Unasked for flipping of notes

Change the Paragraph Style for Instrument Label Changes, or Staff Labels, etc.

Plenty of control.

My point is that what dorico did in this case was correct, which you should acknowledge as a skilled engraver.

And none of us ever claim that dorico is perfect. Even those of us who are most enthusiastic acknowledge the very real limitations that are currently present in the software.

This has been a frustration of other users as well; all I can encourage you to do is to read the preliminary material, and then explore the links that are at the bottom of each page because they usually lead on to additional pages that helps seal the deal.

As mentioned, you cannot turn this functionality off, however if you ever find that you’ve made a mistake and you have more than one voice when you did not intend to, all you have to do is select all of the notes in that measure, right click, go to voices, change voice, and merge them all into up-stem Voice one.

I must confess I really don’t understand why your tone with everyone who is trying to help you is so defensive. We do not treat people on this forum like they are idiots, and so we do not make the presumption, for instance, that just because the way voices work tripped you up that you don’t already know about key commands. If you need further help about key commands, just ask and don’t lambaste the person who mentioned a helpful working tip.

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Every stave of every instrument starts with a single up-stem voice (known as Up-stem voice 1).
There are a few ways to achieve a down-stem voice:

  1. By hitting Shift-V during note input.
  2. By selecting a note or passage and going Edit/Right click > Voices > Change Voice > New Down-stem voice. [This changes the voice of just the selection]
  3. By selecting a note or passage and going Edit/Right click > Voices > Default Stems Down. [This redefines the whole voice as a Down-stem voice and renames it as Down-stem voice 1]

Other possibilities for the creation of additional voices include:
4. Use of the Explode/Reduce functions.
5. MusicXML Import. I recommend checking imported MusicXML material very carefully with voice colours turned on. You may not be able to make all the voices blue, but as long as each staff is consistent with itself (e.g. the Flute 1 is the same colour from beginning to end) you’re at least only dealing with one voice. Then, if you’re going to be copying and pasting from one instrument to another instrument, check both voices are defined as Up-stem Voice 1 - you can see this in the status bar at the bottom of the screen.

One voice is always considered to be the primary voice. It will continue padding with rests for the entire length of the flow. When you introduce a second voice but stop adding notes to the first voice, the first voice will end of the last bar in which it contains notes.

By way of an example:
The blue voice is Up-stem voice 1
The red voice is Down-stem voice 1

Up-stem voice 1 (blue) is the primary voice until Down-stem voice 1 (red) appears - and because at this point there’s only one voice visible at any one time, the nominal stem direction is irrelevant.
When I copy and paste three Up-stem Voice 1 notes to the middle of bar 4, Dorico no longer truncates Up-stem voice 1 at the end of bar 2; it extends the voice all the way through to the beginning of bar 5 (and beyond, given there are no more notes in Down-stem Voice 1).
Sep-26-2021 11-34-18

One solution is to select bars 3 and 4 and use Edit > Remove Rests, but this is a sticking plaster - it doesn’t solve the underlying problem, which is that I’m working with multiple voices when a single voice would do the job better. A better solution would be to select the whole passage and go Edit (or right click) > Voices > Change Voice > Up-stem Voice 1.

My suspicion is that - even if each of your staves only has a single voice - some of them are defined as Up-stem voices and some of them are defined as Down-stem voices. When you copy and paste from one stave to another, Dorico tries to maintain the nominal voice direction. You should fix by redefining all the voices in the project as Up-stem voices (assuming there are no genuine multiple voice situations on individual staves).

No, I don’t work for Steinberg, and I don’t have your personal details.
If you click on your face/avatar in the top right corner of this browser, then the head and shoulders icon, then Preferences:

you should come to a preferences screen.

Click the Email section in the left menu, and I suspect you’ll see a screen like this:

I"m pretty sure I’ve never changed these, so your settings will probably be similar. Specifically
Send me an email when someone quotes me, replies to my post, mentions my @username, or invites me to a topic.

This means that when someone replies generally to the thread (as I’m doing now), you won’t be sent an email, but when somebody replies directly to your posts (etc.) you’ll be sent an email.
This is the forum’s doing, not mine, and you have control over these notifications.


I’m one of them!

If I could suggest a small change to the manual,
placing that tiny line (step 5.) about using V to cycle though existing voices above the extensive information about adding voices would guide users away from the mistake of adding unnecessary voices.
It doesn’t help that it’s labeled “optional”

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This is subtle, but another aid that Dorico provides is built right into the caret.

In the following gif I first press enter, and then tap V a few times to cycle between the upstem 1 and downstem 1 voices that are already present in this score. This means that when I activate note entry mode, I can choose which voice I want to add notes into. In this particular example, if I stayed with the upstem option, I’d overwrite the top line, and if I leave it on the downstem icon I’d over write the middle c’s.

I then tap SHIFT+V to cycle between adding a new upstem 2 and downstem 2 since they are the next voices that can be added (you can tell you are adding a voice by the + icon). If I add a second upstem, I would obviously be adding notes that would coexist with what is there.

This information is always present when you enter note entry or attempt to add a new voice with shift V. Learning to recognize this change in the caret will help you avoid further confusion too.
caret voices 2


I know this has come up before, but I would love a setting to have Up-stem Voice 1 display as black. I usually leave Voice Colors off unless I absolutely need them because I find them too distracting. Since every project starts with an Up-stem Voice 1, if there was an option for it to be black and then any other voice in color it would be very helpful as it would show any deviation from the default.

FWIW, this is how I’ve always used Finale. Finale allows for 4 Layers (basically equivalent to Dorico’s Voices, although each Layer in Finale has a Voice 1/Voice 2 mechanism that mostly isn’t really used) and all the colors are customizable. Having Layer 1 in black (= Up-stem Voice 1 in Dorico) but the other Layers (Voices) in color serves to highlight any deviation from Layer 1.


I reworked this page in the manual not too long ago in response to user feedback.

In step 3 for “selecting the voice you want to input notes in”, there are 2 choices: one is Shift-V, the other is simply V. These are introduced with the purpose at the start of each choice: “To input notes into a new voice” vs “To input notes into an existing voice”. Step 5 is simply an additional reminder that you can switch voices at any point, not only immediately after starting note input.

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I’m sorry you’ve not been able to find the information you wanted in the manual.

It is long, because we want to provide as comprehensive a resource as possible to our users. However, it’s segmented so that you don’t need to read the whole thing - titles should give you an idea of what information is included in each section, and particularly the webhelp version has lots of additional metadata to help you find the most relevant pages when you search.

In case it’s still helpful, here are some links to some key pages to do with voices - I have also made a note about whether an additional sentence about how every instrument has at least one voice, and that voices are where notes “are stored” would be helpful to clarify.

  • Introduction to voices - includes an example or two about why/when you might use 2+ voices on one staff, and a brief intro to how Dorico handles voices and stem directions, including that usually the first voice on a staff is an up-stem voice.
  • Stem direction - including examples about when and why stem direction changes and how that relates to voices
  • Unused voices - includes some info about how Dorico cleans up (=deletes) unused (=empty) voices when you close projects.
  • Creating new voices / switching the voice you’re inputting notes into
  • Arranging tools - see related links at the bottom / beneath this topic in the list on the left to changing the voice of notes, moving notes to other staves etc etc - where relevant, the results include explanations of how Dorico treats notes/voices which can be worth being aware of

On the topic of staff labels - there’s this page that covers the different paragraph styles used for different bits of staff labels, and should point you to the Paragraph Styles dialog where you can format these styles as required. If you want to keep those changes as your defaults for all future projects, you can click the star button to save your changes as default.

In general, you should find that if a page hasn’t explained something you were looking for or has mentioned it in passing without details, there should be a link at the bottom that by its title is clearly the home of either instructions or further information. We segment information in all our manuals - for a brief topic about that, see here.

Finally, if you’re new to Dorico and would like a text-based introduction that is actually start-to-finish in style, we published a First Steps guide earlier this year that is designed to fulfill that role - see here for the guide (available as PDF and webhelp pages) with additional resources to support you. It also has lots more pictures than the manual and additional “asides” with little explanations for why Dorico does something this or that way.

Yes, I see that now, but given that this seems to cause confusion, even with the two possibilities within a single procedure step, the V (cycle voice) step would be better presented first.

I can see the logic that if a new score is being created, adding voices will come before editing or adding music to existing voices, but many new users will be trying to edit imported scores from other programs that already have multiple voices. I think that’s where the confusion starts. (That’s certainly my experience.)

That said, I really want to thank Lillie for a wonderfully helpful and informative manual, and for her helpful contributions on the forum.

Thank you for the feedback, which I have noted. However, I am unlikely to change this imminently, as Dorico’s default position is one voice per staff, and therefore you cannot switch voices until at least one extra voice has been created in some way. The choices are offered in the same step and with a clear indication of the consequences before the key commands are given. This is already an improvement on how this topic used to be structured in earlier manuals.

Additionally, and I appreciate this is subtle but it is something I try to be consistent about: when steps in the manual say “in one of the following ways”, that means the choices have different outcomes. When it says “in any of the following ways”, that means the choices are equivalent, i.e. they are simply different ways of ending up with the same result. In this topic, the choices are introduced with “in one of the following ways”.


I apologize to you for letting my frustrations get the better of me. Everyone has been wonderful in offering multiple approaches to this issue. Thanks.


Don’t worry. We’ve all been there, at one point or another.

I am gradually learning how to make Dorico do what I need, but along the way have hit a few roadblocks. One comes from your words for ‘upstem’ and ‘downstem’ voices, when of course until you introduce the second voice an upstem voice has downward stems in a lot of positions. I also seem to be creating more voices than I need because I don’t properly understand how far back V looks for an existing voice you can use. Also the word ‘default’ is throwing me; after reading the manual I am wondering if that just applies to notes on the middle line. Finally the ordering and filtering of search results in your manual is sometimes perplexing…

This post was a revelation, thanks!: Unasked for flipping of notes - #25 by Romanos

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Voices in staves are independent. You can toggle through the existing voices in each staff by pressing ‘v’ when in note entry mode. For any particular staff, if you’ve created two voices for that staff (via shift-v), then you will see v1 or v2 as you toggle the voices. Voice 1 (v1) in any staff is different from Voice 1 (v1) in a different staff. One can have any number of voices for any particular staff to the limit of good sense (or more likely computer memory).

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I’ve questioned this in the past (and was gently shot down) - I still find it unhelpful terminology.

As @tbabcock123 shows, you can always turn on voice colours (view>notes and rest colors> voice colors) to see what’s going on; you can always manipulate note voices with right-click>voices>…; and you can always use F to flip stems.

Worrying about which specific voice is used is only really important if you are using Independent Voice Playback for specific playback effects. Although rationalising your voices is sensible, particularly as you can filter a selection by voice.

That’s right, “up-stem voice X” and “down-stem voice X” refers to that voice’s nominal direction, i.e. which directions its stems will point in when there are multiple voices active. See this page:

The symbol beside the caret tells you what voice is currently selected, i.e. what voice notes will be input into next. Pressing V lets you cycle through all active voices on that staff. See this page:

And also, where there’s a note that talks a bit about the voice cycle order:

In what context please, I’m sorry I don’t follow what you mean here. Do you mean

Please can you provide examples of what you searched and what you expected to find. Results will depend on whether you’re searching the manual directly or using a third-party search engine. When searching the online manual directly, you should see a little “search tips” link beside the search field, with suggestions to help you refine your searches. We of course use keywords etc to help bring relevant topics up in search results, even if those terms aren’t used in the topic itself, but there are only so many hours in the day.