2 instruments 1 stave, extracting parts

For a double-wind orchestral score, is it possible on Dorico to have 2 instruments on one stave (e.g. flute 1 stems up, flute 2 stems down) and then be able to extract separate parts for the 2 players? Any advice much appreciated.


Dorico works exactly the other way 'round: You write the parts on separate staves (players) and Dorico then combines them to one staff. It’s called “Condensing”.
Have a look at the manual and several YouTube videos made by the Dorico team! :slight_smile:

This should get ya started!

Many thanks. That is great to know and I will do it like that from now on, but is it able to do it the way I said it?

You can select everything, then filter only notes of voice 2 and move them to the second player.

No. It’s typically pretty quick to Explode (Edit > Paste Special > Explode) from a single stave with two voices to two separate staves.

The development team thought long and hard about the best way to do this, and they realised that there are typically too many ambiguities when doing it (or trying to automate) the way you’re doing it: for instance, if a unison appears, should one or both players play it?

So interesting (and, to me strange!) I can’t imagine a situation where I would write instruments on two different staves and then want to combine them for a part like this. The first and second flutes would always play off of separate sheet music anyway. Meanwhile, in the score, I would often be looking to save space by combining instruments onto one stave…

If you have this in two separate voices, I would normally include the unison note in both voices…? Or am I missing something?

And some people would use a single voice and write a2. Things get more complicated with e.g. three trumpets on a single staff with only two notes.

The point you’re missing is that the development team realised that the only way to remove ambiguity is to start with separate staves. Exploding makes that easy, and multi-staff caret input makes it possible to enter different (or the same!) notes to multiple staves simultaneously.

So is the idea for the way of working:

  • start with a score where you have every instrument on a different stave
  • combine the instruments into a new stave at the end
  • make a score where you include the combined instruments and omit the individual staves
  • make parts from the individual staves

Heck no. That’s what Dorico’s trying to get away from!

Condensing does the combining for you in real time, and updates the combined staves dynamically as you change notes in the underlying individual staves.

You want to watch this video:


Ah! Thanks so much this is hugely helpful!

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Couldn’t you have a preference for handling unisons? I would like to see an interface for composition in short score. A view that is similar to condensing, but different. The parts could be marked for instrumentation. See schoenberg chamber symphony no. 2 score, where parts are labeled; ex. A line marked fl. 1,2,3 + ob 1. . 8ve markings can indicate octave and doublings. This us would allow composition and orchestration.

I couldn’t have an anything - I’m just a Dorico user.

Looking at the manuscript of the Schoenberg Second Chamber Symphony, I can absolutely see how that sort of notation makes sense as a timesaver, in manuscript. I can’t see quite what the value of changing instrumentation midway through a line is (see e.g. bar 32 on the second page) in a time where cutting/copying/pasting entire swathes of material is a few clicks. In the time you’ve taken to type “Oboe, Flute 2” etc. you could easily have alt-clicked the material to the correct staves.

If you can explain the use case publicly, I’m sure the development team will be interested to hear your thoughts. There’s not a great deal of point in replying directly to me, as I have no more say than you do in which direction the development team go.


As a copyist, I hate it when composers use these “Where’s Waldo?” type of manuscript scores. When giving estimates, I always just double my usual proofreading hours when I see these type of manuscripts as I know there will be a ton of issues. (I once had a client provide an entire orchestral score plus a jazz band condensed down to 6 staves, ugh!) With a pencil manuscript and a likely time consideration, at least it’s understandable though. In notation software, I don’t really see the point. It’s just as fast to copy a Flute line down to an Oboe staff as it is to type in a label like “Fl. 1 + Ob. 1.”

This would only be for composition. Just saw a doc about Max Steiner and they showed some of his scores; 2-6 staves, WW, Br, Perc. Str, kbds. etc. Full orch score 1 stave/part is unworkable for composition. Especially on a laptop.

I wouldn’t say it’s “unworkable”.
this is how I’ve worked for over 20 years.

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Agree. Short score is certainly an effective way to compose, but then making a full score is a simple matter of copying to the appropriate staves (omitting all the little instrumentation markings). IMO the needed features are already there.

one can also make good use of instrument filters in Galley View.
it’s incredibly simple to make groups of instruments and work from those.
you can even have a grand-staff “scratch staff” that you include with each “group” of instruments you create, for example: all woodwinds + scratch staff, all brass + scratch staff, all strings + scratch staff.
This way, you’d have an identical “scratch staff” no matter which section of your orchestra you’re looking at.

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