Why is harp a pitched percussion instrument?

I have noticed that Dorico is treating harps (unintuitively) as percussion instruments for quite some time. Two things in particular are really bugging me.

  1. I am engraving a piece that has three winds, vibraphone, piano, harp, and strings, and the conductor has requested that I show time signatures at the top, above the vibes, and above the strings (just a personal preference). Checking the “show system objects above the first bracket for the given instrument families” for pitched percussion puts the system objects above the harp instead of the vibraphone.

  2. Less vital to my immediate needs but still irking me: The harp playing techniques are under the pitched percussion drop down, even though all the techniques are for harp except Ped, 1/2 Ped, and Motor on/off.

I was hoping that in a future update both of these things could be fixed. I don’t know the best way for the first situation. But for the second, perhaps renaming “pitched percussion” to “harp” and moving the actual percussion techniques into a more generic “percussion” section. Related, I wish there was a place for playing techniques that don’t fit in the others other than “common,” especially since they might not even fit in there.

If you can live with the Vibraphone having a bracket, that seems to do the trick.

After adding the bracket in Engrave mode, I suggest that you de-select Pitched Percussion in Layout Options > Staves and Systems > System Objects, click Apply, and then re-select Pitched Percussion and click Apply.

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The Harp is nether fish nor fowl. It is commonly considered a percussion instrument, though there is a case to be made that it’s a plucked string instrument, like a guitar. It’s clearly not in the “Fretted Instruments” group in Dorico. :lol:

It sits directly between the percussion and Strings in an orchestral score order. Interestingly, if you add a guitar and a piano, the guitar is first (below the percussion), then the piano, then the harp.

The piano is of course also a percussion instrument. (And the harp is just a naked piano. :rofl:)


Harp is just a big guitar :slight_smile: , so it is definitely a plucked string instrument. I have never seen it being called a percussion instrument. Horrors! Celesta, on the other hand, is SOMETIMES counted to be a percussion instrument; and keyboard glockenspiel is usually considered to be in percussion despite having the keyboard…

A quick google will show it regularly described as such, including on ‘education’ pages of symphony orchestras.

Is a bat a bird or a mouse? I blame Aristotle.

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Fair enough, but I still wish there was a clean way to put system objects over any instrument. Personally, I think of the harp either as a keyboard instrument or simply “harp”, so what do I know about intuitive things!

I appreciate the solution to my immediate problem, I just wish the vibraphone didn’t have to be bracketed.

Indeed. I recently requested that each staff should be able to show/hide System Objects.


Sorry I’m coming in late, but there’s a better workaround that means the Vibraphone doesn’t need a bracket.

  1. In Setup mode right-click the Vibraphone and make it a soloist.
  2. Long hold the instrument-sorting button at the bottom left of Setup mode and set it to none.
  3. Drag the Vibraphone back to its normal position.
  4. Right-click the Vibraphone instrument and rename it to remove the “Soloist” indicator.
  5. Set the Layout Options for System Object Positions to show above Soloists and Strings.

It’s about three times quicker to do it than to type up the instructions…


Speaking of Harps…


Awesome. Thanks, Leo!