Multiple instruments on one staff possible already?

Is it possible already to have for instance 2 flute parts on one staff in Dorico and have the parts layed out individually by the programme when printing/exporting? If yes, how? :slight_smile:


May be that you’re asking for something similar to the voices concept in Musescore? For what I’ve seen in Dorico that’s not possible, but certainly it would be a very nice improvement.

No, Robin, not yet, but we have a blockbuster solution for this kind of score in the works, though I can’t say for sure when it will be included in the program, as we may well be working on other smaller but possibly higher priority items for the next little while. A lot of development work has gone into it already, but there is a lot more to be done before it’s ready for you all to get your hands on it.

Thanks Daniel,

also for your incredibly swift reply on a day as today! Much appreciated!
I wasn’t expecting to be able to do an immediate switch from my current scoring programme to Dorico but seeing all the passion and energy you and your team are putting into it, I’m preparing myself to do it in the near to medium future :slight_smile:


Clearly there are higher-priority items (chord symbols, slash notation for jazz people, etc), but this here would be probably the most significant time saver for me (and people who write scores for large orchestra, where quick turn-around of parts is needed).

I have said this before (on “Making Notes” blog), but it may be worth repeating, as it might also inspire additional contributions from others dealing with it.

Most common situation I deal with practically daily involves a traditional symphonic score: pairs of woodwinds, horns, trumpets, trombones, plus individual percussion and strings. In my current tool, I go through the well-practiced song-and-dance of copying those pairs into two additional separate staves, then in each of them selecting notes (top or bottom, or single) for deletion, and then going back and fixing issues such as position of dynamic markings and other stuff. If subsequent changes to the music happen, I go back and re-do the process (or make sure I keep track of changes and do them separately in individual part staves).

Standard notation conventions leave very little room for ambiguity in these cases, which should allow for rather straightforward algorithm that could account for all these rules in separating the staff into multiple parts. When we have two oboes on a single staff, the copyist will always know which stuff to copy into 1st oboe and which into 2nd. The composer/orchestrator will clearly mark 1. or Solo, (or equivalent in another language), or a2, zu 2 or similar, to clarify for the copyist whether the music goes into just one part or both. When those two oboes play a two-part harmony that occasionally goes through a few notes in unison, for clarity reasons, it is often unnecessary to write a2 for those few notes, but the copyist will intuitively know that the parts are in unison. Although not always the case, the orchestrator may indicate the unison by creating two voices (same note, two stems). Ideally, when we are setting up our parts for printing, the programme would show alerts for all passages in the staff where there is still ambiguity (such as a monophonic melody, without indication which of the instruments is playing it). To go one step further, some defaults could be built in that could make common assumptions (whenever the line begins, after two or more bars of rests, as monophonic, it is 1st / top instrument, unless marked; when the two instruments go from two-part harmony to unison for less than two measures, and then split back into two-part harmony, it is a2 unless marked, etc). The instruments would automatically be split into separates parts, whether the two voices move in parallel, and are written as “single voice” (to borrow Sibelius / Finale terminology), or polyphonic voicing is used (when rhythm isn’t the same).

I’ve often wondered why no notation program simply has an option to ‘snap’ any stave perfectly on top of any other stave and hide or move all the duplicate lines/bars/symbols/unwanted rests/etc.


  1. Make as many staves as you like.
  2. Write out all the parts on their own stave.
  3. Tag any staves one wants merged onto a single stave.
  4. Have a group handle of some sort by staves that will cause them to toggle between being ‘stacked’ all on the same stave, or ‘split’ into individual ones.

In addition to the ability to tag and stack, we could still have a way to bring a voice/layer to the ‘top’ of a stack and edit which ever layer is top-most.

Really, now that VST Note Expression containers exist (Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself and thinking more along the lines of VST4 or later)…it seems to me that it should be possible to take notation software to a level that the playback engine shouldn’t care what ‘stave’ a note is on. I.E. If you drug a note from a Clarinet stave and dropped it on a Trumpet stave…it would still play the clarinet unless toggled to ‘channel/stave’ mode, or ‘frozen’ so that it changes into a trumpet note.

In a round about way, the point I’m ‘trying’ to make is that if I understand things correctly, unlike with General MIDI, we’re no longer ‘stuck’ to a ‘channel’ or ‘stave’ based paradigm. Individual notes can pack extra information into the VST3 Note event containers.

Given the user tools to put information into these ‘note containers’, composers could get very robust control over the playback engine, and copyists could store all sorts of flow or engraving information.

Imagine that you can pull up the ‘trombone’ instrument, define the ‘pitch/articulation/duration’ you’re about to drop on the score should play, and throw it ANYWHERE on the page you want (given a time reference snap-to grid of course). It can even be a BLANK page with no lines, measures, or staves AT ALL. Just a ‘timing grid’. No matter where on the page you drop a note, it’ll belong to the trombone player, and play in time relative to the background timing grid.

On top of the bare canvas, imagine that we also get staves and lines to snap our notes on. If notes fall in certain regions they’ll snap to their proper place on the stave relative to the clef and key. Options can exist to allow notes to let ‘stave’ or ‘channel’ properties override individual note properties.

With all that in mind…
If it doesn’t already exist…I highly recommend putting together a team to ‘standardize’ a massive cannon of VST3 events specifically for notation and engraving purposes. It would be similar to how the MIDI organizations have decided that CC7 should master volume, and CC10 does Pan. Why not pack standardized information right into the note events themselves, as opposed to forcing every software developer to reinvent the database wheel?

@Predrag: May it be that you work with an engraving tool named S…? I do not want to advertise something here, but perhaps a plug-in called “Explode Staff To Parts” by the wonderful Bob Zawalich in Composing Tools may help you and save lots of time till dorico becomes your working horse. It is not perfect (proof reading still is irremissible), but it beats the pants off your procedure, which was mine before Bob’s plug-in.

Concerning the topic:

I look for a solution to this mess (Schumann piano sonata):

The original complete edition by Clara Schumann looks like this:

Is there any solution present in this forum already? I thought Dorico would build a better note placing here by default… Sorry…


Ok, some more investigating gave me the answer that horizontal offset was not possible until now and the team tried to implement it with 1.0.20. (I posted before tweaking with force stem direction and flipping ties, should have done this first, I admit). Obviously, this feature was not ready for 1.0.20. That’s okay, there are so many improvements! Yet I just wanted to write this Schumann Sonata :frowning:

But: What about one notehead stemmed up and down at the same time? Is this not possible yet as well? (Gould p. 59 tells me that the old original is still up to date in its shared notehead for both voices with a half and a dotted half note).
Very interesting: The stem of the middle voice between notehead and dot of the lower voice in the original edition! I could not find anything regarding this solution in Elaine Goulds book!

This is what I got with only a tiny bit of tweaking:

I didn’t do any horizontal offset, but chose “Allow noteheads to overlap” under Notation options - voices. I also flipped the stem direction a few places.

Predrag, a pretty decent summing up! Very excited to see what Dorico has planned for this.

Thank you very much, Anders. I just worked a little bit with Dorico until now and had to be guided to the permission of overlapping noteheads. The other tweakings I was just a bit too quick with my post as I wrote in my editing.

Hello! I was wondering if there was any update to this thread?

“Is it possible already to have for instance 2 flute parts on one staff in Dorico and have the parts layed out individually by the programme when printing/exporting? If yes, how? :slight_smile:

And what the best thing is to do in the meantime?

For instance is it better to have two staves all the way through for Flute 1 and 2, and then combine them onto one stave for the final score, OR put them on one stave in the score and then separate them out in the parts. Does anyone have any opinion on this?

I just did the latter for my piano concerto and it was a little time-consuming, but worked well and still beat part making on other notation software.

I am just about to start another orchestral score and wonder if anyone has any experience of doing it the other way.

all best and many thanks!