Voices in grand staff

First of all, don’t use ‘chord mode’ - that has nothing to do with voice structure on the grand staff (or any staff). The default voice in each staff is an up-stem voice. When in note input mode, you can start a new voice by pressing shift+V. New voices are created by entering a note into the new voice. You can toggle through existing voices by pressing V. In the beginning, the keyboard part will have only two voices present - an up-stem voice in the ‘soprano’ (G-clef) and an up-stem voice in the ‘bass’ (F-clef).
If, say, you wanted to enter a complete 4-voice chord on the first beat of the measure you would invoke the input carat and either type the note in from the computer keyboard or play the note on your midi device. After that note is entered the carat will move to the next beat. You can back-arrow the carat to the first beat and press ‘shift+V’ to obtain the first down-stem voice.
(This down-stem voice is started by pressing shift-V.)

Again, using your preferred input method, enter the alto voice note. The process is repeated in the lower staff by pressing the down arrow to place the input carat into the F-clef and repeating the steps above for the tenor and bass voices.
In practice, I generally enter the voices one at a time instead of chordally (say if I’m transcribing a Bach chorale). Using this method one can achieve results such as this:

The tenor voice in the above example was entered with the ‘chord mode’ invoked.

If you are seeing that dorico wants to add second upstem voice, press shift V one more time to cycle back to a downstem voice.


Thank you, Romanos. Pressing Shift-V again does indeed give me a down-stem voice. But surely that shouldn’t be necessary?

Moreover, suppose (after getting my down-stem voice) I decide to enter the up-stem note first. Pressing V gives me the soprano voice. If I then change my mind and decide to enter the down-stem note, pressing V again has no effect. I can’t get back to the alto voice without an undo. There’s something funny going on, isn’t there?

Did you enter a note in the alto voice before abandoning it? Perhaps you need to enter a note to fix the added voice in place.


I didn’t, and I think you’re right. I didn’t realise that you have to use the new voice or lose it. Thanks. I think what’s confusing me is that the process is described as “creating” a new voice – implying that, once created, the voice exists, even if it’s empty. But perhaps all you are doing when you “create” a voice is to define one of the parameters of the next note you input, like selecting a note duration? That would explain why you can’t save empty voices in a template.

Anyway I still don’t understand why it’s necessary to press Shift-V twice on crossing to the treble clef.

Yes, you have to put something into a voice for it to actually be added. The caret displays what will happen (what voice will be employed) if you actually do some data entry. If you get it to show the plus icon, but then abandon the voice before doing anything, nothing happens.

See my post on this previous thread; there’s a good gif.

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Edited my earlier comment for clarity to state that Shift+V doesn’t create the new voice until a note is entered into that voice.

Got it, thanks. So “create voice” is shorthand for “select, for the next note to be input, a voice to which no previous note on this staff has been assigned”? Obviously we need a shorthand equivalent for that, but I think “create voice” is misleading.

I guess this is a case of “use it or lose it.”

(If it prevents a clutter of unneeded voices, I am all for it.)

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Hey, that’s my line! :slightly_smiling_face:

The possibility that I might accidentally end up never using my new voice is hardly a reason to say I can’t have it unless I use it immediately. But if (as I now understand) voices are merely attributes of notes, the question can’t arise, because an empty voice is a logical impossibility.

I do think the manual ought to make this clearer. If an accurate explanation (viz. that Shift-V doesn’t actually create a voice) would come across as too pedantic, I think the manual should at least make it clear that Shift-V has no effect unless you input a note before switching to another voice. It’s like selecting a quarter note and then, before inputting the note, selecting a half note instead.

As it happens, I’m taking a look at this already.

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Thank you Lillie!

I thought I understood this but it seems I was wrong, and I don’t want to mislead anyone else. I now see that a voice doesn’t get deleted when all the notes in it are deleted. It follows that a voice can exist independently of the notes in it, and it is not just an attribute of notes. But in that case I don’t understand why Shift-V doesn’t create a voice, even if you don’t immediately put a note in that voice.

Why do you care? What problem are you trying to solve? Whatever voice you have or need, Dorico has tools to allow you to change it to something else.

But in that case I don’t understand why Shift-V doesn’t create a voice, even if you don’t immediately put a note in that voice.

It’s because a voice doesn’t need to exist until it has notes (or other items) in it. As you type Shift+V repeatedly, you can cycle through different options for the voice to be created, e.g. an extra down-stem voice, then an extra up-stem voice. If you intend to write notes into, say, the extra up-stem voice, if Dorico were to create the voice as soon as you hit Shift+V, you’d also end up with an extra down-stem voice, which you don’t want.

(To address any possible subtext that this is something that Dorico should do differently: this is not something we’re going to change. It’s something we thought hard about, and decided to implement in this way, for good reasons.)


@dspreadbury: There is no such subtext. What I did suggest (expressly) was that the manual could be clearer about how this works.

@Janus: As I said, I posted in order to correct a misapprehension in my earlier post. I care because I would rather understand what is going on than just learn how to deal with it. Sometimes it helps.

It does, but not necessarily immediately: when you next close and re-open the project, you should find that any unused voices no longer exist because they’ve been “tidied up”.

I would agree that the Dorico documentation should be complete, but given its already voluminous size, I don’t think the manual’s role is to also explain the thinking behind each feature and how the Team has developed it.

I realize that some get wound up in the"logic" of a given approach, and occasionally some background understanding helps one use a feature more wisely or more creatively; but in that case a specific request for information here has, as far as I know, been the best way to find out. Burdening Lillie and her team with a charge to add background information on every feature in advance seems an inefficient use of her team’s time and energy.

(Have to say, hearing Daniel’s explanation impresses me once again with the enormous thought that went into Dorico’s design.)

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I didn’t suggest that it was. I said the manual could be clearer about how this works, not why it works that way.

I updated this page as a result of the discussion in this thread, and it is now clearer that “Only voices that contain notes are preserved” and at the end, “Any voices that you created, but did not input notes into, are deleted”.