Problems with Solo Sections in Jazz Charts

Hi, I’m a fairly new convert to Dorico, and in general I like it quite a bit.

However, I am finding it difficult to properly notate jazz solo sections; or, at least, I can’t figure out how to make Dorico do what I want. Apologies if this has been answered elsewhere; I combed the forums for a bit before posting…

If, for example, I have a tenor saxophone solo that lasts for 4 choruses (16 bars each; so 64 bars long), I don’t want him to have to look at the chords spelled out 4 times down the page. This is too cumbersome for him to read, and will make him play worse.

However, I can’t just put repeat signs, because I need the other horn players to come in with background figures on the 2nd and 3rd times only, and if I have repeat signs on the score, their parts get messed up.

Ideally, the other horn players would see 16 bars rest, 32 bars worth of written notes, and another 16 bars rest. The tenor saxophone player would see 16 bars of slashes and chords in between repeat signs, and text saying “take 4 choruses”, or something like this.

Does anyone have any advice for me? I’m running into this problem, or something like it, with almost every chart I make, and I’m starting to regret buying Dorico (despite liking everything else about it) because people reading my charts don’t like to see full pages of repeated chords in solo sections.

Thanks for your time

Use Shift-Alt-X to create system text stating “4x’s” or “Tenor solo - 4x’s” at the beginning of the section. In the background parts have Shift-X text stating “Play 2nd & 3rd x’s only.” (Some people would argue that if they tacet the 1st chorus it’s important to use the word “tacet” first, especially if they will be sightreading on the gig, so you could also write “Tacet 1st & 4th choruses, Play 2nd & 3rd”) Musicians are used to reading these sort of text instructions all the time.

If playback is important, I would just lay out all the parts in the original file in such a way that the notation is clear to the musicians, then do a Save As and create a separate file where the playback is correct. I might be wrong but I don’t think there is a way to correctly play back something like 2nd & 3rd X only in Dorico. It would only take just a minute to create this in a separate file once you are done with the original, and of course you wouldn’t care what it would look like in the “playback” file.

Producing exactly what you’re describing is not possible (yet) in Dorico.

The best option (I think) is to write it with repeat marks, and add “Play 2nd & 3rd time only” / “Tacet 1st & 4th time” to your horn parts.

Edit: Fred beat me to it with a more expanded solution!

Hi Doug,

As a big band player, I would say that having one player’s chart in a different form from the rest would be a source of confusion during rehearsals, so I think Fred and Thijs’ solution is the best one.

It can be a huge source of confusion if the director starts making cuts or wants to swap solos around in rehearsals - especially if he/she doesn’t even KNOW that one player’s part is laid out differently from the rest!

+1 re: Fred’s and Richard’s responses. Uniformity of form is critical.

Fred is correct that you won’t be able to play this form back in Dorico. Sibelius allows you to manually specify repeats independently of the notation, but Dorico can’t do this yet. I imagine this will come to Dorico (and I hope soon, as I use it quite a bit in Sibelius).

Got it; that’s very helpful. Thank you!

I will add, though, that this is still a feature I’d like to see.

I agree that such changes to the form of the song would be maddening in a big band chart, especially a published one; but I’m making charts in more of a Blakey band/Jazz Messengers vein, and at the moment it’s for my own use. Something just a little more complicated than a head chart (Basically a head chart with background figures and a solo order).

The idea of writing above the repeated section (2nd and 3rd time) doesn’t work for me, since the background figures have pickups and they vary slightly between choruses.

I still feel like (speaking as a pianist) my musicians would play more musically with more compact charts for the solos, rather than full pages of repeated chordal information. The spontaneity I would be more willing to sacrifice in a big band is more critical in a small ensemble, it seems to me; and I’d like the written music to capture that.

in the meantime, it’s not a huge deal, I guess. And I’ll use your recommendations.

Thanks for your help and your time. I appreciate it.

I understand what you’re saying Doug. In a small band situation there is less of a communication problem.

If you have different backgrounds 2nd and 3rd time with pickups then I agree the best, perhaps only, thing is to write them out separately.

Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t mind if the solo section had the sequence repeated to match the backgrounds, but you know your players best!


Correct. This is not possible yet, and many of us will welcome that.

Meanwhile, if you really need a rendered file to reflect the correct background choruses, the easiest way might be to select the option where each instrument is rendered to a separate WAV and combine them in a DAW. That will allow you to very easily silence the background choruses you don’t want to hear, and there you could also lay in a sample solo. If you are handy with any DAW, that actually is not a very difficult thing to do.