In praise of Manual Staff Visibility

I’m head deep in a gnarly part prep job, including a small string section that often play in divisi. I knew early on that there were some near-impossible page turning moments, but the situation got more interesting when the ensemble announced that they’re planning on being socially distanced, meaning one player per stand.

For a few movements of the piece I’ve put placeholder pages in the main violin, viola and cello part layouts, then created separate layouts that include just those flows, with Manual Staff Visibility set to hide two of the three divisions, but showing the single staff where the section returns to unison, meaning that wherever possible every string player can see what their section are doing, but where necessary they only see their own line. Then when I get to the PDF stage I just need to switch in the unique pages for the placeholder pages and carefully label the three versions of the “same” part.

It can get a little funky if system breaks don’t align with divisi changes - easily rectified - but other than that it works seamlessly. The cherry on the cake is the ability to cue Viola (a) into the Viola (b) and (c) staves without it showing anywhere else.

It’s one more thing that I never knew I’d need, but am glad to have.



Don’t forget that old fashioned methods, like cutting a page in half or taping those extra bars on can also resolve page turn dilemmas!

Sure, but with all three divisi showing it’s eight pages of non-stop 16ths/semiquavers. No player gets more than three beats off at a time, and it’s fast. The divisions also dovetail, meaning it would be pretty illegible if I condensed down to fewer staves.

The other two problem flows aren’t quite that problematic, granted.

that must be the viola part…

Ha! It’s actually all of the string parts, just for that one flow.

I think it would be OK for each player to see just their own part throughout. You could indicate where that part is div or unis… arrange for the page turns to be at unis phrases and the players will sort out a staggered page turn.

I think you’re probably right. That said,
a) I said I’d have the job done by the end of the week (and am blasting through the second weekend in a row)
b) the piece is made up of lots of shortish flows, so there really aren’t many problem page turns at all. There’s the odd blank page here and there but most of the time there are either good page turns or I can get each flow on a spread
c) much of the time the divisi moments are slow and homorhythmic, so I’m not splitting them out to separate staves anyway
c) if the piece has a future, they may rethink the one-to-a-desk policy

Ah! I was mislead by your “8 pages of non-stop semis”.

Don’t burn too much midnight oil.

I completely agree! Manual Staff Visibility is a fantastic feature! Great job team!