"Conductor stave"

Dear Dorico team,

I know the number of feature requests you get is probably endless, but allow me to suggest one anyway…: I think it would be very helpful to have a kind of “conductor-stave” where you could put all the different symbols for the conductor (besides large time signatures, also signs for subdivision and arrows etc.) - especially for contemporary music with changing meters and other signs it could be really nice to have everything in one place with alignment options etc.

As it is now (and in all other notation software I think) all symbols are sort of “hanging in free air” at system object positions and needs to be adjusted/manually for every symbol. This is of course fine for less complicated scores, but when it becomes a little more complex, the conductor symbols can become a small puzzle (a part on it’s own), and a sudden high note in the first violins or a spacing change etc. might ruin it. If a conductor stave was invented, you would also have greater freedom of where to put these elements in a score and in which parts to include them (or not).

No matter if having a “conductor-stave” is the right way to go or not, I think more control over these objects would be a big improvement - if at all possible. At least it’s something I’ve personally been missing for years…




This is an interesting idea - I do quite a bit of conducting of new music and I know what you’re talking about. For what it’s worth, I think that system text, perhaps with some extra alignment options, is probably a better way to handle these symbols.

One reason is almost more philosophical. I get the feeling that if everything the conductor “needs” is in one place, it might make less of an incentive for a conductor to actually know the score, and instead only know their “part.”


Are these the entirety of the symbols you’re referring to?

Conductor symbols · Standard Music Font Layout (w3.org)

They are certainly among the symbols used + other symbols and whatever custom symbols you might think of. Though my main concern is more about better control of position and maybe even automation to some degree - let’s say for instance that you could set the “conductor stave” to automatically show symbols for subdivision according to the subdivision entered with the time signatures + a set of rules (if you have 5 bars of 4/4, maybe you don’t need it to keep showing the division etc…) which you could later edit in properties. Also let’s say in an orchestral score you wanted a little extra space for an elaborate sequence of meter changes, conductor symbols, tempo alterations etc. between bassoons and horns, you would only need to click-drag-up/down the conductor stave (as you would with a normal stave) with all its attached symbols which would stay in place. As it is now, it’s a little more laborious…

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I certainly agree that the score should be in the head of the conductor and not the other way round… :slight_smile: However there are situations where things get a little more complicated. Also sometimes a little, well-placed information might save precious rehearsal time.


As a workaround, you could input these symbols as system text and hide them in the part layouts (maybe you already do?).

Add a “Zills” instrument, move it to the top, then rename it to “Conductor” …

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A musician colleague once told me about one of their orchestra conductors - who was doing his career by specialising as a modern music expert - he was renowned is probably the correct expression.
They figured out that on each page of a complex modern score he would only learn one line of one instrument and on the next page another line of another instrument. Once they had figured out his “master plan” they started playing nonsense in the other lines without him noticing. I am sure the composer would have been delighted by so much creativity by the musicians but it definitely put the expertise of the conductor into perspective…
Orchestra musicians can be so cruel…
This is a story from the past.


Maybe I’m not clear enough. I don’t mean to have a “conductor-guide” so the conductor doesn’t need to know the score. I’m more looking for a consistent way to organize/position/align things such as large time signatures, tempo fluctuations, subdivisions, custom symbols etc. To get an idea take a look at scores by composers like Boulez, Penderecki, Lutoslawski etc. Sure, it’s possible to do all these things now, but it’s in the domain of click/drag and workarounds (which I think is a kind of working method that belongs more to other notation programs…).


I’ve hacked my instruments.xml file to have 1-line and 0-line staves available. You could add one of those and then add the conductor elements to that staff. Time sigs can be hidden, then Alt-entered into the conductor staff. Here’s Boulez’s Sonatine (which Rampal hated apparently, LOL)

Is that what you are going for?


It sure would be nice if this thread and

could be combined.

Very good idea for implementing a Conductor Stave! :slight_smile:
Would be nice if we have the following options for this stave:

  1. Option which can be turned On/Off for automatic notation population, which
    follows the shortest note durations in the score, in case the conductor would like to have the notation information on this stave. ( As the orchestrator is not allowed to write shorter durations than the given ones by the composer, but can add longer)
  2. Option to make changes to the notation in Conductor Stave, to fit the preferences of the conductor, but without affecting the overall score. (The automatic population should work in one-way direction)
  3. If the Conductor Stave is added after the score is done, in case it comes from another notation app, or DAW, the stave should automatically extract and populate the whole information for the notation, dynamics, markings, techniques, time and key signatures…
  4. The Conductor Stave should be printable as separate page/s in situation where the conductor is enough familiar with the orchestral piece and needs only a simple guide during the performance.

Best wishes, :slight_smile:

You can also easily do time signatures with @dankreider’s MusGlyphs font, so you might not even need an invisible staff for this style of notation. You’ll probably need to make sure Text/Avoid Collisions is turned on though, which can cause piles of its own issues, or do lots of manual staff tweaking.

Or just select only those text items and turn on collision avoidance via the properties panel, rather than globally.

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Good point! That’s much better.

Allow me to revisit this thread… I still think a kind of conductor-stave or “tempo-track” or whatever you’d like to call it, would be very useful in order to get easy control over all that kind of information (especially positions). Of course I can get all the things aligned as I want with different kinds of tweaking, but wouldn’t it be really nice if you could just specify the default position of different symbols (tempo, conductor symbols or whatever) in a “tempo-track”? So the default wouldn’t be as messy as in this screenshot:

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