Two quick questions about orchestral instrument order

First question: one of my college friends who’s in LA for film scoring was confused by Dorico putting harp below piano/keyboard instead of putting it above. They told me placing harp before piano is standard convention that all orchestral scores adhere to.

Is there a different convention Dorico is following? I’m not very knowledgable in this sense :sweat_smile:

Second question: where would a harmonica part be placed in terms of an orchestral score? Dorico seems to be putting it alongside percussion parts, but I’m not seeing any sources online give any clear answers on where harmonicas should be.

So drag the Harp where you want it if that will make your friends happy.
I notice the Harp is above the Piano in the OUP edition of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast if that gives you courage.

For Q1, this isn’t super standardized. Here’s Gould pg 512:

A Piano functioning as a “rhythm section” instrument might even be placed above the Drums. I was the copyist for a few dozen orchestral arrangements for a well-known vocalist’s tour a few years ago, and that’s where her MD wanted it. The opening of The Wizard of Oz puts the Harp above Piano:

As there aren’t really strict rules with this one, do want your client or friend wants.


In Respighi’s Pini di Roma, the harp is above the piano. I’ve just finished the score and, as usual, I suppose I’ve set the automatic ordering to None…maybe because of that. Honestly I don’t remember (I started like a month ago).