Single line percussion staves


I’m pretty new to Dorico and I still have to struggle to find particular settings for my scores.

Now I’m working on a large orchestral/choir score and to reduce the space I wanted to put all the unpitched percussion instruments on one single line each. When I change e.g. the bass drum 5 line staff into a one line staff, I get all the possible bass drums in my score, which is not the intention :smiling_face_with_tear: . The same for the other unpatched instruments.
So my question: how can I change the existing 5-line staff into a single line staff without having all the other percussion instruments brought in? I’m using Dorico 4 now on a Mac.


Dear Jos,
I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are experiencing here. It’s my understanding that the interest of using 5-line-staves for percussions is to “condense” different instruments, and this is done in Dorico via drum-kits. But if you’re only using one instrument, of course 1-line-staff is the way.
The Edit Percussion Playing techniques window (Setup mode, the … next to your percussion instrument opens a menu where you find this) allows you to define which techniques are triggered by which notation. It can be by using articulations, decorations on the stem or changing the notehead. Does all this already make sense to you? If so, and you’re still stuck, please post a cut-down version of your project so that we can understand and help!

Thanks for getting back at me.
As I said, I’m pretty new to Dorico (I’m a longtime user of Notion and I use Dorico mainly for engraving after importing my Notion xml-scores). That way, all the percussion instruments are each on a separate 5-line staff, which is for unpitched instrument pretty useless and space consuming.
I still have a lot of trouble to find all the settings in Dorico and to apply them properly in the right context. I like Dorico because of its completeness and clean results, but it’s so difficult to get started with it.
You’re right about condensing the percussion staves, but I’m using 8 percussion instruments: 4 pitched and 4 unpitched ones. My question deals of course only with the unpitched ones (bass drum, crash cymbals, suspended cymbals and tam-tam, all of them having some minor passages). So it would be nice to have them all together in a group of 5 single staves so that a minimum of players can perform the parts. To inform the player about the playing techniques, I use articulations and stem decorations.

To show the unpitched percussion instruments as one-line (or grid, or 5-line-staff), go to Layout options >Players >Percussions and select the representation you want! It’s that easy!

That was exactly what I did, but the result is, that I get 7 Marching Bass drum lines instead of one…

That is unexpected! Have you tried to reapply the playback template?

I don’t work with playback at all, because all my scores go directly into Studio One Pro for playback. So I haven’t changed anything there. That was the result for all the unpitched instruments from the beginning. Maybe it has something to do with the xml-import?

And what do you mean by 'reapply the playback template?

Sorry, I messed up with another thread. What you probably should do is go to Setup mode, and next to each instrument, use their menu>Change instrument and choose the right ones. XML imports seldom have the appropriate instruments automatically.

@joswyl are you able to share the project file itself here in the thread, or a version of it that just contains a few bars? It’ll probably be easier to have a dig around that way and give you more precise advice.

I could manually delete all the unnecessary staves so that only one bass drum was kept. That is rather circumstantial and not very efficient (against the Dorico principles I suppose).

Thanks, Lilly.

I can’t send the entire score, it’s too big…

How about saving it as a separate file, applying the Silence playback template, and deleting all but say 8 bars but leaving all the percussion players at least in there?

Hi Lilly,

It took me some while to find what you suggested, but I think I got it now. So here’s the reduced score with some measures of the percussion only:

Genesis II-test percussion.dorico (1000.1 KB)

I hope you can trace what went wrong. I found a way out however by deleting all the unnecessary instruments under the tab of the instrument.
Kind regards,

Here’s your project back, Jos: each percussion instrument or kit was being held by a separate player, so although instrument changes were allowed (i.e. letting multiple consecutive instruments appear on the same line), that function couldn’t be utilised because that relies on the same player holding the instruments.

Similarly, “hide empty staves” was set to “never”, so that forced Dorico to a show at least one staff per player, whether they were playing or not.

Here’s your project with hide empty staves allowed, but with the other 3 players excluded (so their staves are always shown, if that’s what you want) and all unpitched percussion held by one single player.

If you don’t need all the instruments in all of those kits, I’d suggest extracting just the individual instruments you’re using (ie that have notes) and either just leave them as separate instruments held by one player, or combine those instruments into a kit if you need to e.g. present the same music on a 5-line staff in one layout but on separate lines in another.

Genesis II-test percussion_LH.dorico (921.7 KB)

(PS It’s a somewhat unusual spelling, but ‘Lillie’ is indeed intentional.)

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Thanks, Lilly.

I’ll take the time to discover what you said. I still have to find my way in Dorico and in its denomination of settings, techniques… It’s not easy and it has almost nothing to do with the way Finale or Notion work. (And complicated too.)
The suggestion you made will be impossible (one player should sometimes play 3 instruments at the time. :wink:
I’ll be in touch if I don’t manage to find the right solution.

Multiple instruments held by the same player can have simultaneous notes - it just means they’ll be shown on separate staves, not one-after-the-other on the same staff.

I hope those hints towards some of the key settings helps you understand what tools are at your disposal to achieve the desired end result. Often there’s not one single way, but instead several options that would all result in a similar visual end result.

(If you do get in touch again, would you mind spelling my name correctly? Thanks!)

Thanks Lillie
Just a matter of (bad) habit… I know somebody with the same name, but written with ‘y’.
As to the settings, I had to study Finale first, but since it didn’t develop anymore, I changed to Notion. But Notion is rather poor as to engraving. Therefore I was happy that Dorico came with brilliant engraving solutions. The learning curve to master it is pretty heavy though and I have to force myself to deal with it in detail, otherwise the transition to Dorico would have been useless.
So, let’s get back to work.


Perhaps I missed something in an earlier post… but I have a feeling you don’t need “Marching Bass Drums” Try just “Bass Drum”.

Marching bass drums are used for a marching band, where there are multiple size drums. Generally speaking, these drums are not used in orchestra/choral works.

I’m not sure if I am helping or hurting with this information.


Thanks Robby.

This is a project imported from Notion into Dorico. The setup was originally a “Bass Drum”, but it showed multiple Marching bass drums. The same for the other unpitched percussion instruments. They sowed the entire series of unpitched instruments when I tried to bring them on a single line instead of a 5-line staff. I found a workaround, but still had to delete every unnecessary instrument manually, one by one.
I could change the bass drum, but for the other 3 instruments, they are in a green field and the ‘change instrument’ is greyed out… So I cannot change these and I have to delete all the other unpitched instruments from the list manually.