Extracting separate parts for multi-voice staff

One or the most common things done by every composer / orchestrator is dealing with score and parts.

Standard orchestral score, as we know, has pairs of winds on each staff (2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, etc). The common music preparation and printing standards require each wind player to have his own part. Giving an oboe player a part that has two oboes on the same staff is simply unacceptable.

No current tool allows for easy extraction of individual parts form such staff. Both big mainstream offerings require a work-around; when you are finished with editing of your full score, you create additional individual staves and copy the separate wind instruments into these extra staves, making sure to delete the unwanted parts where only one is to be playing. Normally, if the score is properly written, there is no ambiguity who plays what in a two-part wind staff. Common markings such as a2, zu2, 1st, 2nd, I., II., solo, etc, provide clarity for the copyist who is extracting parts. Yet, somehow, neither Sibelius, nor Finale, nor any other tool of today, are capable of decoding these markings and automatically generating the necessary parts from such single staff.

It would be the single best, most time-saving feature (at least for me, and most likely many Hollywood orchestrators) if Dorico came with such a functionality. If the part generation process works in a similar way to Sibelius (where parts are automatically created and are a dynamic part of the score), one could possibly have the additional setting for each staff where user could indicate how many discrete voices does the staff have and what are their names (ex. Trombone 3, Tuba). From that setting, the software could then generate the two dynamic parts for that staff, and where there is ambiguity (for example, when two voices that play together in harmony of thirds, come together into unison for a few notes), the software would highlight such notes in a specific colour, so that the user could resolve the ambiguity by designating the passage ‘a2’. The usual scoring conventions don’t require writing ‘a2’ every time when a pair of instruments converges for a few notes during an otherwise two-part harmony passage, so such a designation could be hidden from view, to avoid needlessly cluttering the score. A really smart algorithm would even have some default rules for dealing with such ambiguities; for example, when the unison is surrounded by two-part harmony, designate the passage ‘a2’, and if it is a complete single-voice phrase, make it ‘1.’ or ‘solo’. Such warnings would also help the composer properly mark those passages (for conductor), if the software detects a passage that isn’t properly designated as 1. 2. or a2.

As the music director of a community orchestra, I get a lot of scores from IMSLP, and for those where no parts exist, I transcribe them into Sibelius (via PhotoScore), and then generate my own parts. The most tedious part of that work is manually extracting parts from wind staves that have two voices per part. Building this logic into Dorico would make me drop Sibelius in a flash. I would be very surprised if I were alone out there on this one.

Please see my slightly intentionally cryptic responses in this other thread for more on this topic:


Thank you, Daniel! It took me a bit to find the other thread, and I had already posted this by then.

There was (still is) a forum that collected user feedback for a competing product, with the intention of providing developers with the most frequently requested new features (or fixes for existing ones). I noticed that, even though the forum gathered a high volume of traffic and several of suggestions had hundreds of supporters, the developers seem to be rather oblivious and tend to ignore these requests.

It is quite gratifying to see that this team is attentive and I am pleased that in less than a year, we’ll have a very promising new time-saving tool for our daily work.

Much as everyone else here, I can’t wait.

Any news or updates on this potential feature? Or have I missed it in the current build?

What you’ve potentially missed is that the Divisi feature now exists, which is useful for expanding multiple players (of the same instruments) onto multiple staves. The opposite, (condensing), does not yet exist but is planned.