Condensing, bizarre double staff labels, stem direction misbehavior

Hello, wonderful forum. I’m having problems with a deadlined copy job project. I’m in the late-middle of it, lots of formatting to do. I received the music as XML generated by another composer’s Finale. I’ve done too much other work to start over or ask for another XML with new settings or whatever (in case anyone wanted to suggest that). I’m attaching a file of just one movement, though the whole thing has the sort of issues I’ll be describing. I don’t just post this because I have a deadline and am nervous (well, that is true) but also because your help has got to be of use to others who may be in the same situation. Or maybe I’m the only one, haha.

Run - Dorico forum help.dorico (3.0 MB)

First off, please have a look at the staff labels for the horns, full names for page 1 then abbreviated for subsequent systems.

It’s weird that full name is fine while “Hn. in F” for I & II get two labels crammed together, one with “in F” inline and the other with it below, while Hn. in F III & IV show one label. I wondered if the transposition (Layout options > Staves and systems, instrument pitch or transposition: show in abbreviated labels) in the label having that problem might be the source. But when I uncheck the box for show in abbreviated I still get this, see Hn. I & II.

I thought (hoped, really) that there was just a space or something in one of the staff label names but I checked and they’re all named exactly the same. I confess to some inexperience when it comes to player cards in Setup so perhaps I’m missing something but I don’t see it. FYI, when I imported this thing it took me a while to get the horns sorted and labelled right, so maybe I messed up something then but I can’t think what.

Now I did have to set up some exceptions in Layout Options for condensing. Basically I need for this wind band score to show each line of clarinet and trumpet on its own staff while the flute, oboe, bassoon, alto sax and trombone get condensed (no weirdness happens with those two groups excluded from condensing). But the horns cannot all condense together of course, what I need is 1 & 2 together and 3 & 4 together, so I made custom condensing groups for those. Is that part or even the source of the issue?

Second issue: I don’t know why I’m getting this weird single-stem/not single-stem behavior. Even in the first picture above you can see already with bar 5 that the horn’s stems are up and down, while in the bars just before and after they are joined single. I’m wondering if it’s a property or maybe bug with custom condensing groups, that they get weird with this sort of thing. And I don’t think I left any dissimilar elements, different dynamics or length items or what have you. In fact, for this whole thing signposts are on, there are no hidden items, there are presently zero condensing changes in the whole file, there aren’t even any system or page breaks yet.

I wondered if it was because that bar is a compound meter, but the condensed trombones staff just below it doesn’t have the issue. I thought maybe there was some difference between the horn staves but I checked in galley view and there is nothing.

Look at bar 21, the various condensed wind staffs (none are custom groups) showing some chords single-stem and others not.

And bar 51–53 are interesting. Notice how the first half of 51 the stems behave as wanted, then not for the second half of the bar. In bar 52 they’re correct the whole way. Then in bar 53 the first two eighth notes are all showing wrong with opposite direction stems while the second two eighths are a mixture of right and wrong, different results in different condensed staves! The horns there (at 51 and onward) have their own brand of crazy (second pic).

(For what follows, note that in Notation Options > Condensing I have Allow single-stem unison and Allow mid-phrase unison.)
On page 8 horns 3,4 come in on unison and the score rightly shows “a2”. Then on page 9, a2 just goes away for those horns as well as missing from 1,2 when they enter. The same notes are treated as if I was preventing single-stem unison, which I am not.

After that the on again/off again opposite stems which I don’t want for chords continues, and you can really see in the file all the lost vertical space this causes.

Last one, something I didn’t expect. Right at bar 65, with the horn stem thing still misbehaving, out of nowhere the bones’ unison starts showing as if I were preventing single-stem unison. The previous page had unisons and they showed single-stem a2 as they should, but suddenly not here. I copied and re-copied 65–67 from tbn I to II, they are totally the same yet this happens. It is not the fact that the last bar has differences, I tried moving that and it makes no difference. A similar thing goes on in the upper winds (second pic), a quite visible varying behavior in bars 73–77 and I don’t see a reason behind the scenes. Maybe you will, dear reader. I certainly hope so!!

I think you ended up with errant extra line breaks in the Edit Instrument Names dialog, which admittedly can be hard to identify when the paragraph style is set to right-aligned because the cursor is at the edge of the text editing area.

Edit the names, put the cursor to the right of the full stop/period appending “Hn.”, then press Delete (not Backspace, Delete so you delete “forwards”), then click OK.

On a side note, if you want all abbreviated instrument names to be appended by a period/full stop (even when grammatically-speaking the full stop is unnecessary because the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the name), there’s an Engraving Option for that, on the Staff Labels page, Case section. Saves you editing each instrument name manually, and risking carriage return errors like this one.

Generally, this is down to something in the parts not being identical, or prompting the need for separate voices. This can be as detailed as the two parts having the same dynamics, but the dynamics being grouped on one staff and not the other.

Switch to galley view, where you’ll always see uncondensed staves, and compare the staves.

If in doubt, sometimes deleting and either copying/adjusting or re-inputting short excerpts can be the simplest way to get to the “right answer”, especially with imported files that may have hidden gremlins.

In your project, I deleted the last 3 notes in b21 for Oboe 1, copied that material over from Oboe 2, and repitched. Result: single-stem condensing result when you switch back to page view.

The reason the result can change either side of a rest, is that Dorico treats rests as start and end “markers” for phrases, and within a single phrase, there can only be one condensing result. Meaning, if at any point between the span of shared rests, two players have a different rhythm or dynamic or slur etc, they’ll be condensed into two voices.

You can read more about condensing considerations here:

And results here:

Lillie, you are a star! That was driving me bonkers. Actually I just now went to paragraph style and left-aligned all staff labels. I then went to Edit Instrument Names and it was very plain to see, I had an errant carriage return for the last three horns and none for horn one. As a matter of fact this was the source of another thing that was bothering me. The full name of Trombone was a little high on the staff, you can see it in my first picture. Both trombone players had an errant carriage return. Thanks for that, and for the advice on dots too.

I’m aware of all that and did all that a bunch of times here and there before posting, but I missed the one in the example you gave (which I tried just now and it did work). Erasing one staff’s measure, copying from the other, pasting and adjusting fixed one particular gremlin (that’s the best term for this stuff!) that I recall, bassoons at 65 were not single-stem but the recopy fixed it, but then other places it would make no difference, no difference most especially with the horns. I’ll just have to systematically go through and try them all but I tell you I don’t think it’s just that. I really know there are places where strictly copying did not help, maybe you will find one too. (Or am I A GREMLIN? Oh Noooooo).

The reading you gave me will take some time, so I’ll send this now before doing so. Thanks again.

If as you work through each instance of condensing results that you’d like to be different, you can’t work out a way to solve it after checking the staves’ compatibility, dynamics, content etc, feel free to come back and ask about specific bars. I hope you can understand that I’m not able to comb through your project for you :wink:

Thank you, of course I understand! :wink:

A little update, something I’m sure Lillie and the other experienced users know but which could be of use to others. Another thing that can fix some of the stem-gremlins is to reset beaming (if beamed notes are the problem anyway). It isn’t always the fix and it isn’t always the right idea, for instance in my present project the composer beams phrases in places which break slightly with convention, but it can be quite quick in many instances. Set up a key command and fly. (Of course I could make special or hidden meters for special purposes… but that’s just a load of time spent doing something else.)

About page 9 (starting bar 41) in the picture and file. I still cant get the stems on the quarter notes in these Hn I II / Hn III IV custom condensing groups to be single stems. This sort of thing wasn’t happening anywhere earlier in the horns in the score. I have tried everything Lillie recommended and more.
I’ve reset beaming just in case (who the heck knows, it’s gremlins, people), I’ve deleted and carefully copied 1 to 2 and 3 to 4 in Galley view; I’ve checked and double checked for any different elements at all, accidentals, position locks, dynamic lengths; I’ve grouped and ungrouped the dynamics, linked them too. I’ve tried all these things more than once, plus I just now tried deleting all in Hn 1,2 for those bars and freshly entering the notes manually into one staff and copying that to the other, with everything absolutely the same. Still get the same result. And all the while the trombone just below the horns is condensing nicely with a2 showing. I don’t understand, except there might be something to the custom condensing groups that I don’t know and can’t discover. But that doesn’t make sense if earlier I’m getting proper unison a2 on the regular. Anyone know what to do?

Update, weird but welcome:

Frustrated, I just put in my first Condensing Change at bar 68, because I wanted the condensed trombones’ rests to be visible at that point in the music though everywhere else for this piece I’ve kept the overall Notation setting to hiding in active player rests. (Reminder, it was at measure 65 where the tbns were showing double stems instead of a2 and, just like the frustration above with hns at 41, I could do nothing to stop it.)
Well once I did the Condensing Change at 68 (Trombone I & II, the ‘Change’ switch activated for Hide rests for inactive players, the box NOT checked), not only did it take care of the rests as I wanted but for some strange reason, or no reason (is there a reason? anybody?), it made the trombone before it, starting at 65, show a2.
AND those horn quarter and half notes back at bar 41 are now showing a2 as well instead of double-stems, though I did nothing to change the horns in the Change dialog.

:confused: :person_shrugging: I’m mystified but I’ll take it. Would still be good to understand what’s going on though, if anyone out there happens to know. This is a relatively simple project, I hate to imagine what I’ll be up against when I get back to the large opera project I put down temporarily…

Activating a condensing group as part of a condensing change prompts Dorico to consider the notes on either side of the condensing change as separate phrases; if you want to change the condensing result in the middle of a continuous stream of notes without rest breaks, that’s how you can do that.