"add staff" and "remove staff" with instrument changes?

Greetings Dorico Team,

I love the visual clarity afforded by the “add staff” and “remove staff” options in Dorico’s new divisi feature. Being able to create a new staff mid-way through a system is such a helpful visual marker for musicians.

Is it possible to combine the use of “add staff” and “remove staff” with instrument changes?

For example, would it be possible to create a situation where players’ entrances are staggered, as are the points where they each switch to a different instrument? i.e. Violin 1A begins the piece, and then switches to wood block at m.5. Violin 1B enters at m.3 (two bars before Violin 1A switches instruments), and then too switches to wood block at measure m.7. Violin 1C enters at m.5, and then switches to wood block at m.9. Etc.

Again, the clarity of visual staggered entrances is wonderful, but I’m striking out on a way to combine this with instrument changes. I’ve done my best with forum and Google searches.

Any insight would be most appreciated.

Thanks for the terrific program!

Joshua Stamper

Joshua, the Add Staff/Remove Staff features are orthogonal to the divisi features, which are both orthogonal to the ossia features: although all three features make it possible to change the number of staves used by an instrument at a certain point in the score, they cannot be used together in every imaginable combination. You can’t, for example, use both divisi and instrument changes, because only a section player can use divisi, and section players cannot double. And you cannot use both instrument changes for a solo player and extra staves together, though that particular combination is something that we would not rule out allowing in future if there is sufficient need.

Thanks so much for the speedy and helpful reply, Daniel. I would like to officially cast my vote for this functionality in the future!

One possible work around might be the insertion of a staff-type change whenever a scenario, like the one proposed, might warrant it. This kind of functionality would also be a very useful feature for contemporary choral music, where singers are going back and forth between singing and other types of vocal effects (whispers, speech, tongue clicks, etc.). My understanding though is that any staff-type changes are only possible by way of instrument changes. Is this correct?

I know there has been some discussion and call for more graphical elements, like an editable line feature, the ability to create cutaway scores, etc. Are features like these (and I would love to add staff-type changes to the list), in Dorico’s immediate future?

Thanks again, Daniel and the rest of the Dorico team, for everything,


Yes, the only way to change the type of staff is by changing the instrument, and I expect that will remain the case for the foreseeable future, but I agree that it would be helpful to be able to mix changing instrument with instruments with variable numbers of staves; Dorico can theoretically handle all of these cases anyway, but it adds a good deal more complexity to the testing and the interaction of various different features, so it’s not just as simple as “turning it on”.

Certainly increasing Dorico’s capabilities in terms of graphical elements is in our plans, but it’s not in our immediate (i.e. the next 2.x update) plans.

Thanks so much for the reply, Daniel.

I’m so glad to hear that variable numbers of staves and changing instruments working in tandem is something that seems worth exploring. It would be a big help for my own work for sure.

Also, thank you for providing a sense of general timeline for when to expect tools for composers of electroacoustic music and graphic/aleatoric music. I can only imagine how complex it must be. In the meantime, I’m wondering if it might provide a tutorial or lesson (video and/or text) on some workarounds, particularly as regards the functionality of and creation of glyphs, use of SMuFL, and Bravura.

Thank you again for such a terrific, well-designed product.


Joshua Stamper

Daniel, first - thanks for all the effort putting into Dorico so far! Bought Dorico recently to be able to produce scores from Cubase compositions (looking forward into far far future, when these two softwares are integrated :wink:

However I got into an situation, when I need a different staff type, than Dorico is proposing - you said

To confirm - if I select an instrument (in my case Vibraphone), and Dorico select a single line staff, I can’t force it to have two lines, unless I change it to piano? In my case this Vibraphone part will be played on a stage piano and therefore I need a a double line staff as on piano for the instrumentalist to be more convinient.

So far I managed to change the instrument to piano and name it Vibraphone, but in the full score it says still piano, it uses piano patches (which can be configured of course), for the part itself it says Vibraphone, which is great - I just want to be sure, if there is any way to correctly achieve this.

Thank you.

It looks like you changed the Layout Name rather than the instrument name.

You change the Layout Name by double clicking the player in Setup mode.
You can change the instrument name by clicking the little caret on the right of the Player (which should show the instruments ‘held’ by the player), and by clicking on the caret of the instrument you should find an option to change the instrument name.
Changing this should propagate to staff labels, etc (while the Layout Name only changes what is printed top left on the page).

I certainly did! I have seen the option to change the name of the instrument - apologies I brought it up.

However my question is (as this way I consider a slight hack :smiley:) if this is the only way I can achieve it, or there is an option to click on instrument in Setup mode (or on the staff in Write mode) and choose a staff type, even if I selected an instrument not propriate for such staff type.

While not suggesting you do what I would do, I would say that if the Vibe part were to be played on a keyboard, I would treat the instrument as a parallel to an organist who plays a particular organ stop: I’d label the player as Keyboard and then indicate within the grand staff (and probably boxed) that the sound is to be Vibraphone. I’d then set the appropriate sound in the VST.

I do the same if I want the Keyboardist to play (or mimic) the sound of a particular synth on the keyboard.

Thanks, Derrek.

That sounds reasonable.

Just to clarify my original question - could you confirm, that there is no way to control the staff type except for changing the instrument?

You can create an instrument, then right click on the first rest and go Staff > Add Staff Above or Add Staff Bellw.

That won’t bracket them together as a grand staff, though. Presumably that’s coming in a further update.

Thanks. With elements I suppose it is not possible - however my question is answered - the instrument is responsible for selection of staff type. So I select piano (or keyboard, or something) and change the name.

I would also like more flexibility here!

As an exercise for learning Dorico I’m engraving Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” for harp and treble voices. In the first and last songs the harp is optional, so in my source score it is labelled HARP* (with an asterisk). Since I can’t seem to temporarily rename an instrument my solution for that was to create a second instrument for that player, so the “harp” player was playing both the “Harp” and the “Harp*”. However, in one of the pieces the harp breaks into a third stave, and because of the way I had approached it earlier it broke down when I added the third staff. For the time being I’ve gotten rid of the “Harp*” and now ‘add staff’ is working fine, but now I need to come up with some other inelegant workaround to add the asterisk back in!

What I suggest you do is insert a system break at the start of the movement where the harp is optional, and then in the Properties panel you can override the staff label visibility so that the automatic staff labels don’t appear there. You can then add dummy staff labels using Shift+X text: I recommend you switch off the ‘Avoids collisions’ property for the text items you add to ensure they don’t have any impact on the vertical spacing of the frame.