Editing Divisi and Unis sections when arranging an orchestral piece for a wind band

I’m making excellent progress thanks to Dorico in arranging an orchestral piece for a concert wind band. The previous posters who responded to my questions, have been extremely helpful and I’ve developed a sensible approach and learnt a huge amount.

My basic approach is to insert a wind player staff underneath a string player staff in the orchestral Score and copy the music from the string player to the wind player give or take many judgements, edits and rearranging. And then delete the string player leaving a wind instrument picking up the specific notes / music of that player.

I have a challenge dealing with Divisi and Unis sections.

If I have, say, a 7 bar Divisi section in a 16 bar section between rehearsal letters, can I extend or reduce the length of the Divisi section say a couple of bars either side forward or backwards?

Can I change the Divisi section back to Unis by collapsing on to one stave and eliminating notes?

If a Divisi section appears grouped i.e. I can’t edit one stave eg copy, without it affecting both staves in the relevant section, can I ungroup one staff from another in the Divisi section to move to different instruments / registers?

If I copy and paste one Divisi section from a string instrument to a wind instrument (accepting that they are in the same register) and I delete the string instrument to leave the wind instrument will the wind instrument be “whole” i.e., stand alone with all the music and information assigned across or do I lose something…

If the string Divisi section is “grouped” i.e., the notes across two staves are acting as one and “joined” can I copy and paste the Divisi section onto one wind instrument stave and will Dorico automatically create a new additional stave for the relevant number of bars so that Divisi integrity is maintained, Seems to do sometimes and, not other times.

Having copied the music say from a string player to a wind player should I Delete Player Only or Delete Player and Part Layouts – I don’t understand the implications within Dorico and how the music is organized behind our view.

Does Dorico automatically extend a Divisi section between say rehearsal marks for printing purposes either in Page View or Galley View. If not why would a Divisi section in only a few bars of a section between rehearsal marks appear extended across the full section between rehearsal marks when printed?

Where do find the definition of “SignPost” in Dorico help?

Similarly, the purple empty or filled “dialogue or note boxes” some of which start a Divisi passage or may contain Lu etc, where do I find that in the Dorico Help?

And if the above is an incorrect / imperfect approach, how else should I approach copying the music across from one string instrument to one wind instrument and which I could edit later? I may add that the above approach has generally worked except in AL Divisi sections i.e. its worked for some but don’t know what’s lost / incorrect because I don’t know how Dorico works and can’t find it in the references?

Whilst I’ve taken a look at Help I haven’t mastered it because I haven’t understood the complete picture.

Thank you

I’m going to quote in a slightly different order to the one in which you posted, as some stuff at the end of your post is pertinent to stuff at the beginning of your post.


…and this is how to show and hide signposts:

Yes. The Divisi signpost at the start of the divisi can be clicked and dragged along the rhythmic grid, as can the Unison signpost at the end of the divisi section.

Yes. Again, you do so by dragging the Unison signpost to the left. Note that doing so will leave the contents of the staff intact, but hidden. This means that if you change your mind and drag the Unison signpost back over to the right, the content of that staff won’t need inputting again.

Dorico won’t allow the number of staves to change midway through a system, so if there’s a Unison signpost midway through a system Dorico pads out the second (third/fourth etc.) stave with the contents of the first stave. The way to “ungroup” them is to move the Unison signpost.

Yes. Pasted music has exactly the same standing as manually-entered music. It is a copy of the original material, but it is not in any way linked to the original material.

If you include the Divisi signpost in your original selection (and the Wind instrument is a Section Player thus capable of Divisi) then yes, typically this should work.

In some situations it’s useful to hang onto the part layouts of deleted players. For instance, if you’d done a bunch of manual layout work (e.g. system breaks) on the Violin I part and had decided to copy and paste all its music to a Flute player, you may want to assign the Flute player to the old Violin I part in order to hang onto the layout work. That probably isn’t the case here, though, so you may as well Delete Player and Part Layouts.

In Page mode, Dorico automatically extends divisi staves to the end of the system that follows a Unison signpost. Your systems may coincide with rehearsal marks, but if so that’s a happy coincidence (or your choice of System Breaks), not something that Dorico’s doing automatically. (The exception is if you’re working in very regular phrase lengths and have set Layout Options > Casting Off to put system breaks every e.g. four bars. Again, Dorico’s not paying any attention to where you may or may not have input Rehearsal Marks.)

I’m not sure whether “Lu” is a typo, but these sound like they could be signposts. Links to the documentation at the top of this post.


This is called a unison range

Maybe start here in the documentation and read until the end of the Divisi chapter?


Thank you - that’s very helpful and educational. Let me work through some passages and may need to revert

Thank you - that required a little concentration to understand how you do things. I’m happy with Unison and Divisi as well as their beginning and end within systems. If I may I’d like to get things totally clear in my mind.
Where you say “If you include the Divisi signpost in your original selection (and the Wind instrument is a Section Player thus capable of Divisi) then yes, typically this should work.”
Lets assume I have a Violin 1 Divisi section created from a 4 note “chord” original 1 staff into a 2 staff, 2 note per staff Divisi section of Violin 1 / 1 and Violin 1 / 2. If I click on any note in that section, all notes in the section appear yellow Ie I can’t select notes on one staff and omit the notes on the other staff. If I then want to copy the entire Divisi section onto a Clarinet 1 staff (assuming I’ve enough clarinets and that the players can selectively play notes to create a choir, will Dorico create 2 Clarinet staves (1 staff above the other and both containing their representative parts containing the Divisi section)? Having done so can I Delete Player and Part Layouts of Violin 1.
And is it possible to do the reverse of this e.g. Take a Divisi section containing say 2 staffs containing 2 separate notes each, delete one note of the chord in each staff (because I’m dealing with them differently) and condense the resulting section to a Unison staff to allow the section players to make their own selection of how they wish to allocate parts.
Is it preferable to do this in Page View or Galley View? I ask because previously when I asked about dealing with a tie between two notes in different keys the Forum recommended I dealt with it in Galley mode
Thanks - what fun :slight_smile:

I do not find that to be the case.

I do not find that to be the case either. If one uses Paste Special > Reduce, one can copy the noptes from both Violin staves to the single Clarinet staff. (I made sure not to copy the Divisi signpost.)

Have you tried it, either on a copy of your file or on a small “test” file? You do not need anyone else’s permission.


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Thank you, Derrek - I can see that my question was incomplete and misleading.
I can now see that if I click on a note in a Unis section which is over 2 staves that all notes are highlighted in the Unis section for copying, whereas if I click on 1 note in a Divisi section only that note is highlighted. Therefore, if I wish to copy a Divisi section I need to click on a beginning note and Shift click on an ending note to highlight a section for copying. Which means I understand the some of the different Dorico treatments between Unis and Divisi.
So lets assume that I highlight a complete Divisi section over a beginning note and an end note and over two staves.
If I then want to copy the entire Divisi section over say two staves onto a single Clarinet 1 staff (assuming I’ve enough clarinets and that the players can selectively play notes to create a choir, should and will Dorico create 2 Clarinet staves (1 staff above the other and both containing their representative parts containing the Divisi section)? Or will it juts copy the upper staff and lose the bottom staff which vanishes? I note your previous answer, so how do I get the Divisi string section onto a Divisi wind instrument section. How do I copy the Divisi signpost into the music since the signpost is before the notes which I use for copying. I have many sections I need to deal with and have to be ultra-careful I don’t lose any music.
My question relating to Delete Player and Parts Layouts refers to my dialogue on this with pianoleo. I’ve tried a test area but don’t know what I’m deleting behind what I see and its impact on the music.
And given that previous advice on dynamics/tie editing months ago was to do it in Galley View rather than Page View, Should I be copying and pasting Divisi and Unis system sections in Galley or Page view mode.
Thank you

I would use edit>paste special>reduce to collapse the two divisi lines onto a single stave.

For all the questions that you pose, the best approach is to experiment and just see what happens.


After selecting the notes you want to copy, also select the divisi signpost with ctrl (that’s command on a Mac).
Then paste in the Wind staff, which has to be a section player, of course.

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It doesn’t really matter, to be honest. But I find divisi to be much easier to handle in galley view, as the amount of staves for unison parts doesn’t depend on where system breaks happen to land.
But this is a matter of taste. I find it in general best to arrange/input/write in galley view. It offers the rawest representation of your music.

You can delete layouts with no harm. Layouts are just a presentation of music, which is living in flows and players.
If you delete a player, then you will lose the music the player was playing, of course.

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You don’t seem to understand a core concept of Dorico, which is the separation of music content and its representation.
In the very First pages of the manual, this Concept is explained.
Also, I recommend you to first try to really understand the trinity of players, flows and layouts, their connections and dependencies, as well as their possibilities.


When you delete a player, you delete its instruments and all the notes, notations etc belonging to those staves.

When you delete a layout, you’re only deleting that particular “view”/presentation of the music. The music remains if you don’t delete the player. For example, deleting a vocal score containing the four SATB players only deletes the vocal score; it doesn’t delete their individual parts, nor does it affect the existence of their music. Any layout-specific graphical tweaks you’ve made are deleted with the layout though (e.g. all the graphical nudging of items in Engrave mode).

You’re prompted to delete part layouts when deleting players, because otherwise you could end up with lots and lots of empty part layouts (part layouts with no player assigned, because that player was deleted). It’s there to make your life easier and tidier, really.

Info about players, layouts, and flows is here.

A summary of what goes into a project is included in the First Steps guide, here.


Thanks Derrek, Janus, Sascha and Lillie for your generous contributions and help

Yes, Janus I have been experimenting, and have learnt from that, but not quite there yet – If I paste special > reduce and then (paste special?) > Explode will it explode back to the same Divisi input i.e., is it a prefect reversal process?

That’s an excellent tip Sascha on selecting the Divisi Signpost

You’re right Sascha that I don’t specifically understand Dorico, hence the questions. I did read the sections you mentioned when I got Dorico 18 months ago – didn’t fully understand it then. After a career in and around software-based industries, I know that languages, architectures, implementations and usage can vary and so I make no assumptions. I did read about the trinity and separation but didn’t fully understand it never having used music notation software before. I’m understanding the possibilities through using it and asking questions. It’s brilliant.

I think your explanation Lillie is excellent and explains things very clearly in a way I can understand. That’s helped a great deal. I did read the info on players, layouts, flows ad projects 18 months ago - perhaps its changed and been enhanced - but you’re right I should do it again having used Dorico and got the information above

What I have to do now is synthesize a strategy and route forward based on the comments above for copying and pasting Divisi sections or flows from string to wind instruments, unless someone can point to where this is given in Dorico. I don’t think it is other than an explanation and method for a specific feature, or give me the preferred method.

Not necessarily. Everything on the Paste Special menu is effectively destructive: a calculation is made and redundant data are discarded. If you choose to Reduce material and then Explode it again, the Explode functionality has no awareness of what the material looked like before it was Reduced.


Then why not try it out on a new/empty project. Focus on one thing, for example what layouts, players and flows are and how they relate to each other. Try out all the things you are unsure about on a dummy project, don’t take “important” projects.
Same with divisi.

Again in Dorico there are 2 processes: the music semantics and the final presentation. In write mote, you concern yourself with the music and the music semantics (when does what appear, when do players do which action, when should a divis start etc.)
You only care about inputting the rawest form of information, and you don’t deal with the layout at all. I think this is best achieved in galley view, as I said.
Try to experiment with what I just wrote yourself, and see how things are different in galley view and page view (for example: instrument changes, divisi, spacing).

  • When a divisi should start and end – that’s music semantics, best seen in galley view.
  • At which point system breaks happen and therefore two or more staves appear is just a necessary representation and can even be different between layouts (Score vs. Part). This is all Layout.

Finally, you could chose to condense the divis in the score, not having several staves, but only one again, actually. Again, this changes nothing of the meaning/semantics of the music, and you wouldn’t enter it any differently in write mode for this particular outcome. It’s just how it is represented in a particular layout, which can be totally independent from other layouts.


I like that explanation pianoleo and helps me understand it.

Thank you Sascha. Since I started on this project, I’ve been keeping strict version controls of all changes that I make so that I don’t risk the project. I’ve done quite well, but stumbled a bit over this divis / unis issue. I can go back to any point and examine / edit / revise etc. Your use of the word “semantics” helps given my interest in languages. And then the presentation is different as I’ve experience of in old publishing systems. And how that is accessed via page or galley view.

Yes I’ll experiment further to improve.

I’m left with an impression that there’s no “global macro” or “simple sequence of key strokes” to achieve my objective, and that it’s an iterative process of building the work methodically, systematically and accurately.

Am I right?

Is this what you want?

divisi copy

Again… just try it! Or give us more specific examples of what doesn’t seem to work for you, so we can help in a more targeted manner.

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Thank you Sascha - very helpful to have the graphic. I’d come to a somewhat similar kind of conclusion overnight Ie that I should start again after ungrouping dynamics first and then re copying complete 300 + bar flows onto a slightly different profile of individual Section instruments and then editing the resultant music particularly the dynamics and chord structures spanning two divisi instrument staffs. In struggling to get progress I’d allowed my mind to be set in using specific note and section selection techniques on smaller sections and had forgotten the marquee approach which I’d used previously, or the Ctrl A approach to selecting a complete flow followed by Ctrl V to paste which I’d also used previously, giving both Divisi and Unis sequences which I could work with. So I’m going to try that approach. I don’t know whether it’s enough to give a “solution” endorsement, but I will, and it should apply to all of you who have contributed here. Thank you for educating me and helping me clear my mind and see a possible way through. Doubt I shan’t be back with another query :slight_smile:

You can also duplicate flows.

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Thank you Lillie, then I was using the word “flow” incorrectly. I think what I should have said is “the complete music of a player” - very helpful