Orchestral: using multiple voices in staff vs. divisi

I’m working in a large orchestral score and specifically focusing on section instruments like strings. There are some passages that, for example, have 1st cellos playing a part, while 2nd cellos rest (and this continues for several bars).

The options would be:

  1. input cello 1 notes in the up-stem voice, input cello 2 whole rests in the down-stem voice
  2. input cello 1 notes only, and put a “1.” next to them indicating they should only be played by first cellos
  3. use Dorico’s divisi feature to create two staves for the duration of this passage, entering cello 1 notes on the top stave and cello 2 rests on the bottom stave

Am I right in understanding that #3 is a poor option, because there’s just no need to create the separate stave? Presumably #3 would really only be used if cello 2 had something significantly different than cello 1 which would result in too much clutter if they were drawn on the same stave.

So, between #1 and #2, any strong opinions or preferences?

If the passage isn’t too long and the music isn’t too contrasting then I would do #1. (Adding a 1. before the 1st Cello.

If not, #3 divisi.

Just to be clear, if the passage is long but not too contrasting I would still do #3

The important criterion is How should the part appear? If they don’t need separate staves, don’t bother with divisi in Dorico. Method #2 is enough. I would write “Half:” rather than “1”.


I agree.

I made a custom technique, group 1/group 2, because my main string VST can do divisions. I was wondering about the 1st /2nd designation. In the score are they labelled at the outset as two instances of cello? As in 1st & 2nd violins? If so, they’d have separate staffs, conventionally.

Although I’m focused on playback, if I was presenting a score for performance, I’d explain the group 1/2 designation, since it applies to all string sections in my case.