Ad hoc instrument changes

It’s quite useful to be able to quickly switch a phrase or part to different instruments on an ad hoc basis. For example, if I’m writing for contrabass, I might want to hear what the bass part (or the entire ensemble) sounds like if I double the CB with bass trombone, tuba, bass guitar, etc., to quickly compare the results. Or if, say, a bass line is played by two instruments an octave apart, determining which instrument should play the upper line makes a big difference. When a soundbank offers multiple versions of a single instrument, a user might want to audition all the versions to hear first-hand how they work out within the context of a work-in-progress. Etc.

The point is that it’s extremely useful to be able to quickly cycle a part through different instruments. Most scoring programs offer a simple way to do this, often from within ascore-writing mode, but all I can find in the Dorico docs is a cumbersome procedure that involves adding every candidate instrument to players, limiting yourself to Galley View, and then manually moving content among the many parts assigned to the candidate instruments. Arg!

I know there’s got to be an easy way to perform a function as common as this. Any expert advice?


For example?

Rather than actually changing the instrument, perhaps it would suffice to only change the playback sound? You can do that in Play mode relatively quickly, and you can always undo any unintentional changes you make by choosing Play > Playback Template and then re-applying the playback template you were using.

dspreadbury: Really? I’ll look into that. But it sounds as though you would have to have templates set up beforehand with particular instruments. Kind of defeats the idea of “ad hoc.”

Since posting that message, I shelled out a few bucks & finally bought NotePerformer. When plugged into Dorico, it lets you do exactly what I was talking about with an “Instrument Override” function in its mixer.

NP is a good addition to Dorico for a lot of other reasons, so this was money well-spent.

You can do exactly the same thing with the HALion Sonic VSTs that come with Dorico. (Granted, NotePerformer is a great investment.)


You can use Google as well as I can if you want to educate yourself re: other programs, but a 30-second search turned up this example: change instruments | MuseScore

And I’ll tell you just off the top of my head that even $59 Crescendo lets you quickly change the sound assigned to a part with just a few clicks. (From Crescendo manual p. 17: “Every staff can have its own instrument assigned to it. To assign an instrument to a staff: First select a staff, then select from the instrument drop down the instrument you wish this staff to be played on.”)

Please let me know if you have anything else to contribute.

Pianoleo: As usual, you answered my question! Thanks.

Regardless, I don’t think I’ll ever regret the NP purchase. Like you said…

Thank you for insulting me. I was seeking clarification on your expectation, nothing more.

Neither MuseScore, nor Crescendo appears to solve the problem you posed any easier than Dorico. Namely…

(You need to create the part to double it)


(You presume that each “version” in the “soundbank” is controlled by the same parameters. A cursory look at the instruments available in Halion will show this premise is false)