Solo vs Section Players - Concept question

I’d like to understand more about the design concept behind Solo and Section Players. The Higher-Level Concepts section in the documentation states, “Players may either be individuals who can play more than one instrument, for example, an oboist doubling cor anglais, or groups in which everyone plays only one instrument, for example, eight desks of violinists.” With that in mind, I have some questions:

  • How does Dorico handle a Solo Player differently than a Section Player? What kind of settings and options does it change? What goes on behind the scenes in the software?

  • Can a Section Player play more than one instrument in Dorico’s world? My experience is with choral music, so forgive me if this is a dumb question, but couldn’t you have an instrumental group of some type with, let’s say, 3 people who all double clarinet and sax? (I admit that this might be unlikely.) Would they be set up as a Section or a Solo Player(s)?

  • In Operas and Broadway scores, soloists frequently share the same stave. The Piano/Vocal score might have a grand stave for the piano, two staves for the chorus, and one stave for the soloists. (It is definitely a case of using the same stave and not hidden staves because the changes sometimes happen mid-system in the scores). (For example, in the Piano/Vocal score for “Wicked”, Elphaba and Galinda share the same stave in “What Is This Feeling?” and text above the stave says either “ELPHABA:”, “GALINDA:”, or “BOTH:”) The only time the main characters’ music might be on two (or more) staves is if they are singing at the same time and the parts differ greatly (i.e., polyphony). Otherwise, if they sing at the same with harmony, a label of “BOTH: or ALL:” is put above the staff and the melody and harmony will be on the same stave. Also, there will be times when there are many one-phrase solos to be assigned to members from the chorus; these solos will be written in the same stave(s) as the chorus if the rest of the chorus isn’t singing at that time. They will not necessarily have character names; they could just be labeled “MAN”, “WOMAN”, “TOWNSPERSON”, etc. Once again, it’s verifiable that they are sharing the same stave because you can see changes happen in the middle of a system.

With all of that said, what’s the best way to handle this in Dorico? I suppose the main characters (such as Elphaba and Galinda) could be set up as Solo Players but then I don’t think you could have changes happen back and forth mid-system, could you?

I hope I’ve made sense. Let me know if you need me to clarify something or send an example of a Piano/Vocal score. Lastly, all of the development team’s hard work is very much appreciated. Dorico looks like a wonderful program!

In a way solo and section players are the “opposite” of each other. In an orchestra, a solo player knows how to play several instruments (e.g. flute and piccolo), but physically can only play one at a time. In Dorico, you can create several instruments for a solo player. in Galley View each instrument has its own staff. In Page view, Dorico merges the staves together, and automatically adds instructions like “to Flute” or “to piccolo”, the appropriate labels on the staves, etc.

In a section, the normal situation is that everybody plays the same type of instrument (and only one type of instrument), and they all play the same music, so there is only one stave. But a violin section of maybe 16 players can split up and play several independent parts, or one can play a solo part, etc. Usually, each “divisi” part is written on a separate stave, because combining them onto one stave would be too hard to read. This can also affect how the parts are organized - you might want to produce different printed parts for different players in the section, rather than give everybody a part with say four staves, three of which are irrelevant.

This functionality for section players isn’t implemented in the current version of Dorico, but it is planned.

Your “singers” example is something different. What you want to do is combine two independent solo “players” onto one stave in the score, just to save space. Dorico can’t do that yet, but it is planned for a future release. This is also quite common in orchestra scores, where for example four horn parts are usually printed in the score on two staves, not four (and the same idea applies to most of the wind and brass instruments) but each player has an individual part showing only what he/she plays.


This is exactly what I am trying to do. Do you have an advice on how to achieve this as long as this specific feature is not implemented in Dorico ? If I want to have 2 woodwinds on the same stave, should I create a solo player and use two voices ?

I seem to remember Daniel mentioning this a while ago, suggesting that it may be better to use 2 staves for now, rather than one. Even if later on we get the option to have them displayed together on one staff.

One argument I can make that supports that, is expression map playback. Say you have 2 clarinets, and want one to be playing legato, and the other staccato, I think that will be easier on two separate staves. Though perhaps voices can switch expression map articulations separately, so long as they are set to different channels.

Finale can do that already - different voices on a staff can be assigned to different channels. So one might hope that (eventually!) Dorico will do it better - or at least, make it easier to set up than the Finale method :wink:

I’d like to add my voice to wanting to be able to put multiple singers on one stave.

In Sibelius, I accomplish this just by writing plain text labels for the switching. But it makes certain things (e.g. producing rehearsal audio files) very difficult. Ideally I’d be able to:

  • Specify which soloists share a stave at any given moment
  • Pull soloists out of the chorus for a certain time, then put them back again afterwards
  • Do the same for the chorus, e.g. have them all on one stave where the harmony is simple (and doubled male/female), and separate them to two or more staves when things get complicated.

Lets assume you want to put two Flutes into one staff:

  • Go to Setup Mode, create a new staff and rename it to say “Flute 1, 2”.
  • You can delete the “Flute 1, 2” layout, as it will never be printed to paper.
  • In Write Mode, select everything from “Flute 1”. Copy & paste it to the new staff.
  • Select everything from “Flute 2”, copy it, and “Paste into new voice” to the new staff.
  • Assuming that the dynamic symbols on both flute parts are somewhat identical, you might want to filter dynamics from your selection before copying the “Flute 2” part.
  • Back to Setup Mode, select your score on the right side and deselect Flute parts 1 and 2, leaving only the new “Flute 1, 2” visible in the score.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Dear Amy,
Anything you will do now that has a connection with “reducing” or “expanding” staves will be a workaround. Daniel has already said on several threads that they had a plan for that, and given the results of the previous plans (chords, unpitched percussion, fingerings, pedals, CUES !) we can trust it will be functional. I think whatever needs to be done now needs to use those workarounds. But do not forget it is not the real thing, so there’s no need in comparing an inexistent function in Dorico with applications that exist for over two decades.
Thanks Estigy for your description of your workaround, by the way :wink:

Thanks, Marc. I’ve done this now often enough to be able to write it down from memory :smiley:
I know that this is considered a workaround now, but

  1. it’s a quite straightforward way to make this happen now,
  2. it’s not too much work, and
  3. it keeps the original staves as-is, so when the team comes up with a Doriconian solution, I will simply delete my combination staves and do whatever is to do then.

Daniel has already said on several threads that they had a plan for that, and given the results of the previous plans (chords, unpitched percussion, fingerings, pedals, CUES !) we can trust it will be functional. I think whatever needs to be done now needs to use those workarounds. But do not forget it is not the real thing, so there’s no need in comparing an inexistent function in Dorico with applications that exist for over two decades.

I am very much looking forward to Daniel’s plan for such functionality. I was posting my desires in order to give some use cases that they might want to take into account when speccing the new functionality.

I haven’t bought Dorico yet. I’m close, and I’m 100% sure that in the future Dorico will take over from Sibelius as my score writing software of choice, but I haven’t been able to commit the time to learn a new software yet.

Regarding your point about comparing a non-existent function with an older application… if I’d said something like “they shouldn’t have released Dorico until it does X”, then fair enough. (I’m a software developer myself, and I know that you need to get something shipped, and that the first version will never have all the features.) But as a user, it’s entirely fair for me to compare apps to see which ones can meet my needs. As it happens, the thing I do in Sibelius is a workaround as well. So it’d be great to find out if I can perform a satisfactory workaround in Dorico, even if it’s a kludge.

Select everything from “Flute 2”, copy it, and “Paste into new voice” to the new staff.

Estigy, can I ask do you keep the Flute 1 and Flute 2 staves present in your file (albeit hidden), or do you delete them?

If you keep them present, you’ll have to make sure to repeat the copy/paste dance whenever you change the content of one, right?

You can keep all the staves present in your “Full Score” and then create a Conductor’s Layout using the Score Master Pages and leave out the extra staves. Then everything is in one file, you do not accidentally delete note information, and you do not have to hide staves in the “Full” Score.

You have to keep them, as they represent the player’s parts you want to print :wink:

And yes, of course you have to do all edits twice. (Although if there are lots of things to edit, you could edit only the single player parts and copy & paste them eventually into the combined stave again.)

I’m coming a bit late to this discussion, since combining Woodwind and Brass players onto a single stave for full score is one so-far missing feature that I need on a daily basis and am looking forward to seeing Dorico’s solution. I would additionally like to see a variety of options as to how these combined staves are displayed, since different publishing houses have different specific guidelines. For instance, one publisher prefers for unisons to be written as “a2” and for all stems to be the same direction, while others want consistently different stem directions, including for unisons.

I have a question about a similar issue: what about the woodwinds? They are usually written in a single staff containing two or three instruments. Sometimes they split, and can be written as chords or multiple voices in the same staff, or as separate staves.

When they have to split into separate staves, are they to be considered divisi of the “Flute 1.2” section?


Paolo, solo players such as flutes can now be handled automatically by the new Condensing feature.

Pianoleo, do you suggest to setup them as separate solo players, and then let the Condensing feature mix them in a single staff when needed?

And what about when you expressly want to write a Flute 1.2 or two Flute 1 and Flute 2 staves?

I’m sorry if I’m confused, but I’m not even been able to find the relevant information in the online help, and am reading about it in Scoring Notes. A slight illness is not helping.


The online help isn’t fully up to date. Read pages 9-22 of the Version History

The general idea is that you set up your flutes as two separate solo players, write their music on separate staves (bearing in mind you can now extend the caret across multiple staves so that Dorico automatically distributes chords between the multiple players). Once you’ve finished writing your music, turn on Condensing and let Dorico work out the details automatically.

Pianoleo, thank you for pointing me to the documentation! I know I had seen it somewhere, but could not find it! (and I had the Version History document open…).

I like it very much. Unisono playing is a bit laborious, but it is logical.

How would you deal with string desks? Let’s say we want to write Vni I as 14 separate solo parts. Sometimes you want them to appear as a single Vni I section; sometimes as 1º Solo + Vni I into two separate staves; some other times you want the to appear as a series of separate desks + the remaining ensemble into different staves.

How to do this? I seem to understand that you can either have all 14 violins split, or all of them condensed in a single staff.


String players are section players, so use the Divisi function for these.

Pianoleo, ok, that makes sense. Thanx!