FR: "Compound" grand staff instrument

It would be cool to have this: a grand staff that acts as a single staff, where the treble and bass staves are fixed at 2 spaces apart and the music freely flows between them depending on pitch. Examples:

— This reduction of Ligeti’s Piano Concerto (the combined strings/winds staves) György Ligeti - Piano Concerto (1985-1988, audio+score) - YouTube
(not entirely consistent, hacked together in Sibelius)

— This lute part I made recently:


(hacked together in Dorico, also difficult to keep consistent)

— This lute part from Italienische Diminutionen edited by Erig & Gutmann: 200329_detail-03
(this is from a webshop sample, hence the poor quality. I suspect @PjotrB could provide a clearer picture :wink: )

That’s rather interesting.

I could see it being useful (albeit highly non-traditional) for 7 and 8 string guitar, as well.

The low string on an 8 is the F# below the bass clef staff.

AFAIK there is no instrument which requires this notation, you see it mostly in academic contexts. But it would be useful for any instrument with a wide range but no strict LH/RH dichotomy. Like 8-string guitars, lutes, but possibly also marimba. And I just think it’s conceptually neat.

(Unrelated: I tried searching the forum to see if this had been discussed before, but I have no idea if this type of notation has an official name at all.)

If it’s just one instrument and not an instrument in a score, Layout Options/Vertical Spacing/Braced Staff to Braced Staff: 2 Spaces and Vertical Spacing/Minimum Gaps/ uncheck “automatically resolve collisions between adjacent staves and systems” should do it. Obviously that will screw up a lot of stuff in a score with other instruments. You’ll have to up/down arrow to switch between staves while inputting but that’s not too much of a hassle. Shortened stem rules are also shot so you’ll have to do a bit of tweaking there too.

Hoi Hugo,
Haha, yes, that’s a marvellous book. Susane un jour, of course. I doubt the quality of my iPhone camera — and the uncharted territory of replying by e-mail — will increase the clarity of your example (and I’m too lazy to fire up the real scanner now), but here we go:

1 Like

Strictly speaking, at least to my organist brain, there is no LH/RH dichotomy for piano or organ which is more/less what I presume you imply here (piano at least). Perhaps I’m biased since organists are very used to reading both clefs for both hands and frequently cross their arms among other contortions. I regularly remind my students that “just because that note is placed there doesn’t mean you have to play it with that hand!” I think it’s a false “rule” to assume that just because something is in the treble clef it’s meant for the right hand although it is certainly not a dumb assumption at face value due to the majority of music fitting that model.

I confess that I would not like to read from one of these condensed grand staves as it actually strikes me as harder to read. We are so conditioned to see space between the staves that to remove it actually makes it more difficult (at least for me) to parse the notes out at a quick glance. It could very well be one of those “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” situations. The example shown above clearly references an ancient edition which is very neat and I confess that while I would not like to be handed a part written that way, I actually quite enjoy the novelty of it. But there are many other practices that were once common and are now abandoned that are perhaps better left that way. I reiterate, however, that this is just my opinion.

As an addendum, perhaps I should clarify that I have no issue with this being offered for non-keyboard instruments. As I’m not a lutist, I cannot attest to its usefulness in that context. In a certain sense this almost strikes me as a Franken-tablature/notation which is neat in its own way.

But for keyboard instruments I’d highly discourage its use. I cannot think of anyone who would enjoy reading this who is used to a traditional grand stave layout.

Yes, sorry, maybe I should have written “any instrument which is not already used to reading a regular grand staff”. Then again, none of the examples I gave are for a keyboard instrument. In the case of the example that I made, the lute player had specifically requested this notation alongside an empty 6-line tab staff on which she could then write the Renaissance-style (abcd) tablature herself. Also, @FredGUnn describes pretty accurately how I had to cobble that together in Dorico.

I am reminded of the way that Sibelius presents a collection of funny-shaped fermatas as being on equal footing with the regular one, resulting in lots of inexperienced composers (mis-)using them just because they look cool. I’d have no issue with this being buried somewhere in the instruments list under “Lute (Hybrid)” or whatever, to avoid having those of a clueless persuasion using it for piano or organ music.

Indeed… there are so many odd things that have crept into the notational world just because it was technically an option. No doubt I made many odd choices in my early scores too, considering I didn’t know any better at the time. Occupational hazard, I guess. :slightly_smiling_face: