Hide Empty Staves feature doesn't apply to Clef or Key changes if no notes are present in the system.

• Oct 28, 2020 - 10:35

MS 3.5.2, Windows 10
I'm not certain if this is a bug, or the way it should actually work based on Gould, but figured I would put it out there:
In the attached score at Page 103/Measure 355, the middle of Bassoon III has a Clef change.
Hide Empty Staves is enabled, however the Bassoon III stave is set to "Hide When Empty - Never" in the Staff/Part Properties.
If "Hide When Empty" is set to Auto, the Bassoon III stave no longer displays in that system.
If a local key change is added instead of the Clef change, the same effect is noted.

Is this the desired effect as per Gould?

It would be easy enough to work around by adding an invisible/not played note, but that's not the question here.

Attachment Size
Die Walküre, Act III Scene I.mscz 1.12 MB


I think Gould's comment would be that you don't need a change to tenor clef in any of the bassoon parts. Changing clef is a pain and should only be done when there is a sustained high pitched passage. Changing for one note is unkind and unnecessary. However, assuming the Bsn1 and 2 clef changes are going to stay there, I would not expect to see a clef change in the Bsn3 part. If there is a key change then I would expect to see it even in a resting instrument's part. The player can hear the key change and the written key change provides a check mark when counting bars of rests.

Are there notes missing? It seems odd that Bsn 1 finishes on a tied quaver in bar 354 as do the other woodwinds but Bsn2 doesn't have the tied quaver and Bsn 3 has the run up in bar 352 but doesn't even get the F in bar 353/4 that the other woodwinds have.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Yes, there are notes missing, the score is a long way from being complete.
Re: the clef change in this case I am trying to replicate the original as much as possible, which has the clef change in the middle of the note-absent stave.
I understand that in some cases it is impossible or undesirable to replicate poor engraving or flat-out mistakes, but I try to go that route as little as possible. For instance, towards the end of the opera there is a section where only a few instruments have a time signature change that is erroneous. WhenI get to that part I will insert text for the time change with a comment that it is a mistake and must be ignored.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Or, perhaps he did but he didn’t catch it when the first drafts came back from the engraver!
I recall a story (perhaps apocryphal) that during a rehearsal, the Harp player remarked to Wagner that a certain passage could not be played as written. Wagner responded that he could never have the knowledge level that the harpist had of his instrument, but if the player could simply realize the intent of the passage that would be good enough.

In reply to by marty strasinger

My view is that MS should show the stave if something other than a note is in the stave. I think the case in your example should not arise as it is not sensible to put a clef change in the middle of a run of empty bars, but MS should be able to cope with non-standard cases even if they are not sensible.

Indeed, it seems a mistake on the engraver's part (not Wagner, the composer wouldn't have likely to have been involved in such decisions) to have placed the clef change in such a random location to begin with. This would cause an unnecessary break in the mutlimeasure rests as well. Gould doesn't address such special corner cases., just a pretty generic sentence "include only staves of performers who are actually playing or singing on any given system". Which the bassoon 3 is not, so to that extent, we are following that advice pretty literally.

If you want a staff with no notes to be visible, add text to it and either set the alpha to 0 (invisible) or color to white (so it can't be seen on white paper). I have a white dot in my palette I use for this purpose.

In reply to by marty strasinger

To the best of my knowledge, nothing considered a system item ever prevents a staff from being hidden. That's why staff text works. I don't expect a clef, time signature or key signature to prevent a hidden staff. Other things like dynamics will prevent a staff from being hidden. I often apply a hairpin to several consecutive staves then have to delete them from my hidden staves.

In reply to by mike320

The handbook specifically says that “empty measures” are hidden. Perhaps the explanation should be expanded to state that certain items like clefs, key signatures, maybe time signatures, maybe other elements are also considered as “empty “ by the algorithm and do not cause the measure to be not hidden.
A similar statement in the multi-measure rest definition as to what will cause it to break, even if no notes are present, may be appropriate.
I would consider doing this myself if a line item list of the applicable elements were available, but am not comfortable having never edited the handbook before.

In reply to by marty strasinger

The measures also contain staff lines, measure rests, barlines, the clefs and key signatures at the beginning of each system, etc. So I think it is already generally understood that "empty" doesn't mean in terms of whether or not they contain visible elements, but whether they contain any content that would actually be played. Text instructions by themselves of course don't play either, but if the text says "moo like a cow", then that is an instruction to the performer to actually do something, so it still seems consistent to me that text would cause a staff to not be considered empty.

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