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.

For any staves with grace notes, I create a new pair of staves of the same instrument (or more if your original staff has more voices) positioned directly below the original staff in the score, and then (if I am keeping parts and score in the same file) hide these new staves in Page View of the score by choosing the option “Force Hide Staff In Score Only (Collapse)” in Staff Attributes:


If you aren’t already using Jari Williamsson’s excellent JW Staff Polyphony plugin, this is the perfect time to download and install it into your Finale Plugins folder: Mac | Windows.

In scroll view of your score, you should see your original staff containing the combined instruments, along with your newly created (and hidden in page view) staves directly below it. Select the combined staff using the Mass Edit tool, then run the JW Staff Polyphony Plugin.

If your source staff is all shared stem divisi, when the plugin dialog opens, choose the Staves group, and then the “Split” task. For the “Split direction:” choose “Down, keep original staff” and run the plugin.


Note that there is also a “Split from Layers” option just below “Split” in the same task group. If you have sections of music that are not sharing stems, you can use that option for those sections.

Split from Layers has no “Down, keep original staff” option. For these, copy the entire region of split stem divisi into the upper of the two new parts staves. Run the plugin task “Downward” and the plugin will move the Layer 2 material from the first part staff into the second part staff.

Now, the material for the individual parts is truly separate and you can apply note spacing to everything (including the grace notes) normally.

Back in Managed Parts, these newly created staves will appear at the bottom of the Linked Parts list. You can move these up so they appear in Score order, then delete the original combined part(s) from the list.

Hopefully, this helps you achieve grace (notes) under pressure!

for Gary Gibson, Two Trees Music


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