Dorico 5.1: Filling the gaps

Reviews

Steinberg has released Dorico 5.1 for both desktop and iPad, with substantial new features in playback, notation, engraving, productivity, and organization. In particular, the Iconica Sketch library is now bundled with Dorico Pro and Dorico Elements at no extra charge, with new playback templates to match.

Dorico updates usually come thick and fast after a new version, but due to the collapse in September of Asknet, Steinberg’s online shop partner, the 5.1 update was delayed longer than usual. The good news is that, in addition to this update being free for current users of Dorico 5.0, Steinberg has had plenty of time to get more features and fixes in, so the scope and scale of the improvements is large, even by Dorico standards.

The highlights are as follows, though there are many more features besides these:

Playback

  • Iconica Sketch: a new orchestral sample library
  • Playback of fermatas, breaths and glissandi
  • Additional ‘humanized’ playback features

Notation

  • Instrument family and score order editors
  • Improvements to divisi, cues, instrument changes
  • Hiding cautionary key and time signatures

Productivity

  • Undo history
  • Project statistics
  • Print Flows as separate PDFs
  • Improved MusicXML export

There are also a host of small changes, new Engraving Options, additional commands, improvements and bug fixes. As ever, the version history documentation for this release thoroughly itemizes everything.

Listen to the podcast episode

On the Scoring Notes podcast, David MacDonald and Philip Rothman discuss the Dorico 5.1 update, the Iconica Sketch sample library and many of the new features, among other industry news. Listen now:

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
A December to remember
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Playback

Iconica Sketch

Editor’s note: David MacDonald contributed to this section.

Most significantly, in terms of ‘added value’: Dorico now includes a new orchestral sample library, called Iconica Sketch, a lightweight version of Steinberg’s premium Iconica library, produced in partnership with Orchestral Tools.

Iconica Sketch debuted earlier this year with Cubase 13. It can also be purchased individually for $119, meaning it’s cheaper to buy Dorico Elements at $100, just for the library. (Compare that to $999 for the complete Iconica Opus collection.)

The new samples are a welcome addition to the existing HALion Symphonic Orchestra (HSO), which is comprehensive, but ‘weak in realism’. Users will be presented with the following dialog when they first load Dorico 5.1, encouraging them to make it the default:

Iconica welcome
Welcome to Iconica

Compared to many professional sample libraries, Iconica Sketch is extremely efficient. With a total download of under 5GB, it loads very quickly. Sketch provides an essential core of 33 orchestral instruments and a percussion set: so there’s no piano, and no solo strings, for example; but the new samples are well chosen to offer the greatest impact for orchestral scores.

Dorico users will find a set of new Playback Templates for Iconica Sketch, which fall back on other Steinberg libraries, including HSO and Olympus Choir Micro, for other instruments. The names of the other built-in templates have also been renamed in ways that are more friendly to new users, for whom the alphabet soup of ‘HSSE (SE)’ and ‘HSSE+HSO (Pro)’ might have seemed a bit arcane. (Though ‘GASE’ for Groove Agent SE remains.)

New Playback Templates in Dorico 5.1
All the older Playback Templates have more descriptive names, in addition to the newly added Iconica Sketch templates.

Using Iconica Sketch is very easy. It can be loaded from the Playback Template list and requires very little tweaking. The quality is impressive for the size of the download, and it’s reasonable to say that it is at least on a par with default sample libraries from the other major notation software.

That’s not to say there aren’t limitations — after all, it’s one-tenth the price of the complete library and less than one-tenth the download size!

The microphone placements seem to be very distant, so there is sometimes a lack of ‘presence’ to the sound and quite a bit of baked-in reverb. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but without microphone options, it’s hard to control. The production quality is excellent, as one would expect from Orchestral Tools, and there’s a good range of articulations. The sounds are very even across each instrument and blend well in a variety of combinations.

Iconic articulations
The controls of Iconica Sketch’s Violins

In some ways, Iconica Sketch is the opposite of Muse Sounds, which can be bright and assertive, but sometimes uneven in terms of quality and blend. Both are low-cost and lightweight, but have prioritized different features.

iPad sounds

The iPad version of Dorico 5.1 also comes with revised sample libraries.

There’s a new set of General MIDI samples, which is an improvement over the Microsonic samples previously bundled with the app. Impressively, Iconica Sketch is also available as an additional download on the iPad. This comes only with an active subscription or lifetime purchase, and is also only recommended on iPads with more than 4 GB of RAM. Those are:

  • iPad Pro 12.9″ 4th generation (2020) or later
  • iPad Pro 11″ 2nd generation (2020) or later
  • iPad Air 5th generation M1 (2022)
  • iPad Pro 12.9″ 3rd generation (2018) models with 1TB of storage
  • iPad Pro 11″ 1st generation (2018) models with 1 TB of storage

Dorico will only offer to use Iconica Sketch as the default if your iPad has more than 4 GB of RAM. You may be able to use the library on models with 4 GB (all other iPad Pros, other models from 2021 and later); but it is recommended only on smaller projects of up to 16 players. Note that if Dorico exceeds your iPad’s memory limits, iPadOS will force quit the app…!

Fermatas, breaths, and glissandi

Users have been clamoring for playback of fermatas and breaths in Dorico for years, and this has now been fulfilled.

Playback Options > Timing > Pauses has settings for each type of Fermata: one to extend its duration; and another to define the length of a gap before the next beat.

Fermata Timings
Fermata Timings

There are also default ‘gap’ values for caesuras and breath marks. As you’d expect, each fermata in the score also has these values as Properties, which you can adjust individually.

Fermata Properties
Fermata Properties

Breath marks, which apply to only one staff, simply reduce the played duration of the note by the default value. This leaves a gap before the next note, without adding any time. There is no individual gap property for Breaths, as you can already change the note’s playing length in the piano roll or by setting the Playback end offset property.

Caesuras, which apply to all staves, add an additional gap after the note’s full length is played, and thus add time. Caesuras do have a Gap Duration property.

Dorico achieves these effects by lowering the tempo of notes and reducing their played duration. A caesura halves the played duration of the preceding note, but also halves the tempo, thus restoring the full time of the note, and leaving a further half of its time to act as a gap. Fermatas work the same way, but the tempo is even slower, to provide a longer played note, followed by a gap, if required.

Fermata tempo
Time waits for … everyone.

Alternatively, you can disable fermata playback altogether in Playback Options. Each fermata and breath also responds to the Suppress Playback property, including on repeat passes.

Glissando

Dorico has long been able to produce chromatic glissandi, but with the 5.1 update, it can now create continuous slides using MIDI pitch bend. However, this will depend on the pitch bend range of the sample patch that you’re using. Each gliss can now be defined as either chromatic or continuous. Dorico will assign a default style depending on the type of instrument.

There is also a White notes setting, which can be used for more realistic glisses on a keyboard.

Polyphonic voice balancing

For instruments such as keyboards, Dorico 5.1 can now apply sophisticated algorithms to vary the relative emphasis of different lines in a polyphonic texture, creating a more ‘human’ performance. Outer voices are usually given more emphasis than inner ones. There is a large group of options to control the effect in Playback Options > Dynamics.

Polyphonic options
A polyphony of options

Dorico can also be configured to identify contrapuntal themes and emphasize them in whichever voice they appear. This latter feature is off by default, and can be turned on in Playback Options > Dynamics.

Contrapuntal emphasis
Anyone for counterpoint?

There are also settings in Playback Options > Timing to shorten repeated notes when played on keyboard instruments, emulating the inevitable re-striking of the key.

The results are very impressive, creating a much more human performance that recognizes melodic lines in keyboard music (and other polyphonic instruments). Dorico comes with two example piano pieces: Liszt’s Liebestraume, and a Bach Fugue, and these have been updated with the new playback features enabled, so you can easily hear the difference with them on or off.

Here’s another piano piece using Dorico’s new playback effects. The project file has no dynamics, no slurs, and no manually adjusted velocities or durations.

These are with the factory-supplied parameters; experimenting with different values may provide other interpretations.

Monophony

Many sample libraries have legato patches that can only play one note at a time, thus ensuring a legato transition between any overlapping note lengths. To support this in Dorico 5.1, there is now a checkbox in the Expression Map Editor for legato expressions, which you can set to specify that a given sample is monophonic. If your music contains chords or polyphonic passages, then a non-legato patch will be played instead, but with legato duration.

Monophonic legato
Legato expressions now have a switch for monophony

Notation

Divide and conquer

To start the list of new engraving features: Dorico’s powerful divisi feature has been given a comprehensive overhaul, in order to fix some long-standing limitations.

Previously, when divided staves ‘returned to unison’, Dorico was unable to show cautionary clefs, slurs, ottava lines, time and key signatures at the end of the system on the lower staves of a split. These can now all be displayed correctly.

Divisi fix
Dorico now doubles items on the lower staff.

There were related problems with clefs, cautionary accidentals, lyrics and spacing where a Divisi or Unison flag occurred in the middle of a system; and these have also been revised and improved.

There’s also a new setting in Layout Options > Staves and Systems, called Snap divisi unison labels to notes, which places the unis. label  on the first note after the Restore Unison signpost, if there are rests at that point.

Unison text point
Unison labels can now appear at the first note

There are also two new Engraving Options for Divisi: a Horizontal offset for the position of divisi labels, and Erase background with padding.

These improvements in version 5.1 now remove many critical obstacles to using divisi — truly making it one of Dorico’s flagship features.

Cue the music

Dorico 5.1 brings several functional enhancements for displaying cues.

Engraving Options > Cues now has an option to use rhythmic slashes in rhythmic cues. You can also set this property on any selected Cue label.

Rhythmic Cues
Rhythmic cues above the staff.

Rhythmic cues can also be moved into the staff, by setting a negative value in the Distance property.

Rhythmic Cue Options
Properties for Rhythmic Cues

There is also an option to define whether clef changes for cues appear on the left or the right hand side of a barline. (Engraving Options > Cues.)

Cue clef position
Before or after: the choice is yours

Instrument changes

The ways that instrument changes can be displayed are improved in Dorico 5.1.

There are now Instrument Change Warnings, (distinct from Change Labels); which can be turned on or off in Layout Options > Players. These warning have a separate Paragraph Style, so that they can be displayed differently from labels at the change. By default, Change Labels now have boxes around them; warnings don’t have a box.

Instrument change
New possibilities for instrument changes

In Layout Options > Players, you can now set whether the staff type, transposition and clef change immediately after the notes of the old instrument, or immediately before the notes of the new one. (See Gould, p. 559, for Elaine’s advice on the matter.)

Cautionary tails

Previously, Dorico would always show cautionary key and time signatures at the end of the previous system, and the only way to prevent this was to create a new flow, or use a ‘hidden’ Coda. Billed as “one of the most frequently requested features”, Dorico now has options to show or hide cautionary key and time signatures at the end of a system. These are in Notation Options, under the categories for Key Signatures and Time Signatures. As such, the settings can be configured separately for each flow.

Additionally, each signature has a property to show or hide cautionaries, regardless of the global options.

Cautionary Property
Time signatures and key signatures both have this property.

The color of a time signature can now be set in the Properties panel.

Live editing

Live editing – otherwise known as “dragging stuff with a mouse” – has been improved further in Dorico 5.1, building upon the progress made in this area in Dorico 5.

You can now drag a selected rest, and dragging in percussion staves works better. It’s possible to move notes chromatically by holding Shift after commencing a drag.

Slurs

It’s now easier to move slurs in their entirety along the horizontal axis. Previously, it could only be done while holding down Alt/Option and dragging with the mouse — if you could find a point on the slur that wasn’t covered by handles.

Now, you don’t need to hold a key to drag it, and you can also nudge a slur in any direction with the usual Alt + arrow key combination when the slur is selected — as long as none of its anchors are highlighted. As with frames, if one anchor is selected, you can press Tab until all are de-selected.

Moving slurs
Free dragging of slurs in Engrave mode

You can constrain the movement along one axis by pressing Shift after starting the drag.

Ties

There are two new options in Engraving Options > Ties > Tie Direction, for the specific handling of ties on a chord that has a mixture of tied and untied notes.

Tie Options
New options for Ties

Lyrics

The hyphen distances for a given span of hyphens between two syllables can now be set in the Properties panel (in Engrave mode).

Hyphen Properties
Properties for each run of hyphens

Other lyric-related improvements: Verse numbers can now have their own Paragraph Style set in Engraving Options, independent of the Lyrics; and when entering lyrics in Korean, Japanese-style hyphens are now used when you press Space.

Octave line adjustment

People of a … shall we say fastidious … disposition might have twitched at the slight misalignment of Dorico’s octave lines to the ottava symbol itself. It’s now possible to enter a vertical adjustment value for the start of the line, and for continuation lines on new systems. New documents will have a default value that improves the appearance; existing documents will be left alone. Different fonts and line styles may need different values.

Ottava fine tuning
Fine tuning of ottava lines

Other similarly punctilious improvements include braces for grand staff instruments, which now consider the thickness of the outermost staff lines, should this be significant.

Lines

Vertical Lines now have a property to set whether they avoid collisions with other objects, or not. (In other words, whether they affect spacing.) This can be configured in the Line Editor, or in the Properties panel for each line.

Keep it in the family

Dorico 5.0 introduced the Instrument Editor, which allowed you to create new instruments and customize the characteristics of existing instruments, and  the implementation has now been expanded in 5.1.

You can now define which ‘family’ an instrument is a part of (e.g. Strings, Woodwind, Singers, etc). There is also a new Instrument Families editor, in which you can create new families, and move instruments between them.

Patagonian Nose Horns
The complete family of Patagonian Nose Horns can now be implemented

User-created families will appear in Layout Options > Staves & Systems, where you can control whether System Text will appear above them.

System Text
Custom Families as System Text

Custom number of staff lines

The initial Dorico 5 release let you edit the number of staff lines of an instrument; however, clefs and key signatures wouldn’t always sit in the correct positions. This has now been fixed, which makes custom staff lines a reality.

4-line staff
A 4-line staff

Dorico builds staff lines ‘from the bottom, up’: so, if you add a Treble G clef to a 1-line staff, that line is E, because Dorico’s clef definition includes which line it sits on. If you want a G clef that sits on the 3rd or 4th line of a six-line staff, you’re currently out of luck (without resorting to XML hacks). In the fullness of time, expect Dorico to add a Clef Editor, to cover all possibilities.

Sorted for jazz

Since Dorico 4, newly added Players in Setup mode would be sorted into conventional score orders for Orchestra or Band.

Now in Dorico 5.1, there is an Instrument Score Order editor, so you can edit the existing orders, and create your own sorting orders for Dorico to follow. A new Jazz ordering scheme is included, which has been designed by Todd Bashore.

Score Order
Bring order to your scores

The current score order is now shown in Setup mode’s Status Bar, where it can also be changed. If you manually adjust the order of players in Setup mode, then the score order is automatically set to None, which avoids any accidental resetting of things you’ve moved about.

Status bar
Sorting Orders in the Status Bar

Also relevant to Setup mode: there’s a new command in the Setup menu to Delete Empty Players. You’ll get a dialog showing any Players that are not assigned to any Flows, and you can choose to delete them. This will also delete Players with no instruments, which by definition are not in any flow; and Part Layouts that only contain these Players will be deleted too.

Style it out

Text in Dorico’s tokens can now use Markdown formatting. Previously, a text token, like the project title, or composer name, would have to use one fixed Paragraph Style. But now, if you want to use Italics or Bold within part of a text field, you can place asterisks or underlines around the words: one pair for italic; two for bold; three for bold italic.

Token Markdown
Markdown to add italics.
Dave the Dorf Dorfmann
Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee.

If your Paragraph Style is already Italic, then adding Italic markdown will have no effect. There’s a checkbox in the Project Info dialog to enable the feature (below Other Information: scroll down to find it). As usual, new projects will have it turned on by default; old projects will have it turned off, to prevent any unforeseen problems.

Other text-related newness: you can now copy selected Text objects (without having to open up the editor), and paste them into another app. Format choices can be set in Preferences for HTML, plain text, or Markdown. The default of HTML will paste into apps like Word exactly with the same styling as in Dorico; Mac apps like TextEdit or Pages don’t currently import HTML well, and you may need to re-apply a font style to the characters.

Hidden agenda

Sometimes, you might want to add a Playing Technique, like legato, but hide it, so that it doesn’t actually appear in your score (e.g., for the purposes of playback). Previously, you had to add the technique, then switch on the Hide control in the Properties panel, like a sap. Now, you can enter a hidden technique directly in the popover, by enclosing it in parentheses.

If you’ve already created custom techniques that use brackets in the popover, e.g. (pizz.), then your popover command will take priority over hiding. You’ll be able to create a hidden version with extra parentheses ((pizz.)), but note that you won’t be able to create a hidden version of pizz. in this example. All in all, it’s probably best to avoid parentheses in your custom popover commands.

The Popover commands for Tempo marks have also been slightly revised. A metronome mark in brackets, like (q=100), will create a hidden tempo. Previously, this would create a metronome mark in parentheses: if you want that, you now have to add a space beforehand. (The space won’t actually be displayed.) Any text before a metronome mark in brackets will display the text, with the mark in parentheses. If the text and mark are all enclosed in parentheses, they will be hidden.

Tempo popover
Revised syntax for the Tempo popover

Similarly, you can type (rall) for a hidden gradual tempo.

Dot dot dot …

Dorico 5.0 introduced cresc… and dim… in the dynamics popover, to indicate that a dashed or dotted line should be displayed along the length of the selection. This now applies to gradual tempo marks like rit…, rall…, and accel… in the Tempo popover.

Dot dot dot
Adding a tempo line from the popover

Productivity

History

Dorico now has an Undo History. From the Edit menu, the History… command brings up a list of all your actions, which you can roll back.

Undo History
History: It’s just one thing after another.

This is another frequent user request that will be a boon to productivity.

Project stats

Under the File menu, there is now a command called Project Statistics, which displays a dialog listing a huge array of information about the project file: the number of flows, the number of bars, the number of each type of item. Useful when invoicing for your time, or for many other reasons! The data can be exported to a text file.

Project Stats
Project Stats: I need to do more work on this project.

For fans of data, Dorico can now export every bit of text used in the project, as a CSV file, which can be opened and further analyzed in a spreadsheet program. This includes Project and Flow tokens, text frames, text objects, lyrics, tempi, comments — even dynamics text and techniques! File > Export > Text.

Separate PDFs for Flows

Another frequent user request: Print mode now has a checkbox to enable each flow to be exported as a separate PDF file.

Print flows
Print flows as separate PDF files

(You’ll need to make sure that the flow name or number is included in the filename options, otherwise, you’ll just overwrite the same file over and over…)

Page numbers

If your layout doesn’t have page numbers, there’s now an option in the View menu to show large grey page numbers on each page on the screen, so you can tell what page you’re working on.

Fearsome engine

Users may know that Dorico has a separate process, called “VST Audio Engine”, that handles communication with audio plug-ins and various other aspects of audio playback. Previously, if Dorico’s main process crashed, the audio engine would be left adrift, and Dorico would be unable to reconnect to this orphaned process on relaunch.

Dorico 5.1 is now able to reconnect to the engine, which should prevent a lot of frustration. If the Audio Engine can’t be started when Dorico launches, you’ll get an alert telling you of that. Dorico will then quit, leaving a diagnostic report on the desktop. This should increase stability, and make it more apparent to the user what has gone wrong when something goes wrong.

On Windows, Dorico 5.1 comes with a new default ASIO driver, the “Steinberg built-in ASIO driver”. This should improve performance and stability. It also means that by default, Dorico will not ‘exclusively’ commandeer the audio device. The video engine has also been updated on both platforms, and on Windows it now uses Direct2D instead of OpenGL.

Dorico now transmits the time signature to VST plug-ins, should they need it.

Sundry improvements

A single small improvement can make all the difference to someone’s workflow, and as usual there are several of these.

  • A new checkbox Use gap for rightmost sharp if to left of adjacent unshortened ledger line can be found in in Engraving Options > Accidentals. This covers a particular set of circumstances in which a sharp on a chord could get too close to ledger lines above it.
  • Individual Chords can be excluded from the display of chords used, at the start of the flow, via the Properties panel.
  • Borders around Harp diagrams can be set in Engraving Options to use the border parameters of the Harp Pedal Settings Paragraph Style, which gives more options for padding on each side.
  • Exported TIFF and PNG graphics can now have either transparent or white backgrounds.
  • There is now an option to choose whether fingering with substitutions should be left-aligned or centered on the notehead.
  • The property to limit the line of a gradual tempo up to the barline, or to the next note, is now available in both Write mode and Engrave mode, matching the behavior of gradual dynamics.
  • A run of grace notes can now span multiple instruments in percussion staves.
  • More Engraving Options are available for the style of Repeat Ending lines.
  • Text-based Playing Techniques now appear outside fermatas.

User interface

Improvements have been made across the interface.

  • Various buttons have been redesigned.
  • The Ensemble templates in the Create New section of the Hub can be displayed as a list or as icons.
  • When switching between Page View and Galley View, the zoom setting is maintained.
  • The minimum window size is now smaller, allowing Dorico to be used on smaller laptop screens more easily.
  • There is a preference for whether the Key Editor shows Played or Full Durations of notes by default.
  • You can set a key shortcut for a custom Zoom percentage, in Preferences > Key Commands.

In Play mode, you can now see (and set) the current Expression map or Percussion map for a Player in the Routing panel. There’s also a button to edit them directly in the relevant editor.

VST routing
Expression and Percussion maps can be selected from the Routing panel

The command to open the VST plug-in window is now accessible in Preferences > Key Commands, so you can assign your own key shortcut to it. This provides a quick way to get to the VST, even from Write mode.

  • The Status bar now shows more information for a range of selected items: MIDI pitch for percussion notes and microtones; Playing techniques; and in Engrave mode, frame dimensions.

Bug squash

A few operations in Dorico 5 took much longer than previous versions, such as copy/pasting, and doubling/halving durations. These, and well over 160 bugs, have been fixed.

MusicXML

Significant improvements have been made to the objects and data that get exported in MusicXML.

Common playback techniques (including bowing, natural harmonics, mute/open, brass bends and guitar techniques), slurs between voices, fermatas and breathmarks, trills, glissandi, ornaments and arpeggios, string and fret numbers, text and LV ties are now exported. System formatting, page-attached text, and the visibility status of tuplets are all exported. Non-arpeggios are now imported.

Dorico on the iPad

As mentioned, there’s a new Dorico 5.1 version for the iPad. Most of the new features in the desktop version will be mirrored on the iPad. (Not the Instrument Editors, though.) This version also aims to be more stable, fixing bugs that caused crashes and interface issues. The window displays correctly on a wider range of iPad sizes, and works better in portrait mode. Using an Apple Pencil is now more reliable. There’s now an icon for the Jump Bar on the toolbar, allowing access to every command, if you don’t have a keyboard attached.

iPad Jump Bar
The game’s afoot! The Jump Bar icon on the iPad.

Availability

Dorico 5.1 for Windows and Mac desktop is a free update for current registered users of Dorico Pro 5, Dorico Elements 5 and Dorico SE 5 users, and is available now via the Steinberg Download Assistant.

For full coverage of Dorico 5, please read our comprehensive review of 5.0.

Dorico 5.1 for iPad 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.

If you don’t yet have Dorico 5, this is a perfect time to obtain it.

Almost everything is 25% off: Dorico Pro 5 new licenses, crossgrades, updates (from Dorico Pro 4), upgrades (to Dorico Pro 5 from Dorico Elements, or to Dorico Elements from Dorico SE), and the Lifetime Unlock in-app purchase in Dorico for iPad. Monthly and annual subscriptions are not included in the promotion. The promotion runs through January 8, 2024.

Here is the full list, in USD (use the code MOBILE25 if it isn’t already applied at checkout for you):

  • Pro Full version: $434.99 (reg. $579.99)
  • Pro Competitive Crossgrade: $224.99 (reg. $299.99)
  • Pro Update from Dorico Pro 4: $74.99 (reg. $99.99)
  • Pro Update from Dorico Pro 3.5 or earlier: $119.99 (reg. $159.99)
  • Pro Upgrade from Dorico Elements 4: $359.99 (reg. $479.99)
  • Pro Upgrade from Dorico Elements 3.5 or earlier: $374.99 (reg. $499.99)
  • Pro Full version, educational: $269.99 (reg. $359.99)
  • Pro Competitive Crossgrade, educational: $134.99 (reg. $179.99)
  • Elements: $74.99 (reg. $99.99)
  • Elements Update from Dorico Elements 4: $22.49 (reg. $29.99)
  • Elements Update from Dorico Elements 3.5 or earlier: $29.99 (reg. $39.99)
  • Elements Update from Dorico SE (any version): $56.24 (reg. $74.99)
  • Elements Full version, educational: $50.24 (reg. $66.99)
  • iPad Lifetime unlock: $89.99 (reg. $119.99)

Iconica Sketch is included at no additional charge on desktop (Dorico Pro and Dorico Elements), and as an additional free download on iPad (4GB RAM required) for paying customers.

As the iPad Lifetime unlock purchase is made through the App Store, no code is needed and the sale price will apply.

Subscription prices on the iPad version are changing, with the monthly price increasing from $3.99 to $4.99 and the annual price increasing from $39.99 to $49.99. If you’re an existing subscriber, you’ll remain at the old price provided that you maintain your subscription, but if you cancel and re-subscribe, you’ll be charged the new price.

Conclusion

As always, it’s crucial to sit down and read the excellent version history document, which has a more meticulous list of all the little enhancements and fixes. A single sentence of “It is now possible to…” may be critical to your workflow.

There is also the official blog post with several new videos illustrating the new features in Dorico 5.1.

It’s worth pointing out that several of the features and changes in this update are direct responses to comments made on Steinberg’s Dorico forum. (Some requests were made only a few weeks ago; others, admittedly, took years to be fulfilled.) Sometimes we think of features as things found in a menu item or in a dialog box, but legendary interaction with the user community is one of Dorico’s strongest features.

Dorico’s major ‘point’ updates often provide as many compelling features as the .0 release; and they also bring to fruition features that weren’t fully formed at the outset. If you’ve already upgraded to version 5, then you’ll get a host of new features and fixes — many of which you’ve probably been asking for. If you’re still on a previous version, then there should now be sufficient new features and stability to warrant the purchase. If you haven’t even got Dorico at all, there may well be something here that finally persuades you. Some major limitations in notation and playback have been addressed; the Instrument Editors are now sufficient mature to be useful; and there’s a free sample library thrown in. What’s not to like?


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.

Comments

  1. david toub

    No snark intended, since some of the longstanding issues with Finale remain legion. But I’m honestly surprised Dorico didn’t have some things like these that have long been standard with Finale, like multiple undo, control over whether or not courtesy time signatures appear at the end of a system, fermata playback (I can’t remember a time when fermatas did not play back in Finale, and I’ve been using Finale since v3.2 in the early 90’s). As much as many of us kvetch all the time about Finale’s bugs and antiquated tools (the MIDI and Shape Designer tools are so 1990’s), I’m glad that at least some things I took for granted are somewhat new in other notation programs. Just really surprised, that’s all.

    1. Ben Byram-Wigfield

      Dorico has had Multiple Undo, like most modern apps, since day 1 — but not an Undo History, which you can browse and roll back to any point. (I note that “Multiple Undo” is a vaunted feature of the vapourware Encore 6.) There were workarounds (dread word) for hiding cautionaries, and indeed you could create the effect of fermata playback with tempo lane edits — and there were scripts to do so in one click. So they weren’t such a fatal omission. Dorico is still a young program, and it isn’t possible to release all the “should have” features at once.
      There still remain many things on people’s wish lists — but the team is listening, and responsive.

      1. david toub

        Thanks for the clarification. Dorico does do a stellar job of communicating with its user base and also, very important, listening. At least, as a non-user of Dorico, that’s my impression.

        1. Michael

          I suggest that you just explore Dorico by using the Dorico SE edition that is completely free, especially now that Dorico has reached version 5.
          I have the feeling that you will find the exploration interesting and beneficial.

  2. Mavan

    Good new features and improvements.
    Unfortunately, I still don’t have the option of an audio track (preferably several audio tracks)
    It was supposedly announced in 4.5. Seems to be more difficult to achieve than you think.

    1. Ben Byram-Wigfield

      Where did you see this announced? There wasn’t a version 4.5. You can add an audio track if it’s part of a video file.
      Support for audio tracks is pretty basic and limited across all the notation apps, from what I can tell, so it would be groundbreaking for Dorico to add sophisticated multi-track audio functionality. But probably very difficult for a notation app, as you say.

  3. Ben Byram-Wigfield

    As if that all weren’t enough, there’s now a 5.1.10 update, which fixes a number of ‘matters arising’ from the 5.1 update, but also adds some additional functionality.

    There’s a Custom Page Size Editor, view colors to show cautionary and manually adjusted accidentals, and a ‘visual’ Harp Pedals constructor.

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