The Use Of Solo Players To Group Multiple Simultaneously Playing Instruments

I am in the initial phases of experimenting with the use of Solo Players as a “holding tank” for multiple simultaneously playing instruments within a family.

Player - Flutes
Instruments - Flute 1, Flute 2, Flutes a3, all held by the one player.

(See image below.)

I had thought that a single Player could only play one Instrument at a time, indicating in the score when an instrument change occured. But I found that when I set the Player up with multiple instruments and enter notation for each at the same place in the timeline, each having it’s own VST setup in Play Mode, all notated instruments play back simultaneously.

This was a revelation to me. I am not yet aware whether there are any unanticipated repercussions for this setup., though there might well be. But at first glance it seems a sweet way to organize the players and reduce their number. This also has benefits for the way I used custom layouts to organize my work.

My work will never be handed to live players, so my only considerations are workflow, playback, and export.

I’m definitely interested in hearing if anyone else has tried this and run into difficulties.

One “bonus” question. When I started I segregated out ensemble patches into their own Section Player simply because Dorico distinguishes between the two. But it occurs to me that, since my ensemble patches are no different from solo instruments when it comes to VST functions, there is no VST-related reason not to include a “Flutes a3” instrument in the same above-described (Solo) Player. I’m also curious if there is any comment on this matter as well. When I test this, it works.

If experience has taught you that I am investing time in a dead-end path because I am unaware of some repercussion, please chime in. If you just want to comment, I’m all ears.

I would be interested in learning more about the nature of your work, given that, despite the statement above, you choose for it a tool that has as its primary purpose preparing materials for live players.

At least the title for dorico seems to suggest that the program is meant equally for notation and composition:

At least for me it offers many interesting tools and workflows for composition that don’t really exist in DAW’s.

It does make sense to me that a single player can play simultaneously different instruments. For instance, a string player, a pianist, harpist… can sing while playing the instrument. Or play a percussion part with a foot, or whatever you can think of. Hence the feature of different lines for a single player available.
I’m wondering if this something that has been added at some point, because I recall reading a thread about someone wanting to do exactly what I described above, and that person had to use two players united in a Layout. But maybe I’m dreaming. Anyways, I don’t think there’s any problem with your setup.

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Being a hobbyist, my work is purely compositions or arrangements for mockups (i.e., playback). The only notational needs I have is to capture that work for my own consumption. I prefer to compose in a notation environment rather than in a traditional DAW. Unlike some (but like others), I definitely need quality aural feedback as I work.

My Dorico compositions can be exported for production work in Cubase, but I find I do not compose effectively in Cubase.Based on the post of others on this forum and others, I can say with confidence there are many who use Dorico in this way, just as there are many whose main purpose is to hand sheet music to live players.

It is a good thing for Dorico if different camps of users coexist amicably. To be sure, we compete for limited programming resources to implementat features that help our particular pursuits, but a healthy and growing Dorico customer base can be a rising tide that lifts all boats. Different groups of users can ultimately profit from the existence of the others. Half a giant pie is better than all of a small pie.

Thanks for your comments. That was my reaction too. Frankly, when I tested it and found it worked I was surprised. I posted about it here because I wondered whether there was some problem that would thwart it’s potential.

I hope you prove to be right. Again, thanks for chiming in.

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I guess I’m not quite understanding what the benefit is. If you don’t care about live players, how exactly is this better than just having every player hold one instrument? A drawback is that it breaks condensing.

If my Players are set up like this …

… then with Condensing turned on I get this:

If you don’t care about Condensing in a score either, then this may not matter, but I’m still not sure exactly how this is any better than just one instrument per player. A couple less clicks when setting up custom layouts? What are some of the possibilities you can do with this that you can’t with one instrument per player?

Aha, you caught my “exploded with possibilities” overstatement before I edited it out! I was thinking back to my original astonishment that such a setup was even possible.

First, I see what you mean regarding condensing, but this doesn’t really apply to me because I work only in Galley View.

Second, for me it remains to be seen whether the benefits of using fewer Players with more Instruments will outweigh using more Players with fewer Instruments, or whether it will in the end be a draw. The proof will be in the using.

Certainly one drawback is that while Players can be selected or deselected in a layout, Instruments cannot.

The best solution of all would be support for subfolders in Setup with visibility checkboxes for each, such as exists in many DAWs. But that is likely not coming soon.

I guess I’m not seeing why fewer Players is a benefit. If one player holds 3 flutes they then can be added to a Layout with one click instead of three clicks. Is that it? Is there another benefit? If you really don’t care about actual human players, then one instrument per player seems like it would give you the most flexibility.

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I guess that’s why I said it remains to be seen. Won’t know if it’s a relative benefit to me until I play around with it some, which I have not yet had the chance to do beyond just testing that it works.

It may turn out as you suggest, that there is no benefit except to clean up the appearance of my Setup Mode screen.

Thanks for your comments.

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The fact that a solo player can play many instruments simultaneously makes it possible for users of Dorico SE or Elements to engrave music for orchestra and play it back using NotePerformer. For example, here is the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony:

Dorico SE Orchestra Demo.dorico (441.6 KB)

As previously noted, condensing does not work when one player holds many instruments. Of course, the lack of Engrave mode in Dorico SE or Elements is a significant limitation. In the demo project, I used workarounds to unhide the staves of instruments that are inactive in a system, to obtain the correct staff labels and sounds for the string sections, and to engrave the last measure played by the first violins.


You did all that with 2 Players, LOL! That’s a pretty ingenious workaround!

I created the demo project with Dorico SE, which allows no more than two players.

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Shhhh!!! Don’t publish the cheat codes! :nerd_face:


The Dorico team may delete my posts in this topic if they wish.

One downside I might think of is the staff labeling in galley view. If a player is holding multiple instruments, each staff is labeled with first a full list of instruments held by that player, then the actual instrument. This is exhausting me already sometimes with a player having only two instruments, if their names are long (like Saxofonists -.-)

The labels in galley view use the player name, followed by the instrument name. The player name by default is indeed a list of the instruments held by that player, but you can rename the player however you like.

A good example is a percussionist holding lots of instruments: renaming the player “Percussion (n)” can result in much more manageable labels in galley view.


Thanks Lillie, I was unaware!