Voices and voice color confusion

Good afternoon everyone:

To practice my Dorico skills I am transcribing Bach’s Goldberg Variations (the Kirkpatrick edition, published by Schirmer; Centennial edition). In the bass clef there are three voices for the G chord in bar 1 (voice 3 for G, voice 2 for B, voice 1 for D). I know how to enter different voices (shift-V) but I am getting a little confused by the different colors.

In bar 1 voice 3 is green, but in bar 2 it turns to purple (which is also the color of voice 1). And when I double click the F#, it turns orange - same color as voice 2! See screen picture.

  1. Is there a given color scheme for voice 1-2-3 etc.?
  2. Shouldn’t a voice keep the same color?

I couldn’t find this in the FAQ or searching the forum.


A couple things:

  1. When you click on a note, it will turn orange regardless of the voice it belongs in because that’s just the “selection color” of the caret. It didn’t actually alter the voice.

  2. Each voice has its own unique color. The fact that the notes are different colors simply means that they aren’t actually in the same voice. It’s up to you to decide whether you actually need them to be in the same voice or not but as far as the program is concerned, they are NOT in the same voice.

  3. The easiest way to edit a particular voice is when the caret is NOT visible, double click on a voice. The caret will appear and you will be editing THAT voice rather than the default (voice 1). So if you’re struggling to figure out what number and orientation the “green voice” is, just double click on your first green note and put the caret where you want to keep adding notes.

Since you have 5 colors, you have created 5 voices somehow.

The colors are actually unique across both staves of a grand staff (which probably makes it easier for both the user and the program to keep track of cross-staff notes.)

Pressing V cycles through voices that already exist on a staff. Pressing Shift-V creates a new voice, with the opposite stem direction from the current voice (so if you really need one voice with stem-up and three with stem-down on a staff for some reason, you can have exactly that.)

The note-entry cursor has a “stem up” and “stem down” icon plus a number (2, 3, etc) to identify which voice you are using.

There is no limit to the number of voices, so creating an extra one “by accident” doesn’t matter much - but if you consistently press Shift-V instead of V and create 20 voices when you only need 2 or 3, you will have a hard time sorting out all the different voice colors.

Thanks for the feedback guys — that makes sense.

One thing is still weird, though. When I double click on the first note of bar 2, it says that it is voice 3. See screen pic.

Yet, when everything is unclicked, it does not have the same color as voice 3 in bar 1 (I double clicked on that as well, and it is voice 3 allright).

Maybe I should just start all over again with the bass clef … just delete and start from scratch.

See if this will help get you started. I entered the middle voice first (after a failed first attempt) to position those stems up, then added the bottom voice, and finally the top. Good luck getting the rests in position; I’m not sure how that will work. Perhaps someone else can help with that.
goldbergFrag.zip (197 KB)

Thanks Derrek, very kind of you to share. Do you know of a quick way to flip the stems in one voice?

No matter which voice you enter first, stem direction shouldn’t depend on the order in which you enter voices.

Thanks again.

To be pedantic, it’s not “voice 3”, but “the third voice on this staff which has default stem direction UP.”

Dorico doesn’t have the same sort of “rules” as Sibelius about avoiding and ignoring collisions between voices. AFAIK it just looks at all the notes and decides the best way to fit them around each other. If you don’t like that, you can change the “voice column index” in the properties panel, to stack up the notes in the columns you want.

Each voice has a default stem direction, but if you are using only one voice (any one, not just “voice 1”) the stem directions follow the normal rules. You can flip the stems for individual notes by right-clicking and using the Stems menu. (Note, “swap voice order” in the Stems menu doesn’t swap notes between voices in the same way as the Sibelius “swap voices” commands - it just changes the order Dorico that considers the voices when avoiding collisions between notes in different voices, i.e. which notes are moved left and right).

Presumably, that is “the third voice on this staff which has default stem direction DOWN”, from the way it’s displayed in the score.

Even better, create a new flow and start again, because voices within a flow don’t “disappear” even when you delete all the notes in them. But the voices for an instrument in each flow are independent of each other.

Whatever you did, you seem to have created a lot more voices than you actually need. Looking at the Aria, you probably need 2 voices on the top staff and 3 on the bottom. If you press Shift-V twice on the bottom staff, you should have the default voice with stems up, another with stems down, and the third shown as “2 stems up” next to the cursor. Then cycle between them with V (not Shift-V) to enter the notes in the voices you want.

The first time I had a “serious” attempt at using voices for keyboard music, I threw everything away after entering a few pages, by which time I had (more or less) figured out what was going on.

It might be easier not to start with the Aria, but one of the later variations or canons that is more clearly in 3 or 4 voices, so it’s more “obvious” what you want to achieve.

Thanks for the feedback Rob – I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it. See below. The rests in voice 1 (green) are a bit off, and in bar 2, treble staff, second beat, I probably would prefer one quarter note instead of two tied eighth notes, but I’ll try to fix that later.

The Goldberg variations are actually a useful exercise for the “flow” thing since the edition has two versions on top of each other: the original text below, and then the execution of the baroque ornaments on top (with a lengthy explanation in the introduction about how Baroque ornaments are to be properly executed).

Currently there are Baroque ornaments, but they do not play back yet. By creating both the original and the “execution of the ornaments” version side by side, once playback of ornaments is introduced it’ll be interesting to see whether Mr. Kirkpatrick and Mr. Spreadbury are on the same page when it comes to the interpretation of Baroque ornaments. :wink:

You can move rests vertically. Select the rest, click on “Rest pos” in the properties window.

I don’t know how you ended up with two 8th notes tied to a quarter in bar 2. I would just re-enter that note the way you want it. It’s a single half note in the edition I’m looking at (not by Kirkpatrick) - but maybe Mr K thinks the ornament should take “exactly” half of the first written note, not however much or little time as you feel giving it depending what mood you’re in…

As D. H. Tovey wrote in the preface to one of his editions, a performer can necessarily only play one version of a piece during any one performance, but it’s not the job of the editor to suppress the possibility that there might be more than one way to play it!

You can move rests vertically.

Can I move rests horizontally? The mechanism seems to be there in the properties panel in Engrave mode (Common > Offset), but the numbers don’t seem to affect anything as far as I have seen.

Similarly to another forumite, I am inputting Bach to train myself in Dorico techniques: in my case, the Ricercare a 6, in its two stave layout for a keyboard player. This means 3, sometimes 4, voices on a staff, which is a good challenging test in input, and then tweaking the layout. In a few cases, quarter rests need to go between two other voices on a staff, and then tweaked slightly to the left for legibility. So far, I haven’t managed to do that. But the whole experience is great fun.

(I’m not trying to have each Bach voice correspond to a consistent Dorico voice on its staff. Stem direction preference seems more important.)

You can’t currently nudge rests horizontally relative to the notes that coincide with them. We have certainly not ruled out making this possible in the future, however.