Percussion Setup Questions

Dear fellow Dorico users,

I have watched all the percussion and drum videos and read up in the manual but I am still not sure how to approach setting up some percussion instruments for a score I need to engrave:

  1. To start I would like to ask what is the best way to create what it is represented in the below screenshot where I have two staves one for Bells and Vibes and the other for Xylophone and Marimba.
    For the first stave I have created a Tubular Bells staff and then Edited the name so to have Bells and Vibes below like shown in the screenshot, but when it comes to playback this way I am probably stock with the Bells sound even when the Vibes play…
    Perc. setup 1

  2. For the next group of percussion instruments I am faced with the issue on how to create 3-lines staves to replicate the below screenshot. Is something like this currently possible to replicate in Dorico?
    Perc. setup 2

  3. Finally in the last screenshot I am wondering how to have the two Aux. Perc. staves without showing the key signature. I have tried using a Drum Kit (basic) but when I add the key signature it appears on both staves… I am wondering if it is something to do with the fact that both staves have a Bass clef or I am missing something.
    Perc. setup 3

Thanks a lot in advance for any help/recommendations.

Best regards,

Are you sure you mean “key signature” and not “clef” (or time signature) in your last example? (I realize in some languages key and clef overlap.) I cannot imagine a drum kit would even be able to display a key signature.

I would have them as separate staves in the full score. That’d give the easiest way to print or distribute an appropriate number of separate parts, mix the sound if that’s important to you. The conductor score can be a separate layout where I hide things when condensing doesn’t solve them by itself. And you have the freedom to not HAVE to keep them in unison all the time. But as you wish…

Hi Derek,

Yes indeed I meant Key Signature, if you look at the first screenshot which is part of the same score as the other two, for the Bells/Vibes and Xylophone/Marimba staves there is a key signature that also appears on the Aux. Perc. 1 and 2 when I setup things in Dorico… probably I am doing something wrong and this is why I asked.

Hi gdball,

Thanks for your kind reply and suggestion… I would do so too but the client wants that exact score setup and so I need to deliver that… Engraving is a though business at times when you need to recreate exactly what is on the page. For myself I would do exactly as you suggested…

1.) You could perhaps create a full score layout, with all of the voices so that you can hear what you need to. Then create a “dummy” staff where you copy the bell part and Vibe part together (I’m guessing from the looks of this that the vibe part is 1 octave lower than the bell part most of the time). Leave this dummy staff out of the full score, then create a separate score that omits the 2 independent staves, and shows the “condensed” version.

2.) You can set up a 3 line percussion grid. Very easy to do, you might not get exactly the playback you want, but as you stated this in an engraving project.

3.) If you are going to use the bass clef for percussion parts (a very old technique) instead of the percussion clef, you could always apply an independent key signature of C to the staff (alt+enter), and that will display no key for that staff.

And this is meant with respect and not to be disrespectful: This type of writing is not consistent with modern percussion notation/writing. The use of the 3 line staff for the bass drums/quads/quints/etc. is no longer the norm, and from my memory was primarily used by publishers catering to marching bands in America. Have you considered talking to the client about perhaps moving to a more modern way of doing things?


This might help to get you started. used condensing for bells/vibes + xylo/marimba
Problems with octaves though.


Percussion setup question.dorico (441.5 KB)

Hi Robby,

Many thanks for your kind reply and comments/suggestions.

  1. Thanks for the suggestion, after reflecting further I came to a similar conclusion, the playback is no mandatory for this project but in case the clients wants that as well I can follow your recommendation.

  2. I have managed to do that but realized that it is not possible to create a 3-line percussion grid and have four instrument like you can see in the screenshot where there are the Bass Drums and Quint Toms staves. As soon as I add a fourth instrument to the grid a fourth line is created automatically by Dorico… I understand that this may be an old fashioned way to notate percussion parts and suggested a 4-line stave solution like I presented to the client.

  3. Regarding my question on how to remove the Key signature from the Aux. Perc staves I have eventually managed to find the solution, thanks anyway for your help.

I am not taking anything you wrote as disrespectful, the contrary and although I am not an expert when it comes to percussion and drum notation, I agree that what I have presented in those initial screenshots is an old fashion way to notate percussion instruments and will certainly talk to my client in order to implement new standardized notation for percussion instruments.

Best regards,

Hi jesele,

Many thanks for your kind help and the attached file :wink:
Best regards,

You can add an additional playing technique to the 3-line percussion, either above or below the staff. (might not help if you need 4 different drums on 3 lines though)