Staff label only when some staves are hidden?

Hi, and thanks in advance,

I’m finishing up a wind quintet. For the individual players parts, I’m putting the other four instruments onto a 2-staff, cue-staff-sized reduction in the same key as the main instrument. Sometimes I’m hiding empty staves. When it’s ambiguous what staves are displayed, I’d like to display staff labels for that system.

Also, for some systems, only one staff is visible. In this case, Dorico is automatically displaying its staff label. However, since some of these staves have only one instrument playing of the two on that staff (i.e. only the horn playing on the “Hn & Bsn” staff), I’d like to change that staff label to just “Hn” for that system. And then I’d like to “reset” (and re-display) the full, two-instrument staff label when the second instrument joins that staff again.

I know that on other threads around similar issues, there are rationales given for about why there isn’t a more direct way to control which staff labels are displayed where (and even what they say), but it strikes me that there is an unnecessary lack of control here, unless I’m missing something. From the other posts on the topic, the only solutions I see are A) control things for the entire flow in layout settings (which doesn’t address my situation well), or B) create staff text with shift-x, manually indent the system, and move the text to create a makeshift staff label. And even that won’t work when it comes to hiding (or replacing) the staff label that automatically appears on a single staff; for that situation, if I could hide that label, the shift-x+indent solution seems reasonable, in lieu of being able to edit individual staff labels.

Any workarounds or things I’m missing?

Thanks for your help,


Welcome to the forum @davidevankrebs - you can hide/show staff labels for individual systems so long as there’s a system or frame break at the start.

Crap — I read about that, using the bottom panel, but could never find it. I just recently figured out that you can select signposts in Engrave Mode as long as you’re in Graphic Editing Mode (I’d thought you could only select them from Write Mode, in which case there are no staff label options in the bottom panel).

As far as editing individual labels, I guess it’s just the shift-x+indent solution?

Thanks. All it took was you mentioning what I’d already heard, but after I’d realized I could select signposts in Engrave Mode! And it says it right there in the manual, where you linked, which I’m almost sure I’d read before. I wonder if I didn’t realize what “Graphic Editing Mode” was. I’ve sometimes found the Dorico help disorienting because I don’t always know the names for everything, and there are few illustrations.

Dorico can do automatic condensing - so provided you give the Horn instrument the notes necessary for the horn to play, and the Bassoon likewise, and put those 2 in the same condensing group, you shouldn’t need to edit staff labels manually.

Alternatively, you could include any number of players in the project (e.g. a Horn player, a Bassoon player, and a player whose instrument name is edited to say Hn & Bsn etc), and combine them into part layouts as necessary (e.g. the Horn part contains both the Horn and Hn & Bsn players).

Sorry to hear that about your experience using the manual - I do try to put in a decent number of images, but there’s a practical limit. In future versions of the manual, that prerequisite about Graphic Editing being selected will show the Graphic Editing icon immediately after the name, which should help. Otherwise, you could click on the related link at the bottom for the Engrave toolbox, which outlines all the buttons in the toolbox, with pictures and descriptions. (It is also possible that you read an earlier version of the manual, which did not specify that you need to be in Graphic Editing in Engrave mode in order to select items - many tasks were written before the app added the Engrave toolbox, and documentation didn’t quite keep pace with that detail. But I got it caught up not so long ago, so every single task that involves doing something in Engrave mode should have the necessary caveat at the top.)

If it helps when using the manual: a topic that has a noun or concept as its title (like “Engrave toolbox”) will be the sort of page that tells you what that thing is, what it does, a bit about how it works in Dorico for notations, and in most cases show a picture. Topics with active verbs (like “moving” or “changing”) give you a set of steps to follow to achieve the subject outlined in the title; they won’t go into detail about what that thing is, but hopefully there’ll be a related link at the end that takes you to the page that does.

Thanks so much! That’s all very helpful. I didn’t know about the nouns/verbs organization, and I’d never clicked “Engrave toolbox” because I really wasn’t sure what that was referring to and didn’t want to get lost down a hyperlink rabbit hole (which maybe I should be more amenable to).

Unfortunately, this is what my foray into condensing yielded:

I’ll still keep it in mind for future projects (and making extra players—that’s a great idea), but I’ll probably soldier forward with my manually-condensed version for now (which is looking very clean). Also, since this is just a cue part to keep the players oriented, it has all dynamics and articulation etc. stripped. And it’s also all in the same key as the main instrument (it looks like condensing preserves the transposition of each part?).

Thanks again for all your prompt and thorough replies. Maybe this is TMI, but I appreciate your willingness to acknowledge that maybe the manual wasn’t updated to include the note about Graphic Editing Mode yet when I first checked. It’s entirely possible that it was there and I missed it, or maybe not—I have no idea. But it seems like sometimes developers in support forums are very defensive about their product, and seem to err on the side of suggesting user error. Which I know it often is, and may well have been in my case, but I appreciate your entertaining the alternative. :slight_smile:

The overfull page is quite an extreme example - the frame fullness indicator is showing 409% full. Dorico is unlikely to do that unless forced - it’s possible you had a frame break at the start of the page with the “Wait for next frame break” property activated. That tells Dorico to force all subsequent material between that frame break and the next one into a single frame (usually a page). (Also, based on the page background, that’s a part layout that perhaps you added to try out condensing - the page size and/or staff size might need adjustment.)

It could well be that a manually handled player is the best route - but it depends on the context and what your intent/desired outcome is. For example, if these represent other players in the project, you could explore using cues on extra staves belonging to the player - they’re linked to the source material, so if you change a note in the Horn part, all Horn cues showing that note get updated automatically. You could also use ossia staves.

Dorico’s approach is to solve notational conundrums as semantically as possible - hence both hairpins and dynamics like mp both being “dynamics” despite being categorized alternatively in other software. It’s therefore of interest to the development team to understand the use-cases and musical contexts from which requests and questions spring, so that if necessary and possible, they can create a semantic option/way of doing that.

Thanks again for offering all those ideas! Cues (which I’ve used, and they worked wonderfully) on extra staves, ossia staves, and extra players all sound like great options. It may not be worth backtracking at this point (though it might), but at very least I’ll try them out for my next project (this is my first major project in Dorico).

And yes, there was a frame break at the start of that page! But I didn’t know about the “Wait for next frame break property,” so I didn’t realize it could be the source of that effect. :slight_smile: