Tacet parts in Finale and Sibelius


Playing percussion for the first time many years ago in my elementary school’s band, I experienced a hazing of sorts early on. Encountering a part that had “TACET” written on it, one of the older kids in the section turned to me and said, “Philip, what did you do with the tacet? It’s not here!” It was my job to put away the various percussion toys and, not knowing the names of many of them, I was terrified I’d lost something.

Fortunately, nothing was misplaced — just a bit of old-fashioned fun was being had at my expense. And I never forgot what “tacet” meant after that. Of course, it’s not some rattle or drum — quite the opposite. From the Latin for “it is silent,” when you encounter “TACET” in a part, it means that you’re not playing for that piece or movement.


Why bother having tacet parts at all? There are, in fact, good reasons. When putting together parts for a show or session where there are many pieces, it’s helpful to have all parts accounted for in every song or cue. Likewise, from the player’s perspective, if you’re not playing in a cue, it’s a lot less anxiety-inducing to have a tacet part in your book so you don’t worry if you somehow misplaced a nonexistent part.

Here’s how to create tacet parts in both Finale and Sibelius.


Entire tacet parts

Finale automatically generates linked parts for you in a new document created by File > New > Document With Setup Wizard… You can also generate parts by going to Document > Manage Parts and clicking Generate Parts.

The parts will be generated based on the instruments present in the score. But Finale also gives you the ability to create a part without any instrument assigned to it. To do this, simply click New Part in the Manage Parts dialog.

The part will be named something like “Part 33” depending on how many parts are already in the score. To name the part, click Edit Part Definition > Edit Part Name…

In the Edit Text dialog, type the instrument’s name (“Flute 3” in the example). Then, add a few lines and type “TACET”. You can make the word bigger by selecting it and adjusting its size in Text > Size.


Click OK to return to the Manage Parts dialog box. The middle column should be empty, indicating no staves are selected, because you haven’t added — and won’t be adding — an instrument to it. You will, however, be able to easily see your tacet parts in the Linked Parts column.


As you browse through your parts, you’ll see the tacet parts indicated as such:


Your part will look something like this:


It’s worth noting that Finale’s help guide suggests using the Text tool to create tacet parts when working with linked parts, instead of adding “TACET” to the part’s name. The method in the help guide involves placing a text block in the part, which then must be hidden or shown in each part. The drawbacks with that method is that you have to go to every part and be certain to hide or show the text block, and that the word “TACET” won’t be part of the part name like it is in the method I described. It does, however, give you more flexibility with the positioning of the text on the page, especially if you need the text to be centered.

Tacet movements within a part

Creating tacet parts in Finale is a multi-step process, but it can be done.

1. Go to the Staff Tool > Define Staff Styles… and click New to create a new style. Name it “TACET” and uncheck all Items to Display:


2. Go to Document > Category Designer and click Edit Categories… to create a new expression category. Click Technique Text and click Duplicate… and then name the category something like “TACET staff”. The position settings will depend on your document, but you’ll want to try to get the tacet to appear more or less where the staff would appear, and centered on the page.


Then, create a text expression in this new category with the text “TACET”.

3. In your part, force all the bars in the movement into one system by using the Mass Edit Tool. This isn’t totally necessary if you are not trying to save vertical space.

4. Apply your new staff style to the part by selecting all the bars in the movement and going to the Staff Tool > Apply Staff Style To > Current Part/Score… and select your “TACET” style from the list.

5. Place your “TACET” expression in the part. You will need to hide it in the score.

6. In the Expression Tool, select any text expressions still showing (like tempo marks) and hide them by right-clicking (or Control-click on Mac) and unchecking “Show” from the contextual menu. Do the same for any unwanted measure numbers by going to the Measure Tool, selecting the measure numbers and selecting Measure > Hide Measure Numbers.

If all goes well, you’ll have a part that looks something like this:


Of course, all of the staff style indications and hidden text won’t print, leaving you with a very nice looking part.


  1. Robert Puff

    Excellent topic and details, Philip. Thank you for posting.

    One type of Tacet you did not mention used by commercial music prep houses for recording sessions, is where the tacet sheet is essentially blank manuscript paper.

    Essentially, this involves creating a blank staff for the instrument and hiding the rests. If you are keeping the barlines and so forth, it looks clean to format to 4 bars per system.

    Alternatively, hide all the bar lines and bar numbers, meter and key changes etc so the tacet is a page of blank manuscript paper with the normal title and headers.

    The idea for the recording session is that if the composer has a brainstorm during the session to add a few notes for the horns or other whomever, it can be dictated to the musicians from the podium.

    For orchestral recording sessions, more complex edits are usually done by an on site music copyist, but for simple edits, the blank manuscript tacet can be useful for a quick orchestration reinforcement or edit during a recording session.

    In terms of the type of multi-rest looking Tacets that consolidate the music, as you allude to in your article, Sibelius supports this regardless of whether or not the entire movement, cue, song or whatever you want to call it is in one or multiple meters or keys. E ‘silenzioso.

    On the Finale side, you can similarly create what amounts to one long multirest to display as a Tacet if the entire block of music is in one meter and key. However, note that if there are meter changes or modulations, Finale will always break the multirests at these locations, so there is no way in Finale to create this type of tacet for music with modulations or meter changes.

    And, to drill down further, Finale’s Measure Attributes settings are global – usually the desired thing, but in this case, if you were to uncheck “Break A Multimeasure Rest” at double barlines, this would not only allow the creation of a single block rest for the Tacet, but would also consolidate multirests spanning the double barline in all the other parts! Not exactly helpful.

    Conversely, in Sibelius, there is no obvious way to create the “Blank Page” type of tacet as you show in Finale, because Sibelius does not allow an instrument to be created without a staff associated with it.

    In Sibelius, to get the Finale “look” described in the article, go into the part, then create an instrument change in that part to “No Instrument, Hidden”. You may also have to hide the starting tempo or metronome mark.

    You can show the word “TACET” below the instrument name at the top left edge by navigating to INFO in the FILE tab of Sibelius 8, 7 (Score Info… in Sib 6 or earlier). In the “Part Name” field, create a couple of line returns by appending the following to the existing part name : \n\\n\TACET

    Robert Puff

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Robert – terrific! Many thanks for posting this useful addendum. Much appreciated.

      1. Philip Rothman

        And, to take Robert’s last idea one step further, you can change the part name to, e.g.:
        Violin I\n\\n\\n\\n\\s200\TACET
        The “s” wildcard changes the font size. See Bob Zawalich’s post for an explanation why this works.

  2. Chalon Ragsdale

    What about displaying “Tacet” for a 300 measure part where the last 100 measures contain no music?

  3. Barnaby Priest

    How do you create a tacet In 18th c. orchestral music where instead of a final bar there is a repeat of the first and second half?

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