Using divisi for choral music

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randywombat
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Using divisi for choral music

Post by randywombat »

I’m currently working on an album of choral music -- my first 'proper' professional project in Dorico since tentatively switching from Sibelius -- and there are various requirements for which I’m not sure what the best approach would be. I know how I’d do it in Sibelius, but I want to make sure I am ‘thinking native’ in Dorico, as it were. Most of them are related to the new divisi features and how they apply to choral music. As I’m sure there are people on this forum who have encountered these situations before, I’d welcome any tips.

Short score <--> Open score

I need to be able to switch around between short score (two staves, SA/TB) and open score (four staves, S/A/T/B) within one flow. Can I use the new divisi feature to handle this? If so, how should I approach it?
  • Am I right in thinking there is no way to start with four staves and later compress into two (using the divisi feature)?
  • If so, should I think the other way around -- create two instruments (SA and TB) at the start, and then use divisi to expand into open score when needed?
  • How do I display the instrument names on two lines, like this?
    Image
  • When I split a bass line, the default behaviour with clefs is strange. If Dorico thinks I have divided a bass line, why does it give the lower line a treble clef? And how do I fix this?
    Image
  • Once it's fixed, what do I do with the tenors, who need treble clef on open score but bass clef in short score? Do I need to insert a manual clef change at the start and end of each tenor line in open score? How do I stop these clef changes appearing as, well, clef changes?
Vocal solo line

Sometimes I need to break off a solo line from the main choir for a short passage. In Sibelius (and Dorico 1), I would have to add a new staff. In Dorico 2, if I understand things correctly, I can use the divisi feature again. But..
  • How can I stop the solo staff being grouped (bracketed) with the staves below it? I want it to look like this.
    Image
  • By default a solo line appears below the staff it’s broken away from. How can I make it appear above?
Shared lyrics

In short score, it’s normal to show a single line of lyrics halfway between the two staves (if all parts sing the same words and rhythm).
  • Is there a clever way to tell Dorico that that’s what I’m doing here (e.g. so it can automatically space them correctly as it does dynamics for a grand staff instrument), or should I just 'fake it' and input them as lyrics for the upper staff as I would in Sibelius, then do the spacing manually?
  • If there are minor variations in rhythm or words for one part, you often see an extra syllable or two supplied above/below the staff to make it clear what rhythm is sung. What’s the best way to do this? How can I tell Dorico that the syllable(s) in question ‘belong’ to one voice or the other?
    Image
Many thanks in advance for any advice!

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by randywombat »

By the way, I posted this as one big post because most of the questions seem to me to be linked, but if it would be better to split it up, apologies and I'm happy to do so.

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by randywombat »

Sorry to bump, but can anyone help with this? Thanks :)

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pianoleo
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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by pianoleo »

The Divisi side of things has been implemented (beautifully, if I may say so). The Condense side of things (putting two voices on one stave) has NOT been implemented. Anything you do at this point will be thinking "natively" to Dorico 2.0 but not "natively" to Dorico 3.x, 4.x etc.
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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by fkretlow »

randywombat wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:52 am
Short score <--> Open score

I need to be able to switch around between short score (two staves, SA/TB) and open score (four staves, S/A/T/B) within one flow. Can I use the new divisi feature to handle this? If so, how should I approach it?

Am I right in thinking there is no way to start with four staves and later compress into two (using the divisi feature)?
Yes.
If so, should I think the other way around -- create two instruments (SA and TB) at the start, and then use divisi to expand into open score when needed?
You could. But they will then be bracketed with a secondary bracket and I think there's currently nothing you can do about that.
How do I display the instrument names on two lines, like this?
Image
You could use a workaround: add a divisi right at the start, add a second section, delete one of the two sections. Now you can edit the staff label in the field below.
When I split a bass line, the default behaviour with clefs is strange. If Dorico thinks I have divided a bass line, why does it give the lower line a treble clef? And how do I fix this?
Image
Once it's fixed, what do I do with the tenors, who need treble clef on open score but bass clef in short score? Do I need to insert a manual clef change at the start and end of each tenor line in open score? How do I stop these clef changes appearing as, well, clef changes?
This doesn't happen over here. But you can easily select the first note or rest in the system and add the clef you want. It won't appear as a clef change then.
Vocal solo line

Sometimes I need to break off a solo line from the main choir for a short passage. In Sibelius (and Dorico 1), I would have to add a new staff. In Dorico 2, if I understand things correctly, I can use the divisi feature again. But..

How can I stop the solo staff being grouped (bracketed) with the staves below it? I want it to look like this.
Image
You can't. (I'd love to be be contradicted…)
By default a solo line appears below the staff it’s broken away from. How can I make it appear above?
For me it does appear above, or rather, as the topmost staff in the divisi. Did you really create a soloist, not another section in the divisi dialog?
Shared lyrics

In short score, it’s normal to show a single line of lyrics halfway between the two staves (if all parts sing the same words and rhythm).

Is there a clever way to tell Dorico that that’s what I’m doing here (e.g. so it can automatically space them correctly as it does dynamics for a grand staff instrument), or should I just 'fake it' and input them as lyrics for the upper staff as I would in Sibelius, then do the spacing manually?
No, there is no clever way (please contradict me, anybody?). I'd love to have an automatic solution for this implemented as well.
[*]If there are minor variations in rhythm or words for one part, you often see an extra syllable or two supplied above/below the staff to make it clear what rhythm is sung. What’s the best way to do this? How can I tell Dorico that the syllable(s) in question ‘belong’ to one voice or the other?
Image[/list]
I think lyrics are attached to rhythmic positions on a staff, not to notes or voices. Just select a note in the voice you want input lyrics for and type away. Later you can always select indivdual lyrics and move them above the staff via the properties panel.


I think your best bet would be four players plus the Solo singer. You can hide empty staves (Layout Options) and with the workaround I described for the staff labels you can label the staves on those systems where there are 'condensed' staves individually as needed.
I hope this helps!
Florian

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by HeiPet »

You can switch off secondary brackets in Engrave mode. This also works for me on Divisi staves.

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by fkretlow »

HeiPet wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:00 am
You can switch off secondary brackets in Engrave mode. This also works for me on Divisi staves.
Oh. Good to know. Thanks, Heiko!
Then using two players and divisi might be a good option after all.
Florian

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by randywombat »

Thanks to everyone for their advice! I tried out some of your ideas...
fkretlow wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:11 am
You could use a workaround: add a divisi right at the start, add a second section, delete one of the two sections. Now you can edit the staff label in the field below.
This is a clever idea. This works nicely at the start of the score. However, it messes things up if I want to create a divisi again later in the piece. Here's what happens:
  • In Setup mode, create a single section player and choose the Soprano instrument.
  • In Write mode, create a divisi at the start.
  • Add a section division.
  • Delete the second instrument just created ('2').
  • Rename the only remaining instrument from '1' to 'S.A.' with a carriage return in the middle.
  • Now, later in the same score, create a new divisi on the soprano line (now called 'S.A.'). That divisi doesn't work as expected: although the section divisions are correctly labelled 'S.' and 'A.' in the divisi dialogue, they are incorrectly labelled 'S.' and '1 + Sopranos' (?!) in the score. Also, the normal functionality of the divisi feature whereby material before the divisi is recreated on both staves earlier in the same system fails.
Image

I hesitate to say that this is a bug, since it was caused by a weird workaround in the first place, and also because I don't really understand what is going on here. But it certainly isn't expected behaviour.
you can easily select the first note or rest in the system and add the clef you want. It won't appear as a clef change then.
It does appear as a clef change for me, and I can't find a way to hide it.

Image
For me it does appear above, or rather, as the topmost staff in the divisi. Did you really create a soloist, not another section in the divisi dialog?
You're right, it does appear above. Sorry. I was confused by the fact that the solo line inherits the musical material from the top line of the sopranos before the divisi:

Image

This behaviour confuses me a little. Suppose I have a single soprano line which continues through the piece, then I want to add a soloist at a certain point with an additional line of music. The sequence I would expect is:
  • Create divisi in soprano staff and add soloist. Soloist staff appears above soprano staff, empty.
  • Input soloist's music into soloist staff.
Whereas the actual sequence is:
  • Create divisi in soprano staff and add soloist. Soprano staff is changed into soloist, inheriting its existing music, and additional soprano staff appears below, empty.
  • Move all music from soloist staff to soprano staff below for duration of divisi.
  • Input soloist's music into soloist staff.
The result in galley view is this:

Image

And of course this comes with its own disadvantages, such as the fact that selecting all music on the top staff (for copying etc) gives me a mixture of the soloist's music and the section's music.
I think lyrics are attached to rhythmic positions on a staff, not to notes or voices. Just select a note in the voice you want input lyrics for and type away. Later you can always select indivdual lyrics and move them above the staff via the properties panel.
This works perfectly. Thanks!
I think your best bet would be four players plus the Solo singer. You can hide empty staves (Layout Options) and with the workaround I described for the staff labels you can label the staves on those systems where there are 'condensed' staves individually as needed.
Yep, this looks like the best method, using forced system breaks. Ah well. It's a perfectly livable method, I've been using it for 15 years on Sibelius... ;)

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by fkretlow »

randywombat wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:47 am
This is a clever idea. This works nicely at the start of the score. However, it messes things up if I want to create a divisi again later in the piece. Here's what happens:
In Setup mode, create a single section player and choose the Soprano instrument.
In Write mode, create a divisi at the start.
Add a section division.
Delete the second instrument just created ('2').
Rename the only remaining instrument from '1' to 'S.A.' with a carriage return in the middle.
Now, later in the same score, create a new divisi on the soprano line (now called 'S.A.'). That divisi doesn't work as expected: although the section divisions are correctly labelled 'S.' and 'A.' in the divisi dialogue, they are incorrectly labelled 'S.' and '1 + Sopranos' (?!) in the score. Also, the normal functionality of the divisi feature whereby material before the divisi is recreated on both staves earlier in the same system fails.
I see. I don't understand what's happening here either, but you should be able to fix it by adding a 'restore tutti' (right below divisi in the context menu) at the end of the previous system.
By the way, did you notice that you can get rid of the player name ('Soprano' befor S./A. in your screenshot) with the buttons at the bottom of the divisi dialog?
randywombat wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:47 am
It does appear as a clef change for me, and I can't find a way to hide it.
Switch to Engrave Mode, select the clef change and set the Custom Scale property to zero. Keep in mind that it will be difficult to select it afterwards.
Florian

randywombat
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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by randywombat »

fkretlow wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:45 am
I see. I don't understand what's happening here either, but you should be able to fix it by adding a 'restore tutti' (right below divisi in the context menu) at the end of the previous system.
This works, thank you, but it introduces a new problem: Dorico draws the choral divide arrows at the end of the system where I restore tutti. This is true even though the divisi goes from one staff to one staff, i.e. there is no actual change. Ah well, you can't have everything! Many thanks for your help.

I am still puzzling over how to fix the solo staff issue, but as for the rest, I think the moral of the story is not to try and use the divisi feature for this use case (yet).

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by LAE »

Maybe you can fix the solo staff issue by changing it to some instrument that will not bracket with the rest. Then rename it to what you want.
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randywombat
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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by randywombat »

LAE wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:25 am
Maybe you can fix the solo staff issue by changing it to some instrument that will not bracket with the rest. Then rename it to what you want.
Yes indeed, but -- sorry, by the "solo staff issue" I meant the behaviour where, when I try to add a soloist above an existing staff, what actually happens is that the existing staff is changed into the soloist staff, inheriting its existing music, and an additional staff appears below, empty. This adds some extra steps required to move the existing music down to the correct staff before adding any soloist music, and makes it thereafter impossible to (for instance) select the entire soprano line in one go.

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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by albert0984 »

Hey there!

I’m having some troubles similar to the op’s ones. When I change a Divisi signpost place in the score, the divided part’s f clef in the Bass is changed by a g clef—only its glyph… the music is in the correct octave, as it were in an f clef.
I attach a GIF image and the compressed (.zip) Dorico document to let you experiment and see what’s actually happening.

Thanks!
Albert.
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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by Jazzisfaction »

I have some spoken text of the whole choir - without a certain pitch.
Is there a way to have SATB condensed to just 1 stave? I only figured out how to condense S&A and T&B - but not all 4 voices.
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Re: Using divisi for choral music

Post by benwiggy »

You don't need to use condensing for vocal scores, because you're not creating separate parts for each voice. (At least I hope not! :lol: ) So you can just use multiple voices on one staff, with text for explanatory labels.

Condensing could be useful for creating an entire layout in short score from 4 separate players, except that it doesn't quite work yet because it wants to use the Tenor clef, and there's the whole tenor transposition issue.
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