Percussion groups and courtesy clef changes

Hello — a few questions regarding writing for two percussionists, each of whom has a kit and some pitched instruments.

When both players are on their respective kits, the percussion lines are grouped, joined by a barline through both staves. When one player switches to a pitched instrument, the grouping is severed, but if a second player switches to a pitched instrument, the grouping reappears — though NOT at the point where that instrument enters, but at the point where the courtesy clef / instrument change occurs (the third bar in this screenshot).

1.) is there a global control that allows the two percussion parts to be grouped or ungrouped for the duration of the flow/project, regardless of whether the players are on kits or pitched instruments?

2.) is there a way to force the percussion clef changes (between kit and pitched instrument) to appear ONLY at the bar where a new instrument enters, and no sooner?


There’s no way to force the change from unpitched to pitched and vice versa to happen immediately before the entry of the new instrument; this has been requested before but it’s not currently possible. It is on our backlog for future implementation.

When you say “grouped”, do you mean bracketed together? If so, Dorico won’t bracket pitched and unpitched percussion together by default, but you can use a bracketing change in Engrave mode to create a custom bracket if desired.

Thank you, Daniel. There is much to admire in the way Dorico handles percussion, but understanding how it works differently from other staves is one of the most challenging aspects for a new user to get accustomed to.

Seconding the desire to have the possibility of global clef changes directly before the new instrument enters, and also the ability to hide rests in 5-line percussion staves, to make aleatoric box notation equally easy for percussion kits as for other instruments.

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Worry not: rests on percussion kits will be fully editable in the next major version of Dorico.


Just a final related comment: I would find it helpful to have the option to keep the short staff name always as “Perc. 2” rather than having it vary automatically with each instrument change (an advantageous feature, often but not always).

I am finding myself in awkward situations often like this, where the player has another instrument on the previous page, so the staff name (“Glock.”), the instrument change instruction (“To Glock.”) and the new instrument name (“Glock.”) all appear in short succession — somewhat redundant and even potentially slightly confusing.

Screen Shot 2021-06-18 at 6.30.13 PM

Thanks again!

We will have an option in the next version of Dorico to allow you to use the player’s name as the staff label for this kind of eventuality. (Instrument changes would still use the individual instrument names, of course.)