Percussion 5-stave, and kits

Hi everyone,

I’m struggling (a lot) with how to notate my percussion, despite a lot of reading of forums, and watching videos.

What I’d like to do is:

Create a percussion player with a five-line staff, and give them conga at two different pitches (say, top space and second space from bottom), and then also timpani. The conga also needs slap as an alternate playing technique, notated by cross notehead instead of regular (that bit I DO know how to do).

Could somebody please talk me through how this is done? I’m getting rather stressed here after two days of research and trying.

Also, once I have two different playing techniques on, say, conga, how do I then manage to switch from one to the other on note input/entry, given that they both appear in the same space on the stave?

Many thanks in advance for any help with this one. I’ve entered five minutes of music from a score in order to learn Dorico thoroughly, and this is the one last thing I can’t figure out on my own.


Because timpani is a pitched instrument, you’ll need to have both timpani and a percussion kit including congas attached to your player. In Layout Options, on the Players page, you’ll need to make sure that your percussionist is set to show their kit using the 5-line staff presentation type.

When you want to switch back and forth between congas and timpani, write in galley view where you can see both the congas and timpani as separate staves: when you switch back to page view, Dorico will take care of switching between conga and timpani for you.

As for the different playing techniques in your congas, you should find that you can switch between them using Alt+up/down arrow, as described here:


Many thanks for your reply.

I’ve created a solo player, created a percussion kit for the player, added the two different pitches of conga on different lines of the stave. I’ve gone to Layout options, and selected for that player to be on 5-line stave for both the full score and part layouts, but its’ still only showing as a ONE-line stave.

Any advice on how to fix this? I’ve changed every possible option that relates to 5-line, grid, etc…


Would you like to attach that project here, Daniel, and I’ll take a look?

Eternal Wanderer (4).dorico (871.6 KB)


Thanks for offering to look. Here’s the file.

I’m very happy to be told I’ve missed something really obvious, if it helps other people as well :slight_smile:

If it was your Percussion 2 player that you wanted to use the 5-line staff in the score, with the congas set to use the middle and bottom staff lines, then the issue is that you hadn’t set it to use the 5-line staff in the score. It was set to use the grid.

Make sure you have the correct layouts selected in the list on the right in Layout Options when changing settings, as you’re only ever changing settings for the layouts that are currently selected. The presentation type can be set per-player, so changing the presentation type for your “Drum Set” player won’t affect your “Percussion 1” and “Percussion 2” players.

Many thanks. For some reason, I’d attached an earlier draft than I’m using today so was confused to begin with, but it now works. But I don’t know how I got there in the earlier draft. In my latest one I have a player called “percussion and percussion”, with both a blue and a green line in setup.

If you or somebody has time, would you mind explaining from the start how you’d create both this player and this “kit”?


It’s called “Percussion and Percussion” because it’s holding two things: one instrument called “Percussion”, and one kit called “Percussion”. Player names are auto-generated from the instruments they’re holding.

Single instruments are blue, kits are green.

So, as to the steps you need to take to create what you want: it depends on what you want. If this is what you want:

  1. Add a single player (the type of player that can hold multiple instruments)
  2. Give them an empty kit (click the button in the bottom left of the instrument picker)
  3. Add two congas to the kit
  4. Give them a Timpani instrument (it’s a single, pitched instrument and should have a blue box around its name in Setup mode)
  5. Set the conga kit to use the 5-line staff in all applicable layouts
  6. Set staff labels to use the player name rather than instrument names (I’m assuming here that because you renamed the instruments manually to “Percussion”, it’s because that’s what you want to appear to the left of initial barlines in staff labels? But Dorico has an automatic option for that now)
  7. Input notes for the required instruments in galley view (where you can see all staves; in page view, in layouts where instrument changes are allowed, you’ll only see one staff for players holding multiple instruments)


Thank you SO much - all is now understood and applied!

I just have one more question…I’ve selected both different conga pitches to be stems UP in the percussion kit, but one of them is coming out stems down, and I’m having to use “F” to flip them all.

Any ideas??



Could the one with wrong stems already have forced stems? Does resetting their stem directions prompt them to point upwards?

Otherwise, once again, please share the project that demonstrates the issue as such things cannot be conclusively determined from descriptions alone.

Thanks. I’ve forced the stems UP, as that’s how I wanted them, I entered the notes directly after creating the player and kit after your very helpful post yesterday.

I’ve attached the latest file.

Eternal Wanderer - stems forum again.dorico (781.0 KB)