We’re pleased to announce the release of Dorico 4.3, our eighth (and very probably final) release of 2022, and it’s a big one. This release is headlined by a brand new feature that automatically generates voicings for chord symbols (in Dorico Pro only), which should be a boon for arrangers, and significant improvements to the Key Editor, bringing it to a comparable level of power and comfort as its very mature counterpart in Cubase. But that’s not all: there are improvements throughout the application, with engraving improvements to beams, barlines, chord symbols, chord diagrams, lyrics, rehearsal marks, single-line percussion, system dividers and text; condensing improvements; new note input and editing features; easier tremolos for percussion; and a good helping of dozens of bug fixes.
This update is free to all existing Dorico 4 users, whether you’re using Dorico SE, Dorico Elements or Dorico Pro – and if you’re not yet using Dorico, or you’re still using an earlier version, it’s a great time to get on board because Dorico 4 new licenses, crossgrades, updates and upgrades are all on sale for a huge 50% off as part of Steinberg’s Cyber Weeks promotion (ending 30 November 2022).
Let’s dive in!
To get an overview of what’s new, you can listen to the dulcet tones of the voice of Dorico, Anthony Hughes, as he gives you a whistle-stop tour of the dozens of new features and improvements in Dorico 4.3.
As usual, you can read comprehensive information about all of the new features and improvements – and the dozens of fixes – included in Dorico 4.3 in the full Dorico 4 Version History PDF, which now weighs in at a whopping 200 pages, nearly 50 of which are devoted to Dorico 4.3 alone.
Generate Notes from Chord Symbols (Dorico Pro only)
In the initial Dorico 4.0 release in January this year, we introduced a feature to generate chord symbols from notes, and now we are pleased to introduce something potentially even more useful for Dorico Pro users: a feature to generate notes from chord symbols, producing well-voiced chords with sensible voice leading, avoiding as far as possible parallel fifths and octaves (unless you want them!), and able to do some remarkably clever things, such as use a rhythm from one instrument as a pattern for the generated notes, and even take hints from notes you have added to guide the resulting voicings.
Take a look at Anthony’s dedicated video to get a better idea of what this feature is capable of:
The amount of work that has gone into this feature is pretty astonishing, and hopefully it shows in the results you will get. We’ve taken the knowledge of an experienced human arranger and tried to distill it down to a sophisticated set of rules and algorithms that can handle chords of arbitrary complexity and in any sequence. All manner of factors that an experienced arranger would consider are taken into account: not only balancing voice leading with parallel and contrary motion, but also the distance you need to hear between particular chord degrees to avoid a voicing sounding muddy balanced against the overal span of a voicing, which chord degrees can be omitted when voicing for instruments that can only play a limited number of notes (such as mallet percussion, or fretted instruments), and so on, and so on.
Dorico 4.3 is the culmination of nearly two years’ work in reworking the Mixer, Play mode, and its MIDI editors. We started working on this in January 2021, with the adoption of an entirely new UI technology. Users first got to see the fruits of this labour with the release of Dorico for iPad in July 2021, with the arrival of the first version of the Key Editor and the Mixer in the lower zone, and the reworked track overview in Play mode. Desktop users got their first taste of the new Key Editor with the release of Dorico 4.0 in January of this year, and since then, each update has restored and extended functionality.
Since the release of Dorico 4.2 in July, work has focused primarily on refining the user experience, and we hope you will be pleasantly surprised at how mature and fully-featured the Key Editor has become. Allow Anthony to walk you through the main changes we’ve been working on:
Right away you should be able to tell the difference. The floating zoom control from Dorico for iPad is gone (though it’s still there on the iPad, where it’s very useful), replaced by Cubase-style horizontal and vertical scroll bars with integrated zoom controls. You can open as many velocity, dynamics, pitch bend or MIDI CC editors as you like, and freely resize them. You can save and recall Key Editor configurations so that it only takes a moment to restore your favourite combinations, such as velocity plus MIDI CC 1 and MIDI CC 11. The transform tool now works not only on velocities, but also on MIDI CC, and the unique histogram tool also operates on MIDI CC data. Editing is more refined, with Dorico smartly constraining mouse drags so that you can’t accidentally change the pitch of a note while changing its duration, or vice versa. The Key Editor now features full support for copy and paste, so you can duplicate notes, MIDI CC data, dynamics and tempos – you can even paste MIDI CC data from one controller to another, making it easy to transform, say, CC7 data into CC11 data. And you can hold Alt when dragging notes in the piano roll or percussion editor to quickly make a copy. There’s better keyboard suppo
All of this – plus you can now quickly and easily show and edit the music for multiple instruments at the same time in the Key Editor. The track selector in the top left corner of the Key Editor is now a menu, allowing you to choose which instrument you are working on, or lock the selection and then choose multiple instruments. The various editors then show data from all of the selected tracks, clearly overlaid. In the piano roll and velocity editors, you can edit all of the music as if it belongs to a single instrument. In the MIDI CC and dynamics editors, you can draw in new data, and it is automatically applied to all tracks in the selection. Even the grandaddy of them all, Cubase, can’t do this. Furthermore, you can also push MIDI CC or dynamics data from the nominated primary track to all of the secondary tracks in the selection, either region-by-region, or with a single click to sync the data across the whole track. This sync tool is a first for this kind of MIDI editor in any software.
We let several experienced users who do MIDI programming and mock-up work in Dorico and their DAW of choice get an early look at this update, and asked them for their feedback on the new and improved workflow. All of them were delighted, and told us that in many cases these tools are now so mature and easy to use that the point at which they would find themselves needing to move their project into their sequencer has been pushed much, much later in the production process.
We’re thrilled with how the Key Editor has evolved over the course of this year’s releases, and we hope you will be too. It now provides a powerful, solid foundation upon which we can build further features for tweaking the virtual performance of your projects in future versions.
Note input and editing improvements
Moving beyond these two headline improvements, there are plenty of other useful changes throughout the rest of the application. Here are some of the workflow improvements for note input and editing:
- If you select a range of music before you create a clef, Dorico will now automatically create a restorative clef at the end of the selection.
- Similarly, if you select a range of music before you create a start repeat barline, Dorico will now automatically create an end repeat barline at the end of the selection.
- A new key command, Alt+U, has been introduced, which splits the selected notes into shorter notes, using the current rhythmic grid value to determine the length of the produced notes; you can also use Alt+U when the caret is visible, in which case the note will be split into shorter notes at multiples of the position of the caret relative to the start of the note (it’s easier to understand when you see it than it is to explain it!).
- If you want to, you can now specify that Force Duration should remain active when you restart note input, instead of its state being reset when you stop note input.
- Similarly, you can now specify that the Set local properties control in the Properties panel toolbar should be set to Globally by default when starting a new project, so that changes to properties (where possible) apply to all layouts by default.
- When you create a glissando line by typing gliss into the Shift+O popover, the Glissando style property is no longer overridden by default.
- A new Toggle Hide Stem command has been added that makes it quicker to hide or unhide the stems of selected notes; you can either assign a key command or invoke this via the jump bar.
As always, full details for all of these improvements can be found in the Version History PDF.
We’ve also made a number of modest but nonetheless significant improvements to the appearance of the music produced by Dorico, including:
- Bar number changes to subordinate bar numbers can now also change the primary bar number at the same barline, so you can now create sequences like 11, 12a, 12b, 12c, 13. Previously, you could only change the subordinate bar number after changing the primary bar number (i.e. the former sequence would have to be 11, 12, 12a, 12b, 13).
- New options for tick barlines that will be useful for producing editions of various kinds of early vocal music.
- Dorico now avoids showing stemless partial beams on rests at the start or end of beam groups by default, has a change to default engraving options that avoids beam corners when secondary beam groups appear on both sides of the primary beam, and has improved vertical positioning for centered beams when drawn within the staff.
- The appearance of capo chord symbols has been improved, with better alignment relative to main chord symbols, and the ability to edit the capo chord symbols independently of the main chord symbols if necessary.
- Horizontal and vertical lines can now be included in condensed music, and a long-standing problem with the appearance of trills in condensed music has been fixed.
- You can now specify whether the brackets around figured bass suspension and hold lines should be square or round.
- New options have been added for the alignment of lyrics, including the option to make the first lyric at the start of the system left-aligned but the whole stack of lyrics centered on the note, which is a convention commonly used in hymnals and other worship music publications in the US.
- A new Hide notehead property has been added, which makes it possible for a note to show no head but without interfering with the placement of articulations or accidentals.
- New options have been added for single-line unpitched percussion, including making it possible to make the notes that appear above and below the line appear further away for clarity.
- Rehearsal marks are now drawn using a paragraph style rather than a font style, which in particular makes it possible for rehearsal marks to appear at a different size in the full score and in part layouts.
- The layout name at the top left corner of the first page of each part layout is now enclosed with a border by default in new projects, and there are many new options for enclosing text, including different border shapes.
- System dividers now have a new option to appear when a minimum number of staves in the system is exceeded, rather than depending on how many staves appear in the system disregarding e.g. empty staves that may be hidden.
- New note grouping options for rhythmic slash regions in compound and irregular meters have been added to Notation Options.
- It’s now very simple to create tremolos for percussion that either show no tremolo strokes on the final release portion of the note, or no tremolo strokes on the initial attack portion of the note.
Relatedly, another small but welcome improvement is that the system and frame fullness indicators (which previously only appeared when the note spacing and staff spacing tools respectively were active in Engrave mode) now appear when you’re working in Engrave mode to format the music using tools like system and frame breaks, or Dorico 4’s handy new , and . shortcuts to move the selected bar to the previous or next system.
Again, all of these improvements are desccribed in detail in the Version History PDF.
Workflow and user interface improvements
Not satisfied with all of these improvements – any one of which might be trumpeted by a certain competitor as more than worth your monthly subscription fee – we’ve also made some modest but welcome workflow improvements.
For example, the Play menu is now visible in all modes, not only when your project window is in Play mode. Particularly now the Key Editor is well-integrated in Write mode, this makes a lot of sense. Only the Tracks submenu contains items that only make sense in Play mode, so those are disabled when your window is in one of the other modes. We’ve also made it possible to trigger some commands that were previously only available in Play mode via the jump bar in Write mode as well, for example Reset Playback Overrides, and Playback Template.
The menus for VST instruments and effects that appear in the Mixer and in the Track Inspector in Play mode are now hierarchical, grouped by manufacturer (and sometimes further by the function or type of plug-in), which makes it much easier to manage setups with a lot of plug-ins. The problem whereby the list of instruments in the Routing section of the Track Inspector is so long that it goes off the bottom of the display, making it impossible to choose the instruments at the very bottom of the list, should also bother you no more in Dorico 4.3.
We’ve also improved the design and layout of the left zone in Play mode, making the Track Inspector and VST Instruments and MIDI panels less cramped and more visually distinct from each other.
If the Keyboard panel is shown, Dorico now shows which notes are being played during playback, which can be fun and potentially instructive.
And there are more improvements like the above, which you will hopefully discover as you work with Dorico 4.3 in the days and weeks to come.
Dorico for iPad 2.5
Dorico for iPad users won’t miss out on the fun, either: we’ve also released a brand new update via the App Store today, bringing Dorico for iPad to version 2.5. This primarily addresses some compatibility issues with iPadOS 16.1, and fixes a couple of nasty bugs that affect only some models of iPad, but there is a handful of iPad-specific goodies included in this version:
- New buttons for popover navigation have been added, allowing you to navigate during lyrics, chord symbol, fingering and figured bass input.
- To toggle between the different lines of lyrics, tap the icon at the left-hand side of the popover to cycle through the available lines.
- It is now possible to use the up/down arrow keys on your external keyboard to choose different lines of lyrics in the popover.
- During playback, the Keyboard panel shows the pitches of the notes being played.
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.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Lifetime Unlock in-app purchase is available at an unprecedented 50% discount for the duration of the Cyber Weeks promotion, until 30 November 2022, so there has never been a better time to lock in all future premium feature updates in Dorico for iPad for a single, one-off purchase.
Installing the update
Dorico 4.3 is a free update for existing Dorico Pro 4, Dorico Elements 4 and Dorico SE 4 users. If you are currently running Dorico Pro 3.5 or Dorico Elements 3.5 or earlier, you can buy an update to Dorico Pro 4 or Dorico Elements 4 from the Steinberg online shop – and until 30 November 2022 you will save 50% in the Steinberg Cyber Weeks sale.
Assuming you already have an earlier version of Dorico 4 installed, you can update to Dorico 4.3 free of charge. First, quit Dorico and any other Steinberg application that you are running on your computer. We recommend that you run Steinberg Download Assistant, which will automatically update Steinberg Activation Manager to the latest version, along with any other elements of the Steinberg run-time environment (including eLicenser Control Center and Steinberg Library Manager) that may be outdated on your computer. You are especially well-advised to make sure you are running the latest version of Steinberg Activation Manager, as recent updates have improved reliability when running our applications in low or no Internet environments.
Once Steinberg Download Manager has finished updating any required components, go to My product downloads in the left-hand list, where you will find Dorico Pro 4, Dorico Elements 4, or Dorico SE 4, depending on which product you have installed. Select this, and on the right-hand side you will see Dorico 4.3 Application Installer. Click the Install button immediately to the right. This will download and run the Dorico 4.3 installer.
On Windows, pay close attention to whether it is recommended to restart your computer at the end of the installation process: if recommended, do restart your computer, as this should avoid font cache problems that you might otherwise encounter, which result in some icons in Dorico’s user interface and some music symbols in the score not appearing correctly until you restart your computer.
With the release of Dorico 4.3, we are planning to close the book on Dorico 4 development and start to look ahead to the next major version of Dorico. We have several interesting irons in the fire for 2023, but we can’t say too much about them at this stage.
The release of Dorico 4.3 comes just about a week after the tenth anniversary of our team starting fresh at Steinberg after we were let go by our former employers at the purple people eating company, and it comes less than a month after the sixth anniversary of the first public release of Dorico 1.0. We are proud to be working for Steinberg, one of the great and innovative companies in the world of music and audio technology, and proud to be making our own contributions to the development of ever-better tools for musicians of all kinds. Dorico 4.3 is the best version of Dorico yet, and we still feel as if we are just getting started. We have no shortage of exciting ideas to keep us busy for another ten years.
Whether you’re a brand new Dorico user, or you’ve been with us since the very start, thank you for choosing to make our tool part of your toolbox. Thank you for supporting our software by buying and upgrading it. Thank you for the feedback, comments and ideas that you continue to share with us. Thank you for telling your friends and colleagues about Dorico (please keep doing this). We are motivated to keep building the best possible tools we can for you, and your support makes it possible.
We hope you enjoy using the many new features and improvements in Dorico 4.3. Please do share with us what you do with them!