Sibelius : Add Ancillary Staves to a Braced Grand Staff Instrument

Hello everybody, Michele Galvagno here with a rather interesting notational matter. I’m currently working on a piece by a living composer scored for 2 percussionists, with harp and piano.

The composer’s original manuscript is set as a system with four piano grand staves, the first two of which are labelled “Vibraphone & percussion” and “Marimba & percussion”:

4_base

Upon looking at the original manuscript more closely, I noticed that the composer had notated all the unpitched percussion onto extra 1-line staves positioned in the middle of each player’s respective braced grand staff:

8_manoscrittop1

 

My first thought was to create an ossia staff above the lower staff, as I knew this to be the fastest route in order to have the staff-line before and after the music hidden by default. This is what I got:

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As you can see, several problems arise:

  1. The Ossia by default is a 75% dimension staff, which I do not need. Of course I can change this in the Engraving Rules (Cmd+Shift+E), but this prevents me from including an Ossia staff should the need really arise later.
  2. The barlines disappear before and after the Ossia staff.
  3. Sibelius’ Cross-Staff feature is designed to move notes to an adjacent staff; e.g. cross staff notation cannot cross more than one staff.

Theoretically I could have found a quick workaround for this if it only occurred once or twice, but this type of visual notation repeats a number of times throughout the score. Also, separate parts for each instrument would have to be dealt with at a certain point, so I had to find the most stable approach. I contacted Robert and we started a dialog to find the best solution.

From the Instruments dialog, I first added an Extra Staff Above so that my braced staves were now three staves. Then, back out in the score, I entered the music which required cross-staff notation into the middle staff, moving notes up or down (Cmd+Shift+Up/Down Arrow on Mac) according to my needs.

Next, I used a combination of Instrument Changes to create the floating 1 line percussion staff centered between the braced grand staff.  I went into Home > Instruments > Change (in Sibelius 6 this is found in Create > Other > Instrument Change):

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Three possible Instrument Changes are required to complete these transitions between grand staff and centered 1 line percussion.

  • All Instruments > Others > No Instrument (hidden) – this breaks the barline grouping if it spans more than a single bar
  • All Instruments > Others > No Instrument (barlines shown) – as in example below
  • Orchestral Instruments > Percussion and Drums > Percussion [1 line]

sib-3-staff-configuration

EDIT INSTRUMENTS

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After an analysis of Sibelius’ “Edit Instrument” section, I realized that the creation of two new instruments based on the above model would allow more flexibility.

I clicked on “No Instrument (barlines shown)” and then on “New Instrument”.

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The only thing I had to modify here was the “short name in score” so that my naming problem would be solved (put Vib. for Vibraphone and Mar. for Marimba).

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I clicked on Edit Staff Type, unchecked “bracket” and “initial clef”, pressed OK and went back to my score, which now looked like this

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As you can see there is the problem of the Time Signature showing up on every system; there is no “time signature” box to uncheck in the “edit staff type” window.

After quite a bit of thinking and comparison between the three different variations of the “No Instrument” staves,  I noticed that the (hidden) one had the “Used for Ossias” box checked.

I then went back to my new instrument, now named “No Instrument (barlines shown)_marimba” and checked the “Used for Ossias” box:

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This finally solved my problem, as you can see now in the score example:

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I then repeated the same procedure for the Vibraphone staff and could finally go on with the work.

As an afterthought, I could have gone the other way around with creating copies of the (hidden) version of the staff, but, actually, both versions are good and working.

I hope this has helped you fellow engravers and copyists out there if you have ever encountered such an issue and I wish you all good luck for all your musical life! Once more I thank Robert wholeheartedly for the initial help he gave me and for asking me to write this article.

Michele Galvagno is an Italian cellist, music teacher and professional copyist & engraver. He works for Paladino Media Gmbh in Vienna and for living composers in Switzerland and United Kingdom. You can contact him via e-mail at: michelegalvagno at me dot com or via LinkedIN

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