How to write a unison on a percussion kit

Here is the issue: I have a percussion kit setup with several instruments, 5 line staff display. The composer wants the player to play a ‘double stop’ (2 notes at once, not a flam), on a particular surface. Under the percussion kit, I am having trouble adding in this unison to represent the double stop.

I tried using an alternate method of notating this, by trying to write one voice stems up, and the other with overlapping note heads, in a down stem voice. That method is also proving to be troublesome, as I cannot seem to switch voices in a percussion kit.

Is there a way to do this? Or is this unattainable at the moment?


If you’re not wedded to the automated legend, could you add a second whatever that resides on the same staff line as Whatever 1, but uses a downstem voice rather than an upstem voice?

Yes, Leo’s suggestion will work: add another instrument to the kit on the same staff position using a voice with stems in the opposite direction and you can happily get unisons.

Ok, that sounds like the plan!

Thanks guys!


This was not completely satisfactory for me because if the two instruments were in opposite voices Dorico inserted rests for the non-playing instrument and (presumably because it’s a percussion kit) they couldn’t be deleted. Leo’s solution in “how to write unisons on a percussion grid” inspired me to try again. I think the key to avoiding the rests is using an extra up/down stem voice rather than simply changing. Certainly the steps below work for me:

  1. In the Edit Percussion Kit dialogue create instrument 1 wherever you want it to be on the 5-line staff. Set its stem direction to what you want it to be when there are no unisons.
  2. Create instrument 2 on a spare position on the staff with its stem direction the same as instrument 1.
  3. Input the rhythm on instrument 1 and the unisons on instrument 2.
  4. Assuming you chose up-stem, select all the instrument 2 notes and in Edit|Percussion|Change Voice (or the right-click menu ) set them to “Extra Down-stem Voice” If you chose down-stem, set them to “Extra Up-stem Voice”. I couldn’t find a way to select the notes other than ctrl-clicking each one individually.
  5. Finally, back in the Edit Percussion Kit dialogue, move instrument 2 to the same position as instrument 1. (Doing this last makes step 4 easier.)