Combining beamed notes across voices

• Jun 2, 2011 - 21:38

Maybe I'm just having a brain fart, but I was working on a simple re-write of a wedding piece and ran into a multiple voice problem. I've never been able to figure out how to combine certain note types when separated by using voices. See the example:

Beams and voices

In this example I can flip the quarter stems in voice 2 to join them with voice 1, but I can't do that with the dotted eighth/sixteenth combos as they don't join the stems from voice 1. Is this only possible if I write the dotted/sixteenth using chords in voice 1 only?



You should be able to edit the stem lengths to get then to line up, but what I'd do there is just put those notes in the same voice if you want them on the same stem.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

When I was working in this piece yesterday, I was thinking about keeping all the voices separate, and then flipping note stems later. This is when I wondered if that would work with beamed/flagged notes. I realize now that it will only work for note stems without flags or beams. Like I said, maybe a brain fart (or I'm completely out in left field), but if you truly want to keep voices separate with any type of note, but with stems flipped, you can't.

Honestly, I've never approached note entry in this manner and I wondered if it would ever be possible to have the program check the notes in other voices to see if the stems/flags/beams should be blended when flipped.

In reply to by schepers

I guess I still don't understand the point of what you are doing here. If you want notes on the same stems, they belong in the same voice; if you want them on separate stems, they belong in different voices. That's kind of the whole point of using voices. In fact, in cases where you've forced stems in different voices to go in the same direction, the "correct" behavior would not be to merge the stems and beams, but rather, to offset the notes a little horizontally so you can still tell they are separate voices. This is necessary when you want more than two voices in the same staff. Occasionally it might be necessary/useful to have notes in different voices but with stems in the same direction and merged together for some special reason, but that's definitely not the usual case, and MuseScore should be going out of it's way to "avoid" those sort of collisions and keep the voices distinct. I guess at most some sort of extra command where you select some notes and tell MuseScore to break the rules and merge the stems/beams anyhow would be OK, but it definitely shouldn't be doing that by default.

Now, if you have a piece where you have entered music as separate voices but they have exactly the same rhythm for some stretch of the piece and you've decided to hide the fact that they are in fact separate voices by putting them on the same stem, I can certainly see the value in that, but I wouldn't do that by flipping stems and merging the stems & beams from notes in separate voices. Instead, I'd do it by combining the notes into one voice - some sort of "implode" function. I don't think that can currently be done, but implode & explode are indeed features I'd like to see added.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Maybe it was the moment and the mood I was in on Thursday. I was trying to enter each line, using the keyboard, as separate voices so I didn't have to keep flipping back'n forth between voice 1 & 2, adding extra voice, then adding a note to the chord on voice 1, back to voice 2. I was just thinking how nice it would be to be able to flip notes, regardless of flag/beam, and have them blend into the other voice stem if they can.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I ran across this same problem when trying to enter a modified hymn. If you look in just about any hymnal, they keep the stems going in the same direction, except when the duration of the note is different for the two voices. It makes it look tidier, and is probably easier on the organist. The question is, how do you enter music so that it looks like this? I guess it is possible to keep switching between chords and separate voices as you go along, but that is really tedious.

Given that MuseScore is capable of merging stems when they are in the same voice, why not use that same feature for different voices when possible? The current behavior creates unreadable scores.

In reply to by jford143

It's not unreadable; it's how virtually all Western music for the last several centuries has been notated: separate voices with opposing stems. Maybe the specific hymnals from the specific publishers you buy them from are set up that way, but it's definitely *not* been the prevailing standard. If you want to do it in this non-standard way, you'll have to flip the stems and possibly fine tune their positioning, or else switch from multiple voices to chords.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well, I'm not an expert on that, but I do have 12 different hymnals from different denominations here at home dating back to 1900, and only one of them used the opposing stem notation. All the rest had the stems going in the same direction most of the time. I can only assume that choral music is often set differently than other music.

BTW, the "unreadable" comment referred to the example in the original poster's image, where the two stems collided.

Yes, I agree that it is possible to use a combination of chords and separate voices to get what I want. I am just looking for an easier way.

In reply to by jford143

Definitely not a choral versus instrumental thing; as the convention of opposing stems comes from choral music and is still pretty much universal in secular choral music. I think maybe hymns are special that they tend to be mostly homophonic - that is, the voices are mostly using the same rhythms, making opposing stems seem unnecessary most of the time, and also that they tend to be read by people who are not necessarily musicians.

Anyhow, agreed that a feature to make this easier could be nice. I know that for 2.0 they are working on some sort of facility to allow notes to be moved between voices in certain cases.

In reply to by jford143

Of the dozen or so hymnbooks I regularly use in my role as Director of Music at St Michael's Retford, none are laid out in this way - all a laid out with four voices, 2 on each stave, with the tails up and down.

If it were laid out differently how are the alto's and basses supposed to know which notes to sing?

Excuse the violin speak above, but I thought maybe somebody ought to point out--even after a long delay--that the way to having several voices (loose application of the word) with stems in the same direction is to enter them in one go.
Example above: the first note would be entered as "5, e, shift c," (followed by "command, up arrow" in this case); the second as "4., e, shift g" etc.
This means of course you must make up your mind about the stems before entering the notes.

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