How do I set up a string section with a specific number of players - condensing vs. divisi?

Hi there, this partially a Dorico question, but also might overlap with a little bit of an orchestral question as I’m still learning everything.

Here’s what I’m trying to do - I need to create an string section for a smaller-sized orchestra which is 6,6,4,4,2. Initially in setup mode when I went to add the Violins I chose to build ensembles and wanted to add 6 Violin I players, but this wasn’t really an option – so I had to add 6 Violins each time. This resulted in ultimately 12 solo violin players, which I then manually added into separate groups (6 each in Groups labelled Violins I and Violins II, respectively). In page view, this won’t condense when I select condensing – so I figure I’ve set that up wrong and this isn’t the correct way to go about it?

Then alternatively I followed some of the great Dorico YT tutorials and created an Ensemble based on ‘String Section.’ This is great in appearance to how I want it overall (like most scores), but how do I specify how many players for each, in the cases I need to do divisi and write separate lines? Or in the case I wish to have one of the Violin I’s do a solo? Is that not done by condensing at all?

Is it even technically necessary to specify how many players there are, provided I write accordingly (I figure the orchestra would handle divisi writing as necessary as long as they are written realistically for 6 players using just the Violin sections as an example?). Forgive me as this is in part a general orchestration question and might be a bit of a daft question - again I’m still learning and largely self-taught.

TLDR; Just wondering how to get going with writing a score with a string section - do I add each individual player (solo) and find a way to condense that, or do I just write as a string section and if so do I need to spell out the number players in the setup?

Thank you!

For the string section, it’s most likely to be best to add a section player for each section (Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Violoncello, Double bass) and then use divisi as required, e.g. if you need to write the viola parts on 2 staves for a bit, or have “Violin I solo / gli altri”.

Typically you’ll find that in orchestral scores, there’s a single line for all Violin Is, and it will only split out onto more staves if the notation would be hard to read on one.

You can print as many copies of the Violin I, Violin II etc part layout as you need.

You can specify which players or desks should play each line in the labelling for divisi sections if you want to, but in most cases it will be clear from context and the performers will work it out. The conductor will also know how many people they can see in front of them, so I (personally) wouldn’t worry too much about saying how many Violin Is, IIs etc there should be. You could add that in prefatory pages if you like, alongside general information about the instrumentation, duration etc.

As to why your setup didn’t condense when you enabled condensing: it could be that you hadn’t set up a suitable condensing group, or there were too many pitch overlaps (as per your Notation Options).

1 Like

That’s Lillie, that’s super helpful. You guys are the best!

As a string player, I fully agree with Lillie’s description.

1 Like