How to Work With Divisi in Dorico Pro

🎬  This article is a transcription of one of the excellent tutorial videos posted to the official Dorico YouTube channel.

Presented here in written form with the kind permission of its creator, Anthony Hughes, this tutorial is titled “How to Work With Divisi in Dorico Pro”…


Hello, I’m Anthony Hughes, and in this video I’ll be showing you how to use the divisi feature [as of] Dorico Pro 2, the advanced music notation software from Steinberg.

The word Divisi comes from from the Italian “to divide” and is a common technique used in ensemble writing where a section of instruments (such as the first violins) are split across more than one line of music.

While often seen in string sections or choral music, the approach can be used for any section of multiple players of the same instrument.

Creating divisi (00:38)

Because of this, divisi can only be created for instruments held by section players, as solo players in Dorico represent a single person, and it would probably be a little unfair (if mildly amusing) to present them with several lines of music to play at once.

When you first start a new project in Dorico, there is a nice big button for creating a section player.

Once you have at least one instrument set up in your project, and the music area is visible in the centre of the screen, you add players using the buttons at the bottom of the Players panel. The first button is for adding solo players and the second button is for adding section players.

Let’s press the ‘Add section player’ button and assign them a violin.

OK, I’ve added a little music here to help us on our way. And and this point I would like the violins to divide. So I can select the point at which I would like the new divisi event to appear, right-click and look in the Staff submenu. I can also find this in the Edit menu. From here, I can click on Change Divisi and this opens the Change Divisi dialog.

At the top of the dialog we are presented with a list of the divisions, and because we haven’t made any changes yet, we have just tutti [unis.], meaning the whole section are playing together the same music.

The action bar below the list is where we find the buttons to add divisions. The first button will add a solo division, which I’ll come back to in a moment, and the second button adds a section division. Let’s add a section division first, which you will notice gives us 1 and 2 in the divisions list, and press OK to see how that affects the score.

We can see we have a new signpost indicating our Divisi event, and there are now two violin staves, labelled 1 and 2,

that we can add music to independently of each other.

Restore Tutti and Unison Passages (02:45)

Now I’ve added some more music, I would like my violins to go back to playing tutti at this point here. I select the note, right-click and choose Staff > Restore [Unison].

The additional staff will persist until the end of the system, but so that all players know to play, Dorico will automatically fill both staves with the same tutti music. This will also happen on staves of the same system in the bars preceding the start of a divisi.

Ed. note: since this video tutorial, the labeling “tutti” was changed to “unis.” in Dorico.

These unison passages really are the same music. Selecting or editing the music on one of the staves will select and edit on all others. You can make these unison passages more obvious by opening the View menu and choosing Note and Rest Colours > Divisi Unison Ranges

I can move the divisi and tutti signposts to new positions if required, either by dragging with the mouse, or by holding down Alt and using the left and right arrow keys. Using the key commands will move the signposts by the current value of the rhythmic grid.

Grouping divisions (03:55)

Let’s have a look at some more things we can do:

In this example I am going to add a solo division, which results in a solo violin part (commonly played by the section leader). The rest of the violin section play together, and this is often referred to as gli altri [“the others’], so Dorico will label it as such.

As soon as I add a section divisi, then as before, Dorico automatically labels them 1 and 2.

I can add as many solo and section divisions as I like. In this example I have four solo divisions and two section divisions.

By default, Dorico will place the instrument label centered across all the divisions, but in this case I think we might want to change the instrument labelling to make it clearer.

I can edit the divisi by double-clicking the signpost. This reopens the dialog.

Now, I can select my four solo staves by clicking and dragging across them, or by selecting the first, holding down shift and selecting the last. And then click this Add Group button, to group the four soloists together.

I’ll do the same with the two section divisions and put them in their own group.

Editing Labels (05:11)

Now, by default, these are each labelled as Group, but when I select any group or division, then the staff label is fully editable in this text editor below.

In this example, I may decide that I do not want to label each individual solo violin. So, I can select them in turn and delete the name in the editor.

Then I can select the Groups, at which point you will see I can edit both the full and short name.

I have complete control of the text formatting of these labels, including adding line breaks, enabling me to create more complex — and, importantly, space-saving — labels.

Divisi and staff label options (05:53)

When I open Layout Options (using the key command Ctrl+Shift+L, that’s Cmd+Shift+L on Mac) and switch to the Staves and Systems category, there is a new option for showing or hiding the division labels. The staff label options at the top will affect the group names in a divisi passage.

To override these options for a specific divisi-event, at the bottom of the Change Divisi dialog you will see two toggle-button controls that let you specifically show or hide each kind of label.

Editing an existing divisi change (06:29)

When you edit an existing divisi in a way that removes some of the staves you have previously been using, Dorico does not delete the music. You can think of it as the staves still being in existence, you’re just not using them at the moment. This mean that if you then bring back those staves in some way, the music will still be there.

It also means that any music left on divisi staves that are removed will still play back, so you may want to delete music before removing a divisi event.

Changing divisions (07:01)

You can create as many divisi events as you need in your music, and all of them can be different if that is what is required. However, be aware that if you have more than one divisi event per system for a particular instrument, only the staves defined by the first divisi change will be visible; and further divisi changes will take effect at the start of the next system.

Divisi on vocal staves (07:26)

When using divisi for vocal section players, Dorico will automatically show choral divide arrows at the end of the system before the start of the divisi passage.

And it will show corresponding arrows on each of the staves directing the singers back to a single stave at the end of the divisi passage.

I’m Anthony Hughes, thanks for watching.


RELATED:
Wie man mit in Dorico Pro mit Divisi arbeitet | Einführung in Dorico 2


I hope you’ve found this video tutorial transcription to be helpful. If you have, please subscribe to OF NOTE and follow me on for ongoing music notation info.

And, don’t forget to subscribe to the Dorico YouTube channel for the original Dorico video tutorials. ~robert puff

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