Useful plug-ins for handling rests in voices


This post is written by Bob Zawalich, author of more than 200 plug-ins for Sibelius.

Adding notes in a new voice can create a number of rests that you may not want to see. There are a number of plug-ins available that can help. Some of these will run in Sibelius versions as early as Sibelius 3, but many need Sibelius 5 or later. More after the jump.

Examples will show the results of these plug-ins, and all will start with this bar, with notes in voice 2, notes and rests in voice 3, and rests in voice 1 and 4.

If you want to combine a number of rests into larger rests, the best choice is Plug-ins > Simplify Notation > Combine Tied Notes and Rests. This plug-in can combine adjacent rests, taking into account the time signature, so that rests still split across beat groupings.

In this example, the plug-in combines the rests in voices 1 and 4 into bar rests. It combines the first two beats of voice 3’s rests into a half rest.

If you have voices that are entirely rests, there are a number of plug-in that can help.

If you want to get rid of them altogether, Delete Rests Empty Voices (compatible with Sibelius 5 and Sibelius 6) will eliminate the rests in all empty voices, unless all the voices in the bar are empty. In that case, any rests in voice 1 will be consolidated into a bar rest, and rests in other voices will be deleted.

In the following example, the rests in voice 1 and 4 were deleted, and voices 2 and 3 are unchanged. (This plug-in only affects voices that are all rests).

Combine Rests Empty Voices will combine the rests in empty voices into bar rests if run in Sibelius 5 or later, and into the largest available (non-bar rest) rests if run before Sibelius 5. It also hides the rests in empty voices for all voices later than the first voice containing notes or rests.

So the empty voices 1 and 4 get bar rests, and voice 4, being after the first voice containing notes, has its bar rest hidden. Voices 2 and 3 are unchanged.

Replace Rests with Bar Rests (compatible with Sibelius 5 and Sibelius 6) adds bar rests to voices in selected bars which contain rests, but neither notes nor tuplets. It essentially replaces multiple rests with a bar rest as appropriate. It optionally skips bars of small duration (user can select the minimum duration). It is very similar to Combine Rests Empty Voices when run in Sibelius 5 or later, but the “extra features” are a bit different.

So in the example, there are bar rests in voices 1 and 4, but the voice 4 bar rest is not hidden.

Hide Rests In Voice lets you specify voices, and it will hide all selected rests in that voice. It does not combine the rests, it just hides them.

In this example, I asked to hide the rests in voices 3 and 4. The rests in voice 1 are unchanged.

Hide Duplicate Rests hides rests that duplicate a rest (of the same position and duration) in another voice. So if you have a quarter rest at the same position in voices 1 and 2, and just want to see one of them, run this plug-in.

For this example, I changed the Before example so the quarter rests in voices 1 and 4 overlapped (you only see the rests in voice 4). In the After bar, the voice 4 rests are hidden (and shifted somewhat in their vertical position). Note also that the eighth rest in voice 3 on the “and” of  beat 3 is also hidden. The plug-in hides rests as the same rhythmic position, independently of vertical or horizontal adjustments.

Add Bar Rests In Empty Voices lets you indicate the absence of notes in a particular voice. This can be useful if you paste a passage that contained bar rests in several voices, since bar rests are not pasted. So if you have notes in voice 1 but want a bar rest in voices 2 and 3, this plug-in will do that for you.

Here, the Before example has the rests in voices 1 and 4 stripped out, and Add Bar Rests In Empty Voices was told to add bar rests for those voices.

There are a few more plug-ins that deal specifically with rests, but not necessarily with multiple voices.

  • Multirests and Empty Bars tries to determine what has caused a multirest to break.
  • Split Multirests splits multirests at predetermined locations
  • Split Bar Rests breaks bar rests into smaller pieces, the size of which is based on the time signature.
  • Replace Deleted Rests looks for places where rests have been deleted rather than hidden, and will add rests back. By default it will hide the added rests.
  • Fill Up Pick-up Bar (written by Peter Hayter) changes a bar rest symbol in a pick-up bar into discrete rests. The pick-up bar must have a shorter duration than the prevailing time signature.
  • Plug-ins > Notes and Rests > Split Dotted Quarter Rests splits dotted quarter rests in compound time into quarter rests and eighth rests.

Split Dotted Quarter Rests and Combine Tied Notes and Rests ship with Sibelius 6; all the other plug-ins described are available for free download from the Sibelius web site, by clicking the links above. To see all of the plug-ins available for Sibelius, browse the list.


  1. Christos Andreou

    Indeed very nice and useful plugins. Definitely a must in saving up time from filtering and hiding manually!

    Thank you Daniel for sharing and the heads up but also a huge thank you goes to Bob Zawalich who once again delivers exemplary plugins.

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