Keyboard format for four-part harmony

Hi all,

I need to do some four-part music using keyboard format instead of a SATB short score. The keyboard format has the top three voices in the treble clef and the bass voice in the bass cleff. No problems so far using a piano grand staff and multiple voices… However, in keyboard format as long as the top three voices have the same rhythm they are notated on a single stem. However, dorico always puts the top three voices with separate stems. Is there any way to change this option? I can’t use chords because I need the top three voices to be separate voices and not a single voice playing multiple notes simultaneously.

Thanks so much!

I’m not understanding how you’re doing this exactly. Are you entering them in different voices? If so, the easiest solution is to enter them in the same voice. Or after the fact, select them and change them to all be Upstem Voice 1. I do this sort of thing often enough that I’ve assigned Upstem Voice 1 to Alt-1 and Downstem Voice 1 to Alt-2.


Make sure all voices are upstem voices, then use Voice Column Index via the Properties Panel in Engrave mode.

1 Like

Because of how I need to play them back (different midi channels for each voice) I can’t have them all be upstem voice 1. Also, if I do that (all three voices as upstem voice 1) then when one of the upper voices has a rhythm different from the others within the same chord it displays the longer chord note with a tie instead of stemming it separately with a stem in the opposite direction.

Is this option available in elements? I can’t seem to find it…

No, sorry.

1 Like

I’m not clear as to why you’re arranging the voices this way - is your goal for live performance or to create a great sounding MIDI track? And is “keyboard layout” (forgive my ignorance) for musical theatre, or something specialised?

You can use the condensing feature to squish voices together in this fashion automatically - create the voices on separate lines and then turn on condensing and create custom condensing to choose which voices squish and how. It’s not designed for voices though may not get the results you’re after. (Also may not be available in elements)

However if I was doing this I’d just compromise and have them playing on the same MIDI channel. Keep them in voice 1 most of the time but when the polyphony changes (I.e different rhythms in voices) to put only the differing rhythms in different voices. You’ll probably have to Edit-> remove rests to make it look good.

1 Like

I was thinking along the same lines, but Condensing is not available in Elements.

1 Like

It’s for a class I am taking so I have no options here :-). It sounds like there is no way to do this in elements then? Hmm… guess I might have to look into pro.

That’s definitely the intention. Elements is a great entry-level product, but if you’re doing any sort of serious work in music notation, you really need the functionality of Pro.

1 Like

And if the assignment is for a class, Elements (your professor) can open a condensed Pro file in Elements, just not edit it.

Another hitch. I don’t believe Grand Staves can be condensed, even in Pro.

Why not have a playback version with exploded scores whose midi channels you can control separately, and then duplicate the flow and merge everything into upstem 1 for presentation? You don’t need to force both functions on the same score.

Thanks everyone for the responses.

One more question: is the best way to do a SATB short score to start a choir (reduction) player and then do two separate voices (i.e. upstem voice 1 and downstem voice 1) on each staff?

Thanks again!

Yes, but you will not get combined stems that way (at least not without considerable manual adjustment).

No, they cannot be, but for the OP to get multiple voices on combined stems, @HBIII could not use a grand staff instrument anyway. HBIII would have to construct the “grand staff” out of condensed staves and a non-condensed left-hand staff into a bracket group.

This is for a different exercise with SATB short score instead of keyboard format so I am OK here without combined stems. Just wanted to make sure I was doing it correctly and there is not a better or more correct way to write a short score with dorico.

It sounds like for combined stems I will have to wait until I can afford dorico pro.

Also, should the choir (reduction) be a solo player or a section player? There is a lot to learn when using dorico for the first time!

I still don’t understand why you need separate midi channels. It seems bizarre that an exercise for any school/university would require that…

Anyway - there is already a grand staff “choir” instrument under voices and yes - use upstem 1 and down stem 1 on each stave.

It doesn’t really matter in this case, honestly.

Solo players allow you to add or remove staves as desired, and they can hold multiple instruments (for the purpose of instrument changes).

Section instruments can use divisi.

Usually the only reason I care is for the sample to be used for playback, but in this case I think it’s the same either way.