Automatic or semi-automatic implementation of string divisi solo/section playback

I have several scores involving a) a string orchestra and b) multiple flows. Assume the following circumstance:

the viola section is divided in the first flow into Solo and Tutti, in the second flow into Solo 1, Solo 2, Section 1, Section 2 and Tutti, and in the third flow into Section 1, Section 2 and Tutti.

The first flow requires three up-stem voices. The Solo part is automatically assigned to the first up-stem voice, and therefore must be written in a new up-stem voice in order to be assigned to a solo patch. This means that the VST player loads two section patches and one solo patch.
The second flow requires seven (or eight, if the section divisi occurs simultaneously with the two solo players) up-stem voices. Each new staff is automatically assigned to an up-stem voice in order of appearance, regardless of what audio patch was previously assigned to that voice. Each Solo part must therefore be written in a new up-stem voice in order to be assigned to a solo patch that doesn’t conflict with the tutti patches used in the first flow, and at least one Section part must also be written in a new up-stem voice in order to be assigned to a tutti patch that doesn’t conflict with the solo patch used in the first flow. This means that the VST player loads six additional section patches and two additional solo patches.
The third flow requires five up-stem voices, again, in order to avoid any potential conflicts. Four additional section patches are loaded.

This results in a project that loads a total of seventeen viola patches, when only four are needed. Very often one also ends up with a project where some of the patches that loaded are inexplicably inaudible, which can only be solved by loading even more patches onto another instance of the VST audio engine.

I understand that this is a limitation of the current functionality and no changes are planned. I was just curious as to whether there is a more efficient way to do this.

(One potential option is to simply not assign any solo patches until the entire piece is finished, and then hope that the new voice assignments on solo staves don’t conflict with any existing voice assignments for section staves elsewhere. This may in fact be necessary since voice assignments don’t appear to remain consistent between edits—e.g. if you assign up-stem voice 2 to channel 7 in flow 1, but then create a new up-stem voice 3 in flow 2 in order to assign it to channel 8, the “all voices” toggle seems to reset in flow 1 and you need to go back there to reassign up-stem voice 2 to channel 7 and so on.)

Holy Violi, Batman! - this sounds like a mess. I presume you are using a template which you have set up and created endpoint configurations for, and that is why it keeps loading multiple viola patches. One alternative way of working, which indeed has always been my preferred method, is to use the ‘silence’ template and manually load your instruments as you need and manually assign the voices accordingly. Until Dorico allows users to load independent endpoint configurations which are not tied to a template and which are user customized for the specific libraries they own, then using the silence template is, in my opinion, the best way to go in order to avoid instruments loading unnecessarily. Not sure if this will solve all your issues, but worth a try.

A certain amount of duplication is probably inevitable, but it should be possible to share voices between flows to at least some extent. Technically, the voices themselves are not shared: they are always independent streams in each flow, but Dorico builds a mapping between the voices in each flow so that, so far as is possible, “Up-stem voice 1” in different flows will play back via the same channel in your VST instrument.

In retrospect, we very probably should have approached this the other way: allow you to create endpoints in Play mode that do not start with a connection to any particular voice, then allow you to assign them to voices in flows in an arbitrary fashion.

Although I don’t know when we are going to revisit this area, I think better management for endpoints in divisi is certainly an important thing that we need to reconsider for the future.

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Reading this post, I relate to the experience of using multiple voices across several violas and finding VST’s that don’t seem in use, or that I can’t see where they are connected to.
I’m working on a piece that uses 10 violas, sometimes as tutti, others as divisive that include solo players. I’ve used the division and I’m struggling to know what part I’m working on, because I can’t isolate when needed. some of the division’s parts so as to see only some of the violas; similar to the view filter in galley view, but for division parts.
Is there a way to do this?

There’s no way to narrow down the view to just a few of the divisi sections, I’m afraid. Hopefully, though, you will find that the description of the voices shown in the status bar at the bottom of the window in Write mode match the descriptions of the voices shown in the individual tracks for voices in Play mode.