Custom Instruments?

Hi, just playing with Dorico in trial mode. I think it could eventually be really good but there’s a lot to do before I junk Sibelius!

Is there a way to create custom instruments? (+ specify which sample instrument is played from it and save as a template)

Is there a way to modify existing ones? eg I write for an ensemble of synths but I don’t want each synth to have 2 staves. Obviously I’d want to save the results.

Sorry if this has been asked before but I couldn’t find anything.


You cannot currently define your own instrument types or edit Dorico’s built-in ones, I’m afraid, but this is certainly planned for the future.

Is this still the case? I’m working with a set of Tin Whisles, each with a different transposition. It would be way more efficient if they would behave like transposing instruments (toggling between transposed and concert pitch).

You can create another instrument in the correct transposition — such as a Trumpet in D, for example — and rename it, of course…

You can do this by hacking an XML file. There is a tag that can be added after the clef definition.


For an instrument in D

<clef number="1">

For an instrument in B♭

<clef number="1">

Interesting… Do you have a suggestion of tutorial on XML haching? I wish there was an easier way though…

No, I’ve discovered things by examining XML files to see what’s possible. If you have Sibelius, you can define instruments there and export XML. Just be sure to enable “Transposed Score” before exporting; otherwise, the transpose tags won’t be exported. I don’t know about Finale.

What, transpositions do you need?

Presumably one could also export a MusicXML file straight from Dorico, edit that and import back in.

Oh, that’s super clever, pianoleo. I wonder if the same could be done with staff group brackets and other similar current issues. There goes my Saturday…

So I understand that even with Dorico 2, the only ways to use non-default transposing instruments are:

  • use another instrument with the same transposition and rename it
  • hack into the “instruments.xml” file inside the app’s package
    Is it correct?

That is not recommended. Best to create an instrument with the default transposition, export the document to XML and edit it with the transpose tag.

Thanks! I’ll go the safe route.