Finale: Tricks with “Specify Voicing” in Managed Parts

The Specify Voicing feature in Finale’s Managed Parts can be a powerful timesaver once you come to terms with its quirks and limitations.

Specify Voicing gives you options for splitting a single staff in an orchestral score into multiple parts. For example, you might put two flutes on a single staff for the score, but each player still only receives either the flute 1 or the flute 2 part. In this case, you would typically set up the Flute 1 part to display the “Top Note” of “Selected notes from one or more layers,” and layer 1 in “Measures Containing Multiple Layers.”


Flute 2 would be set to display the bottom note, and layer 2 in multi-layer measures.

With these settings:

  • Any time there is a single note in a single layer (with nothing else in other layers), it will display in both parts
  • Any time there are two simultaneous notes in a single layer (with nothing else in other layers), it will put the top note in flute 1, and the bottom note in flute 2
  • Any time you have any entries in more than one layer, it will put the contents of layer 1 in flute 1, and layer 2 in flute 2

One of the problems that crops up with Specify Voicing is when you want to have some passages where both players are in unison (a2 or tutti), but other passages where only one player is playing. With the above settings, the tutti passages will display correctly, but in order to force a passage into only one part you need to specifically address the other part.

In his post titled “Hide Notes to Create Multi-Rests in Voiced Linked Parts Using a Staff Style” Robert shows how to put rests in, say, layer 2 and then use a Staff Style to have them display as blank notation so that they will be handled correctly when creating multimeasure rests. But while I love Staff Styles as much as the next guy, I do find it challenging juggling too many of them at the same, so I was wondering if there was another way to achieve the same effect…

The solution I hit on involves using the oft-neglected Layers 3 and 4. Remember, the settings for Specify Voicing we used for flute 2 state that it will display only Layer 2 if there is anything present in more than one layer, no matter which layer it is. With a little tweaking to the layer options in Document Options, you can set up Layers 3 and 4 to be alternate “rest” layers. Set Layer 3 to adjust rests by 6 steps if there are notes in other layers, and Layer 4 to adjust them by -6. Set both to not hide the layer when inactive (you want them showing up in your score whether or not they are the active layer).


During the passage that we want only the first player to play, we can enter rests into Layer 4 (our flute 2 “rest” layer). Because there is nothing in Layer 2, though, our part will behave correctly and form multimeasure rests, no extra Staff Style required!

Likewise we can use Layer 3 as an alternate “rest” layer for flute 1, in case there are passages that are only for flute 2.

Furthermore, this works even if you hide the rests, so you have quick and easy control over how your score itself looks.

Here’s a quick example score with alternating passages for flutes 1 and 2:


And here’s how the parts look:

Flute 1
Flute 1
Flute 2
Flute 2

The “1.” and “2.” player designation markings can be added as text or expressions in the score, but must be hidden manually in the parts. Likewise, SmartShape dynamics (hairpins) will still need to be manually hidden or shown in each part.

Jacob Winkler is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Girls Choir, and an instructor in Finale and Sibelius for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program. He is frequently engaged as a choral singer for film and game soundtracks, including the Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and World of Warcraft series. LinkedIn

2 Replies to “Finale: Tricks with “Specify Voicing” in Managed Parts”

  1. Brilliant trick! I was aware of the Specify Voicing feature but did no longer use it before of the “multi-rest-problem”. His idea never occurred to me as a solution. Thanks so much!

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