Use Paste into Voice to create double-stemmed unison notes


Occasionally there is a need to write unison notes in two voices, as shown below:

Double stems 2To do this, first enter the music in one voice (typically voice 1). Then select the music, and copy it to the clipboard using Cmd-C on Mac, or Ctrl-C on PC, or Home > Copy in Sibelius 7.

Keep the passage selected, then select Paste into Voice. In Sibelius 7, this is found at Home > Paste > Paste into Voice. In Sibelius 6, this is found at Plug-ins > Notes and Rests > Paste into Voice.

Choose your options, being certain that “Overwrite existing music” is unchecked. Click OK.

Paste into VoiceIf you have homophonic, but not unison music, you could still use this same process, and then use Note Input > Re-input Pitches to change the notes in voice 2.

Update 1: Chichester Music Press reports an alternative, and possibly faster way of accomplishing this, depending on your use of keyboard shortcuts (note, however, that this method won’t work if your passage contains tuplets):

  1. Enter your notes in voice 1.
  2. Select it and filter for voice 1 (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-1 or Cmd-option-Shift-1), because you want a multiple selection, not a passage selection.
  3. Press the number 1 to add that interval above all the notes (or Note Input > Intervals > Above > Unison). Only the new ones end up selected after this, which is handy.
  4. Convert those new notes to voice 2 (Alt-2 or option-2).

Update 2: Kenneth Gaw has just updated a plug-in called “Move or copy to another voice” which very elegantly provides a whole range of options, and it works on tuplets. It duplicates some of the functionality of Paste into Voice, but also has some additional options. Download it here or in Sibelius 7 through File > Plug-ins > Install plug-ins > Filter and Find > Move or copy to another voice. See this screenshot of the plug-in:

Move or copy to another voice

Finally, to quickly consolidate rests that appear in both voices, run Bob Zawalich’s Hide Duplicate Rests plug-in, available here or in Sibelius 7 through File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Notes and rests > Hide Duplicate Rests.

(Yes, this is the Sibelius blog, but Finale users interested in accomplishing this would perform the same process using Edit > Move/Copy Layers, and choosing Copy in the dialog. Bob’s plug-in even has a Finale doppelganger in the full version of TGTools > Parts > Join rests of multiple layers. One could also use the Double/Split Stem Tool found in Finale’s Special Tools; Robert Puff has a good write-up about this on his blog.)


  1. Ben Süverkrüp

    A very good trick! I use to do it in another way: Select the passage, press shift-ctrl-alt-1 in order to select only the notes in layer 1, press ctrl-c in order to copy them, press alt-2 in order to move the existing notes to layer 2 (many rests will appear in layer 1), select the fist rest in layer 1, press ctrl-v in order to paste into layer 1. The effect will be the same, but I think, you can be much faster by using these keyboard-shortcuts.

    {once again:
    select passage
    select first rest in layer 1

    How do you find this?


    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Ben!

  2. Derek Williams

    I’m afraid I can’t get Kenneth Gaw’s plug-in “Move or copy to another voice” to work with tuplets. Any info on how to do this?

  3. Derek Williams

    PS “Paste into voice” plug-in still warns that items in the target selection will be deleted even when the option “Overwite existing music” is unchecked.

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