Mixing solo and section divisi


I should write a strings divisi passage with a setup like this:


The Change Divisi dialog doesn’t seem to allow for mixing solo and section staves. Solo are all on top, section under them.

I guess the workaround is to treat all of them as solo instruments, but I was just asking to see if mixing them is indeed possible.


You can call the staves anything you like, so I don’t think there’s any practical limitation here. Just create the sections you want and name them how you want.

Hi Daniel, thank you for your many answers!

My concern, with divisi, is more conceptual than practical. In the Change Divisi dialog you can add Solo or Section parts. Solo are forced on top of the list, while Section are below. There is no apparent way to interspace them.

In the case I reported, I would find logical that parts like Vni 1.2, or Vni 1-4, are Sections; parts like Vni 1, Vni 2, Vni 3 and so on are Solos. But then, whichever their name, I can’t have them in the same list. They are always two separate lists, even if not grouped.

However, divisis are already sub-parts, so I doubt they have to be furtherly split. So, I can consider them Solos, even if made of more than one player.


In the surveys we have done of published scores, we have found that all soloists are consistently positioned above all remaining sections, which is why Dorico enforces that. I think you might end up cutting off your nose to spite your face if you choose not to use the divisi feature simply because an icon in the list in the Change Divisi dialog shows two heads rather than one. I would suggest you simply create as many non-solo divisi sections as you need, and change their names so that they match however you think of them.

Daniel, I can’t but agree with you. I wonder if there is a preference to be given to solo or non-solo parts (I would go for solo, but I guess there are plus and minus in any case).

The particular case I’m facing is more a “variable geometry” situation than a traditional divisi one. I don’t know how many scores need this kind of solution. Maybe only the one I’m on now (Ligeti’s Atmosphères):

In any case, I think a compromise like the one you are suggesting will be an excellent one.


Dorico can change between two different divisis (neither of which is unisoni), but only if the change is at a system break. If it was in the middle of a system, there is no way to tell Dorico how to “re-map” the music on one set of divisi staves to the other one in the middle of a system.

When “condensing changes” are implemented in a future release, the best way to do the Ligeti might be to have 14 solo instruments and use condensing, instead of divisi. WIth a large number of divisi staves, there is no way to split up the players parts, so you end up with an impossible number of page turns - and Violin 1.9 will have hard time finding the right staff to read on every system!

The “condensing changes” idea is great!

I wonder how they did the parts for this piece. I guess it is still done by desk, with some systems showing two instead of a single staff.


An afterthought after reading Rob’s answer: maybe in this case it would be better to treat each “divisi” part as an individual part, and let the condensing feature generate a single Vni part, if needed? Splitting is so extreme, that maybe it is no longer to be considered “divisi”.


If you have solo players, you could make the parts by desk and include some cues from the other desks if necessary. You can condense the two players’ staves in the part as well as in the score, of course.