Hide Empty: Staves vs Instruments

• Jan 9, 2015 - 16:42

In 1.3, Hide Empty Staves was actualy "hide empty instruments" - only if all staves for a multi-staff instrument like piano were empty did it hide them. I was one of those pushing for this to change, and now, for 2.0, it has - hide empty staves actually hides individual empty staves.

But while this suits my main use case - a lead sheet or piano part in a jazz chart going back and forth between singe and double staves - it is probably not the right behavior for piano parts within scores. See #10217: Add option to preserve all staves of multi-stave instrument.

While we could add yet more options to give more control over this, before going down that road, I would like to propse the following:

What if Hide Empty Staves reverted to the 1.3 behavior (all staves of an instrument need to be empty in order for it to be hidden), *unless* it is the only instrument in the score? This would solve the lead sheet case, also the case of piano *part* (since the piano would be the only instrument in its own score), while allowing the score to still retain the more standard behavior for scores, where a multi-staff instrument is only hidden if completely empty.

Would this fit how people use this option? Right now, the behavior works for my cases - lead sheets and parts - but it does mean you need to plant invisible notes if you are trying to hide empty staves within a full score but wish piano staves to be kept or hidden together. With the change I propose, that case works by default, but if you *do* want only one staff of the instrument hidden within a full score, you'd need to use the 1.3 method of creating the staves as separate instruments.


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

No, and confusion over the growing number of related options is one reason I am reluctant to add yet another.

The "Never hide" option will prevent a staff from *ever* being hidden. If you set this for one or both staves of a piano part, then that staff or staves will not be hidden even if both staves are completely empty. It completely exempts the staff from the hiding mechanism. That's not what I want at all. I still want hide empty staves to function for the piano staves; I am just concerned about *how* it functions. For a multi-instrument score, I think it should generally keep or hide both staves together (ie, the 1.3 behavior). For a single-instrument score, I think it should treat the staves individually (ie, the current 2.0 behavior).

In reply to by schepers

Well, OK, but this is exactly what happens currently if you use the "Hide empty staves" option. You wouldn't normally use this option at all for organ music, so the question is somewhat moot. But *if* for some reason you enable the option, that is when this comes into play.

In 1.3, it doesn't matter if it's a score for solo organ or organ & other instruments. When using the "hide empty staves" option, staves are only hidden if all three are empty. This is normally what you want if the organ staves are part of a score for multiple instruments, but it completely defeats the ability to have the part vary between 1-3 staves, which is sometimes (but not always) what you want.

Currently 2.0, it also doesn't matter if it's a score for solo organ or organ & other instruments. if you use "Hide empty staves", then staves are hidden if empty regardless of what might be going on with other staves of the instruments. So the organ will indeed vary between 1-3 staves depending on which staves are empty. Again, you wouldn't use this option if you didn't want staves hidden, so don't think of that as a problem for solo organ music.

My proposal is to combine the 1.3 and current 2.0 approaches, using the 1.3 approach for scores of >1 instruments, the current 2.0 approach for scores of a single instrument. So if you use "Hide empty staves" in a score for organ and other instruments, the organ is kept or hidden as a unit, just like 1.3. but when you generate the parts, the organ part could be made to vary between 1-3 staves *if* you use the "Hide empty staves" option. Of course, if you want the part to stay 3 staves all the way through, you simply would not use that option.

Depending on how you look at it, Marc's proposed behaviour is an improvement, but as he suggests, it wouldn't solve 100% of cases.

Band scores handle this differently - some retain all staves, whilst others hide those unused.

I think the real solution is to offer the user a list of instruments with a tick box available to applicable entries.

I would note though that it can be confusing when referring to "parts", as it has been interchangeably used to mean instruments, or the MuseScore function.

In reply to by chen lung

Can you show a real world case where my proposal does *not* solve it? In theory, if you had a score for multiple instruments in which you you wanted to hide an empty staff even it is just one staff of a multi-staff instrument, you would need to use the 1.3 workaround of creating it as two instruments, which really wouldn't be the end of the world. But I've never seen a published score like this. they either don't hide empty staves at all, or they keep multi-staff instruments intact.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

In the scores I have, pianos rarely (if at all) hide staves throughout - I did see an example of it hidden only in the first system (presumably to allow room for all entries) and both appearing after though.
Piano Staves - 1.png
Piano Staves - 2.png

However, keyboards tend to be a different story. For the most part, the barlines don't join - I don't know the reason, but maybe it is for the purposes of stave-hiding. In this example, it begins as two, but either will only appear after if there is content. I wondered (and still sort-of do) if this could be the basis of the updated function.
Hidden keyboard staves - 1.png
Hidden keyboard staves - 2.png
Hidden keyboard staves - 3.png

There was an exception, however:
Visible Keyboard Staves - 1.png
Visible Keyboard Staves - 2.png
Visible Keyboard Staves - 3.png

Maybe it's just an operator thing.

Anyway, I also think options 'Hide empty instruments' and 'Hide empty staves' are potentially good, so far. If there's concerns about applying it to some instruments but not others, then the aforementioned function with the tickboxes could still be valid.

The option is called 'hide empty staves', so it should behave accordingly, or get renamed to 'hide unused instruments' or a 2nd such option is needed.
Or the option changes its text depending on context ('hide unused instruments' in main score, 'hide empty staves' in parts)

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

The idea of a second style option - "hide empty instruments" versus "hide empty staves" - does appeal to me more than an additional staff property. The advantage of the staff property is that it would allow you to have instruments work one way and other instruments the other way within the same score (eg, a piano part is either two staves or none, but an organ part within the same score is allowed to vary between three and two staves). But the downside is that it is more work in the more usual case where you do want it all one way or all the other, and harder to discover. Plus, it is a bit of a lie to say it's a staff property - it's really more of an instrument property. What would it even mean if you set it for one of the piano staves but not the other? And as mentioned, there is already a confusing mess of options here, and I am very reluctant to exacerbate that.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

There's a really confusing "Do not hide if system is empty" option that I'm already pretty confused by it. But I think if the staff just had a new property like "Only hide when entire instrument is empty", everything would be solved. You would have to be able to check only one between this and "Never hide".

In reply to by eduardomezencio

The "Do not hide if system is empty" is so that if you should happen to sue the "Hide empty staves" option in a score that has a passage with no notes on *any* staff, you don't get an empty hole in your score. This would be a problem very often when generating piano parts in an jazz ensemble arrangement. You might want to use the "hide empty staves" option to keep it down to one staff during the passages where there is nothing but slashes and chord symbols, but what about places where the piano rests? The rest would go away entirely. So this option is used to specify which of the two piano staves to keep in cases where both are empty.

So indeed, things are confusing already, which is again why I very reluctant to make it worse if there is no real world reason why the automatic solution I propsoed would not be sufficient.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well, so just to complete my thoughts on the subject, if you conclude that more options and properties should really not be added, your solution really fits all the real world situations I can think of now. I particularly don't think it is elegant to have to add a new instrument to serve as an extra staff for an existing instrument, but I can't deny it works.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I'm dealing with a situation where I want a part for a one-staff instrument to separate into a solo part and an accompanying part for only a limited number of bars. I'm overjoyed that there's a way to do this, by giving the part two staves and selecting "Hide empty staves" in Style => General…, but I'm even more overjoyed that I can still keep one staff there as a placeholder in the score when the instrument is resting, by selecting "Never hide" in the primary line's Staff Properties.

This is more or less the same thing as Marc Sabatella's "What would it even mean if you set it for one of the piano staves but not the other?", and it's pretty clear that it would be a lie to call the one staff's properties actually the Instrument Properties.

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