In the image below is an example of a full orchestral score being "condensed". As far I know this only occurs in hand engraved music, and I was wondering if it could be replicated with software? To my knowledge I don't think it can be done in MuseScore, but is this possible in say Lilypond (which I am exploring now) or Sibelius or Finale?

Stravinsky's Firebird

  • 1
    I don't think that image looks like a condensed score...
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 26, 2018 at 6:25
  • @Dekkadeci It is. All the instrument staves lain out take up the entire page. Jan 26, 2018 at 6:45
  • I can’t speak for other software types, but it’s possible in Finale. Jan 26, 2018 at 11:21
  • 2
    This site and this site both indicate that condensed scores involve multiple instrument parts on the same staff/"part", which your picture does not involve. This contains a condensed score that fits this definition. I've seen other Musescore and Sibelius pages that say that condensed scores only involve hidden parts, though, but that does not match any of the condensed scores of concert band/orchestral pieces I've read.
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 26, 2018 at 16:01
  • 1
    @Dekkadeci I see what you mean. I did not know that there was a standard meaning for 'condensed score'. Jan 26, 2018 at 22:18

4 Answers 4


This is certainly possible in LilyPond.

As I see it, there are two aspects that go into creating a condensed score. The most obvious is the general formatting: staff size, paper size, etc. Such modifications are laid out in the LilyPond Notation Manual.

The second aspect would be to rid of all of the unnecessary empty staves. In LilyPond, this is very easy:

Empty staves can be hidden (for a so-called ‘Frenched Score’) by applying the \RemoveEmptyStaves command on a context, which can be done globally (in a \layout block) as well as for specific staves only (in a \with block). This command removes all empty staves in a score except for those in the first system. If you want those in the first system to be hidden also, use \RemoveAllEmptyStaves. Supported contexts are Staff, RhythmicStaff and VaticanaStaff. (source)


Yes you can do this in Sibelius. Select a passage then Layout | Hide Empty Staves

Sibelius also adds the // break mark between condensed passages


You actually can have a reduced score with system dividers in MuseScore (at least in Version 3):

  1. Click on Format in the menu, and go down to the Style... submenu item
  2. Open the Score dialog, then
    Check the Hide empty staves within systems
  3. Open the System dialog, then
    Turn on system dividers by clicking the Left checkbox

This makes a reduced score (AKA a "Frenched" score) like your picture; removing staves that are just rests in the system.
A condensed score is more sever, referring to a score where each section (i.e. woodwind, brass, percussion, strings) is condensed onto a single staff or grand-staff each.
(According to Samuel Adler The Study of Orchestration (3rd ed.) p. 762-765)


I try to summarize the background of this notation convention:

Orchestral scores typically list all instruments just on the first page, later on only the ones having to play something are listed. (Or phrased differently, the ones not playing are omitted.) If this reduces the required space for a total system so much, that several systems fit on the page, this is done and so called system dividers are inserted for clearly indicating this.

See also these questions:

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