Film Score Percussion Questions

Hey, everyone! I’m working on a film scoring template, and I’m trying to sort out a streamlined method of using percussion in the score.

Here are my criteria: I want to have two five-line percussion staves with the option to have many players assigned to each. I want player labels to automatically appear above every instance of a percussion entrance.

So far, I have run into these issues. I can create a kit with several players without a problem, but player labels don’t appear above the entrances. So if I simply add the instruments to the player instead, the staff changes from 5 lines to 1 line.

Any thoughts on how I can get the best of both worlds?

I’ve attached an example below from a film score. This is the style I want to emulate.


I’m not sure if there is an automatic way to create the Instrument Labels but you could add them yourself as text? I can’t remember if there is a paragraph style already or if I’ve just created my own for this purpose!

I’ve made a nice little boxed text paragraph style for manual label entry, but I was hoping Dorico would have a way to add them in automatically. Oh well. :sweat_smile:

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Sorry I can’t help more!

Also, and forgive me, there’s some inconsistencies in the terminology you’ve used, which might be helpful in future:

  • Players hold instruments or kits
  • instruments are inside kits, not players
  • Instrument Labels show which instrument a player is playing.

Sorry to be that person!

I think maybe you hit upon the key actually. You have a couple of players that are responsible for playing more than one instrument and the labels you are looking for are instrument changes rather than player changes?

I would start by following the Dorico logic:

  1. How many players do you have?
  2. What perc instrument does each one of them cover?

That way Dorico will take of all the work, no? It also forces you to think about the logistics, i.e. not have one player play 3 instruments at the same time. Maybe I don’t get your question.

I’ve done that sort of thing before by adding instruments to a player:

But I’m trying to replicate the look of the score like the screenshot in the original post. That’s how JoAnn Kane Music Service does their percussion on scores, and I’m preparing music for similar clientele who are used to that sort of layout.

I could always put everything in manually to the five-line staff, but I was wondering if there was some sort of automatic process that would handle the instrument labels every time I put an entrance for a new instrument on the staff.

You mean specifically the layout

  1. One bracket for “percussion”
  2. With individual staves for piatti, snares, etc.?

Or instrument changes like in Sibelius where you change a staff to another instrument and then it’s automatically indicated in the score and parts?


I think he just wants to have two players (grouped or not), with 5-line staves, that have n instruments each, with an automatic Instrument Change Label in their staves before each entry of a different instrument. To my knowledge, this isn’t possible by default.

You COULD have automatic Instrument Change Labels, but you would need to live with the staff type changing from single-line to 5-line wherever necessary, as well as a “To [instrument]” label after an instrument’s last note.

A potential workaround for this: customise a 5-line instrument to whatever you like eg edit the information of a Cowbells (plural) stave to that of a Bass Drum. This way, all the instruments would appear the same and have automatic Instrument Change Labels. (you would need to hide the “To [instrument]” label in the score if necessary.