Best practice for writing scores with parts/voices that share notes

• Feb 16, 2023 - 02:13

I have been using MuseScore to help create practice parts for our small choir and often to preserve a copy of the score in case someone needs it or we make a change to it.

I am writing to ask help in understanding whether there is a simpler workflow for writing scores with parts that share some notes before they split into separate melodies on the same stave. For example Tenor 1 and Tenor 2 that are on the same stave

At the moment I am having to write the shared notes for all voices and then hide the "wrong" stems in the joint score. Is there another method for doing this that doesn't involve the laborious process of re-writing notes and hiding staves?


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Very well lets give an example. The attached music score (ST music) looks like this. Notice no stems downwards for the alto part. Also a number of shared notes on the first bars shown.

To write the abovementioned music score so that I can separate the parts I need to use voice 1&2 or 1&3, though each has their own visual problems:
- When I use voice 1&2 (see MS Voice 1 & 2) the stems don't match
- When I use voice 1 & 3 (see MS Voice 1 & 3) then the barlines look terrible and same notes are flipped.
And in both cases I have to write common notes for say Sopranos and Altos twice along the score otherwise they don't reflect in the parts generated from voices.

Please note that what I am striving to achieve is writing the joint score so that it remains visually faithful to the original (in case of a need to reprint it / access it when out and about), as well as having the separate parts to practice and control with the mixer to improve harmonising, as well as not having to type common notes multiple times for each separate voice in a choral arrangement.

What I am trying to understand, with the help of the community, is whether this is the most optimal way MuseScore offers for producing scores with parts (probably Voices 1&2 imo) or is there a better way (which I have simply missed) that allows the score to match what I have on paper (for the joint one), and that creates parts easily. Or do I have to write the common notes twice (or copy them) and have the main score look different?

Or is the best way to write a completely different system setup that separates all parts into their own stave and thus won't resemble the original score which is ultimately more compact and user-friendly should I need to reprint it?

Thank you in advance for your understanding and advice.

Attachment Size
ST music.jpg 2.59 MB
MS Voice 1 & 2.png 42.06 KB
MS Voice 1 & 3.png 43.95 KB

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Thank you for the detailed tutorial! much appreciated I had tried to do this in a more convoluted manner so this will cut down on time already!

Do you happen to have a method for removing double rests? Or do you think its just going to be a ton of work for not much gained?

In reply to by Fiztban

You wrote:
Do you happen to have a method for removing double rests? Or do you think its just going to be a ton of work for not much gained?

Right click on an empty spot in the staff then choose Staff/Part properties. Look for the checkbox 'Merge matching rests' - it will combine identical rests of the 2 voices.
See image here:

In reply to by Fiztban

In your example you've for every voice notes with the same duration. Then you can simply write the notes all in voice 1 (only women shown). If you need e.g. a C and G press C and Shift-G.
To generate parts containing all a bit more is necessary. I would first add e.g. a second stave 'women', select the written stave and then use the 'explode' function:
After that you can generate the two different parts for printing.
Maybe it is helpful to save both files seperately for future editing.

In reply to by HildeK

@HildeK... For more clarity...
Carefully examine the OP's "ST music.jpg" attachment.
Measures 131-133 have lyrics that continue onto the next system which starts at, and is numbered as, measure 134. There is a grand staff (accompaniment) in between.

Looking at your first picture, it seems you have mistaken the grand staff accompaniment of the OP's attachment as a new system and have women singing it at measure 4 (Wi.). Your measure 4 should be based on measure 134 of the OP's attachment, not that grand staff. To verify, look at the OP's "MS Voice 1 & 2.png" which clearly shows measure 4 based on measure 134 of "ST music.jpg".

Apparently, the OP is using the lyrics staves (treble and bass) to notate voices for his choir and wouldn't need to mess with that grand staff notation.

In reply to by HildeK

Ah I see so if I get it right you are saying that the explode tool can be used to separate stacked notes into different staves but it could/would preserve single notes on each exploded part? Cause sometimes some pieces can split into 3 or 4 voices for a short period.

In reply to by Fiztban

Yes. If you have 3 or 4 stacked staves, you must have 2 or 3 additional staves under the original staff when you explode. If you have only one additional staff, the 3rd and 4th will be lost.

But I think that a musician doesn't usually just play or sing for a few measures and then be quiet. Therefore, it is common for the 3rd or 4th voice to be written together with the 1st or 2nd voice, and those who play the 3rd or 4th voice do so in those measures and otherwise play the 1st or 2nd voice. If not, there is a staff text like 'solo'.

In reply to by Fiztban

Hello , I am fighting this problem for about 8 years now with excactly similar goals
a) Have scores that resemble the originals in print and display.
b) Have full control of the playback for each of the voices with mixer and dynamics
For me common notes are even the minor problem.
More important that there is no "standard" method for separate mixer channels for the voices. Yes, I know about the "work-around" manually adding channels in the MSCX file. And there is no support (yet) for separate dynamics for the voices.
My personal work-around until now was to double the scores for the so-called "close scores" SA-TB or TT-BB with two voices in one staff.
Write the score in 4 lines with full control over dynamics and mixer. Add two additional staves where the two voices are collapsed with the techniques already described in this discussion.
Hide the 4 lines with the single voices and mute the two line with the 2 voices.
worst side effect - when you make changes you have to remember to make them twice. I have more than 200 vocal scores in this setup.
All this is still on version 3 since version 4 automatically mutes hidden instruments and also has not solved the playback problems for voices either (yet?)

Sample score attached. With a musescore plugin all necessary files and data can be extracted to enable the playback with syncronized score display on my choir practice page
Example :…

Still waiting for musescore4 to solve the open issues that I could make the switch.

Attachment Size
In einem kühlen Grunde (357)3-0.mscz 54.77 KB

In reply to by M.Thum

Hi there.

I must say over the last year of creating music transcripts and practice mixes I can offer a much improved workflow that has worked for what I needed. It's not perfect but it works much better than before.

It all relies on using the implode tool to its fullest.

If I have a stave with two voices, for example T1 and T2 I will add 3 instruments (tenors in this case). In the Tenor 1 and 2 staves I write their individual parts fully with lyrics and all, except dynamics and other effects.

The I use the Tenor 3 line as my combined one (mainly because I can't rename the mixer channels down below and I prefer Tenor 1 and 2 to actually be the correct individual channels.

To combine the two voices I move the Tenor 3 stave above T1 and 2 so that they are in the order 3, 1, 2. This is necessary as implosion combines up to 4 bottom staves together into a top 5th one (if it's empty).

To implode correctly you need to have the empty stave and all staves you want combined, make sure to only use the implode command once for now.

Once imploded if you had full lyrics on all your staves you will need to clean them up by removing duplicates by using the right click lyrics from any voice that isn't the blue voice 1 > select similar more options and then tick same voice and same stave, this will select all lyrics of that voice and then you can delete them. If your voices have different lyrics on the same stave just copy those from the correct voice. Note this step can be shortened considerably if the lyrics are all the same by only having one of the staves being combined with the lyrics and any extra / different lyrics on the sections of the appropriate other stave. Note that using the implode tool again as explained below will also collapse identical lyrics from all voices into that of voice one.

Now if you wish to combine certain unison sections go ahead and highlight the appropriate measures or parts of measure then use the implode tool a second time. This will collapse all identical notes into voice one thereby removing notes from all other voices. Note this can be done by selecting the entire stave and just applying it to all measures as it will keep distinct notes in separate voices and unions all in voice one, but it can have the side effect of sometimes switching which voice is which. So on more complex pieces I recommend doing it manually.

Lastly go ahead and add dynamics, accents, and effects to all channels. You can select a column of noted across all 3 (or more staves) to apply the dynamics to all in one go. This is because dynamics don't tend to implode.

What I wish we could see was creating a stave that auto implodes parented solo voices on their unique staves, that would be so wonderful but I can also see how it might be complicated at times.

Hope this helps.

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