Layout problems with a series of XML-imported numbers

I have been importing a series of numbers for a musical theater work into my Dorico project, via MusicXML. I understand that this is an inexact process, and I’ve been enjoying straightening out the details. But I keep running to the same issues repeatedly, which makes me think I haven’t set something quite right. My apologies for any duplication of existing topics; I did search, but none seemed to quite match these.

  1. I do have it set to “use existing players when possible” for each new import. But each new import rearranges my vertical order in seemingly random ways (yet they happen consistently making me think there’s something I don’t understand), as it always has to add an instrument or two. For instance, one of the vocalists always goes down below Contrabass, Percussion is always moved up above Flute, and Harp always moves below the vocal staves… I can move them around to what I want, but if I need to create a new player, the rearrangement happens again. What am I not understanding?

  2. One song accompanies the soloist with a male vocal quartet. How can I create such a group (either on 2 staves, or on 4 condensible ones), that will have the staff name Quartet in the margin rather than the individual voice names?

  3. Each new number adds instruments (as above) that upset the brackets and sub-brackets, and I have to redo them. The only way to do it that I know of is to use Engrave mode, and I have to do it over for each flow. I have condensing turned off temporarily, likewise hiding of some staves temporarily unchecked, so that all staves are visible at the point where I create the brackets and braces. Is there a more permanent way to do this during setup, rather than frequently flipping in and out of Engrave mode?

  1. In Dorico 4, there is a new option to sort players which is set to “orchestral” by default. Therefore, new players will automatically be sorted in the Players panel according to their accepted orchestral order. You can switch this to “None” which prevents Dorico automatically sorting players. (If one singer is ending up below the strings, and it’s the bass, it’s possible it’s being interpreted as a bass string instrument rather than a bass singer – perhaps change that instrument to make sure it’s the correct instrument.)

  2. Perhaps have one section player holding a male singer instrument (tenor/baritone/bass etc) and use divisi to add extra staves?

  3. Default bracketing is set for the layout in Layout Options > Brackets and Braces. Manual bracket overrides (resulting in brown signposts) are applied to the staves visible at the time of being set, and therefore if you have bracket and barline changes before adding extra players or enabling condensing, the results might not remain as desired. I’d suggest setting the layout options to as close as you want first, getting the staves you need in the project, then once your staff management is finalised, make any bracket adjustments you need.

Thank you so much for the kind and comprehensive response, @Lillie_Harris.

  1. I did run into such problems as you describe with sorting, particularly with “Bass” which tended to be imported as Bass Voice and thus wouldn’t combine with strings. But Percussion is puzzling, as it keeps sorting to the top every time I make an alteration in the order, but there’s no doubt it’s truly percussion (it gives Drum Kit cues during note entry). I finally just declared that I’m using a Custom Order, set that to I want, and I hope it sticks.

  2. This is a brilliant solution that gives just what I need, Thank you!!

  3. This is a clear explanation, and I’m puzzled why it seemed not to work that way. But I’ll blame my still-evolving understanding, plus the oddities that happen with XML support. It seems to be stable now.

One thing that is oddly unstable are the staff labels that emerged after I turned on condensing just now. I requested that numbers be stacked, and mostly they are – but not always. In one number I see Trumpets 1.2 and Trombones 1.2 while Horns have 1&2 stacked; in another it’s just the Trumpets; in two others they’re all stacked as desired. And there’s no doubt these are the same instruments continuing through all flows. It’s not the end of the world, of course, but I’m puzzled and would like to understand how the software is arriving at these layouts.

There’s an Engraving Option for whether stem allocations should be considered when displaying staff labels - you need to set it to ignore stem allocations. See Changing number stacking in condensed staff labels for details.

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That did it – and now I’ll know. Enormous thanks, @pianoleo. There are always new things to learn (and awesome forum participants to share the knowledge).