Choral divisi best practice?

Yes, I have been reading through the posts here. No I’m not sure there’s a “good” answer to this -

in this post Dan said that going from short to open score should be a condensing thing.

In another post it was acknowledged that condensing doesn’t really work for choral scores yet.

Divisi seems to be the way forward for this kind of thing. However - if I use two players (SA and TB - the “choir” instrument doesn’t support it, and dividing out from 1 player seems to cause rather than solve problems) - we still have the problem of the 8vb treble in the divided tenor part:

Screenshot 2021-11-04 at 21.00.42

the clef has a cautionary on the short score, far from ideal. At this point I’ve thrown my hands up and hidden it using the colour feature and opacity. But is there a “best practice” here that I’m missing, or is this the best we have?

It feels like this feature should be pretty much it when it comes to choral divisi, but nothing seems to be quite perfect…

In the absence of proper condensing for choral music, I have been known to use both a choir reduction instrument and four individual voices, and then switch between them at system breaks, hiding the set of staves I don’t want to see from that point.

When we are eventually able to crack the condensing nut in these cases, you’ll be able to simply write for four individual parts as normal, and then condensing will take care of the rest.


The thing to remember is that you don’t need parts for a choirs, so the vocal score just has to look right, and it doesn’t matter if you’re using lots of different Players to achieve that.

Also, unless it’s going to save you an extra sheet of paper on the booklet (4pp), I would keep scoring changes to a minimum. Singers hate having to find their place on a new system. (Just the other day, I was singing something where the ‘empty’ Bass part had been removed from one system. A bunch of them them came in on the Tenor line, as if it were F clef, of course.)

As for the tenor part: no fix for the cautionary, but remember that as long as you set Notation Options to Respect Ottava clefs, then the G8 clef will show the correct pitch on a Bass Player. And if you need a Tenor player, use the Tenor “Sounds as Written” instrument.

Also: is that supposed to be a Yogh in the Bass lyrics?


Thanks yes, I do know these things (I spend a sizeable portion of my time writing and typesetting for choir). I think I prefer to hide cautionary clefs than use separate instruments at this stage, much though your thoughts are appreciated.

Dorico very handily has an “octave shift” feature attached to its clefs - it’s as absolute godsend when you want to define an 8vb treble clef in the middle of a voice part - I’ve been using this.

I think a lot about how anything we have to “hack” (I.e do in a a way in which the programme was not designed) is going to affect the longevity of the scores - I think this is why I wonder about best practice with choir - what is choral divisi going to look like down the line, and how much grief is it going to cause to update our files in the future?

Yes it is supposed to be a Yogh. When I get around to it I have a font (JuniusX) that displays them well but I tolerate this while I’m composing because it’s quite low on my priorities…

I have never heard of this but I like it. I bet the semi condensed medium is perfect for lyrics.

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Interesting that Medievalists have “MUFI” - Medieval Unicode Font Initiative - where musicians have SMuFL.
I wonder what other niche glyph standards there are?

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Yes it’s a nice one. Others do exist but this is my favourite

Thousands I bet. Gawd bless opentype.

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I’d never heard of this either. I want to look it up.

Does this mean that Medievalists aren’t musicians?

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Hahaha :rofl: