Extra staves for alternate notation

I’m inputting a score that would ideally have extra staves added and/or removed in the middle of a line of music. For example, a piano player has four measures of sung material which requires its own stave; a singer needs a new stave for two measures of percussion that she will perform while singing.

I’m playing around with using the “add staff above/below” and/or “create ossia” options. These are not ideal:

  1. No flexibility in the type of stave added — I cannot add a 1-line percussion stave above the 5-line vocal part, for instance.
  2. I have to manually enter Shift-X text to label each new staff/ossia as it begins — I’m having trouble controlling the position of this text (this becomes a time issue — it’s a long score.)
  3. Barlines — For vocal staves, it would be helpful for each new stave that starts in the middle of a line of music to have a barline that joins the new stave to the existing one, just at the beginning. This would make the score easier to read — the conductor could quickly determine to whom the new stave belongs.

I am also considering having each player hold multiple instruments — but I’m not loving that option either:

  1. It’s a big ensemble, and many players will have to hold 4 instruments. In Write Mode Galley View, the number of staves then becomes unwieldy. (Is there any easy way to differentiate players here? In this view, I can’t quickly determine at a glance that clarinet, bass clarinet, and percussion lines are held by the same player. It’s hard to visually differentiate these in a big ensemble where everyone is holding multiple instruments).
  2. Can’t add or remove staves in the middle of a line of music (or am I missing something here?)

Below I’m including a photo from the Gould book, which shows a cello part that exemplifies what I’m trying to do.

Anyone have experience entering a score of this type?
[I’ve just upgraded to version 3,5.]

Yes, I’m afraid it’s not really practical to produce this kind of notation at the moment, for all of the reasons you’ve outlined. For now perhaps your best bet would be to add the spoken material in a separate voice above the staff, hiding the ledger lines for those notes using the ‘Hide ledger line’ property in Engrave mode. It’s certainly not ideal but it’s probably the most practical approach for now.

We do anticipate making it possible to change the number of staff lines for a staff in future, which would make this trivial to achieve using the existing ossia or extra staff functionality.

I would imagine that when cutaway score capabilities are added (wherever that is on the roadmap), one could use that to combine players in a layout to produce something along the lines shown.

Thanks for the “Hide ledger lines” idea. It’s not a bad work-around for now – though quite time consuming. To create the attached sample, I entered notes well above the staff, hid the ledger lines, toggled the lyrics above the staff and manually shortened each stem.
Screen Shot 2020-06-10 at 10.39.44.png
I’ll continue to work with the ossia function and 5-line staves for now. Looking forward to more functionality in this direction.

You can save a little time by selecting multiple stems by clicking alt/cmd+clicking the ends of the stems and then using alt+up or alt+down to adjust the stems all at the same time.

Also, I know the original request was for measures that come in and out mid-system, however you might be able to try placing the additional stave entries at system breaks, and use the manual show/hide system command introduced in 3.5. This would allow you to assign a player a second instrument (a 1 line percussion stave, for instance) and then determine exactly when it would and wouldn’t be displayed. It would simply coincide with stave breaks.

Another thought: if what you want is spoken rhythm like the Gould, you could also write out the speech in a separate player and instrument, and then make a rhythmic cue above the instrument who speaks that part. In this scenario that’s probably the easiest, especially since you can start and stop the cue whenever you want.

EDIT: this was a decent idea in theory, there is a problem, however, and I’d like to make a FR:
There is currently no way to make the lyrics (which are attached to the rhythmic cue) appear above the cello part but underneath the cue. This seems an odd omission; currently I either get the lyrics below the cello or above the tambourine (I also tried this with a generic “voice” stave), but never between the parts as would seem perfectly logical and acceptable in this instance. I also cannot move the lyric baseline in engrave mode and have it stick; it will just snap back to one default position or the other. In fact, it seems the baseline of the cue’d lyrics isn’t adjustable at all even though you can click on the handle and the lyric placement settings are relative to the primary stave, not the cue itself.

Thanks for the tip re: adjusting multiple stems at once, Romanos401. That’ll save some time.

The cue idea is also interesting. In this scenario, I could add extra “players” at the end of the score to represent all of the different voice parts for instrumentalists. This would simplify the visual layout somewhat in Write Mode Galley View, and allow me to quickly add these lines to the instrumental parts. It doesn’t allow for situations where the instrumentalist is singing/speaking but not playing their instrument at all during the passage – I guess then I’d have to show the blank instrumental staff below the cue.

This is all moot, of course, until the cue lyrics issue is fixed – I would definitely want to be able to manipulate the position of those lyrics in cues.

I may indeed use this as a compromise for now. It will look less elegant on the page, both in scores and parts, but may be a faster way for me to get the piece engraved. I’m leaning towards the option of having tons of blank staves hanging around rather than fiddling manually with countless individual items in Engraving mode (the reason I left Finale in the first place…).

Another option I’m looking into is getting the notation as far as I can in Dorico, and then making alterations in a vector graphics editor (I’m using Affinity).

If you can manage to get the cues in the right place via system breaks, then automatically hiding blank staves would probably get you most of the way automatically.

Having the ability to add ossia staves to percussion lines would make any of these work-arounds so much easier :slight_smile:

Another thing that would come in handy in this situation: the ability to turn off numbering for like-named instrument staves. For instance: I want to put a 1-line percussion kit with a blank instrument name in the hands of 6 different players. However, since [blank] is read as a name, Dorico assumes that these instruments should be named [blank]1, [blank]2, etc. Is there an option to turn this off?

You can use one hard space, two hard spaces, and so on… :wink: They’ll be different for Dorico, but not for a human reader.

Perfect, thanks!

You can also put the players into separate groups in the Players panel in Setup mode - this might then require some manual bracket/bracing changes depending on the approach set in the layout.

I’ve encountered another issue on this topic:

I have a percussionist holding a 5-line percussion kit. I would like the same percussionist to also hold an additional instrument that takes a 1-line kit.

Every time I load the 1-line instrument into the existing player, it loads as a 5-line stave. If I create the 1-line instrument in a new empty player and then move the 1-line instrument to my percussionist, Dorico automatically switches my existing 5-line percussion kit to a grid instead.

Any option to turn this off? Any chance a percussionist may hold both 1-line and 5-line instruments simultaneously?

tinyalligator, this works fine here.

Are you sure you’re adding the 1-line instrument to the player, not to the existing percussion kit?

Are you sure furthermore, that your 1-like instrument isn’t actually a kit itself?


The problem arises when I start with a 5-line drum kit,
click + in the upper right-hand corner of the instrument,
click “Import kit”
and import a 1-line percussion kit I had previously saved.
When I do this, the 1-line percussion kit automatically becomes 5-lines.

A problem is also seen when:
I create a new empty-handed player,
import my saved 1-line percussion kit to that player
and click “Move instrument to player”, choosing my percussion player who holds the drum kit.
When I do this, the drum kit is automatically converted to a grid system kit with 10 lines, with each line labelled.

When I start with my 5-line drum kit,
click + in the upper right-hand corner of the instrument
and choose a random 1-line non-pitched percussion instrument (Gong Ageng),
my existing 5-line drum kit remains the same and the Gong shows up with the desired 1-line staff.

Go to Layout Options > Players > Percussion and tell whichever layout (score, percussion part etc.) to represent each of your two percussion kits as either a five line stave, a grid or single instruments. This can differ between kits and it can differ between layouts, if that’s what you want.

Dorico isn’t converting kits to anything - it just doesn’t know how you want that specific kit represented (which can differ between layouts) when you import the kit into your project.

You could also use the 1-line instrument itself, and not put it into a kit, if not necessary for other reasons.