I’ve got two horns that I set to condense in a score, and I’ve set the option for using curly braces instead of sub-brackets for sub-groups. This looks great when I have the horns un-condense,** but I’ve always found the small, single-staff curly brace to look wimpy, so I headed for the options for showing or hiding single-staff braces and brackets.†
What I found was that changing the option “When one staff of braced group is shown” from “Draw brace” to “Do not draw brace” didn’t make a difference. I needed to switch the option “When only one staff of sub-bracketed group is shown” from “Draw sub-bracket” to “Do not draw sub-bracket.” It took me a while to figure out, because I thought the options were based on brace vs. bracket, not on braced-instrument vs. sub-group-no-matter-whether-it’s-braced-or-bracketed. (The thick black lines in the graphics are the key: “braced group” seems intended for grand-staff instruments like harp.) Anyway, might the Dorico team consider re-wording the options? No worries if I’m the only person who’s ever been tripped up by this.
** If you ran across this topic looking for how to enact manual condensing changes, they’re found under the Engrave menu in Engrave mode. First select an item at the rhythmic position where you want the change to occur, then click Engrave > Condensing Change…
† If you’re still learning your way around Dorico, these options are under Library > Layout Options > Brackets and Braces, and can be changed for each layout.
Bracketing an instrument family with a curly brace seems to be an old-fashioned (19th century) engraving practice. It’s nice that Dorico allows it for those who need to reproduce an old score, but it is decidedly non-standard today.
(The following is not directed at you, Mark Johnson, just at the world. I agree completely with your post.)
The standard, unfortunately, seems to have been decided by spiritual descendants of Le Corbusier, except spiritually bereft, and without the proletarian political motivations (ornament is bourgeois, therefore ornament is crime, et cetera). I’ve had a century of my entire world looking like the loading dock of a Jimmy John’s — aggressively bland, all sans serif fonts and fluorescent lights — and so the sub-bracket may be standard, but I’m questioning its supremacy of late. It’s as legitimate as the old-granny curly-brace, but who decided it needed to be more legitimate?, and do we have to keep deciding that curly braces are old-fashioned? Is there a different story we can tell about them?
I think the standard just evolved so a curly brace is now only used for staves of a single instrument, while the straight bracket is for multiple instruments. The thin sub-bracket is used for like instruments, or to group instruments for a single player, like a Percussionist. They have different meanings now in modern engravings than they did in older works where they were used interchangeably.