Editor’s note: This review was written by Alexander Plötz; the playback section was written by Andrew Noah Cap. Philip Rothman edited the review and provided additional content.
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Today marks the release of Dorico, a new proprietary music notation application from Steinberg. If you have enthusiastically awaited the program for months now and your mind is already made up: Go ahead, skip this review and purchase Dorico right away; feel free to come back here while you wait for the eight gigabytes of the sound library to download.
In most professional fields, the arrival of a new software tool — for a reviewer — is generally an occasion to perform a routine task of measuring up the new against the not-just-as-new-anymore, comparing the product to a number of similar competitors. True innovation is often incremental and limited to only a handful of the many components of a modern software package.
With commercial music notation software, this is a bit different: for more than two decades, the market has been dominated by exactly two products. Both of them, Avid’s Sibelius and MakeMusic’s Finale, are powerful tools with an impressive record of innovative features, but they also cannot hide their age. Rooted in an era when software engineering had just started to find ways out of the Software Crisis, today they are mature to the point of a terminally arrested development, one could say.
So when a new player enters the market — for months now credibly promising not only to match, but to surpass the status quo — it creates an enormous amount of expectation, especially in our narrow and opinionated niche. That is why an in-depth review of Dorico, like the software itself, cannot be approached in quite the usual way. Instead of merely discussing what we can produce with Dorico, we must also explore the philosophy behind its design.
A few notes before we begin:
- In order to write this detailed review, my fellow contributors to this article and I were allowed to use various pre-release builds of Dorico over the past several months.
- I have used Dorico on a Microsoft Surface 3 Pro running Windows 8.1, with an additional monitor attached.
- The examples contained herein have been created for the sole purpose of illustrating this review. They are intended for demonstration purposes only and are not suited for any other use.
We’ll start by recapitulating the four-year journey to today’s release; if you prefer to jump directly to the review: this way, please. Read the full article →