Request: alto clef sketch instrument

Would you please consider adding an alto clef sketch instrument? Thanks

That seems like it could be useful so I just added it to my default files. Here you go. In Windows the first 2 go in the Program Files\Steinberg\Dorico4 folder and the last one goes in Program Files\Steinberg\Dorico4\l10n. Hacking these is not supported and they will be overwritten with any update, but there’s an Alto clef sketch instrument in there (as well as 0-line, 1-line, and a bunch of other stuff I use)

instruments.xml (3.0 MB)
instrumentFamiliesDefinitions.xml (29.0 KB)
instrumentnames_en.xml (353.4 KB)

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Just for a non english speaker: what is a sketch instrument, what does it mean?

It’s just the “Sketch” category in Setup, not sure what it is in other languages:

I’m also unsure of what a sketch instrument is, but possibly Alto Trombone would fit the bill?

It’s a sketching staff, usually at the very bottom of a working score. It can be very useful for both composition and study and can be extremely flexible.
For example, 3 sketch staves could be assigned each to main elements of orchestral texture (melody, harmony-rhythm, bass) and a skeleton of a composition could be sketched out this way. Prokofiev wrote like this from the 1920s after he had stumbled upon this system.
Another way to use it for study of orchestration - a multi-voice chord is written out on
one or two sketch staves (say wood/brass) and the student has to then voice it in full in the main score.
Finally - reductions. Reducing tutti chords from the main score into corresponding sketch staves by orchestral group (wood/brass/string) is a very common way to learn chord distribution and voicing.
I love this feature in Dorico 4. The only problem I have that drives me mad is that it always overwrites my routing. I want this to be silent, but Dorico insists on taking whatever the default instrument is for that staff.

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Thanks Fred, I have never noticed this category yet, despite me running Dorico in English.

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The Treble sketch staff included with Dorico is configured to be a piano. Since I just copied and pasted the Treble, the Alto sketch staff I created above is configured the same way, I just changed the names and the clef:

I would assume that one could edit the musicXMLSoundID entry to be silent and not be assigned to a playback sound, although I don’t know what the syntax for that would be.

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I forgot, in my Playback Template I have my non-percussion drum staff assigned to a Blank instance in VEP, so no sound will load.

If you use VEP, that’s a pretty easy solution.

It gets it’s sound from the parentEntityID.


Do you know if it’s possible to assign that to silence?

As far as I know, anything not defined gets a Piano by default. The patches that get loaded are located at…
C:\Program Files\Steinberg\Dorico4\playback\PluginPresetLibraries\HSSE+HSO\presets_for_instruments.xml

I don’t know what happens if you delete the Preset tag from a definition. Or, if HSO has a Silence patch that could be specified.

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Interesting! If I look at the Silence template, there’s literally nothing in it:

I tried taking the file you linked to above, and simply removing the instrument between the Preset tags, but it assigned a Piano. I tried deleting the entire Preset tag too and it still assigned a Piano. I tried assigning a sound that doesn’t exist and it still gave me a Piano. Oh well. Assigning it to a blank VEP instance works for me anyway.

Did you use an Instrument without a parentEntityID? If not, Dorico will use that as the sound patch to use.

I just tried it with the Piano Instrument and it worked. No patch assigned.

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I was just experimenting with the Alto Saxophone assignment, just to see if I could get it to go to silence. In the instruments.xml file the entityID for it is instrumentname.wind.saxophone.alto, so I was attempting to modify that entry in the HSSE+HSO presets_for_instruments.xml file. No matter what I did I ended up with the Piano patch loading.

Cool, can you post an image of the presets_for_instruments.xml where you made the edit? Just curious what you are doing differently that got it to end up without anything loading.

Let me try with the Sax and see if it still works.

Nope, it worked for me only because I did it on the Piano which is the default if no definition. With the Sax, it loaded the Piano.

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So, for this to work, you’d have to null out the instrument.keyboard.piano patch. HSO has various other instruments that load the same piano patch e.g. pianoforte so, you could still get a piano sound.

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I ended up creating a bunch of new “generic” instruments by duplicating the corresponding built-in ones and deleting the parent ID. This gave me both the “silent” staves that I needed as well as the ability to discreetly route a few ensemble patches. Thanks for the conversation on this - everything seems to be working great!!