I'm working on a transcription of a rock song with three parts that would be played on keyboard: piano, organ, and strings. One keyboardist would play all of these parts on multiple keyboards. In some places, they would play different keyboards with each hand. How should I notate this? Should I use three grand staffs? One grand staff, and indicate the changed in text? Some other way?

  • 1
    Makes me want to put on my Rick Wakeman cape ;))
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 31, 2021 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


Three grand staffs will be difficult to read in any circumstance. The best alternative depends on the specifics of the arrangement.

Both hands use all three keyboards

Then the best option is to use a standard grand staff with text indications. This is the best general solution, but there are other options that could be used, if desired, in specific circumstances.

X: 1
T: Both hands, all keyboards
M: 4/4
K: none
L: 1/4
%%score V1 | V2
[V:V1] "Kbd1"C D E F | "Kbd3"G A B c ||
[V:V2] "Kbd2"C D E F | "Kbd1"G A B c ||

One hand always plays the same keyboard

the shared-hand keyboards are used about equally

Here, use three staffs. For example, if the left hand always plays the same keyboard, then indicate the lowest staff for the left hand, and the others for the two right-hand keyboards.

X: 1
T: Left hand always same keyboard
M: 4/4
K: none
L: 1/4
%%score V1 | V2 | V3
[V:V1 name="Kbd1"] z4 | G A B c ||
[V:V2 name="Kbd2"] C D E F | z4 ||
[V:V3 name="Kbd3"] C D E F | G A B c ||

one keyboard is sparsely used

For the two keyboards played by the same hand, if one is used fairly infrequently, you could further clean up the score by using a temporary third staff for it, rather than having a third staff with lots of rests throughout the entire score.

Both hands use all three keyboards, but the parts are simple.

In this case, there could again be three staffs, with one assigned to each keyboard, and both hands indicated on each staff by upward (right hand) and downward (left hand) note stems.

X: 1
T: Simple parts
M: 4/4
K: none
L: 1/4
%%score (V1 V4) | (V2 V5) | (V3 V6)
[V:V1 name="Kbd1"] z4 | z4 | B/2A/2G/2F/2 E/2D/2 C ||
[V:V4] z4 | z4 | G/2F/2E/2D/2 C/2B,/2 A,
[V:V2 name="Kbd2"] z4 | G A B c | z4 ||
[V:V5] z4 | E F G A | z4 ||
[V:V3 name="Kbd3"] C D E F | z4 | z4 ||
[V:V6] A, B, C D | z4 | z4 ||
  • Another option if one keyboard part is used sparsely would be to use diamond-head or square-head notes for the portions that should be played on that keyboard.
    – supercat
    Apr 1, 2021 at 18:37

You only need one grand staff. The top staff is the right hand part, and the bottom staff is the left hand part. Clefs can be changed for either staff as needed, and instrument changes are indicated with plain text next to the staff. For clarity, you can mark instrument changes as "left hand- organ", for example.

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