I have just completed the note input phase of an orchestral work.
It is more than 630 bars in length for an orchestra of 34 player / section staves before Divisi.
The majority of note input was done on Dorico for iPad.
The proof reading and condensing phase is now underway, mostly on the desktop.
(See work in progress in this post)
TL;DR: quite brilliant.
Dorico for iPad and Dorico for MacOS - in combination
Together they most certainly have stood up to the demands of my project, and exceeded them. The main point of the exercise was to learn about this piece of music and I was worried I’d be side-tracked by all sorts of software limitations - as I have done in the past - but, quite to the contrary, Dorico, and NotePerformer, (with a little help from MacOS’s built-n Preview!) far from getting in the way have really enhanced my learning experience: being able to isolate sections of the piece, play and replay different parts has been wonderful.
Each note was input using the
QWERTY keyboard. Left hand on
ABCDEFG, right hand on the keystrokes for note length, accidentals and accents.
Performance and reliability
Both Dorico 3.5 (Desktop) and Dorico for iPad have been remarkably stable. There have been a few crashes but with no loss of work to speak of, so auto save on both platforms works when needed. On such a big project (the project file is greater than 3MB) there are noticeable periods of unresponsiveness on the iPad when auto saving, but since the program has kept all my work intact over six weeks of working on a single file, I put that down as a plus. (Yes, I have made manual and Time Machine backups continuously, but unnecessarily as it turned out).
Any changes whilst looking at a condensed page of the complete project could take around 45 seconds on my 2014 Mac Mini so clearly all major editing work is done without the Edit > Condensing option ON and I can’t wait until I can afford an M1 Mac next year! But regular editing with the Edit > Condensing option OFF is absolutely fine even on the slower processor. This is not in any sense a complaint, more amazement that my ancient 2-core Intel processor-fueled Mac Mini is actually capable of doing this. It’s at least 16 times slower than a moderm Mac with an Apple M1 processor.
I suppose I could break the project up onto smaller chunks, but I haven’t done that yet as proofreading is quite a slow process anyway.
Both on iPad and Desktop, crashes or stalls occurred on several occasions when dragging linked dynamics back and forth, so it was very difficult to come up with repeatable diagnostic files and scenarios with which to make a useful report to the developers.
Response from the Dorico team and community
Absolutely first class. Through the forum, they have patiently answered my questions and considered my suggestions and accepted the one or two bug reports I have made as issues on the forum.
I have only identified a couple of genuine bugs in Dorico for iPad - concerning editing very long notes; a dialog with a numeric field that wouldn’t accept input; erroneous feedback when assigning key commands. In other words: specific to the new platform and probably the Qt framework. Considering this is a first release, and the size of my project, this has been a very good experience.
There are one or two features missing, and probably one or two existing features I have missed.
Missing (or missed) features
I made a couple of feature request for both platforms which I have raised in separate posts.
Dorico for iPad UI (User Interface) comments
There are a couple of things worth mentioning:
The Apple Pencil.
I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do so much on the iPad were it not for the Apple Penci, it’s been invaluable just selecting individual notes, deselecting other objects and dragging dynamics’ endpoints etc. and not just because of my large fingers.
Accidentally editing notes (Not).
I know many people might initially baulk at the selection extension buttons in the UI of iPad Dorico which require extra clicks than you have been used to on MacOS Dorico. But in more than six weeks, zooming in and out, swiping up, down, left right and touching the screen in all sorts of ways, I can’t recall an occasion when any of this caused me to make mysterious and difficult to find accidental edits. In that respect the UI design has been very successful in protecting the investment of effort into a project.
The project sounds wonderful on Dorico for MacOS. I’ve yet to tweak levels in the Play Mode’s dynamics and velocity lanes to any great extent. Wouldn’t it be great to have something like this on iPadOS!
Preview’s Annotation tools have been really useful for managing source charts. It’s absoltely essential to actually know which bar you’re in and what instrument you should focus on as you flit between source score and transcribed score.