Staff styles

interesting. what would happen if someone added a new instrument to the file, would it be assimilated by dorico, or it would explode the computer? (maybe I’ll try it later)

It will work fine, but it’s not recommended, because the instruments.xml file is part of the program’s built-in data and modifying those files is not supported.

Hi all,
This is a very good news to know. This feature is used widely in contemporary music ! Looking forward to have this function implemented in Dorico.

I don’t know if the developers need any more input on the original topic of using staffs in voice for different inflections, I highly recommend the explanations of Christian Dimpker (‘Extended Notation’).
I don’t necessarily agree with all of the book, but his suggestion of how to use different amounts of staff lines for voice are rather good and widely used in contemporary notation.
What I also like about it is that he shows examples of previous notations of certain techniques, so one has a thorough picture of possible requirements and their notation.

For the transcription of 16-17th century keyboard music, it would be very useful to be able to use staves with 6 lines (Fitzwilliam Virginal Book and other English manuscripts):

and 8-lines (Frescobaldi and other Italian composers of the period):

Sorry, my scanner cut off the clefs from the Frescobaldi. It can be seen that there are two on the lower staff:



This is a PITA, but should be doable. Here are a few bars of the staff and noteheads:

I modified the XML to have a non-percussion instrument with a 1-line staff, then added it to the player. Since a 3-line staff would be the middle 3 lines and I couldn’t figure a way around that, I created a Line that was “double line body (thin)” with the line width equal to the width of my staff lines and line separation of 4 spaces. Added that to the score to create my outer staff lines. Made a notehead set using that notehead (it’s under Articulations), and manually extended the stems.

Not particularly fun, but that kind of thing should be possible anyway.

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That is nice. I was trying of something simpler, such as to make noteheads including stem extensions to simulate the “pitches”. Also a hack, but a bit simpler.

I was able to get this result by adding temple blocks to the viola player (and removing the medium-high and medium-low ones).

I used the Notehead Set editor to create a notehead whose origin is 15 units above the baseline, and just used the different temple blocks to adjust the vertical position. (For finer granularity, you’d have to duplicate this custom notehead and change the offset, applying them to each note as necessary.)

One downside to this approach is that Dorico doesn’t have any sort of Y axis adjustment for dots, only X. The dots will be stuck down in the staff even if the “notehead” is way above it. I think Daniel has said in the past that Y adjustments for dots are way more complicated than initially appear due to situations where Dorico automatically combines dots.

I imagine you edited the barline protrusion parameter to extend the barline 2 spaces? If a percussion instrument with 1 line is added to the score, would it be possible to have a normal protrusion?

Sure, just set Barlines/Minimum Barline Protrusion to 2 spaces, it will work for percussion instruments too.

I meant the other way - the percussion instrument will have a protrusion of 1 space (the normal setting), while the hack for the “staff style” is being used.

Hi Forum

I’m quite new here (coming from and still using Sibelius) and my English is not that perfect - sorry for that. Dorico is definitely a great software, I use it now more and more - the microtonal possibilities for example are just unbelievably good, the layout is beautiful etc.
I followed with interest the staff-style topic and me too find it very important that with the next Dorico-Version there should be more possibilities in that direction. Working as a composer I face the same problems as the colleagues here. Just one thing which is not mentioned here I also missed: it should be possible to create ossia staffs with less or more than 5 lines, and also without lines. This is useful e.g. when you are notating a rhythm for a vibrato as I use it in a Trombone-Solo piece (it’s a common thing also in Accordion-Literature), here my example how I wrote it in Dorico (I had to use the five line staff which is not a good solution).Forum_Staff-Style.pdf (27.6 KB)

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I know that it’s not exactly what you’re looking for, but you can achieve this via rhythm cue from a player excluded from the layout. You’d create an extra player with the extra rhythms, exclude it from the main layout, and then cue it, marking is as a rhythm cue, and selecting “Show cues” in your layout options.

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Dear Lucas

thank you very much for that interesting advice - that‘s a workaround I will try out with the copy of my next solo piece for trombone which uses rhythmized wawa-mute effects. I come back to the forum with my experiences…

thanks and greetings from Basle

Hi All,
Just saw today the huge update and improvements in Dorico 4.0.
I also searched the forum and found other approaches to this notation problem.
Since I cannot see any trial version of Dorico 4.0 on the website (correct me if I’m wrong), I would ask if the Dorico team eventually implemented this function to the software.

Thanks !

I’m afraid Dorico 4 does not contain features to change the number of staff lines for an instrument, but this remains definitely something we plan to add in future.

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Thanks, Daniel,
after posting my request, I’ve found a previous similar answer from you in another thread related to this topic concerning its implementation in the next major upgrade.

I can understand how this feature is difficult to realize in a “playback-related” software like Dorico (because you have to decide how the playback engine relates to this non-standard notation).
FWIK, when I posted this request some years ago, it was the first time someone asked for it, while searching the forum yesterday, I found many other composers needing this feature.
This means that Dorico is spreading all around also in the field of contemporary music and this is good because it will help to globally improve the software.

Answering other users who consider this feature as an “esthetic” and useless whim of contemporary composers locked in their zoo: as pointed out by @Coati in this post

This is not an aesthetic feature that we ask for because it’s trendy and graphically cool, on the contrary, it is strictly functional to instrumental behaviour and correct notation.
Moreover, it is a practice that has been found in contemporary music scores for at least 70 years now.
Since Dorico is a present-day notation software, it cannot ignore this type of notation (which is now historical) for long, and sooner or later it must decide how to implement it.

BTW, thumbs up for the incredible work on Dorico 4.0 and look forward to future developments.


Don’t worry, we absolutely plan to support this in future.