Towards the end of last year I decided to try out a demo version of Steinberg’s Dorico Notation Software, as I had heard great things about it from some of my friends at Chigiana. I loved it so much that I bought a full version once the demo expired. How I wish that I had been able to use it while I was in Berklee’s program. It’s so much more enjoyable to work with than Finale, on so many levels. 

While I found some great tutorials on YouTube and Groove3, it wasn’t the same as doing a real project, from start to finish. For this I chose to create a project that would combine a few things I had been wanting to do for a while. 

First, notate a full orchestral score in Dorico, while using Note Performer (which I hadn’t really used yet). Secondly, analyze and recreate some of the scores in composer Ryan Lynch’s “10 ESSENTIAL Orchestral Scores You Need To Study” list. For this project I chose to focus on Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in G minor.  

Based on the original score found on IMSLP, here is the version that I created (first five minutes of the piece):

And here is the audio via Note Performer (and some processing in Logic using UAD’s Studer A800, SSL G Bus Compressor, Fairchild 770, and Ozone 9): 

Below is the analysis that I put together, based on Ryan Lynch’s template:

Overall, I really enjoyed this project as it helped me to get more familiar with Dorico while giving me an even deeper appreciation of just how great Mozart’s music is. Just amazing!

Notation Checklist

Recently it occurred to me that I should have a checklist to remind me of the things that I need to do when putting together notated scores. I’ll add more as I think of them, but this is a good start.

  • Title & composer name
  • Font type
  • BPM/Tempo
  • Measure #’s
  • Correct Time Signatures
  • Expressions
  • Dynamics
  • Chord symbols
  • Harmonic Analysis
  • Position of systems on/across pages
  • Spacing between staves & systems
  • Spacing between notes/chord symbols/measure #’s
  • Zoom level
  • Rehearsal Letters
  • Double Bars for each new section
  • Synth patch used
  • Drum key/Berklee drum notation rules
  • Use 2 layers for drum parts for correct direction of stems (upward for parts played with the hands, downwards for parts played with the feet)


“Enchantment” is the first song from the upcoming “Equinox” album. It is also the first symphonic piece that I’ve done in a long time.

Video footage taken while visiting Mt Tamalpais (Marin County, CA), Municipal Rose Garden (San Jose, CA) and the Pulgas Water Temple (Redwood City, CA).

Here’s the backstory…

I had been wanting to do an orchestral/symphonic piece for many years now. Fortunately some of the tools available nowadays makes it possible to create something that sounds pretty compelling in terms of authenticity. 

This song started as a simple chord progression with me humming the melody. Here’s the original sketch:

Once I had decided that I was going to work on this song idea for the concert, I made a full chart with lead melody and chord progressions:

While working on pre-production of the song I watched two very helpful video courses on Groove3:

Creating Realistic MIDI Strings

Creating Epic Cinematic Compositions

The latter being particularly useful as I ended up mirroring a lot of the approach outlined in the course. 

Here are some of my notes that I referenced while bringing the track up:

  • Follow the “Rules of Harmony” (this video by Rick Beato was particularly informative:
  • Determine parts per section (e.g. Strings, Horns, Woodwinds, Percussion, misc.)
  • Create new alternate version in Logic per section (to free up CPU resources when using the virtual instruments)
  • Stack multiple virtual instruments per section w/ different articulations to create a fuller sound
  • Quantize, humanize then scale % of quantization applied
  • Use mod wheel to write expression automation
  • Bounce to align (if necessary) 

Shine On

Long before I became a fan of Pink Floyd, the guitar riff in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” echoed in my mind all on it’s own. Somewhat like a half remembered dream, familiar yet foreign and mysterious.

Recently I decided to take a go at notating it as part of my “Hearing & Writing” studies and ended up doing the full arrangement of the song’s main theme, right about where the band first comes in. This version is based on the live recording found on the “Pulse” album. While this does not reflect all the various nuances of each individual’s playing (slides, vibrato, bends, etc.) it does capture the main rhythms, chords and melodies.

Demolition Man

Today I chose to notate the bass part of this classic jam by The Police. I love this riff. As I think about it, the bass line _is_ the song. There’s a lot that happens in the way of other parts being introduced throughout the piece (vocals, horns, guitar solos, drum fills, etc.) but the bass line never varies. It’s very hypnotic and beautiful in it’s simplicity. When you got something this cool why mess with it?

I’m Buzzed

I love Michael Landau’s playing. He comes up with really unusual melodies and chord voicings that sound amazing to me. His playing can be fluid and gentle and then suddenly powerful, fierce and raw.

I decided to notate the main theme of his song “I’m Buzzed” as part of my Hearing and Writing studies. While this does not reflect all the various nuances of his playing (slides, vibrato, bends, etc.) it captures the main rhythms and melodies. To be honest I’m a bit buzzed that I am able to even do this much. Looking forward to what’s next.

While researching the piece I found this great video of Michael explaining how he plays the song as well as this clip of him playing it with his band at the legendary “Baked Potato” in Studio City, CA.