“Behind the Score”
For the 3rd installment of my series on template design, let’s look at some more “behind the scenes” functions that can give your template new functions and possibilities. If you haven’t read the previous two posts on this topic, I highly recommend you start by reading those first, as they cover more general topics and philosophies behind the design and ultimate implementation of your template.
Blog #1 – Template Design
Blog #2 – Use the Right Tool for the Job
I often encounter files where whoever created and uses the template spent a great deal of time making sure that everything looks great on the main score. All the elements are perfectly placed, font choices are consistent and clear and a whole host of other features are in evidence. So, the job is done, correct? Well…. Not quite. Having an amazing looking score is great foundation, but if the further functionality of the file in terms of how the parts are formatted is ignored or overlooked, then the job is only half finished.
As we discussed before, when you place an expression on the score in Finale or Sibelius, you need to use the right tool for the job. You can have an element on a score like a tempo marking that looks perfect on the score, but if that marking was placed using the wrong tool or category, then it ultimately will not function properly for the parts. Just think, on a large orchestral score, there could be 30 individual parts that will need to be accounted for and if an element that is supposed to show on all 30 of those parts does not, that is going to cause you a lot of headaches and unnecessary work. Even on a smaller score, having to reinput different elements for only a few parts is tedious in the extreme.
The next consideration is how many parts there will be. Sounds easy, right? It’s the same number of parts are there are staves in the score. Or is it? Look at the screenshot from a large orchestral score.
This woodwind section is (admittedly) very large. There are 12 staves just for winds. But how many parts are there? Actually, there are 24 parts to format. The reason for that is players do not want to have to read multiple lines of notation to find their part. It is common and accepted practice for scores to combine multiple instruments onto a single line, but parts (if possible or unless otherwise specified) should not have multiple voices on them.
So, how can we design a system where a single staff can be made into multiple parts AND do so without changing the original staff? While this may sound tricky or impossible, there are a few good methods to achieve in either Sibelius or Finale. And there is one method you should ABSOLUTELY NOT use, and I’ll explain that too.
My preferred method is to use additional hidden staves. Check out this screen or the same score, but this time with the hidden staves revealed.
As you can see, right below the Flute 1, 2 staff are two separate Flute 1 and Flute 2 staves. These staves are hidden in the main score and only used for parts. You can hide staves in Finale by using the Staff tool, double clicking the staff you want to hide and selecting “Force Hide staff” and select “In Score view”. Now, you can add additional staves to your template without changing the formatting or orchestration of your score. In Sibelius, you can achieve a similar function by us the “Focus on Staves” feature in the layout tab. That dropdown menu will show you all the different staves in a file and you can choose which ones to have visible on the score.
Once these additional staves are in place, you can copy the original part into both of those and separate out the notes for each part. There are multiple methods for this and which one to use greatly depends on several factors, including the complexity of the music, how you want to handle cues in the different voices, etc. For Sibelius, you can highlight the source staff, go to Note Input/Explode, and then select the staves you want the music to go into. Bam! Done! In Finale, you can use Utilities/Explode, but I prefer to use JW Staff Polyphony to help split the voices or to copy the source music into the new staves, and then use TG Tools/Process Extracted Parts and select the appropriate voice for the staff I’m working on.
The benefits from using this hidden staves method will pay dividends repeatedly down the road for you. Now, you have the original source music intact and can refer to it while making any number of changes to the individual parts. Later, once you have formatted your part for the top line notes, in this case Flute 1, often you can use the copy part layout function in both programs as the 2nd voice, Flute 2, will need the same formatting as the 1st voice. That means you only must format one part and then you can reuse that formatting again without having to go through all steps twice, a huge time-saver.
One method that you SHOULD NOT USE is to extract the original part into a separate file and then format. This method was the only one available before Sibelius (with dynamic parts) and Finale (with Linked Parts) added this functionality well over ten years ago. Using this method will create dozens of extra steps and redundancies that waste time and are terribly inefficient. There are a few very special circumstances where it may be necessary to extract a part as an entirely separate file, but those are very few and rare. If you are using a part extraction method, I urge you in the strongest terms to not use this method any longer. You are wasting your time, creating additional opportunities for errors to creep into your music and missing out on tons of benefits from having your parts linked to the original score.
Just like building a house, a good template is built on a strong foundation and a lot of the most important features are where you can’t see them. The more time and consideration you give to every step in the process from initial note input to final editing will yield benefits that multiply over the time you are working on the specific piece of music and over the months and years you use your template. As always, if you have questions, need advice, want to schedule a time for a custom template consultation or need a template designed for you next project, please contact us here are Engraver’s Mark Music. We have the tools and experience to help with any project, big or small.
Sammy Sanfilippo, CEO of Engraver's Mark Music