Instrument Change and Condensing Change

I have an instrument change instruction (Picc to Fl III) that occurred ~40 bars previously. Now, as the new instrument enters, I need a condensing change (here’s the Galley View for context):


But I cannot seem to get manual condensing change to work regardless of the rhythmic position of the signpost or system and/or frame break (Engrave Mode):

even though it always works beautifully as intended at the very next system:

My assumption is that Dorico doesn’t want to condense the two staves when one of them shows an instrument label. To prove this, I can create a system that only contains that single bar with the instrument name and indeed both the old and new condensing changes work perfectly before and after.

I can’t delete or hide that instrument label and I don’t think I should. What to do? Thanks!

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Dorico can only condense the first instrument held by any player.

Sorry, I don’t understand. Dorico condenses exactly as expected, except for the one bar where an instrument label is shown.

Lillie’s statement is reasonably clear, and it is certainly true. When a player holds multiple instruments, only the first instrument held by the player can ever participate in condensing. In systems where any of the other instruments held by the player is active, that player’s staves cannot participate in condensing. This is a limitation we want to remove in future, but it’s definitely there at the time of writing.

My apologies, once again. I still don’t understand. And of course I should have explained the context better.

The Player in question has instruments assigned like this:

The Piccolo is held at the start of the flow but it is never condensed, while Flute I and II are condensed:

At some point, I need to switch the condensing over to Flute II and III and this too works perfectly well:

except for a single bar that has an instrument label showing:

Further, Dorico sees that the new instrument has become active, I believe, because it creates the instrument change instruction right at the moment when the previous instrument stops playing (~40 bars ahead of this spot).

I think I must be missing something very obvious in both of your responses because it looks to me like:

  • only the first instrument held by the player can ever participate in condensing: check
  • where any of the other instruments held by the player is active, that player’s staves cannot participate in condensing: check

Feeling exceptionally dumb right now…

Please supply the project file that’s demonstrating the issue, so someone can look at the bar in question.

That screenshot shows why the Flute counts as the “first” instrument, as opposed to the Picc which may play first in the actual music.

I suspect the “Flute” indication in Flute III (indicating the instrument change) could be preventing the flutes from condensing.

Yes, that’s exactly what @ebrooks has already deduced. I have had this same issue as well, and haven’t found a reasonable way around it yet, except to ask the developers nicely to revisit this area of the software at some point.

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Right, this was my thinking too. And as the first instrument held by a player it should be condensable (and it is, except for the bar with an added label).

I’m going to look into my staff labels next, as the more I think about it the more I’d like to Dorico to simply say “2,3” on the condensed staff consistent with the rest of the score - i.e. a number instead of an instrument name which is creating a bit of a mismatch.

But maybe I created a different problem somewhere else that’s now impacting this - which is possible because I’d had an issue with condensing divisi accidentals in violas in more or less the same area that I’ve asked about in another post.

Possibly the confusion arises here:

The “instrument change instruction” referred to here is an advance warning, but as far as Dorico is concerned the instrument hasn’t yet changed until the Flute actually enters. Thus all of the rests in-between count as being part of the Piccolo, not the Flute, and they won’t condense.

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Oh I see!!! So then what I actually need to do is create allow for a system with a few bars of uncondensed Flutes in order for this change to take place and then for the condensing to resume, right? This would then point back to Daniel’s point #2.

Thanks, Richard!

@hrnbouma I’d be curious to know how you’re handling it in the meantime, if you don’t mind - just realized I have a similar thing coming with Clarinets quite soon. Maybe inputting a “fake” note and trying to hide it or change color? Thank you

The safest method would be to have Fl 3 and Picc just be separate players (but sharing a part layout), put in the instrument changes manually using text and hiding all the unused staves. You’ll still have to watch out a bit with your system breaks in case the change happens rather quickly—ideally the two instruments should never share a system. I do something similar in case of A/Bb clarinets.

All of this is obviously not ideal in case of rewrites/reshufflings because you’d likely need to redo the instrument changes and re-babysit your system breaks.


Right. I don’t feel knowledgeable enough yet to be able to handle this amount of detail and not screw something up. Perhaps my aim at this stage should indeed be a one-off system with uncondensed Flutes and another with Clarinets later that are not too jarring.


This is an issue for me as well and I am handling it as hrnbouma suggested. Is this the only way to do it still? What this means is that one should never create a player holding multiple instruments, and instead create different players for flute 3 and picc. (and any other doubling player) so that it is possible to achieve a proper condensed view.

One possible fix would be to add an option in notation options, near “allow instrument changes” to disable instrument change labels at the beginning of the new instrument. Instead, allow the user to choose to indicate “To flute” but disable the indication that says “flute” when the flute actually enters ??

Can anyone confirm if this issue has been fixed yet?

As far as I’m aware, it is still the case that only the first instrument held by a player can be condensed.

@Lillie_Harris I understand that, but I don’t think that’s the issue at hand. I have two flute players, the second doubles alto flute. For both players, concert flute is the first instrument and they condense just fine. What I’m wondering is: when the second player returns to concert flute, and the label appears mid-staff as “FL.”, the staves will not condense, even though there is nothing in the alto flute staff for many measures previous.

This was addressed by Richard earlier upthread: that label, perhaps misleadingly, is only a “warning” for score reading purpose; and not a sign or signal of an actual instrument change. The change only happens for Dorico’s condensing algorithm calculations when the player actually plays something on concert flute. As far I as know this hasn’t’ changed.