If you delete a staff, its notes go into limbo

Well, then a system preference that says “Delete music when deleting staves”?

As I see it, we already have UNDO and autosave for anybody who inadvertently deletes material they wish they had saved.

“Undo” isn’t the right user interface for when you accidentally drag a signpost a bit too far, and then drag it back to where you meant it to be.

That’s like saying if you change a note from C to E and then decide it should have been D, you first need to undo the change to go back to C.

There could be a menu item to clear the hidden music maybe? That would enable the feature without changing the existing workflow

Was going to add this myself, but Nikola beat me to it. Maybe even with a selectable & filterable signpost to flag where there is music on a hidden staff.

I’d favour a signpost solution, too. A contiguous region of music in an invisible staff could appear as a signpost saying something like “Staff 2 music”, which could be selected and deleted, or perhaps even moved with Alt+N or Alt+M, or Alt+Left and Alt+Right. If the bookends showing where the staff starts and ends change, the signposts would get updated accordingly, disappearing where they become redundant.

Or have Dorico simply not play any notes from hidden staves, even if they are retained for the reasons mentioned above. I don’t buy the idea of keeping this “feature” alive for the purposes of having hidden playback tracks because you can easily accomplish that by having a final print score layout that doesn’t include the instruments you don’t want to show in the score.

That is true, but many of us prefer to look at the “playback” score whilst composing and if your orchestration is big, then the ability to hide these extra playback lanes is a “hidden gem” to quote another poster.

I think some good suggestions have already appeared here that provide for both types of users. How about a “do you want to delete the music on this staff too?” Type question, with a tick box of Don’t Ask Again. This way everybody can have the behaviour they want…