"Late" Instrument Changes - Solved!

Typically in Jazz and Broadway when changing instruments changes of key or clef always occur right at the entrance of the new instrument. This is beneficial as the new key sig is an additional alert to the performer that something is different in case they spaced out and missed the “to” indication earlier. Unfortunately Dorico places the change as soon as the previous instrument stops playing so there isn’t a good option to control this placement. There really should be an option for this “late” change in Layout Options/Players/Instrument Changes or Engraving Options/Instrument Changes.

I had been using a pretty convoluted workaround to accomplish this, and was posting in response to another user on the Dorico FB thread, when Ryan Ayers proposed a pretty neat solution to this, and it works! Basically if you use an independent key signature in the instrument you are changing to in order to make the key signatures match with the current instrument, then Dorico won’t draw the key signature when it makes the “early” change. You can then correct the independent key signature at the actual entrance.

Here’s an example. If I have this transposed score in Galley, where one player is holding both Alto Sax and Flute, and the key sigs match using independent key sigs …

… then I end up with this in the part:

It appears as a “late” instrument change and everything plays back correctly too! Perhaps I missed it, but I hadn’t seen anyone else come up with that here so thought I’d share. Here’s a file too in case any of that isn’t clear.

Instrument Change.dorico (627.7 KB)


I’m still trying to get my brain to lock in this new way of thinking, but the important aspect is that the two instruments must have the same written key signature, irrespective of their transpositions. This is easier to visualise if you work in Galley View with Layout Options > Players > Transposing layout enabled. As illustrated in Fred’s first screen shot, the independent key signature (shift-K, key-sig, Alt-Enter) is entered in each instrument in the bar where a new entry starts (or wherever you want the key signature to appear). The mental gymnastics required take some getting used to initially, but it is worth the effort.

What I like most about this approach is that the text indicating a change of instrument is still there with plenty of warning (it can be moved in Engrave mode if you wish) but the actual new key signature can be placed just before the entry of the “other” instrument rather than immediately after the first one stops playing.

Yeah, in my example to get the Alto Sax to show transposed in F I needed an independent key sig of Ab there. Dorico of course still thinks it is making an “early” instrument change, but as long as it doesn’t draw the key sig it doesn’t matter.

Just in case anyone ever stumbles across this thread, this workaround has now been rendered unnecessary with the release of D5.1. Simply select Layout Options / Players / Instrument Changes / “Before the first note in new instrument” and you’ll have the correct display of the instrument change.