Finale Special Tools : Double / Split Stem Tool

Frequently, in orchestral scores, 2 woodwind or brass parts are shared on the same staff. The staff may contain a mixture of divisi and unison notes.

Normally, if the two parts are homophonic, the line shares a stem as well as slurs and articulations. When the line goes to unison for any length of time, a common practice is to indicate “a2” at the start point of this unison. At that point, a single notehead and stem is written, and this carries until the next divisi section:

This line may go back and forth between divisi and unison in the same bar. If everything is beamed similarly, a good, clean approach is to write out the entire line in two layers:

However, sometimes, it is desirable (for continuity of line and for other reasons) to show shared stems in all cases except the unison notes, for instance, if the unison does not fall under part of a beam grouping:

One way to achieve the above is to create rests in the first part of the bar in the second layer, then hide these rests. Now, for the case above, duplicate the single 16th note at the end of the bar so that it also appears in Layer 2.

This method will ultimately look correct in the score, but has several inherent problems. Depending on your settings in Document Options, any visible rests in Layer 1 may become vertically displaced (manually move them or use the Note, Beam and Rest Editing > Move Rests plugin). Also, the stems for the notes in visible Layer 1 which intersect the hidden rests will probably flip incorrectly (use “L” in Speedy Note to flip them).

Furthermore, associated ties and articulations will tend to end up in the wrong location because Finale is determining stem direction based on the data in the second layer, even though this data is hidden (manually drag articulations and flip the ties using the Tie utility)..

But an even bigger issue that occurs when using Managed Parts is that the first part will have the two notes from the first part of the bar, and the second part will end up with only the last note (because these notes determine the Layer hierarchy for Voices). There are also issues with slurs in Managed Parts if the start point of the slur is in one Layer and the destination is in another (both the destination and start point of the slur need to be in the same voice to remain properly connected).

A good solution is the Double / Split Stem Tool found in Finale’s Special Tools. Enter the diads in a single Layer, and the divisi unison note as a single note, so everything is in one layer:

Now, select the Special Tools palette, and choose the Double / Split Stem tool, then click in the measure. Boxed handles will appear above and below each note. Click the handle that is on the opposite side of the visible stem on the unbeamed divisi unison note:

This will allow the Voicing feature of Managed Parts to split the parts out correctly in this bar, and you will have the additional benefit that as a single Layer, articulations and ties won’t behave erratically during entry, editing or parts preparation.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it.

for Gregory Nicholas Leet, Alexadria Egypt

One Reply to “Finale Special Tools : Double / Split Stem Tool”

  1. Do you have any experience with ties in percussion parts, such as snare, that look fine in the score as tied over the notes, but then will appear tied under the note when parts are lain out? So many little items to deal with! The staff is not share with bass drum so there are no notes in the 2nd layer. I have attempted to use the tie tool to flip to no avail. The tie tool definitely worked with the timpani parts when I needed to change the tied. Any help is appreciate per usual. You are a great resource for these fine item details!

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