Condensing calculations and considerations

In order to produce clear and legible results, Dorico Pro considers a number of factors in its condensing calculations, including the type of instruments and the rhythms and pitches of notes.


Having condensing enabled in any layout in a project can cause Dorico Pro to operate more slowly, due to the large number of calculations involved. Therefore, we recommend only enabling condensing after you have finished the majority of the required work, such as inputting notes and notations or adding flows.

Condensing calculations include the following considerations and processes:

Instruments and players

Solo and section players in your project are condensed separately. Adjacent players holding similar instruments are automatically assigned to condensing groups when condensing is enabled.

  • If a solo player holds multiple instruments, only their first instrument is considered for condensing. Other instruments always appear on a separate staff.

  • Only instruments that normally have a single staff and whose music is in a single voice can be condensed, as music already in multiple voices produces ambiguous condensing results. Grand staff instruments cannot be condensed. Instruments with extra staves or ossia staves cannot be condensed in the systems where the extra staves or ossia staves exist.

  • Divisi staves can be condensed but only within a single player. For example, two section violin players can condense together only when both players are undivided.

  • Unpitched percussion instruments cannot be condensed. You can change how unpitched percussion appears in full scores using the available percussion kit presentations.

Condensing groups

Players within a condensing group can be condensed together and can all share a single staff, depending on their music and your set notation options.

By default, Dorico Pro assigns adjacent similar instruments to the same condensing group, for example, Flutes 1 and 2. You can create custom condensing groups to specify which players you want to condense together.


Dorico Pro divides each flow into phrases because the required condensing result varies depending on the texture and density of the music, which changes over the course of a single piece. Each phrase is considered separately when calculating the best condensing result.

Dorico Pro considers a sequence of notes between rests as a single phrase. However, rests that are spanned by slurs, gradual dynamics, playing techniques with duration, and similar items do not break phrases. Condensing can only change within phrases where they span system/frame breaks.

Figure 1. Two phrases separated by a rest. They have different condensing results due to the parts in the first phrase having different rhythms.

The phrases belonging to all the players on each condensed staff are considered together in order to calculate the best condensing result, for example, whether or not phrases can share a single stem or require separate voices.

Rhythms and pitches

Within each phrase, the rhythms and pitches of notes are considered. Where they are both the same, the condensing result can be unison. Where they are both different, the condensing result can be different voices on the same staff.


All other notations are considered in addition to notes, including articulations, dynamics, slurs, grace notes, playing techniques, lyrics, ornaments, and so on. For example, if two parts have the same rhythms and pitches but their slurs apply to different notes, they are condensed into a shared staff with separate voices to ensure the different slurs are clearly notated. Parts are also condensed into separate voices if their articulations are different.


Clefs and octave lines do not affect the condensing result. Players whose instruments have different clefs and octave lines can be condensed together. The resulting condensed staff uses the clefs and octave lines belonging to the first player on the staff only.


The properties of notes and items are considered, such as if notes have forced stem directions or slurs have been flipped. When properties are different, parts cannot be condensed into the same voice.

Time signatures and key signatures

Players with different time signatures or key signatures cannot be condensed together.

Casting off

Music is condensed each system at a time, from left to right. Condensing is calculated for each system in its entirety, meaning that, for example, players cannot appear on their own staff at the start of a system and then on a condensed staff later in the same system.

Each system can have different condensing to neighboring systems, even if a single phrase spans multiple systems. In such circumstances, the separate parts of the phrase are considered separately.

Therefore, your casting off settings and system/frame breaks influence which phrases are considered together and therefore the condensing result.


Condensed music often requires different rhythmic spacing than uncondensed music, for example, to accommodate the width of notes that are a small interval apart. Therefore, enabling condensing can cause the casting off in the layout to change.


If the automatic condensing produced by Dorico Pro does not suit your requirements, you can change the condensing manually from selected rhythmic positions onwards and for selected condensing groups using condensing changes. You might find that using condensing changes simply to start new phrases is sufficient to achieve the desired condensing result.