Staff question.

Hi Folks,

I have an SATB song with five verses. In the second verse, two of the tenors split off and sing the soprano line and the remaining tenors hum the original tenor line.

I can think of two ways of achieving this:

  1. Create a new staff for the tenors. Yes, this will work, but the staff will be there for all five verses, being empty for four verses.
  2. Create an extra voice in the tenor staff. Yes, this will work, but it becomes a bit hard to read as the voices cross each other.

Wish list.

Is it possible, in the full arrangement, to only display five staves in the second verse and only four in the other four verses?

V1 V2 V3 V4 V5


Sounds like you need Dorico’s divisi feature.

This a typical case for a divisi passage. Provided your singers are defined as section players, not soloists, you can put the caret at the start of the second verse and invoke Staff > Change Divisi from either the Edit menu or the right-click menu. Where the divisi ends, you insert Staff > Restore Tutti. It will look best if the divisi verse starts and ends on a system break (to avoid displaying implicit unison in 2 staves just before and after the split in page view), but that’s up to you.

Regarding divisi and SATB choir music: I’ve tried starting with the SATB choir template and I get each of the S, A, T, B on its own staff. At times I do want the full open score, but at other times the voices would be fine on a combined SA, and combined TB staves.

There are several suggestions from the forums:

  • start an empty project without a template and add a single section “Choir (reduction)” and use up-stem and down-stem voices. I use the divisi passage to split the choir as needed. I have created a divisi half-way along the system and changed the 1 and 2 to S and A. The S and A appear at the divisi point and all the v1 and v2 material is copied to the new Alto line (as specified in the documentation). I’ve moved the divisi point to the beginning of the section and copied the down-stem (Alto material) to the new, empty divisi bars. I do find if the system changes I have to redo this work: adjust the divisi point to make sure the v1 and v2 jump to the new staff at the beginning of the system.
    There are also a problem with this when I try to add a T, B split. Creating a divisi with S, A, T, B ends with the S, A, T, B and the old combined TB line.

    IDEAS TO TRY: I’ll try with a Treble and a Bass section next time and see if that helps.

  • start using a SATB template and copy material from the Alto line into the voice 2 (stem-down) voice in the Soprano at the system break and have Dorico hide the empty measures. I don’t get the split arrows with this. It is workable but if the system break shifts with added material, I have to go and do the whole adjusting over again.

  • and another evil idea… I exported the flow from Dorico into Music XML and used Finale to explode (or implode depending on the need) the S and A lines then export again into Music XML into Dorico then copy and paste the portions I wanted. Sigh. I still don’t get around the fiddling with section breaks.

Does anyone have any other ideas to try? I’d love to see what would work.

Until Dorico has proper support for condensing, i.e. showing the music for a number of players on a smaller number of staves dynamically, all of the possible workarounds here are going to have the kinds of disadvantages that you see in Finale and Sibelius for handling this kind of music. Personally I would probably stick to the tried and true method of having six staves in the score: individual SATB staves, and SA/TB staves, and fixing the system formatting such that the transitions between them come at system breaks. Going the other way, e.g. from SATB to SSAATTBB, works perfectly with the divisi feature, but you can’t bring two individual players’ music onto a single staff using the features the program currently has.

Although there are a lot of technical challenges before us in order to get this condensing feature working, when we do, I think it will completely change the game for this kind of score preparation.

Thanks for the reply Daniel. While you are looking at SATB music, would you also consider changing the behaviour of the tenor “G” clef with the 8ve glyph below? Currently, when I use a standard G clef and enter a C4 (ISP) then change to an Alto or Tenor “C” clef (for viola or cello), the C4 remains in the correct position (it jumps to the C4 line). With the tenor “G” clef with the glyph, the C4 stays at the same position as in the regular “G” clef which actually changes the note to a C5 in the notation. (The MIDI plays back a C4).
Here is an example - all these were entered as a C4 except the very last one. I had to enter it as a C3 to get placed in the correct spot for a C4. The Lyrics below show how they should be read:
Screenshot 2018-12-04 14.15.24.jpg

Ah, the vexed issue of “octave-transposing” clefs (I use the term advisedly). At the moment, octave clefs don’t have any transposition associated with them at all: they just serve as a reminder to the player (as if they need it: speaking as a tenor I’m perfectly capable of reading from a treble clef without an 8 on the bottom of it, and I’m not suddenly going to start trying to sing at soprano pitch just because it’s not there). However, I know that other people don’t share our views on this issue, and we plan to make it possible to specify that an octave clef also causes notes to transpose by one or more octaves, like an octave line, in future.

A tenor? How would you like to join my choir? LOL… Yes, my tenors are also as flexible as to jump to the correct octave. The problem is mostly yours truly… When making an arrangement, it is disconcerting to hear a tenor line soaring (because that’s what I’m sure they would assure me they’re doing) above the sopranos.
Dorico offers repositioning to other clefs… Would it be a huge ask to have an option for the tenor line act the same way? I don’t want to inflate my tenors’ heads even further by suggesting they are a (egad) TRANSPOSING part! I’d never live it down!

Richard, you can always go into the Play mode, select the tenor voice and tell it to transpose down an octave. That’ll fix playback for you…

Thanks pianoleo. That would certainly work if the tenor part was written in a single clef for the whole piece.

I’ve read some more of the of the discussion regarding “transposing” tenors on the forum and I agree that “transposing” is the problematic term.

I would agree that the tenor G clef with the 8ve glyph is actually pointing to a different location on the grand staff than the regular G clef. Let me illustrate with the cello: The way Dorico deals with the cello is beautiful: I don’t have to worry about where I switch from F clef to Tenor “C” clef and I can slide it forward or backward - even place it part-way in a bar. There is no fiddling about with transposing cello voices. It just works.

It is this functionality that I’d love to see with the vocal tenor “G” 8ve clef.

Daniel hinted that there might come a time when 8ve behaviour could be switched on or off. I’m looking forward to that.

The discussion wether a ‘tenor clef’ is a transposition or not is astonishing between such musical hot shots as you are. This octave is clearly a transposition of the musical material and has to be marked and played back. As a choral arranger and guitar player, this is a well known issue for me and working with my students I have to be clear on that and would really appreciate, that Dorico would be as clear. Nobody writes the guitar in the needed bass clef (as it should be written) and the convention is this upward transposition and the treble clef with this 8va bassa sign.
so I really do need:

  • a classical guitar player with the 8 showing below the clef

  • the 8va playback for sure (working similar like with the celli)

  • a changing behavior when I click concert or transposed pitch, because sometimes I need to see clearly in wich octave I’m working

Definitely no.
One can find both: treble clef with or without a 8va bassa sign.
As I studied classical guitar (indeed some decennies ago) there was even more litterature without 8va sign.

Yeah, I agree with you “teacue” and I did my master studies on classical guitar too and I could find tons of guitar sheet music without the 8va. But — and that’s my point — nowadays the 8va is more often written than not. So I really would like to do that without any workaround.

Historically, Treble-clef cello parts were written an octave higher than sounding - and without any "8"s decorating the clefs to spoon feed performers!

At least that convention has the name it deserves - “false treble clef”.

I suppose the people who like writing pointless "8"s on every clef of their guitar notation would want to do the same thing for piccolo and double bass parts?

Jürg, no workaround is required: a guitar is never written at sounding pitch. It’s always written an octave higher than sounding pitch. The clef has no bearing on it, so you can use a treble clef with an 8 below it or not as you please.

Yes, Daniel I know, that no workaround is needed, when I write for guitar. But I really would like to change between concert and transposing pitch while writing for guitar (or tenor) to have the correct sounding pitches and see it reflected in the score. For example when I want to switch from my written tenor to a bass clef (because the baritone joins). And for me this 8va marking makes no difference to any other transposing instrument (like a sax), because this octave is a true transposition of the sounding pitches.