Let's talk about parts


In an earlier blog post, it was mentioned that extraction of parts to separate files would not be part of the application model. While I am not against this decision per se, I am just slightly worried that some complex situations might be problematic.

For example, let’s say that during the course of a long orchestral work, my horn parts combine on staves in different ways on different pages. By default they are on two staves: 1+2; 3+4, but this needs to be adapted in some situations:

  1. The complexity of parts demands that the horns temporarily appear on three or even four staves.
  2. Crowded vertical space during a dense passage means a four-note horn chord is shown on a single staff.

Now it’s time to prepare parts – how is that going to go for me? Will I be pulling my hair out, or will I be throwing away my Sibelius user manual once and for all?

The whole point of the “players holding instruments” model that we have adopted for Dorico is to handle the kinds of situations you describe.

The first version of Dorico will show our intent in this area, though it will not be completely realised in the initial release. I will share some more information about our true end-game for parts preparation a bit further down the line, but I’m pretty sure that you’ll be happy with what we have been working on. I hope that’s not too frustratingly cryptic a response at this stage.

Nope, sounds rather magical actually!
“Players holding instruments”… :open_mouth:


Cryptic, but very encouraging. I tried to have a conversation about this with a Sibelius rep at NAMM a few years ago, and he brushed me off. He either didn’t think it was an issue, or he didn’t understand the question.

Will if be possible to combine two parts on one staff in the score, and extract that to two separate parts? For instance, Flute 1 and Flute 2 on one staff in the score, but separate Flute 1 and Flute 2 parts?

That’s the scenario that the OP, Skysaw, is talking about, and at this stage I can’t give you anything further beyond the cryptic answer I’ve already given. I will only add that we are quite well aware what a big deal this would be.

As Joe Biden would say, it’s a BFD! Thanks, this ability to change part systems in a layout, as well as being able to resize staves in a single score, are two of the biggest problems for me in my work. Kudos for making this a priority!


I just posted a new thread on this subject, no noticing this one already.

As cryptic as the answer was, I find it immensely encouraging, because it clearly acknowledges the significance of the request. There are various ways of implementing this functionality, at various levels of automation (and artificial intelligence). While rules of writing for winds in scores are fairly straightforward (you write a2, or zu2 when both are playing the same line, or 1., I., 2., II. when only one is playing), in practical use, there is often room for ambiguity (such as when a two-voice melody comes to unison for a few notes, for example). For reasons of clarity, we don’t always mark these passages ‘a2’, as the common sense implies that the few notes aren’t going to be a solo 1st or 2nd. It shouldn’t be too difficult to develop some logic that would make default decisions regarding the division of voicing for multi-part staves, regardless of whether the parts were written in two separate voices, or if they are single two-note voice (as is the most common practice for symphonic scores). The algorithm would simply default the top notes to the 1st instrument, bottom to 2nd (and continue to separate for more voices), and when there are fewer simultaneous notes than voices, it would look for textual clues (‘a2’, or ‘a3’, or ‘1.’, ‘solo’, etc) to decide where to put the passage. If no clear text indications existed, it would send the passage to a default voice/voices based on built-in rules, and highlight it in colour for user to intervene, to make sure the passage is correctly designated. And those rules would perhaps suggest that a monophonic passage is ‘solo’ (or ‘1st’) if it begins and ends without more than a single note at a time (i.e. if it is monophonic throughout), and is ‘a2’ if it immediately preceeded (and/or succeeded) by a two-note harmony.

More often than not, I had produced scores (for my own use) where each wind instrument had a separate staff (flute 1, flute 2, oboe 1, oboe 2, etc), which results in a score that is rather difficult to read, but allows me to rapidly generate parts for the ensemble. In other words, I was forced to compromise: in order to generate fast output (the most critical constrain for me being time), I had to sacrifice the clarity of my own score. I am hoping that this time next year, I will no longer need to make such compromises…

Are we at a point where more can be expanded and explained on this topic, or is it more something for after release?

Also, in what seems directly related to this topic, do you have plans for allowing partial or full “piano reductions” from a larger piece. I’m thinking along the lines of a reduction of staves for treble and bass woodwinds, brass, and strings. I think these are useful for a concise overview of what is going on, and for proof-reading.

All I can say at this stage is that the first release of Dorico won’t have a solution for the scenario of producing parts and a conductors’ score in which different players can share staves, but it is absolutely a part of the design and architecture of the software, and we have something in the pipeline that I think will be a real game-changer in this department.

Any update on how parts that require a variable number of staves will be handled? I’m currently restoring a score where the Violin I part requires between 1 and 9 staves …

It’s a similar story: we plan to have dedicated handling of things like ossias and solos, which is not yet implemented, but is catered for in the underlying model.

ok, thanks for confirming. I assume a worst-case scenario, similar to Finale, will be available? I.e. where you start with the max no. of staves required, and hide those that are not needed on a system to system basis (+ possibly re-justifying the vertical spacing with TGtools’ “scale staff positions”.)

Sure, in the short term you will have to employ those sorts of tactics, but in the medium term there will be a much better solution in Dorico.

I am currently a Sibelius user (in fact since version 1) and a (very) small publisher. The concept that Dorico will know how to generate the parts based on how I have set-up an orchestral score seems very mysterious and also dubious to me - with no alternative at all, such as extracting parts to separate files (or like Sibelius, within the same file) to allow separate work on them. There are multiple issues, for example:

  1. System breaks and page turns. Unless I as the engraver am allowed to specify in the score exactly how I want things to break, how to group measures in any given system for a part, this simply will not be useful for serious engraving. Even if there is notation or other markup language or flags that address such issues in the score, I can’t actually see what the part looks like, presumably until I print it out (well, to a PDF :wink:). This is terrible! Please tell me I’m missing something here - I don’t believe in magic :wink: Things might look fine in a score but when it comes down to a part there are obviously other issues that can occur, such as bad juxtapositions, keeping fast phrases on a single stave if practicable (and if not how to make the system break as user-friendly as practicable), that the engraver needs to be able to address. If I have no control over this at the part level then Dorico will not be useful to me, and possibly many other orchestral engravers.

  2. Alternate parts (Bb clarinet created from A clarinet, or other obscure key). Some of the work I do involves entering partial scores of instruments that need to be transposed to other keys, or clefs. I need to be able to see the original entered key parts as well as the transposed key/clef parts, printing only the transposed parts.

  3. Switching back and forth between different key’d instruments. Some instruments might be in one key in part of a score and in a different key elsewhere (over and over), and these need to come together into one part seemlessly. If the score knew this (somehow) then of course you could generate parts that integrated the two with no interaction by the engraver (other than my other concerns).

  4. Combo parts. I often create a percussion score with a selection of individual percussion lines. As in Sibelius, e.g., any changes I make in the score needs to be percolated immediately to all linked parts such as this, and of course I need to be able to create such a combo part and print it. Page and system breaks are more difficult here and of course I need to be able to control that, which will be different for the same individual percussion parts when printed as their own individual parts.

  5. A special case of a combo part is the score itself - I have been able to select which parts I want in the printed score. This would occur if I am entering an existing piece that has instruments in non-friendly keys, but am transposing for publication. I need to enter the original key instruments, for accuracy and proof-reading, then create new transposed key staves for several of the instruments, and print the score with only the new substitute (transposed) parts included, none of the original key instruments.

Well, these come to mind immediately. I realize you are coming up on only your first release, and I do hope you will do well. Other folks have chimed in about other issues such as only a single license per computer (difficult to move), I do need to have a second copy for backup purposes.

To possibly answer my own questions it would appear that all (?) of these types of issues might be solved by the use of your new concept of a layout. Sorry but I only ran across the Dorico announcement today and was initially flummoxed. I found the excellent overview of concepts later in a Sibelius blog! Still not sure how separate parts for a section get both combined into one staff in a score but separated in their own parts but I need to read further and more carefully - I can imagine a method though;-)

An addendum to the whole idea of separate parts: As a general rule in UI design, the more that the user has to remember to do in order to accomplish the task at hand, the worse the situation is. So, there are two ways to have the parts/scores done, either enter both parts on a single stave, and have Dorico “magically” figure out how to separate them, or have the user enter the parts separately to begin with and have Dorico put them together into one part (fairly straightforward in comparison). If the the former is done instead, then Dorico will have to rely on many different kinds of logical cues to figure out who’s first and second, which might be right a lot of the time, but a nightmare potentially to correct if not (since there aren’t any separate parts - only produced on the fly); so this method requires the user to remember to do various “smart” things so Dorico will do a good job. Hmmmm.

One still would want various options for the score, globally and locally selectable, as to whether one wants two-note chords when possible, or shown as separate voices with tails going in opposite direction; whether one wants to show a tacet 2nd voice explicitly when there is only a single first voice or marked instead as “flute 1” (e.g.) or “I.” etc.

I’m still conflicted :wink: Hard to figure out anything without knowing exactly what facilities will exist.

I always put in cues into parts when possible. These obviously should not appear in the score, but are to be added in the part only. So, if one can “extract” a part (say flute 2) from the score by somehow putting that in a “layout” by itself, then I would have the ability to put in the cue notes just in that part (from what I have read elsewhere - being able to put stuff in a layout that only is there). Preferably a cut-and-paste from another layout, to mimic what can be done in Sibelius with minimum fuss.

Dear all, specially Mr. Steinberg,

what is the current state of player holds insturments and parts manipulation?

I am about to begin a piece for large orchestra in which I will have to deal with separate strings parts for some pages, and others not. Lets say for example, two pages violin 1, 2, 3 and 4 are playing solo and next pages they are playing together violin 1-4. For parts thatst quite tricky and from what Daniel has told, Dorico will be able to handle that in the future.

I would like to know the current state of it.

thanks in advance

Current state is that Dorico can handle players who double (e.g. flute and sax) we have not yet implemented the divisi-style options that you would likely need for the four violins you mention, sorry.