At the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association conference in Helsinki, Finland this past weekend, I was honoured to be invited to give a presentation on our in-development application, and we chose this event to reveal the name, expected availability date, and provisional pricing information for the project we’ve been working on for the past three and a half years.

So it gives me great pleasure to announce that Steinberg’s new scoring application will be called Dorico, and it will be released in the fourth quarter of 2016. If you’re interested to find out more about the name and how it was chosen, read on.

From code name…

“Dorico” started out as the internal code name for our new project. Because of our focus on fine engraving, I suggested that each successive version of the application could take its code name from a famous historical music printer or engraver.

The thought was that the first version could be as revolutionary as the music printing process invented by Ottaviano Petrucci at the end of the 15th century. His innovation was to pass the paper through the press twice: a first impression to print the staff lines, and a second to print the notes, text and other symbols. However, Petrucci’s name is already closely associated with the first music font for another well-known scoring program, so using “Petrucci” as our code name was out of the question.

I started looking around for contemporaries and successors, and came across the name Valerio Dorico, one of the most important music printers in Rome, active up until the middle of the 16th century. Although Venice – where Petrucci had plied his trade – was by far the most important centre of music printing in this period, responsible for more than 90% of all music printed in Italy in the 16th century, Rome was nevertheless an important city for music printing, and Dorico the most prolific tipografo plying his trade there.

When Dorico began printing music in the 1520s, Petrucci’s double impression method was widely used, though the difficulty of ensuring the music was registered precisely for each impression meant that many printers produced copies that were inferior to those produced by Petrucci and others in Venice. Prints bearing Dorico’s imprint, however, are of a very high quality, comparable to those from the north.

As Dorico was beginning his career in Rome, a further revolution in music printing technology was taking place in England and France: music printed via a single impression process using movable type, where each piece of type includes not only the note or other musical symbol, but also the staff lines upon which it should be placed. It is disputed whether it was John Rastell of London or Pierre Attaignant of Paris who first achieved it, but in either case, this new technique swept across the music printing centres of Europe within the space of a few years.

Many music printers who had used the double impression process were left behind by this revolution, but not Dorico. As far as we know, Dorico was the only music printer in Rome to bridge the technological gap between the old double and new single impression processes. Dorico is also famous for publishing the first editions of several of Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina’s works in the 1550s, including madrigals and masses.

Dorico (pronounced with an emphasis on the first syllable) was attractive as a code name primarily because it rolls off the tongue nicely (in English, at least, and our colleagues in Hamburg seemed to think it was pleasant in German, too), it is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and so on. Dorico the man also embodied some relevant qualities: he was resilient, surviving the sack of Rome in 1527 and going on to do his best work once the city was rebuilt; he embraced changes in technology and used them to his advantage; and he was something of an underdog, competing with much better established and famous printers in Venice and elsewhere.

…to product name

Meanwhile, I was also working with my colleagues in the marketing team on coming up with the go-to-market name for the application. Naming a product is notoriously difficult, and fraught with dangers (there are many famous examples of companies choosing names that turn out to have hitherto-unknown meanings – occasionally offensive or tasteless – in other countries around the world). Obviously any name must be possible to protect legally by way of trademarks, which generally means that the name should be unique (or close to it). In this Internet age, it’s also crucial that the product should be returned early in Google results. The name should also be short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and (according to linguists, and in English at least) should ideally start with a plosive consonant sound.

We came up with well over a hundred possibilities, from the banal to the fanciful, from made-up acronyms to portmanteau words, from the abstract to the concrete. We tried musical terms, we tried the names of famous composers, the names of famous works, places, and on and on. But none of them cleared all of the hurdles: either they were too obscure, or used too widely already, or hard to pronounce, or too long, or some other problem.

All the while, we had been talking about our application within Steinberg using its code name, and we had started to get very comfortable with it. Eventually, Dorico started to feel natural, as if that was the name we should have chosen all along.

That’s how we came to choose Dorico as the name for our new scoring application. You might not immediately love the name, but I think it will grow on you, as it has grown on us. We are pleased that our product now has a name that we can share with the world, and hope that you will spread the word: Steinberg’s new scoring application will be called Dorico.