Condensing ignoring unisons, not responding to condensing changes

I have an orchestral score where I have doubled Horns 1 and 3 and Horns 2 and 4 (as is fairly typical). Dorico does fairly well most of the time, but in one section ends up doubling up on the parts when condensing, so that all four parts are notated separately (rather than as 1.3a2 and 2.4a2 as I would expect, and as it does elsewhere):

Note that for one bar in the middle here, it does switch to the a2 unisons, but then switches immediately back, despite the fact that there is no difference in how much in they are. (Horns 3 and 4 are copied directly from Horns 1 and 2!) I have tried creating a condensing change—

  • with a reset
  • with nothing other than the creation of a change
  • with “Allow whole-phrase unison” changed to on or off
  • with “Allow mid-phrase unisons” changed to on or off
  • with “Allow unlimited pitch crossing” changed to on or off (wouldn’t expect this to help!)
  • with “Allow amalgamation for notes and chords” changed to on or off (wouldn’t expect this to help!)

No matter what, short of manually reworking the condensing here (which I haven’t yet tried), nothing changes this at all. Help? :joy:

Things I searched for:

  • condensing unison
  • unison not condensing
  • condensing change unison

Similar to:

What you need is a manual condensing change in which Horns 1 and 3 are in the up-stem voice and Horns 2 and 4 are in the down-stem voice.

Have you tried it?

Yes, I have.

Please post a demo file; I tried it and was unsuccessful.
hornCondensing.dorico (1.6 MB)

This does indeed work (and was, of course, the last thing I hadn’t tried)! Very curiously, after having done this, the rest of the line sorts itself out “magically” and does the right thing. Next up I’ll need to tweak it so that it doesn’t put an 1.3a2 after every rest, which is rather annoying in the score, but that’s fine. Thank you!

If what you want - throughout - is to have Horns 1+3 on one stave and Horns 2+4 on another, the most efficient place to do this is Layout Options > Players > Custom Condensing Groups.

If you do it via a Manual Condensing Change you don’t get the benefit of Dorico’s Condensing wisdom at all for those players, whereas if you do it from Layout Options you get all of Dorico’s Condensing wisdom (and the rules that you’ve set for automated condensing) aside from the ability to switch horns between staves from system to system (which is generally not a great idea anyway).


This makes sense. What I’ve done so far is switch back out of manual condensing (at least, if I’ve understood the mechanics correctly!) immediately after the two bars which seemed to be confusing everything, and allowing it to proceed normally after that. With Custom Condensing Groups, will it still use full unison when the horns are actually in full unison (as they are in much of this particular piece)?

If you want them on a single staff in some places, you do indeed need to go down the Condensing Change route rather than a pair of Custom Condensing Groups.

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Ah, very good. Thank you!

(And: thanks all for the helpful and fast responses—this community is fantastic: I learn a ton from my normal lurking mode! :blue_heart:)

I should really stop procrastinating on this forum and get some work done :joy:


Derrek, your demo file works for me after I activate Edit>Condensing.

So it does, if I activate it on the Working Score layout. Don’t much like the constant a2 notations, but then I would probably not arrange my own scores in quite this manner anyway.

Thanks for taking the time to point this out.

Occasionally I have wondered why I couldn’t get staves to condense only to realize later that I forgot to turn condensing on.

As for the constant a2 notations, they’re a nuisance but at least they can be selected and hidden in engrave mode.

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