Dorico & Percussion

Hello everyone,

I am currently using the trial version of Dorico, but have noticed that there aren’t many pitched or unpitched percussion instruments to choose from which ruins my purpose of downloading the trial because I’m looking for a program in which I can compose and arrange marching and concert percussion ensembles. I am a little confused because I have read that the trial is a full and unrestricted version of Dorico, but I have also seen in videos, specifically by John Barron, a larger list of percussion instruments to choose from. That being said, I was wondering if in the full version of Dorico there more options of percussion instruments, pitched and unpitched, to choose from and use the notation software in conjunction with sample libraries such as VDL (Which has a ton of percussion instrument sounds to choose from)?

Lastly, if one was to add VDL as their sample libraries, would Dorico provide for you the instrumentation within the software to be able to write for whatever instrument it is?

Thank you

You can choose a similar instrument (graphically) and rename it (in Setup mode) and change the sound to anything (in Play mode). Dorico’s percussion abilities are, on the whole, a massive step above anything else.

What exactly is it that you’re lacking, Ivan?

What do you want that isn’t available? I can see about 30 pitched and 150 unpitched percussion instruments in the current version (2.2.20).

As someone who uses VDL, and has done a lot of work for percussion arrangers and percussion publications, I can agree to the OP’s confusion about a lack of instrumentation. However, there is a work around of renaming other instruments so it’s not too much of an issue.

I can’t remember what I was looking for, but laser bells aren’t an option. Rarely used, if ever anymore, but just one example of instruments not available. When the ability to create instruments is included, this of course will not matter.

As far as non-pitched instruments, Slap Stick is not available (a well known instrument, as it has a crucial role in ‘Sleigh Ride’). And as stated before, when the ability to create instruments is available, none of this would matter. Not sure who would know what one is/was, but at one point time percussionists were even using the garden weasel as a percussion instrument.


I’ve been doing a piece which includes Earthplates.


Thank you for the feedback. I also want to apologize because upon further searching I did manage to locate a larger list of percussion instruments that I had overlooked. I understand what is meant by renaming instruments and after doing some more work on the program I see how that is definitely an option. I also just started using the program and still learning my way around it so forgive me for looking over some things haha. I appreciate the help!

No problem, we’re here to help! If you do let the team know what things you still need, they might end up in the software – and sometimes amazingly sooner than later!

Hello Everyone,

I have finally gotten over the hurdle with wrapping my head around creating percussion maps for VDL in Dorico. I’ve got a couple of questions regarding notation. First, is it possible yet to lock a player’s stem direction up for all notes? For example, all snare drum notes could be forced to stems up by default. I realize I can set stem direction them when editing the percussion kit, but those settings do not seem to carry over to what is notated. I know you will encourage me not to mess with Dorico’s XML files, but would changing defaultContextualStemDirectionIsUp to true work?

As a follow up to global stem directions for a player, will it someday be possible to set articulation placement via players in engraving options?

Provided you are using the grid or five-line staff presentation type, you should find that the stem direction that you set in the Edit Percussion Kit dialog is respected when you write the music in the score.

I don’t expect we will ever add per-player control over articulation placement, but I can imagine us adding options in the future for articulation placement that is specific to percussion instruments.

So far I have been manually changing drums & cymbals (played by hands) to stems up and kick and other foot-operated drum-kit instruments to stems down. Is there any way this could be made a Notation Option in the future?

(I realize I can set up a “template” file till then.)

No, we’re unlikely to make it a notation option; really that’s just a specific voicing preference for the instruments in the drum kit. But at some point in the future it will be easier to make changes like this in such a way that they will be picked up in new projects.