The fact is, Dorico is more than a simple piece of music notation software, and its development took longer than the four years you may have thought. Many of us in the Dorico team have been working on music notation software for the best parts of our adult lives, and Dorico is an evolution of these years of experience – a culmination, rather than a refresh.
The Path to Progress
If you’re reading this blog, you’ve no doubt heard of (and most likely used) Sibelius. The brand is practically synonymous with music scoring software. However, you may not be aware that, of Dorico’s scoring team at Steinberg, the core of us were the primary developers of six major versions of Sibelius. It was an exciting time – driven by our desire to create a music composition software which was intuitive, professional and would ultimately become indispensable to our users, our team channeled a unique combination of musical knowledge and technical experience into the project.
We still stand behind what we created – for its time, Sibelius was an extraordinary piece of work. Had fate pushed us in a different direction, we would no doubt still be working for Sibelius, and our expertise would be feeding into that program, rather than into Dorico. However, for us, Sibelius ultimately became a victim of its own success.
The company was bought by Digidesign, which had been bought by Avid in 1994. After the 2008 credit crunch, a management consultancy firm was brought in to implement a restructure, and the experienced senior management teams at Avid’s multiple subsidiaries began to be replaced. Expertise was replaced with cost-cutting, industry insight with MBAs. Quickly, company culture changed, and the tight little family we had built at Sibelius was eventually subject to the same downsizing measures.
It was eventually announced that our Finsbury Park office would close, leaving our team’s future at the company shrouded in uncertainty. Many of us had been at Sibelius since graduating, working with Ben and Jonathan Finn, its original founders – it seemed an extremely bleak outcome, both professionally and personally.
From Sibelius to Dorico
Our loyalty has always been to each other, to our product and, ultimately, to our product’s customers. The changes at Sibelius were too profound to ignore. Indeed, many of our customers demonstrated mutual outrage and loyalty, petitioning against the closure and expressing concern over the future of the software, which many musicians had come to rely on. Ben and Jonathan Finn even report that they twice approached Avid to buy Sibelius back themselves – offers which the company declined.
Against this backdrop of renewed hope, disappointment and frustration, we were approached by Steinberg with a bold new proposal – for our team to join them and build a new music scoring software from scratch, to compete with Sibelius on its own terms. We saw an opportunity for reprieve – the original development family could stay, for the most part, together, and we recognised Steinberg (who, as part of Yamaha, are one of the largest and most respected manufacterers of music audio in the world) as an organisation which shares the same passion, values and respect for their users as we do.
With a ready-made team of experts, the backing of a successful, growing company with a long history of innovation and nothing in our pockets but our combined decades of expertise, we walked into our new offices in November 2012 with an indescribable feeling – and four years later, the first version of Dorico was born.
Looking to the future
While it took us longer to develop Dorico than planned, that’s reflective of the ambition of the project – we’re proud to have realised the unique advances over previous software that we set out to achieve. Dorico updates the simple premise of music scoring software for the musicians of today. With a single window interface which can be used comfortably on a laptop, beautiful notation which achieves the same warmth, flow and clarity as the finest traditionally engraved scores and flexible music modelling which allows composers to compose directly into the software, it’s the music scoring software of the future.
When we created Dorico, we made a commitment to ourselves not to compromise. To simply match the output of our competitors would not be enough. We set the bar very high: Dorico would be more flexible, more powerful, more musical and produce scores more beautiful than any of its competitors.
We are proud of what we’ve achieved. We’re proud of how we achieved it. We want Dorico to become synonymous with music scoring software in the same way Dyson is synonymous with the vacuum cleaner. So if you’ve already joined our musical movement, help us to spread the word – recommend our free trials to your colleague, follow us on social media, share our blogs with your friends. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come over the last five years, but in many ways our journey begins in earnest now.