Adding an Ossia Staff in Finale

A previous OF NOTE post, “Controlling Staff Visibility of Tacet Bars in Finale”, illustrates how to hide unused empty staves in Finale:

Controlling Staff Visibility of Tacet Bars in Finale

A score where string sections are broken out into divisi on several staves for part of the score, but confined to their separate staves for other parts of the score would be an example of this. (e.g. typically, the ancillary 2nd or 3rd divisi staves would be hidden where music for that instrument section is confined to a single staff. )

Ossia bars have a similar visibility requirement. Ossia staves are frequently used in instrumental solo literature to indicate an editorial (or original) ornamentation for a well-known classical passage, or to show alternate chord voicings, rhythmic variations or a different transposition for a double  in a jazz chart.

Let’s take a look at how we can create ossia bars for an instrumental solo, as in this example:

This can be achieved fairly simply in Finale in just a few steps.

To begin, for the case of a single solo instrument, you will need to add a duplicate of the instrument in Finale’s Score Manager. In this case, we are working with a Bb Clarinet part, so I will add another Bb Clarinet into my score.

Close the Score Manager and enter in the music for the specific ossia bars in the newly created staff. Don’t worry about all of the empty bars for now, we will address those momentarily.

The next thing you’ll want to do is go ahead and use the ‘Hide Empty Staves’ function to eliminate most of the empty bars from our new instrument.

Select the staff tool and highlight all of the empty bars that you want hidden. Once the area is highlighted, either go to the Staff Menu and select Hide Empty Staves, or right-click and select Hide Empty Staves. Note that to get the correct menu, you must right-click the selection handle to the left of the clef.

Hide Empty Staves will hide all empty staves of the Ossia staff except those bars of music that share a system with the original instrument staff; most of what we need to hide:

From here, we’ll use one of the predefined Staff Styles to finish hiding the empty bars. Make sure the Staff Tool is (still) selected and select / highlight the remaining visible empty bars of the Ossia system with music on it. With your selection active, right-click to open the Contextual Menu and select the staff style called ‘Force Hide Staff (Cutaway).’ (By default, it is Staff Style 12.)

And voila! Once applied, this Staff Style will hide those last few pesky blank bars from our score, giving us the following result:

From here, you may want to decrease either the staff size, or the size of the notes themselves, as if they were cue notes, depending on your style.

To create cue sized notes in Finale, highlight the Ossia measures with the Selection Tool, then go to Utilities>Change…>Note Size.

To change the size of the visible Ossia Staff itself, including the notes, select the Resize Tool and click in the Ossia Staff.

For either,  type in a percentage of the original size you’d like to display (100% being the default). I recommend starting with about 80%. This usually will do the trick while keeping the smaller notes still easily legible.

So, there you have it! This technique is useful with ossia bars, but may also be used in other situations such as cutout scores or alternate doubling where you want only certain bars showing in a part or score.

Thanks for reading!

Landon Ashby

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