easiest way to distribute 11 percussion instruments to 4 players

What is the easiest way to condense/reduce/combine the staffs of a given number of percussion instruments (in my case 11 instruments) to just 4 parts for four players? In Sibelius I just had to add instrument changes. Have not found out yet how this is done in Dorico…
Who can help me?

I’m sure others can also answer but you basically:

  • create 4 players and add to each player the instruments you want them to play in Setup Mode
  • when you view your score (or player’s part) in Galley View, you will see staves for all of that players instruments (even if there’s nothing being played). At this point, just write the music onto the appropriate staff of the instrument you want them to play throughout the piece, etc.
  • when you switch back to the regular page view, Dorico will automatically consolidate all of the different instruments belong to that player into a single staff, and create “To (next inst.)” indications, etc., etc. Really fantastic implementation, I find. Here’s a screenshot of a portion of something I did involving a percussionist switching between timpani and suspended cymbal:

    Hope this helps -

Sorry for piggybacking onto this thread, but this is a question I’ve had, too. Quite often, the distribution of instruments to players is not that straightforward. Some instruments need to be shared between percussionists, so not only will each percussionist have multiple instruments to play, but some instruments will be played (depending on “who’s free at the moment”) by several different percussionists. How would I set that up?

Would I have to create, say, three different tambourine parts and assign them to a single player each, and condense them into one part for the conductor? Then four clash cymbal parts and two tubular bells parts etc.?


Yes, you will indeed have to do that. The same instrument cannot be held by multiple players.

(Quick tip: Because Dorico automatically numbers instruments when the same instrument is held by multiple players of the same type, you can end up with e.g. Marimba 1, Marimba 2 and Marimba 3 when in reality your 3 percussion players would all be sharing the same single marimba on stage. To avoid this, put each percussion player in their own player group in the Players panel in Setup mode. Dorico doesn’t number players in separate groups.)


Adding on the subject… is there a way to assign percussion instruments to players and still get each instrument in the chef score?

Adding on the subject… is there a way to assign percussion instruments to players and still get each instrument in the chef score?

Dear Québ,
You decide how you want your percussions to appear in Layout options. Which means this option is Layout dependant. Nothing stops you from showing the percussion instruments on individual lines for the chef score if that is what you want/need. You’ll probably have to fiddle with the staff visibility in that layout, especially for the instruments that are shared (and must not appear twice in the same system, I guess).

Salut Marc,
Or there’s something I don’t get or I didn’t expressed myself clearly.
Here’s an example :
a percussionist plays three one line percussion instruments, say snare, bass drum and castanets. If you add the three instruments to a single player, only the instrument currently played appears on the score or in the parts. Since you can only included or excluded a player and not his instruments from a layout, I don’t see how you can have a part with only the active instrument showing but still have the three staves showing in the score. See what I mean?

En passant, je me sens un peu débile d’écrire en anglais à un Français! :open_mouth:

Les percussions sont différentes des autres instruments puisqu’on peut les representer de trois façons differentes. La vue en grille dans le conducteur devrait permettre de voir les trois instruments en permanence… J’avoue que sans l’exemple concret sous les yeux, mon conseil manque sans doute de subtilité :joy:

Thinking about this problem more, it seems fairly difficult to do, but if possible an automatic flow like this would be a wonderful addition to a future update. It would be similar to the flow that automatically suggests cues on parts.

*Write out all percussion parts needed as separate players.
*Highlight the parts and click something like “Calculate Percussion Assignments”
*A dialogue comes up that lets you specify the number of percussionists, and the number of seconds you want to give a percussionist to change instruments, much like the cues flow
*Where possible Dorico collapses the staves/players down to the number of players specified.
*If there are one or more errors where the material cannot be collapsed, (for example there are 3 instruments playing at once and only 2 percussionists), the players are not collapsed down and the problem areas are highlighted, and the composer can go through and address them just like cue suggestions.
*Transitions between pitched and unpitched percussion instruments should probably always be highlighted in the above way in case, for example, the marimba is far away from the bass drum in the intended performance setup. The user can confirm whether the allotted time will be enough to switch instruments. If you want to get fancy, the earlier dialogue could have one entry specifying how long to give pitched-pitched and unpitched-unpitched transitions, and another for cross-group (e.g. pitched-unpitched) transitions.

Like I said, this feature is probably only for large ensemble folks and seems challenging to design, so I get why it might not be on the roadmap, but there’s some ideas for the team!


+1! This would be amazing! I constantly struggle with percussion in Dorico. Seems like most of the tutorials are “Rock and Roll” based. Perhaps a “hangout” video dealing with four percussionists? I’d watch in a heartbeat!