How to Optimize Your MusicXML Export for Dorico Users

by | Mar 4, 2019

MusicXML allows to freely share musical notation content from one piece of software to another. However, composers and musicians are still encountering issues when importing a MusicXML score into their notation software. In this article, we give you a few tips that will help you optimize your MusicXML export from the Dorico software.

1) Upgrade to Dorico 2

As is the case for all software, it is recommended to upgrade for best results. The most up-to-date version of Dorico as for today is Dorico 2.2.10.1256.

2) Export in transposed view

“It is generally best to export a score in transposed view rather than in concert pitch view” confirms Michael Good, founder of the MusicXML.
Here is how to do so:

Export in Transposed pitch in Dorico, recommended

Transposed Pitch, Recommended

Concert pitch in Dorico (not recommended)

Concert Pitch, Not recommended

3) Stay clear of the following notation symbols

Applications that support both the import and export of MusicXML files do not necessarily support exactly the same notations going both ways. It is definitely fair to say that Dorico is a lot more asymmetrical than most – while it offers a decent MusicXML import, its export is quite limited.
Dorico being a fairly new program, its developers’ first intention was to perfect the import of MusicXML files to meet the expectation of initial users, who were mainly interested in importing files. Now that Dorico has been around for a little while, users are starting to have projects that they need to export. As a result, the Dorico team is planning on improving the program’s export capabilities.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the things Dorico does not yet export (via MusicXML)

  •  Any kind of versioning information (e.g. what version of Dorico was used to encode it)
  •  Accidentals
  •  Chord symbols
  • Arbitrary text
  • Barline types
  • Rehearsal marks
  • Microtonal accidentals
  • Grace notes before barlines (other kinds of grace notes are OK)
  • Some dynamics (things like rfz, fp – basic dynamics are OK)
  • Instrument transposition
  • Articulations
  • Partial beams (basic beaming is exported)
  • Tempos
  • Glissando lines
  • Arpeggios
  • Playing techniques

I hope that the above list will at least help to set your expectations for the current state of Dorico’s MusicXML export more realistically. Improving MusicXML export is a priority for us, but it has to compete with many other things for our limited development time. “

Daniel Spreadbury

Product Marketing Manager, Dorico

4) Save time by exporting layouts as separate files

Unlike Sibelius, Dorico allows users to export individual parts (or “layouts” as they are called in Dorico) as separate MusicXML files. This feature is useful if you edited your layouts without going through the full score or have created new layouts.
To export several layouts separately, go to File ⇒ Export ⇒ MusicXML.

Exporting Music XML files from Dorico

Make sure “Export layouts as separate files” is checked, choose the layouts you wish to export and you are good to go.

Export layouts as seperate files Dorico

5) Use compressed MusicXML to reduce file size

MusicXML 2.0 and later versions of MusicXML introduced a new compressed MusicXML format.
Regular MusicXML files can be very large – much larger than the original Dorico file or corresponding MIDI files. This was not a problem when MusicXML was used exclusively as an interchange format. It has, however, stopped MusicXML from being used as a sheet music distribution format.

The compressed format reduces MusicXML file sizes to roughly the same size as the corresponding MIDI files. The format uses zip compression and a special .xml file suffix and Internet media type to identify files as MusicXML files vs. generic XML files.

6) When using extended notation techniques, try to keep it simple

Many contemporary composers use extended notation techniques in their pieces, and by doing so not only challenge traditional notation techniques but also music notation software. The way that all major software import and export MusicXML files is not currently built to understand all the unique ways in which contemporary composers/arrangers challenge their software. Most software will therefore likely miss out on a large amount of information when exporting this kind of piece via MusicXML, including layout, special symbols etc.

If you wish to import your Dorico MusicXML file/s into Newzik, we recommend you to move on to the article “Best Practices to Import in Newzik as a Dorico User”.

If after these tips you encounter a display inconsistency in Newzik with your musicXML, it can have two origins – Dorico’s export or Newzik’s import. In this case we encourage you to contact us so that we can take the necessary actions and help you solve the problem.

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