Comparison between Dorico 2 and MuseScore 2

Posted 5 years ago

It has been a significant amount of time since I posted my last comparison between MuseScore and other notation programs, but since then Dorico 2 was released. I thought it would do justice to include such a comparison.
Before Dorico 2:
Dorico in of itself was a program with many great ideas, but at the same time, many features did not exist. It was quite hard to do professional work on that program. During that time, I ended up using Finale, because Finale could do more. I am sad to include that because of my advancing skills, as well as excited friends to play my music that I know, MuseScore no longer met my needs in scoring. I needed scores that looked professional and legit, and could do a lot. It is a joke among my college that "Everything looks more professional than MuseScore". To add a positive note, many friends I know in that college use MuseScore. My professor (who has performed Piano in Carnegie Hall) uses MuseScore for her needs and gets along just fine. Despite all of this, and Dorico's new intuition, MuseScore wins hands down as the better program compared to Dorico 1, because MuseScore could do more, but it was a close score.
Dorico 2 Analysis and Comparison
Dorico 2 came out and introduced a trunk load of new features. One feature that specifically caught my mind, was the way to have sections divide. Right-click, then change divisi, and then when you're done, right-click and restore tutti. On the page, if the divisi started mid-line, it would automatically create a "unison" part (both staves would automatically have the same part notated). That has got to be the best idea I have seen in a music notation softare ever. I wanted MuseScore to have that feature while I used it in the past!
Another feature I liked was that it automatically adjusted spacing to avoid collisions. I know MuseScore 3 would have that feature, but yeah. Adjusting all the spacing in MuseScore 2 to accomodate collisions was a pain in the rear.
Even in Dorico 1, Dorico 1 still had better looks than MuseScore. The Bravura font was a rather attractive looking font for music. MuseScore's Emmentaler looked fine for functionality in general, I liked it of course, but in the world of music, that kind of font will stick out like a sore thumb, since it presents the idea of a "child's drawing" in my honest opinion. Of course don't take my word for it as truth since it is only my opinion, but in the end, There will be a difference in a score produced with MuseScore compared to a score produced with Finale, or Dorico (2) in looks alone. It is just a matter of which one you like better. I find Bravura to be more aesthetically pleasing than Emmentaler. The fact of looks is that as long as you can read it well, it looks fine.
In regards to functionality, Dorico 2 allows you to improvise while writing. Especially in some areas like divisi staves, and cue notes. Dorico 2 thinks to fill in the "thinking gaps" of notating in order to allow you to focus on music alone. If you decide half-way through the piece that you want the 1st violins to divide, With MuseScore, you have to add an extra staff, and then control all the spacing and all that, especially if the score does not fit in the page and all that, then adjust labeling, etc. With Dorico, just click change divisi and then restore tutti when you're done, it does most of the work for you.
As for other features, Dorico (2) has a pop-over based input of many features such as crecendos, articulations, dynamics, etc. You can even highlight the notes that you want the crecendo to span before you notate it, which saves time, and is intuitive! With MuseScore, click and drag, and then hit shift + -> or <- to anchor it to different notes. With time signatures, pick up notes are made easier, just pull up the pop-over, and then type 4/4, 1 o 3/4, 1 depending on what your time signature is, and how long you want the pick up measure. Key commands are quite logical in Dorico. Of course, coming from a MuseScore background, it might seem harder, but that is just because you're not used to it yet. However, you are more than welcome to change the key commands of just about any feature if you want to. The thing about Dorico (2) that could be annoying is the key selection for note durations. With MuseScore, 5 is a quarter note, with Dorico (2), 6 is a quarter note. I changed all of the numbers to MuseScore's features, because I am working with Finale as well.
Of course there's the sound. HALion Sonic SE is a better sound platform than Fluid, of course (I do not like MuseScore's sounds). The only thing about HALion that I don't like is the choir sounds. Now, compared to Finale's sound HALion looses to GPO 5, but that's because Finale has human playback.
Closing Thoughts:
Now, in the end I doubt my opinion on which software is better is relevant. Such opinions are in fact, opinions. Dorico 2 might have all those features, but that does not mean everyone finds it better. MuseScore still dominates the free notation software world, because it has the most features. Finale Notepad, and Sibelius First (the newer one) are in fact quite limited. MuseScore so far, has done a good job appealing to the crowd that wants to try music notation or composes as a hobby, but does not want to give up an arm and a leg for a software. It might not do that much, but for composers of that level, it's perfect. Also, The 3 greats of software notation (Finale, Sibelius, and Dorico) are not going to get rid of MuseScore anytime soon, because if they offer a free notation that could rival MuseScore, 95% of their features would be given away for free. That's why they probably won't offer such a free program. Of course, can MuseScore make the 3 greats obsolete, well, probably not.


Just one point real quick: If you like Dorico because of Bravura and dislike MuseScore because of Emmentaler, just switch to Bravura in MuseScore.

In reply to by Elwin

I don't know if you meant for anyone to actually read your blog, but if you were aware of MuseScore's ability to use the Bravura font, you might have mentioned it in the article. Especially after the whole paragraph about how MuseScore produces inferior-looking scores because Bravura is a better-looking font than Emmentaler.

If you like being able to select the notes that you want a crescendo to span before adding it to the score, MuseScore allows you to do this as well.