Writing for marching band

Those of you who need to use Dorico for marching band writing, how are you handling it? My main area of concern is percussion, primarily the cumbersome percussion kits and the fact that the stock sounds for the instruments (tenors, bass) are rather terrible. Are you just using third-party libraries for your sounds? What other tricks have you come up with for setting up marching band scores?

For percussion, which is mostly what I do, I use Virtual Drumline (VDL) by Tapsace. I believe this is the most comprehensive sound library out there. There is another one called Rumble by System Blue, made by Sample Logic. Rumble seems more geared towards using the sounds for film scoring, and not so much drumline arrangements.

As far as Dorico’s interface with VDL, it works. A little different than what most people are used to. But I would say, I think there is still some room to grow in this department. Daniel and the team are aware of how important this library and its use is to users, so I expect that over the course of a few updates things will improve into a better workflow.

I like the idea of players holding instruments, and the idea of having “percussion kits” or have someone playing multiple percussion instruments and automatic instrument changes. I also like the fact that you can move these between different players. In the past it was a pain to see that brake drum and sus cymbal can’t be on the same instrument, so you would have to copy and paste between players, create new players if necessary, etc. With the way Dorico works, you could simply write the parts, and start to see how can do what, when. I’ve recently worked on a percussion ensemble piece, that needed multiple percussion parts, playing multiple percussion instruments. I love the fact that I can add the percussion legend (which I call instrument name, as in my mind the percussion legend is a staff at the start of the piece that shows the note heads and placement on the staff) to the staff automatically. I think Dorico does a great job of placing that percussion legend 90% of the time.

I am not doing specific marching band scores right now, but I would imagine on a whole there is a lot that can be done with the help of Dorico. For example, you could have multiple layouts for each instrument. One layout for reading off of a music stand. Another layout for use with a music lyre. If you are arranging/composing the entire show, it can now be 1 file as opposed to 3-6 (depending on musical numbers). The cue function could help players.