up-stem down-stem olympics

hi there,

Is it possible in future versions to call voices “Voice 1” “Voice 2” and so forth? I’m eternally confused with “Up-Stem Voice 1” “Downstem Voice 1”, because the stem direction in single-voice writing depends on the range of the notes you’re working with – so “Up-Stem Voice 1” may become “Down-Stem Voice 1” if you go past a B in treble clef and so forth. This is a very confusing way to name things.

Is it not possible to come up with clearer nomenclature for these things?

Thank you!

did you try turning on the voice colors ?

view -> notes and reset colors -> voice colors.

sure - but that doesn’t tell me what “Up-Stem” and “Down-Stem” means.
Which is the default voice — the main / principal / primary voice, is it “Up-Stem” or “Down-stem”?

Is it still called “Up-Stem” if the stems are facing down, or is it called “Down-Stem” if the notes are facing up?

When only one voice is present on a staff (with no rests in other voices) the stems take their natural directions.

I much prefer the current naming system. As Derrek says, a single voice in a bar takes normal direction. No harm, no foul. And sometimes I specifically want two upstem voices, NOT an upstem paired with a downstem. The specificity here is helpful when needed.

Fair enough – so what is the name of the single voice, is it “Up-Stem Voice 1” or “Down-Stem voice 1”?

It’s whichever one you entered. That’s not snarky. I really do think the flexibility is important. If in doubt, turn on voice colors, or select one of the notes and hit Enter to go into note input mode… and look at the carat to tell you whether it’s an up or a down.

This trips me up, but only rarely. Careful voice management becomes a habit, and a healthy one. And the benefits of the current functionality are superior. Just my two cents.

Thanks – but the reason I ask is to set up a shortcut. Sometimes when I’m working with condensing scores (via your brilliant tutorial on the subject, for which I’m eternally grateful) I want to condense two instruments into one voice. Sometimes using the “Reduce” function spits it out to a different voice than the original, or two different voices. I’ve figured out now that the light-blue coloured voice is called “Up-Stem Voice 1”, and that happens to be the default colour for the default voice in this score. So I’ve set up a shortcut for “Change Voice to Up-Stem Voice 1”. This works nicely – but it’s still confusing, because literally all of the stems in this “Up-Stem” are actually pointing down.

That’s because :

  1. it’s the only voice present
  2. the stems take their natural position then (as written before)

FWIW if you don’t want that direction for a given voice (name and behavior when other voices are there), you can use the “default down stem” function in the context menu >voices to change the whole voice in one step. Otherwise, ignore the direction name of the voice and convince yourself that it works reliably :wink:

asbefore, no, the light blue voice is the first one you entered. There’s no correlation between the colour and the name of the voice.

It’s not a question of direction for me, but of avoiding the creation of new voices and dealing with all the “starts voice” “ends voice” things when I didn’t mean to create.

So are you all saying that there’s absolutely no name for “default voice” or “only voice”“Voice 1”? It can be called interchangeably “Up-Stem Voice 1” or “Down-stem voice 1” and I should be completely carefree about this?

That is frightening statement for me to hear, coming from 20 years in Sibelius. Voices had their colours. Voices had their names. Now it turns out that default voice has no name and no assigned colour. What a mess!

It’s not “a mess” at all. This is just one of the things with Dorico where you have to learn to let go of a lot of the “micro-management” that was necessary with Sibelius or Finale.

If you really want to be frightened, consider the fact that the entry level Dorico Elements has NO OPTIONS AT ALL for note-by-note tweaking of the score layout. The reason is that IT DOESN’T NEED THEM. You won’t need them in Dorico Pro either, most of the time.

So are you suggesting that I should be entirely carefree about voice names, colours or consistency, and only look at “view note colours” when something goes wrong, e.g. when I all-of-the-sudden have rests where I shouldn’t and I have to deal with “starts voice” “ends voice”?

Colours are intentionally inconsistent. Dorico uses one set of colours per instrument, but separate voice names and numbers per stave. This means that Upstem Voice 1 on the top stave of a piano will always be different to Upstem Voice 1 on the bottom stave of the same piano. This rethink means that cross-staffing is an absolute joy, where in Sibelius it’s a total mess. Note that if the two Upstem Voice 1s on the two piano staves were the same colour, you’d be unable to see which stave the voice originated in, and this would lead to a whole different set of problems. Regardless, Dorico doesn’t care if you’re using Upstem Voice 4 or Downstem Voice 6, if that voice is the only one present on the stave, so you needn’t care either.

Numbers are easy as long as you know that a) if there’s only one voice the stem directions will follow the usual rules and b) Upstems have their stems pointing up (from the right side of the notehead), downstems have stems pointing down (from the left side of the notehead). When entering notes, use V to cycle round existing voices on that stave, and Shift+V to create new voices. As long as you don’t misuse Shift+V you’re unlikely to get into a mess.

As to “dealing with Starts Voice End Voice”, Edit > Remove Rests is almost always quicker.

And most of us have made a key command for it which makes it very quick and easy. I had to get used to the whole paradigm, too, but it’s so well thought out and logical that now I wouldn’t want it any other way. Dorico’s powerful filter makes it possible to select only one voice and change it to another, or to swap voice contents, etc. Key commands for these functions are handy, too.
When entering notes it’s a good idea to have note colours turned on so you can see what’s going on. Sometimes when copying material, Dorico can [unnecessarily] create a new voice and one can easily change this. Stick with it; you’ll get used to it!

No! Observe the direction of the carat in note input, and use your voices correctly.

…and only look at “view note colours” when something goes wrong, e.g. when I all-of-the-sudden have rests where I shouldn’t and I have to deal with “starts voice” “ends voice”?


The only times I use voice colors are:

  • when there’s a voice error that I notice later
  • when I’m exploding a condensed score to individual parts, I want to check exact voice usage
  • when I get a score from someone, or import an XML.

I would suggest exactly this. In Dorico, I’ve stopped bothering about how many voices I create or which one I’m in, as long as the stick goes the way I want. If I have rests I don’t want, I select them and have a shortcut to ‘Remove Rests’. I don’t use voice colours.
If I was engraving the Goldberg Variations, I might organise it, but I find no problems at all in day to day work.

thank you all, very helpful though still frightening! I still try to put things in “Up-Stem Voice 1” if I can as it’s cleaner that way overall.

I have to ask as a follow-up – from a memory management perspective, is it truly OK to be carefree about unlimited voices?

No, and I’d mildly disagree with steveparker on this. Don’t keep creating voices willy-nilly (using Shift-V). You probably won’t need more than two per staff (usually), so just work with the ones you have.

It certainly can get to be problematic when random bar rests start appearing unexpectedly due to voice mis-management.