Multiple Instruments = One Staff?

Greetings Daniel,

First, I want to say that Sibelius was a phenomenal product. Now that I’ve learned more about the PLAY tab, I suspect Dorico might be as well. It’s thrilling! And I want to thank you and your team for all your hard work.

Usage Behavior
I use 3 different sample libraries for one instrument in many cases. Many users in the film world do. Why? 1) because not all libraries have a full compliment of every articulation. 2) Using multiple libraries allows for getting the right performance, in contexts. 3) sometimes layering 2 gives you a more rich sound, which can help it sound more real and less machine-made for certain instruments.

The "Problem"
In a DAW, this is no issue. In Notation, I don’t want triple staves for one instrument. All my articulations are on different MIDI channels in VEP as it is. Point is, there are several layers to the need to consolidate messy “instrument data” into clean staves.

My question
It’s not a new problem and it’s a fairly common one. So I’d guess that you’re already aware of this. My question is if you are doing anything to address this? If in v1, I may die of over-excitement (truly, I might just). But even if in v1.1 or 1.5 (or maybe 2 if we have to get ugly) I’d still be thrilled to hear it.

Thanks for putting up with my frequent rantings. I believe I’ve had legit concerns because of the limited info we’ve had. But the more I learn, the more I think you guys are hiding some pretty cool things under your thumbs. And every deeper glance I get into that PLAY tab, the happier I get. :wink:


Dorico includes HALion Sonic SE 2 workstation and complete HALion Symphonic Orchestra library.
HALion Sonic SE 2 is a multitimbral VST Instrument that can load up to 16 sounds (or programs) and combine them. This combination is called a multi program.
You can use multis, to layer several programs or to create split sounds by setting several programs to the same MIDI input channel, for example.
However, the most common usage is to create sound sets with different instruments set to individual MIDI channels.


Thanks, but that’s not my main concern. To start, I won’t be sold on Halion as I use Spitfire and VSL and my own private samples. I’d argue most power users will too. :wink: More importantly, I use different midi ports and channels for my articulations, in order to have articulation-independent “note expression” for cc data. But I also use more than one sample library. I’ll use Spitfire Mural, then may use a different string library for a few bars because it sounds more convincing for a certain passage. Let’s say I have 7 different spiccato articulations to choose from for Violin 1 alone. Can Dorico support that? I could obviously name each articulation for each library. But I want them all to only show up with the same articulation marker for engraving. In short, I have 3 staccato articulations, and want to use all of them, but see the same “dot” in each case. Is that possible?

Is also worth noting that I use ensemble patches most of the time but will use a completely different instrument, like Sacconi strings or the Blakus cello for a solo parts. I may even want to write a violin 1 part and add a solo violin part on top of it on the same staff. So can Dorico play that with our sample libraries, and all on one staff?

Hope that helps to get the answers I’m looking for. :slight_smile:


Hi Sean,

We’re aiming to support these kind of use cases (though we’re not sure yet to what extent in the initial release). We know that many users want to be able to plug in their own combinations of VSTs, and they want to use ‘arco’ samples from this library and ‘pizz’ from another. So what you will be able to do is configure the rack with all the VSTs you want to use, load your preferred presets, and then tell Dorico the Expression Maps or ‘Playing Technique’ for each channel of each VST. We call each destination an ‘Endpoint’ (basically the plugin + channel + expression map).

You can then map each of your source Instruments to the Endpoints you want to use. So you could load an arco patch in one slot and a pizz in another, then in the Instruments control you just point it at these two endpoints. When we come across the pizz in the score we’ll switch playback to the other endpoint. In the score you will just have one source stave, but playback can be split across many endpoints.

I’m not sure at the moment how best to support switching to another sample library just for a different section. It might be a matter of making a custom playing technique for it. The same might be true for the multiple spiccato samples.

You should be able to have per-voice playback routing, so that should give you a way achieve the ensemble/solo effect, or that could probably be also done with a playing technique change.


Thanks! That’s all brilliant, truly. As long as you guys are aware of how folks are trying to use it this way, I trust you guys to make good calls. And I realize its a very dynamic and layered problem, so I’m not sure any kind of ideal solutions are obvious. But still, great to hear it’s already most of the way to solving the things I care about most.

That was the last thing I needed to know to put my wallet into this. You’ve sold me now! :slight_smile:


Guys, I can’t.
I tried to modify the expression map, but I can’t associate a plugin change to a technique, I can only associate a MIDI channel change.
I would like to play with NotePerformer all the natural techniques, while with Kontakt all the special techniques. How can I do it? Could someone explain it to me step by step?
Thank you very much!

You can use different voices for the notes in the score, and assign each voice to a different VST in Play mode.

I’d like to revisit this discussion since this is the exact issue that’s making my Dorico experience a little bit more inconvenient than I expected – so perhaps I’m doing something wrong!

First things first: I’m not interested in playback here. Just engraving!

So: I typically engrave Baroque pieces from manuscripts in which the bottom staff contains music for numerous instruments, which in extreme cases can for example mean:

  • the continuo organ
  • violoncello
  • violoncello ripieno
  • violone
  • bassoon

all on one staff. The conductor really only needs that one staff; here’s an illustration from an older Lilypond project, where the ‘continuo’ and ‘ripieno’ groups were clearly defined:

All the ‘bottom’ parts are to be generated on the basis of this one staff; for example, in the case just illustrated, the ‘string continuo’ part would contain 6 bars of rests where the organ plays, the ‘string ripieno’ part would have 7 bars of rests, etc.

In Lilypond I’d input all the music for the conductor’s score once and use a nifty feature called ‘tagging’ to flag which notes were to be used in which parts. However, I moved to Dorico since there are many things about Lilypond which are not as convenient :slight_smile: But in this particular case I don’t know what to do. The only way I can think of is to create all the staves separately, including the one for the conductor, and then make only the conductor’s one appear in the ‘Full Score’ layout. However, this seems to be inefficient, since if I make a mistake I might be forced to correct it more than once.

Hence the question: is it possible to create one staff, intended for use in the Full Score layout, to which, say 3 instruments would be assigned, each of which would only play a subset of that staff, on the basis of which the part of that instrument was generated?

No. Whichever route you take is going to feel a little workaroundy, given there isn’t specific functionality for your scenario.

Condensing in Dorico basically works the other way round - you tell it what each player should play, then it constructs a single condensed stave in the score - but I fear five players is probably to much for a single condensed staff to work effectively.

I think there are two viable methods:

  1. The dumb method: use six separate players, and a scratch score layout that shows all of them. Copy and paste to your heart’s content (and note the very useful Edit > Paste Special > Duplicate to Stave Above/Below functions, which you should assign keyboard shortcuts to). The disadvantage to this method is that if things change or you make mistakes, you’ll need to correct in multiple staves, but not multiple layouts - this is the purpose of a scratch score that no-one ever sees.
  2. Cues: Still use six players and a scratch score, but only put each set of notes into one staff. Then use Cues to cue from the source staff to the destination staves. Cues, again, can be copied and pasted, duplicated to stave above/below etc., and because they’re dynamic, they’ll always be right. And if you’re not using cues elsewhere in the project, you can set them up in such a way that they include everything and are scaled to full size etc. The advantage to this method is that you only ever need to correct stuff in one place; the disadvantage is that you’ll have to fiddle with cue labels.

Incidentally, your topic seems to have nothing in common with the content of the rest of this thread, not to mention the fact that the rest of this thread is nearly five years out of date. I’m scratching my head as to why you bumped this particular thread…

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Thank you very much! The ‘scratch score’ method seems indeed workable; I will have to experiment to see whether the benefits from using cues outweigh the disadvantages :slight_smile: (Condensing will not really work here, I agree.)

[quote=“pianoleo, post:9, topic:75583”]
Incidentally, your topic seems to have nothing in common with the content of the rest of this thread, not to mention the fact that the rest of this thread is nearly five years out of date. I’m scratching my head as to why you bumped this particular thread…
[/quote]Well, all this stems from the discussion in this thread: Instrument names do not display as expected - #22 by times007 which thematically has drifted away from its title. After thinking about this for a while it occurred to me that the essence of the issue was that I’d like to put multiple instruments in one staff: were that possible, I’d assume that generating parts for each instrument would not be a problem at all since this is what Dorico does ‘naturally’. And since this topic had, well, exactly this in its title, I decided to bump it – I thought it’s better to bump a thread than to create a new one. If that’s not the case, I apologise!