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  • Writer's pictureAmit Weiner

Sibelius (notation software) vs. Dorico (Steinberg's software) - which of the two is the best for notation?

Sibelius is the world's most commonly used notation software, while some say (myself included) that it is an absolute nightmare to use! 😊


Before you continue reading, you must see this. For those who are not familiar yet, here’s the internet's funniest parody of the absurd failures and problems of Sibelius. Get ready to laugh like you've never before 😊


So, how can that be?


In the music world, Sibelius has become notoriously reckoned as the software with the most oddities, abundance of issues, and overall interface.


Any Sibelius user knows that it’s a lingering struggle that ends with a cathartic sense of victory when finally mastering the software.


Here is one of the most absurd examples, the infamous welcome screen of Sibelius.


Note what I have circled  - why for god’s sake does Sibelius need three exit buttons?!

You won't believe the number of times I (and millions of other users) accidentally clicked on the "Exit" button located at the bottom right corner, exactly where there should be a button leading us to the next screen.


Why on earth do we need three exit buttons on one welcome screen?! I just entered the software!



Which notation software is the best out there?

Today there are four major notation software:


1. Sibelius - Previously a private company that’s been around since 1993 now owned by Avid. The same company that owns one of the most commonly used Daw’s in all of the major studios around the world, Pro Tools.

2. Finale - In the market since 1988! Would you even believe it? A software released at times when only individuals had a computer at home, not to mention notating music on it.

3. Dorico by Steinberg - first released in 2016 to overcome Sibelius formed by a team of programmers fired from the latter. Did they succeed? Stay tuned.

4. Musescore - One the most popular software in the market especially among music students, due to being free.


After seeing a massive amount of people praising Steinberg's Dorico, I decided to give it a try. I will say that I’m used to Sibelius and have been using it for years, but why not giving a shot at a new software? In this article, I will summarize my overall experience using Dorico.


Let’s Begin!


After 18 long years of using Sibelius, I bought Dorico and set myself on a new adventure. Eighteen years! I can still remember myself as a fresh student in the university using Sibelius 3. And after all those years the keyboard

shortcuts are deeply ingrained in my fingers.



Here’s my impression of Dorico so far:

The Good:

●       The option of importing a MIDI file is amazing, and it's the sole reason I bought the software in the first place. A smart feature that saves a ton of time by putting everything in order. Unlike Sibelius which imports MIDI files with all the mess that generally comes with it. In a nutshell, it's a real game-changer and truly an amazing function!

The Bad:

●       Relearning all the keyboard shortcuts that have been ingrained into my fingers for the past 18 years is such a time waster. And most of the shortcuts in Dorico don't seem to make any sense (why do I need to press shift + N every time you want to input notes?!).

●       The overall appearance of notes seems a bit unprofessional to me. It also shares all the problems and issues that Steinberg’s Cubase has. (But It’s Cubase, will forgive it)

●       Although I own a powerful computer, it took me an hour of work until the first crash.

●       There was one MIDI file that Dorico just wouldn’t open, while Sibelius did it effortlessly. It seems that Dorico’s Importing and opening files system hasn’t been done quite thoroughly as it should.

●       All keyboard shortcuts do not work while your keyboard language is set to Hebrew. Something that works perfectly in Cubase and Sibelius.


The Ugly

Well, quite frankly I couldn't find anything truly ugly in Dorico. So here’s the “Ugly”



This is Tuco from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” with the amazing soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.



In Conclusion

On one hand, it seems that Dorico includes some very clever and advanced features, much more than Sibelius. But on the other hand, it feels a bit like that dreadful washing machine with 17 different wash cycles. The one which you stand in front of bewildered, looking for the "Wash & Done" cycle.



Dear Steinberg - Why must you complicate everything?!


Is it your first time here on this blog?

About the Author:

Amit Weiner is an award-winning composer and music producer with extensive experience in music production and composition for diverse media. Winner of Israel Prime Minister Award for Composers.

Amit Weiner enjoys an international multi-faceted career as a composer and a pianist. His experience growing up in the enchanted and versatile Jerusalem shaped his approach to music of different styles and genres.

Signed with Universal Music Group Amit has licensed over 1,000 tracks, which were featured in more than 5000 TV shows around the world, among them Netflix, HBO, BBC and FOX.

Amit Weiner's music focuses on intermingling traditional Jewish melodies and contemporary compositional techniques. These compositions have had over two hundred performances worldwide, including New York's Carnegie Hall and across the USA, the UK, Austria, Germany, Russia, Canada, China, Japan, Ukraine, Italy, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, and Israel.

As a composer for films and TV he has composed three full length film scores, five theater plays, and many albums of Library Music (Production Music). Amit works as a composer with the biggest companies in the film industry such as Universal Production Music France, Warner/Chappell Music Group Production, Sonoton (Germany), Non Stop Music, Gothic Storm Music (UK), and more. His music and has been licensed and featured on films and TV in Japan the US, to Europe and China.

As a composer he is active in the fields of concert music, music for film, and popular music. His oeuvre includes over 40 chamber and orchestral works, among them three concertos for piano and orchestra, a number of orchestral works, chamber music, songs, and works for piano.


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