Generating a orchestral score reduction?

Okay, I’m not a professional composer so this may strike some of you as a crazy idea, but here goes. I’ve written several choral/orchestral scores and I’d like a way to create a reduction of the orchestral score to two or four hands on the piano for use in rehearsals and situations where an orchestra is not available. I’ve tried simply (but slowly) copying instruments from staff to staff with the “chords” mode on, which works, but is a) slow, (did I mention it was also slow?), and b) results in a messy staff. It would be really nice if there were some way to intelligently generate a reduction score that is a “best effort” at capturing the intent of the source score without all the messiness. I would always want to tweak the result, so I’m not looking for perfection here, just an informed attempt.

For example:

  • don’t duplicate notes of the same pitch and duration
  • be smart about adding voices to accommodate rhythm differences
  • combining overlapping tied notes
  • be smart about placement of notes across bass and treble clefs
  • etc.

You get the idea. I envision a feature were I select multiple staves and select “reduce to single” and seeing it happen automagically. I’m a software developer by trade, and it would be extremely cool if there were a way to allow me to build this functionality myself through some kind of plugin architecture. There you go, two feature requests for the price of one.

If there’s already a way to do this beyond simple (but slow) copy/paste, please, someone tell me.

I’ve just reduced a ~50 minute orchestral score for the purpose of choir rehearsals.

The functionality at Edit > Paste Special > Reduce may be a little speedier than regular copying and pasting, and I’ve also assigned shortcuts for changing a selected passage to upstem voice 1 and downstem voice, plus a filter for quickly stripping out dynamics.

It’s still largely a manual process, though. Dorico’s Condensing functionality really isn’t geared towards what you’re attempting to do, and the scripting functionality is basically still on the development team’s todo list.


+1. I’m teaching a Styles and Analysis class this semester and am using this all the time to assist with (cheat with?) score reductions. Really useful feature!

Thank you so much for this suggestion. Not sure how I missed this.

I’ve been thinking that it would be great if dorico had condensed cues. I’ve sometimes used cues to create piano reduction of some polyfonic music I’ve been working on. It’s handy, because the reduction will follow if the composition is edited.

It would be great if you could select for example 3 trumpets for a cue and Dorico would condense them automatically (or you could define the condesing options for the cue)


I think this would be a great idea, might be in the eventual arena of plugins though. I could see a rudimentary one to go the opposite direction too. Exploding, as it were but it would need controls of where you wish the explosion to land. (or span)