Bug with Instrument Short Names?


Either there is a small bug with the default “short names” for instruments, or my defaults have somehow gotten messed up. The issue is this: some of the short names include a period after the abbreviated name of the instrument, and some do not.

Instruments that include a period after the abbreviated name:
• All of the orchestral wind instruments
• Trumpets, trombones, and tuba
• Percussion
• Celesta
• Strings

Instruments that are missing the period:
• Horns
• Piano
• Harp

There are surely many more in both categories — this is just a quick check. I think all the abbreviated short names should include the period.

Just in case this is the solution: are you really on Dorico 1.0.30? If so, update to 1.1

Nope, I’m using 1.1, and this applies to newly created projects.

By the way, I should add that this obviously isn’t a huge problem — I can very easily change the instrument names manually to add the period. But of course, it would be great if it were done correctly automatically.

Somewhere in my wanderings through life, I think I’ve seen a style guide that says abbreviations should only be followed by a period if they end with a different letter from the unabbreviated word. I’ve don’t have a reference for it, though.

In fact adding instruments to a new empty project, the “strings” seem to follow that guide - Vn and Vla don’t have a period, but Vc. does (which contradicts your first post).

That would make sense, I think, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen a published score follow that convention. And, to me, it doesn’t look right — my eye really wants to see a period after every abbreviation.

It could be a side-of-the-pond-specific difference. US style guides for general writing tend to follow a rather “old fashioned” style from a UK perspective - for example “e.g.,” with two periods and a mandatory comma, compared with recent Oxford style guides which give “eg” with no punctuation at all.

Paradoxically for a young country, US English tends to be “old fashioned” in other ways as well. For example in the UK we abandoned verb tenses like “gotten” at least a century ago - the only place one is likely to see it in print is in the 1611 King James Bible.

Of course Noah Webster took a more revolutionary approach to spelling - but many of his ideas didn’t survive.

We do indeed follow the convention that we only add a full stop at the end of an abbreviated name if the last letter of the abbreviation is not the last letter of the instrument name itself, so this is intentional.

Maybe you could change this convention based on the language?
Because in German, abbreviations always have their dot at the end, regardless if the last letter of the abbreviation is the same as the last letter of the full word. (There are some exceptions, as always, but they don’t apply here.)

So “Triangel” would be “Trgl.”, “Viola” would be “Vla.” and so on.

Yes, in each language we follow a different set of conventions, depending on what the translators decided to do. I can’t speak for what the German translator decided to do, because I haven’t asked him specifically about that.

Great, thanks! :slight_smile:

This convention does seem to make sense, but I have to ask — are there any music publishers who follow it? My very, very quick survey of well-engraved English-language scores finds them all with periods after every abbreviation — for example, Britten’s “Death in Venice” (published by Faber).

I have always followed this convention in my own scores, and you’ve inspired me to take a quick look in my little library of mostly Dover scores:

  • Holst’s Planets includes a full stop after every instrument
  • Shostakovich Symphonies 9 & 10 follow the convention
  • Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (and Messiaen’s Turangalîla, Durand) follow the convention, with bassoons using an underlined superscript Bons
  • Mahler 8 follows the convention
  • Steven Stucky’s Second Concerto for Orchestra (Merion Music) does not follow the convention

So it appears to be inconsistent.

Perhaps (sometime in the future) this choice could be selected as a Preference.

I agree, that would be great, and the preference could either be in the Staff Labels section of the Staves and Systems category of Layout Options, or in the Staff Labels category of Engraving Options.


My survey agrees (Death in Venice is on my shelf too). It may just be that you and I consult the same publishers, but in my experience a score takes an “all or none” approach to full stops after abbreviations of instruments. As an example of “none,” there’s the Complete Works series to which I’m contributing a volume. Our style guide (which lists names and abbreviations for all instruments in English and German) specifically says that periods are not to be used after the abbreviations.

Aside from music, I’ve come to the conclusion that the rule for UK style is “whatever makes the colonists feel embarrassed at doing it wrong” – in a business letter, omitting the period (full stop) at many points where we would use it, but on the other hand adding more commas after lines (of an address, for instance) than we would use.