Questions & Answers

Merging 2 or more staves

+49 votes
asked Mar 5, 2016 in Notion Feature Requests by claudiorosati (2,550 points)

Hi all,

I usually use a single staff with 2 instruments associated to voice 1 and 2 (see Figure 1). Recently I've used the same approach to simulate divisi in strings, for which I've already requested a new feature (see

In the orchestral full score this approach is very useful to reduce the number of staves, but working with a single instrument per staff is easier and will allow easy production of separate instruments scores (dynamic parts).

What I'm asking/suggesting is to have a command for selecting up to 4 single-instrument single-voice staff and merge them into a new multi-instrument multi-voice one, keeping the source staves but setting them hidden (see Figure 2).

In this way:

  • A condensed full score will be easily created;
  • Dynamic parts will be easily created too because the single-instrument staves are still there;
  • If the new staff could be created in read-only mode (i.e. not editing allowed), no risk of loosing synchronisation with the source staves will happen.

A plus will be (maybe not in the first release):

  • Full bidirectional synchronisation (editing in a source staff or in the merged one will occur also in the other one),
  • Or the simpler synchronisation where modifications in the source staff occurring also in the merged one.

Thank you,

See also:

Figure 1: Single stave with 2 instruments associated to voice 1 and 2.

Figure 2: Merging 2 staves into a new one.

3 Answers

+2 votes
answered Mar 7, 2016 by AlexTinsley (911,970 points)
selected Jun 18, 2018 by AlexTinsley
Best answer

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+3 votes
answered Mar 7, 2016 by martinkutschker (3,000 points)
Synchronized staves that have to be hidden and unhidden seem rather complicated to me.

How about an option to group up to four staves in the score setup. There you could assign also the voice number for the instrument. With a new UI element (menu option? keyboard action? button?) you can toggle between full view (separate staves) or single view (single staff, grand staff if necessary). You can choose the view mode of every stave group individually (also for printing including dynamic parts).
–1 vote
answered Oct 9, 2016 by antoniofreixas (230 points)
Conductors don't like scores that have single instrument staves. However, they also don't like scores with more than two instruments per stave. Combining two instruments is a difficult endeavor and it is not done by using  two voices. There are a bunch of rules:

If the two instruments play the same notes and same articulations and phrasing, write the passage in a single voice and mark it "a2".

If only one instrument plays, write the passage in a single voice and mark it "1" or "2".

For all other cases, use two voices. However, if the rests are common, draw a single rest in its normal single-voice position.

When using two voices, if voice 1 and 2 have common dynamics or staff text, place the dynamics and text in the normal position. If the dynamics and/or text are not common, place the voice 1 dynamics/text on top, and the voice 2 dynamics on the bottom.

When starting a new system, repeat any "a2", "1" or "2" marking.

Avoid cluttering up the score with a lot of "a2", "1" and "2". If the music changes that rapidly, use two-voices.

If the two-voice notation is hard to read, separate the single-staff into two staves just for the length of that system.

Any good engraving reference will show you how its done. Just about any score from any reputable music publisher will have examples.

The trick here is that the whole point of having a notation program is to automate music production, so we want to be able to take two one-staff instruments and automatically combine them without losing the ability to generate the individual parts. This is a tough problem and I don't think PreSonus is going to focus on it. To be fair, other software struggles with this, too.

The a2-style notation with the ability to extract parts is critical to reducing the effort required to create an orchestral composition. But it's becoming clear (to me) that Notion is not targeted at professional composers. And the user base reflects this: at this moment, this feature has 9 votes—if people were actually using Notion to deliver scores to orchestras, I think there would be a lot more votes.