Stem direction wrong?

A nitpick/question. This was the default:


Shouldn’t the tied quarter default to up-stem, like this?


I just get used to never having to change this sort of thing, so this one stuck out to me.

I’ve hit this many times - the two pitches tied don’t always have the same stem direction, and have to go into E-Mode to fix. Not the biggest headache, but…

No, there’s no particular reason why the second note of a tied pair should have the same stem direction as the first. The stem of that B quarter note (assuming this is treble G clef) is contextual, i.e. its direction is determined by the notes to either side. I’d have to actually step through the code to be absolutely certain, but my expectation is that it would default to down in this situation.

It’s not a big deal to me, but I think the second example certainly looks correct. It’s not something I would expect you to spend any time on! Thanks.

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I agree, Dan. It looks much better. I wonder if it’s just using the default direction set in notation options?

I think you mean the default stem direction (up/down) for notes on the middle line, in Engraving Options > Notes > Stems?

The point here, I think, is not to set the default direction, but that the direction of the quarter here should match whatever the eighth was.

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It seems odd, but it is the direction of the tie in the top example that seems to bother me the most, even if the stems point in different directions.

FWIW, here’s the very first sentence in the Stems section of the Boosey style guide:

Back in the days when composer stemmed by the phrase, rather than by the note, Beethoven or Chopin etc. probably would have written:

stem example


Oh I understand and totally agree. I was just wondering aloud if that setting is what caused the result that you got, because it doesn’t seem that Dorico is analyzing that particular situation on a case-by-case basis.

FWIW, “the bible” (behind bars) says among other things:

  • “When notes are on the center stave-line, the stems may go in either direction. The direction is determined by context.”

  • “When the stem direction varies within a bar, maintain the stem direction of the notes that are part of the same beat or half-bar.”

  • “When there is no clear-cut case for either direction, the convention is to use a down-stem. Some editions use down-stems exclusively.”

It doesn’t seem that she addresses this particular issue directly. Perhaps one could argue the third point there, although I’d suggest that since the example is really “one note” it makes more sense and is easier for the eye to parse out when the stems match.

Ross says down too (pg 83)

It seems like this was historically more ambiguous. Here’s Button (1919) :

Other more modern editions say down too, like Roemer:

I know the modern preference is for stems-down on the B, but the first example just looks wrong (in the OP). I don’t mind flipping it with a simple F… we engravers still need something to do!! :nerd_face:

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