Understanding voices and colors

Basic question here but I’m trying to get a grip on how voices work in Dorico. I’ve been entering a piano score, and somehow, my right hand has ended up colored blue and my left hand has been colored pink.

See screenshot below. When I click on the blue whole note in m84, the indicator at the bottom says “Rest (Up-stem Voice 1)”. But if I click on the pink whole note in the second stave of m84, it ALSO shows “Rest (Up-stem Voice 1)”. If they’re both voice 1, why are they colored differently?

I’d like to figure out how to get back to basics - using voice 1 in each stave (until such a time when I need to use voice 2). Any tips on understanding this would be appreciated because my music has gotten rather complicated and I’ve got a few different colors floating around, but not a good grasp on how to manage them.

You’re doing it right, and getting a good grasp of voices. In a grand staff, each staff will have its own color so that if any notes need to be cross-staffed you can see at a glance which staff they are coming from.

Always enter notes in the Up-stem Voice 1 (whether the stems will go up or down doesn’t matter), until such time as you need a second voice. Then THAT will be a new color, so you can tell that its a different voice. Don’t create any more voices than you absolutely need (“Shft+v” creates a new voice; once created on a staff, just “v” will cycle between the voices. You can tell when there is a little “+” on the orange caret.)

Most traditional music won’t need more than 2 or possibly 3 voices (some organ fugues and such might need more to maintain the line of the fugue subject). If entering orchestral music, where each instrument has a single staff, all would be the same color.

Also don’t worry if the colors are not ALWAYS blue or red – clicking on a single note (not a chord) will display what voice it is in the lower left corner (like you’ve shown here). You can also right-click on a note and follow the menu to change a note/chord to a different voice (or create a new one, if it doesn’t exist yet).

The best order for creating or using new voices is: Up-stem Voice 1, Down-stem Voice 1, Up-stem Voice 2, Down-stem Voice 2, etc. That will help sort the vertical positioning properly.

Keep asking questions if you run into a bind – this is a good place to get help.

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That’s really helpful, thank you.

I guess what’s slightly confusing is that if I get the carat (i.e. I enter music entering mode), then I press V, the only change is that tiny quarter note switches from stem up to stem down. If I keep pressing V, it keeps switching from stem up to stem down.

But down at the bottom of the window, it keeps saying “Rest (Up-stem Voice 1)” and doesn’t update. So I don’t really know how many voices I might have in this project, nor which voice I’m currently entering things into.

I guess it’s OK the way it is. I’m entering music fluidly. I just didn’t want to be creating a mess by writing music into ten different voices and then getting unpredictable results. (I will follow your advice about only using V, not shift-V so I don’t create a bunch of additional ones. However, if I did that by accident in the past, I don’t know how to see it or undo it.)

Right about the V alternating between voices. If you had created more voices, V would alternate between Up-stem Voice 1, Down-stem Voice 1, Up-stem Voice 2, Down-stem Voice 2, etc., through as many voices as were created.

V gives you a quick way of selecting which voice you want to write in. Imagine writing in a SA/TB reduced choral score. Soprano is Up-stem Voice 1, Alto is Down-stem Voice 1. Tenor is Up-stem Voice 1 (in the bass staff), Bass is Down-stem Voice 1. But it will all show as 4 different colors, which can be a little confusing. Best is to not create more voices than you absolutely need. Dorico will allow as many as you want – but vertical alignment (and voice rests) becomes, uh, frustrating. Too often people use Shift+v (which creates ANOTHER new voice) instead of simply “v”, which alternates between voices already created.

If you find you’ve created more voices than actually needed: change the unwanted voice notes to a “lower voice” allocation (via right-click/change voice) to get to the voice needed. Save and close your project, then reopen. The extra “voices” will have been deleted upon closure.

The status bar is telling you information about whatever is currently selected (presumably the bar rest you selected before starting note input).

The caret is telling you information about what voice you are about to enter notes into.

To change the voice of existing notes, see here. Any voices that don’t contain any notes at all are automatically cleaned up (deleted) when you close the project.

V switches between existing voices; Shift V creates a new voice.

It is very easy to move notes to different voices: Experiment with right-click>filter> voice to isolate notes to change, and then right-click>voices> to move them to any existing voice, or a new voice… If you get in a tangle ctrl-z always allows a way out!