Divisi at different places in the full score and parts

one thing I would like is the ability to place certain Signposts at different horizontal places in score/parts.

For example, I have a divisi of 1st violins. In the score it lasts until one measure before the end of a system. I can deal with adjusting the Signpost there so that it lasts until the end of the system and looks clean.

The only problem is, in the violin 1 part, the divisi ends considerably earlier. now if I try to adjust that Signpost in the part, it will move it in the score as well, thus creating a newly divided staff on the next page. NOT a good end result.

This is one item where I would like to see the function improved.


Divisi changes should go exactly on the bar where the number of parts changes. Dorico handles how many staves to show on each system automatically. E.g. when a 2-staff divisi ends in mid-system, Dorico draws the unison music on both staves until the end of the system.

E.g. when a 2-staff divisi ends in mid-system, Dorico draws the unison music on both staves until the end of the system.

The only issue that I have with this personally is where it ends up placing the “unis.” indication when things return to unison after divisi. Technically if you still have two staves, I feel that it should be treated like having one staff with double stemmed unisons - the div. marking would still be in effect and you would only indicate “unis.” when things return to single stem, single staff, single notehead. Instead, if you place the unis. signpost where it makes sense to (when the divisi passage technically ends), you may get the “unis.” indication placed too early, while there are still two staves displayed to finish off that system. I feel like there needs to be some logic that places that text indication for “unis.” at the beginning of the following system, rather than placing it at the location of the “unis.” signpost.

EDIT: I just checked in Gould and what I described is exactly what she shows on page 536.

It should also be possible to get the centered “div.” between the two staves at the beginning of the first divided system as in Gould’s example on page 536, but this is strangely not possible at the moment. It is still obvious to anybody looking at it that things are divided there, as a new stave has miraculously materialized out of nowhere and the only explanation is that things must be divided now, but it’s a bit strange to have no other indication of this (other than the bracketing). You can fake this by adding a text frame in engrave mode containing the “div.” indication, but then with any reformatting or revisions it can be in the wrong spot, as that won’t move around with the music.

It’s really a bit odd that the divisi function does not automatically do the kind of “standard engraving” for divisi (as shown quite clearly on Gould pg 536) and instead does its own thing. Similarly I feel that I’m having to jump through a few hoops to hide the sub-section labels that Dorico wants to add like “1” to the top staff and “2” to the bottom staff as labels like that are not normally shown with divided strings. These labels can make sense in situations of “1 solo” vs “gli altri”, with a “tutti” return afterwards, but in regular divisi, they do not make so much sense. It could be that these defaults overall make more sense for divisi in choral music rather than strings, but I’m not dealing with choir very often.

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you see, this doesn’t work in all situations.
I have a section of an orchestral work, where violas are divided, on two staves.

At the beginning of the next system, only one staff is required.
However, the part is still divisi within that single staff for a few beats (separate stems on the notes, up and down stem).

Now, if I manually add the notes for the 2nd voice, IN THE PART, where it is just one measure of shared notes, the part looks great.

Except now, the score is screwed up, because the SCORE requires that sharing of a single staff one measure sooner. If I add the 2nd voice notes in THAT measure, then the part becomes wrong, as it was already dividing onto two staves.

Basically, in one instance (part vs score) the music can revert to one staff at measure 7, while in the other it must revert to 1 staff at measure 8.

And this means that Dorico’s way of handling the divisis ONLY works if both score and part end/begin a system at the exact same measure.

in other words, in the score I have a whole system of divisi simply because the part requires 1 measure of separate staves, while the score requires two.

I don’t know if this is clear, but it’s a very annoying situation. having to force the spacing to fit the exact same number of measures per system in both score and part makes for some less-than-desirable end results.

It is hard to tell from your description what exactly you mean, but I have been faced with a similar situation with the location of the “unis.” indication where it can make sense in the part but not the score, if the systems are not laid out the same.

Perhaps condensing the divisi in the score down to one staff can be an option for this?

unfortunately, in this score there is a lot of voice-crossing. the score would be a mess, and the part really requires separate staves for that passage.

I was able to jiggle measures around to get a more-or-less acceptable end result, but it would have been nice if Dorico “understood” that sometimes parts and score can’t align quite exactly and require subtly different measure layouts.

I thought in your explanation that the score needs to go back down to a single staff one measure before the part, so a manual condensing change at that measure (so that it only condensed for that one bar and not sooner) ought to do what you want. However, I’m not 100% sure that I understand the exact scenario here, and it would be more clear if you could post an example of this situation.

Another workaround at the moment might be to create a completely separate viola section for this system or two only that only contains music for this passage and would be hidden for the rest of the score, and do a manual staff visibility override in the score to hide the “regular” violas staff and show this special violas staff for those one or two systems.

I switched to Dorico exactly to avoid workarounds.
I’ve dealt with the particular example, not necessarily how I’d have liked it to appear, but it’s functional. The orchestra managed to understand where everything was, so in that sense it was a success.

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I agree that having workarounds is the type of thing one would like to avoid. However, I’m not sure that having a separate signpost in the score vs the parts would be something that is easy to do in terms of programming, because normally they are the same everywhere, and if they made this one type of signpost different from all the rest, it might involve a fair bit of reprogramming. If this is the case, I doubt they would implement it in the way you suggest as a result (independent signposts in score and part), as there may be an easier way of solving this type of scenario that would not require this. It is hard to tell without actually seeing the musical example in question. Can you give a screenshot (or screenshots) of that passage in the score and the part to clarify what the issue is?

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no, unfortunately, I’d have to revert the score to an earlier version before I found my way around the issue with judicious respacing and trickery.

FWIW, you can set up the autosave to keep many versions of the score automatically. You might actually have the older version on your computer even if you haven’t changed the defaults.

I personally work directly in Dropbox as I can recover back to any previous version, all indexed with the date and time that I hit save. That way if I delete something and then decide later that actually now I really want that thing that I had deleted (which happens more often than I would like), I have a way to get it back.


That is probably off-topic for this thread. But I think it is a very interesting and important subject. I created a new thread for discussion of backup strategies.

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I created a quick and dirty example of the issue.
All the issues can be seen in the 1st violin part I smashed together for this example. (it’s just a test file I use to add notes and notations about features, and try out things)

The problems arise at measure 12 in the part.
The score is fine, the extra staff for divisi doesn’t show until measure 14.
It then disappears at measure 23 where the violins are divisi but on a single staff.

Except in the part, it’s duplicating those octaves at measure 12 on BOTH divisi staves, and the same thing at measure 23 where it is again duplicating the divided material.

Is there some feature/function that I’m missing about divisi staves? Is there some way to tell Dorico to split material between staves in this type of situation?
VSL_test_pentatonic.dorico (943.7 KB)

Yes, I know that in THIS particular file you could rearrange measure to make things work, but I did this as a quick example.
In other cases, the music is dense and one can’t simply move measures around as readily without affecting the overall look and density of the music, which was the case with my original project (a violin concerto).

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Hi Michel,

Is this along the lines of what you wanted?

VSL_test_pentatonic_altered.dorico (837.5 KB)

I did not have to re-arrange any measures in the score or part, all systems should be laid out exactly as you had them.

pretty much. how did you get the octave lines to divide? (measure 12)
I mean, divide onto two staves in the part, but not in the score.

I’m out right now so I can explain in more detail later, but basically I moved the signposts to the location that made the part appear correctly, ignoring how it made the score look, and then used condensing in the score to make it look correct.

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So, basically, here is what I did:

Getting the part correct:

  1. Moved the Divisi signpost from bar 14 to bar 12.
  2. Moved the Unis. signpost from bar 23 to bar 24.
  3. Deleted the wrong notes from the lower divisi stave in bar 12-13 (you must have entered them previously when the signpost was in a different spot) so that the lower stave of bar 12 and 13 were empty. The lower stave of bar 23 was already empty.
  4. Cut the lower note/voice from the top stave of bar 12, 13 and 23 and paste it into the empty bottom staff.

Now, the part will look fine, and the score will look all right, except that the divisi uses two staves for more systems in the score than it needs to. Specifically, you only need the two staves for bars 14-22, but at the moment, there are also two staves for bars 11-13 and 23-29, when only one stave is needed for these two systems. Condensing the score solves this:

  1. In the full score, choose Condensing from the Edit menu
  2. In the Layout options for the full score, under Players->Condensing, enable “condense divisi”.
  3. Now bar 23-29 are automatically condensed down to one stave but bar 11-13 are still using two staves. These need to be forced on one stave by adding a manual condensing override in bar 11 to force condensing the two divisi staves onto one stave for bars 11-13.
  4. Now 11-13 are fine but 14-22 are incorrectly jammed onto one stave. To solve this, add a manual condensing override in bar 14 to reset condensing back to the defaults for the first violins.

After doing all that, you would get the same as what I have. It took longer to explain than to do. It only took me about 5 minutes to actually do that.

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ok, that is VERY convoluted!
so it can be done, but I have to say there’s not much obvious about getting to the final result! LOL

allowing condensing of divisi staves, however, would require me to put in manual condensing changes everywhere else in the score where I absolutely do not want condensing, right?

is there rather an option that would allow me to INSERT that “allow condensing of divisi” rather than have it project-wide?

Not necessarily so; it would depend on what the rest of the score (First Violins most likely) looks like in the rest of the score. Does this divisi situation occur a lot as you move through the music?