Voices and Stems

Dorico 4.3.20 on Windows 11

• I am new to Dorico but not new to scoring.
• I purchased and am using MacProVideo and Groove3 training.

I am confused by the concept of voices and stems. The instructor will say something like, “I am in Voice 2 Up-stem,” but the notes he is entering are down-stem because of the position on the staff; or “let’s enter Voice 1 down-stem,” and the notes may be up-stem or down-stem.

Are up-stem and down-stem just Dorico’s way of saying A and B? Does “Voice 3 Down-stem” just mean “Voice 3B?”

This confusion makes it hard to follow some of the videos.

Can anyone offer advice or clarity?

Thanks, --Konrad

Voices in Dorico let you organise notes into “streams”, and their stem directions come into play when there are 2+ voices in the same bar.

If you have notes in a down-stem voice, and there are no notes or rests in an up-stem voice, then the down-stem notes can point upwards according to standard rules for stem directions according to staff position.

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The property of being an “up-stem voice” or “down-stem voice” is attached to every note, but it becomes visible only if another voice is present. Then the stems will indeed turn in the specified direction, to keep it visually distinct from other voices.

Normally the first voice created on any staff is Up-Stem Voice 1. If there are no other voices on the staff (e.g. if it is a voice or wind instrument), its up-stem property will never become visible or important. But if you are writing for a keyboard instrument, you may need to create another voice, and it will normally be Down-Stem Voice 1. Each of these “voices” may also have multiple notes (e.g. if you create an upper part in chords above a single-line lower part). It’s a way to create layers in music that are visually distinct, and indeed another piece of software might call them “layers,” but the principle is the same.

Does this help? In answer to your other question: yes, I suppose it’s a way of saying Voice A and Voice B, but with the added feature of specifying how they’ll be distinguished visually when they are both active.

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Also, you can force/freeze stem direction, by selecting the notes and use the menu OR right-click for the contextual menu and select force stems up/down

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Thank you all for replying. I will watch the training again with your comments in mind and it should become clear. :slight_smile:

By the way: 1-Most of my writing is orchestration which generally has only one or two parts for an instrument on a staff; however, 2-when I need to write piano music, this will be very important. Voices for piano music was my #1 issue/complaint with Finale. Dorico seems to have thought this through more completely.

Thanks again for taking time to help me.

Your friend, --Konrad