Lock direction of voice

Is there any way to override stem direction rules distributing stems up and down and lock a voice to a given direction? Would save me lots of of fiddling around. I asked this question once before and people thought I was referring to a single line on a staff, but this is for multiple voices, and in my scores some voices need to go up and some down, to avoid various visual clashes.

[Always trying hard to avoid mentioning lilypond but you can do \stemUp, \stemDown, and \setmNeutral for overrides.]

It’s the presence of another voice (notes or rests) that forces stem direction in Dorico. The voices are “named” up and down, but in Lilypond terms any voice goes stemNeutral where no other voice is present. So I think it should work the way you want by default.

Viewing voice colors helps you be sure what you’ve got. I use that rarely because I’m usually careful with note entry, but it can be somewhat easy to restart note entry in the wrong voice.


  1. Ctrl-A to select all
  2. j,f,u,1, Enter - jump bar alias set to filter-select upstem voice 1
  3. Press F twice to force all stems flipped up.

Repeat similarly for downstem voice. Just about as easy as typing \stemUp, I think!

Right, but that’s only after the notes are entered, and only if necessary, which it won’t be if you just write with 2 voices.

I agree, and I don’t really understand @Andro’s request entirely. I just wanted to flex my new jump bar muscles. :sunglasses:


Heheh. :+1: If I’m reading the OP right, he is concerned about seeing mixed stem directions while entering the first of 2 voices. And the answer is, Don’t worry about it, Dorico will do the right thing when you add the other voice.

@Andro , you have asked this before and got a perfect answer here:

I predict, that you want to hide rests in a voice, that is not playing. Otherwise you wouldn’t have to do this.

The best way for me is to select the whole system in write mode, filter the voice I want to change, switch to engrave mode and force the stems. In write mode not all stems of tied notes will be forced.

@HeiPet not exactly ‘perfect answer’. It’s when I am entering a new voice with no existing music. Perhaps I have never been clear. And I dare to ask again in case things have changed in Dorico 4.

Would voice colors suffice until you have the opportunity to select and set stem directions in bulk?

Could you tell me whether my post #2 does or does not answer your question?
And whether I am understanding you correctly in my post #6?

Why does everyone else keep insisting that Andro wants to manually freeze stems unnecessarily? Unless I am wrong, that is not what he asked, then or now.

Actually Heipet’s answer is the right one — and Mark completes it beautifully. If you happen to notice that some voice is an upstem voice and you want it to be a downstem voice, select a note from that voice, the context menu > Voices> Default to downstem voice will make it a Downstem voice. It will behave like a downstem voice. Which is a relative behavior. A downstem voice behaves a certain way with an upstem voice around, and another way if it’s another downstem voice that is around. But if it’s alone, it will behave exactly as a lonely upstem voice.
I’m sure you already know about it, but for the sake of completeness, when you create a voice, you can choose whether it’s an upstem or a downstem voice thanks to the little icon that is at the left bottom of the caret. Keep pressing shift-V and new voices will appear, upstem voice n, downstem voice n, upstem voice n+1, downstem voice n+1, etc.

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I think I have been unclear, very sorry. It;s when I am entering a voice on a new stave with no other notes or bvoices. I just want the notes to all stay up or down as per the MS I am copying from. Of course I can change them after, but its another step and seems unecessary, coming from lilypond (sorry!) background where I can input notes and they are already in the direction I want.

I may not have observed Dorico carfully enough, but I have not noticed it fixes up the direction when I add the next voices. I will practice that!

Apologies for confusing people. It can be so hard to ‘unlearn’ my lilypond biases and mentla filters.

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Yes, the important difference is that in Lilypond you have to fix the stem direction first, whereas Dorico handles it automatically but “afterward”, so to speak, when the other voice is present.

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@Andro , what you are asking for, is against the philosophy of Dorico. In Dorico you don’t just add graphical symbols. Dorico is semantically applying notation according to your settings. A few examples:

  1. If you enter a voice into a system, Dorico will notate this voice in a correct way for a single voice in a system. When you add a second voice, everything will be fine and correct.
  2. If you enter a note into a bar, Dorico will automatically add the correct rests to complete the bar.
  3. If you enter the notes f - f# - g (in C), Dorico will first spell the f sharp as g flat until you add the g, because it takes the surrounding notes into account. (Dorico would e.g. keep the g flat, if you go back to f as third note).
  4. If you add a dotted quarter note, Dorico will by default notate this note as a quarter tied to an eights note. But in the moment, you enter another note, Dorico will change it to a dotted quarter.

Therefore, your request is against Dorico’s intelligent way of always displaying a correct notation (according to the defined options). Perhaps you should take youself some more time to get used to the basic concept of Dorico.

These are also the basic concepts of music notation. I’m still wondering why one would want all stems of a single voice to point upwards.

The only exception I can think of is in the case of music with lyrics, where some editions will always keep stems up so they are away from the lyrics. But for instruments it would be flat wrong.

I seem to remember seeing editions with lyrics keeping the stems up, but that was only in extremely cramped conditions (like hymnals). Otherwise even vocal music adheres to the same principles, except perhaps occasionally for elements like slurs, articulations and tuplets.

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My sense is that often Andro is transcribing music from other composers’ (or another composer’s) handwritten score. Naturally he needs to follow the composer’s wishes even if they clash with Dorico’s semantics and (via Lilypond) Andro has naturally established a workflow that he finds efficient and would like to follow as closely as possible in Dorico.


Particularly in the case of early music, stem directions are not always allocated according to current ideas, and it is sometimes decided that these directions (and other details of the notation thart differ from current practice) should be retained in a transcription. Sometimes there are known reasons for the decisions made centuries ago, but when no reason is known the editor will often preserve the notation in the transcription in case it has performance implications that are not as yet understood.