I can't make sense of Dorico 4 Orchestral Score Order

Using “Silence” template and a blank file, I am getting some pretty bizarre percussion order in “Orchestral” sorting.

Here’s the first bracket:

Early on, as things started to look wrong I decided to throw everything at it and see what happens. Here are a few more brackets:

Then I went and checked Gould, Stone and Solomon and I can’t seem to decipher the logic behind Dorico brackets and this order. Many of the instruments seem to be thrown in at random without any regard to some kind of order. This looks so unprofessional, it must be something I’m doing wrong.

Would anyone be willing to see if they get the same result, at least with some instruments? If so perhaps I need to reinstall. Many thanks!

Here’s an excerpt of instrumentScoreOrders.xml within the application bundle:

It seems to match your first screenshot, so there’s nothing to be gained by reinstalling - you’ll just be replacing this file with exactly the same file again.

(As a general point, unless it involves additional content - fonts or sound stuff - there is rarely any point in reinstalling Dorico. The changes that us users can make to preferences and saved defaults are stored in a user-level folder that is not wiped when one reinstalls Dorico.)

Hopefully someone from the development team will pop in and confirm that there’s still work to be done here.

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When I was putting together the default orchestral score order, I didn’t do much with the percussion instruments – so they are more or less in the order in which they happened to be listed to begin with. If people would like to let me know some good sources for information about the “correct” order for listing 150+ percussion instruments in orchestral scores, or at the very least the ones that seem most egregiously wrong, I am of course happy to make some improvements in this area.


Thanks, Daniel.
FWIW, I think Kurt Stone’s suggested order for percussion is excellent (Music Notation in the 20th century, page 205). He’s ordering by category first and then high to low perceived pitch within the category, with options for some important traditional exceptions (e.g. timpani).

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Thanks. I’ll take a look at Stone. The problem will come with the dozens of instruments that Stone doesn’t list, of course!

I’m surprised that Timpani comes at the bottom. I thought it was usually at the top given that it was historically associated with the brass instruments, but one of the music history experts here can set me straight if I am wrong.


Agreed, although perhaps it might be a good idea to have the forum members order those particular instruments within the list - based on whatever principle you decide to use. I’d be more than happy to contribute in any way I can.

Me too. A quick look through some B&H perusal scores shows they always put it above the other percussion anyway.

Ravel orchestration of Pictures

Concerto for Orchestra

Adams City Noir

etc. …


Stone explicitly mentions traditional timpani placement right below brass (p. 216).

I mention Stone only because his approach to ordering percussion seems to be the most fully described and logical outside of the Hornbostel–Sachs system. Neither Solomon nor Gould seem to offer an organizing principle at the same level of detail and with so many instruments listed.

In any event, Dorico now offers a specific feature - to order the instruments in the score based on some default logic. The manual makes an explicit contrast between that and any “unconventional” order - but of course there is no order in percussion at all at the moment. The Stone system can be taken “as is” (with possible exception of timpani and celesta in favor of the traditional placement) and it will always make sense in any “default” score.

No quibbles with Stone’s organization. I was just surprised by where Timpani fell in the list. Of course if one splits percussion into specific players, the order may change, but that’s an entirely separate matter up to the user.

Still Doico places Triangle after the drums?

There have been no changes in the orchestral score order in Dorico 4.3.