It’s been a little while since I’ve posted about any of the amazing plug-ins that developer extraordinaire Bob Zawalich continues to write and then make available to the Sibelius user community free of charge. One of Bob’s recent contributions is called Consolidate Ossia Staves, and it solves a very specific but tricky problem.
Ossia staves are extra staves above or below a short passage of music, showing an alternative to be played instead of what is shown in the main staff. Typical uses for ossia staves are to show written-out ornamentations, or discrepancies between difficult critical sources when producing a performing edition, and so on.
Creating an ossia in Sibelius is simple enough: simply select the bars above or below which you want the ossia to appear, and choose Create > Other > Extra Staff > Ossia Above or Ossia Below.
To the untrained eye, it appears that the new ossia staff exists only for the bars in which it appears, but in fact what happens in the background when you do this is that Sibelius creates an extra staff belonging to the selected instrument throughout the score, hiding it from the beginning of the score up to the point at which your selection starts via an instrument change to the special No instrument (hidden) instrument type, and hiding it again from the end of your selection to the end of the score using the same instrument change.
If you create multiple ossias in the same score on the same instrument, which is not uncommon, then you will end up with multiple hidden staves. After a while, this can get a little tricky to manage, particularly when you see many extra entries in the Staves in score list in Create > Instruments, called mystifying things like Flute (b), Flute (c), Flute (d), Flute (e), and so on.
In order to sort this out, you would typically need to perform a complicated set of steps, including showing one of the ossia staves throughout the whole score by way of instrument changes, then manually copying and pasting the material from the other ossia staves into the master ossia staff, before replacing the necessary instrument changes required to hide the ossia staff where it is not required, and finally deleting the now redundant extra ossia staves. What a pain!
Enter Bob’s plug-in, Consolidate Ossia Staves, which automates this clean-up process in a simple fashion. There are no options necessary: simply run the plug-in, and the work of several minutes is done in moments.
Once again, the Sibelius user community salutes you, Bob!