Hide Notes to Create Multi-rests in Voiced Linked Parts Using a Staff Style

In orchestral scores, it is common to combine two similar instruments onto a single staff:


Text indicators like “1”, or “2” are used to show when a specific player plays a particular portion of the line. Following a passage where one player rests while another plays, a directive like “a2″ or “tutti” shows that both / all players play the same line in unison from that point. By default, these text indications appear in both the score and parts, making it easy to identify who plays where.

Note the hidden text expression “both”. This technique serves a useful purpose, which I’ll explain in a moment.

In Finale, we can use the Specify Voicing feature of “Manage Parts…”, to control the part appearance so that the Clarinet 1 notes show up in the proper part. To do this, Finale offers flexible rules for how the Clarinet 1 notes are selected for display in the part.

For instance, if the Clarinet 1 and 2 notes are different, but in the same Layer, we can make sure that Clarinet 1 is always assigned the top note and Clarinet 2 is assigned the bottom note. If a measure contains multiple layers, as in the second measure above, we can always display Layer 1 for Clarinet 1 and Layer 2 for Clarinet 2. Here’s an example of the Clarinet 1 part:

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Display Instrument Names Differently Between Score & Parts in Finale

There is a visual style preferred by many composers and orchestrators in which instrument group names are shown bracketing two or more staves, with numbers (1., 2. or I., II.) rather than individual instrument names showing for the specific instrument staves:


This is a nice presentation, which clearly shows how the orchestration is organized with a minimum of clutter. The method to create Multi-Stave Groups like the above in Finale, as well as a cool variation for group name display are covered in this post by my colleague Jon Senge.

However, while this works great for the score, it’s quite another thing if you are also creating the parts, because there are no longer unique identifiers for each instrument. When you get to the parts phase, you first have to figure out which staff goes with which instrument, and once you do, you have to manually type in each instrument name in the Linked Parts! Ideally, the instrument names should remain in the template for parts. So, how can we do this?

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Finale Page Layout Advancements & Plugins | JW Copy Part Layout…

Back before there was such a thing as computer notation software, commercial music copyists working with pen and ink used a technique called “Advancing the Layout”.

To illustrate, I’ll use French Horn parts in an orchestral score. In this hypothetical score, there are a lot of commonalities between the four horn parts:

  1. The four horns always enter together.
  2. Horns are in unison for a good portion of the score.
  3. Rhythms are generally homophonic when they are playing chords.
  4. They share a common transposition.

To advance the layout, common elements such as Page Text, Key and Time Signatures, Rehearsal Marks and other System Text, Barlines, Repeats, Endings are laid out in ink on the page. Next, any common unison passages are copied into the chart, as well as any common rests for homophonic chord passages.

The copyist then takes this “master page”, which functions as a partially filled-out template to the photocopier and runs copies so that the notes for each part can be filled in. As you can imagine, this technique of capitalizing on the commonalities within the parts saved hours of work, back in the day.

Before photocopiers, the ozalid process was used to reproduce music for commercial recording sessions and concerts.

These days, because of the way Finale automatically applies music spacing as you go, the page layout can change dynamically as music is entered into your score. A byproduct of this is that user attention to page layout is typically at the end of the workflow rather than the beginning. This reorganization of workflow is not a bad thing as long as you are, in fact, paying attention to the page layouts at some point!

In more recent versions of Finale, the business of having to ink different notes into a copy of a parts template, or copy and paste notes from the score into a separate part staff or file during the part creation stage has largely been replaced with Linked Parts; specifically the “Voicing” feature in the Manage Parts… dialog. You can enter diads or triads in a line of score, and then for any given part, choose rules for Finale to select which specific notes from that staff will display for that part.

However, even though we can control which notes go where using this dialog, the page layout for the parts themselves is not addressed in the Manage Parts dialog.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to create the layout for Horn 1 and then copy that layout to the other Horn parts so we don’t have to recreate this page layout manually 4 different times? Turns out, there is a plugin for this very task.

Enter the very useful “JW Copy Part Layout…” plugin by Jari Williamsson. Once you have manually created your layout for the first part, with the second (or subsequent) part frontmost, run the plugin. The dialog looks like this:


The plugin displays the name of the Current (open) Part which will inherit the new layout. You select the part  you want to copy the page layout from in the instrument list.

Note there are a couple of useful options in this dialog besides the Copy Layout button. If you have sections where the Multi-measure rests are not identical you can uncheck the “Multi-measure Rests” option so that the majority of the layout will still be copied. You can then manually adjust the layout of the region with the differences manually.

You can switch to a specific part while the plugin dialog is forward by selecting a part, and then clicking the “View Selected” button. This will bring the selected part forward. Note that the “Current part:” name will then change in the dialog, allowing you to Copy the Layout from any other selected part in the dialog.

JW Copy Part Layout is free (donate to the developer if you would like), and works with Finale 2012 or newer. You can download it here: Mac | Windows.

For Finale 2011 and earlier, you can use the Transfer function of the full version of the TGTools plugin suite to copy locked measure groups (measure layout) as well as system margins and attributes between parts..


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Create Simple Vertical Group Names in Finale

Simple Vertical Group Names


I was recently asked to create a score layout that evoked some old Hollywood styles. One of the aspects discussed was a different way of formatting instrument families. Vertical instrument labels can be found on some old manuscript papers but are all but forgotten in today’s computer notation.

Creating vertical staff group labels are easy work in Finale. If you already have staff groups established, as in the excerpt below, it’s just a matter of reformatting the label itself. If you don’t, here’s a brief explanation.

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Finale’s Managed Parts & Grace Note Spacing

Q: I’m composing a piece for full orchestra plus large percussion ensemble / steel band). In order to save space, I’m using shared staves for most of the winds (two of each, and usually tutti).

Ordinarily I really like this feature in Finale that allows each player to see their own part, but it isn’t properly spacing the music within each part…specifically the grace notes (of which there are MANY).

Furthermore,  because Note Entry tools are disabled when looking at the part from a shared staff, I can’t simply manually drag the notes left to make the proper space. Have you run into this?


A: The Specify Voicing feature in Finale’s Managed Parts is a huge productivity tool in Finale which I use all of the time. Unfortunately, Specify Voicing can’t be used for parts that contain Grace Notes. The issue is that Note Spacing is completely broken for grace notes with Specify Voicing turned on for that staff, rendering an otherwise elegant feature useless for these Linked Parts.

And, as you point out, there is no way to manually edit an individual note’s horizontal location (note spacing) in the part once Specify Voicing is active for the part. Fortunately, for these cases there is an excellent workaround.

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Boxing Clever : Handwritten Font Enclosures for Music Notation

The Finale Copyist Text, Broadway Copyist Text and Jazz Text fonts by MakeMusic work with a variety of music scoring programs, including Finale and Sibelius. These fonts include the ability to surround text with handwritten looking boxes. To do this, special enclosure characters are available as part of the character set; a nice touch.

(use the regular, not extended versions of these music text fonts for this).

Finale Copyist Text and Broadway Copyist Text have a cool preassembled box which works really great with single numbers or letters. Simply type the tilde ~ character first, followed by a single digit or letter. They look like this:

For longer text strings, you could use standard open and closed bracket shapes. The main bracket shapes [ and ] produce just what you would expect. Shift-Open-Bracket and Shift-Closed-Bracket { and } produce a wider version of the open and closed bracket character.

However, if you just type either lower case or shifted open bracket followed by two or more letters or numbers and a closed bracket, you’ll see a separation of the enclosure:


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Freeze Magnetic Layout in Sibelius to Improve MusicXML Export to Finale

Hi Robert,

I’m much more of a Sibelius user and I’m trying to automate some things to quickly clean up files in Finale after importing MusicXML Files. Specifically, I’d like to see if there is a plug-in or a FinaleScript that cleans up formatting in Finale so there aren’t as many collisions on the page. I use Magnetic Layout in Sibelius, so I’m hoping there is something like that out there for Finale.


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