Why does voice colour change

It’s very good that we can now choose colours for voices. But if I simply use the defaults, the colour often changes when I reopen the project. Why is that? It’s a bit confusing, after you get used to one colour for a while and suddenly it’s different, as the mind takes a lot of cues from the colour.

Is this a defect? If it’s by design, it seems strange to me. Dorico Pro 4.2.


When you close and reopen a project, any unused voices are automatically cleared up, meaning that voice numbers and colours may be reallocated.

But if the same voice, say Down-stem Voice 1 why does that get reallocated since it has not been destroyed.

This goes against the principle of least surprise in software design. First, I’m not expecting it,. Second, I spend time trying to work out if something has completely messed up. Third, it should jolly well stay the same colour. Not happy at all!

What happens if I specify a colour? Is that choice retained?

Voice colours are allocated across an entire instrument, in the order in which the voices were created. This means that, for instance, if you reassign a Down-stem voice as an Up-stem voice (using Voices > Default Stems Up) it won’t change colour.

If the second voice you originally used becomes empty, the next time you open the project the third voice and subsequent voices will shuffle along the colour chart (and may also be renumbered: there’s no point having a Down-stem Voice 2 if the stave no longer contains a Down-stem Voice 1).

After some experimentation, I hope I have discerned the logic of assigning colors per instrument. Tell me if this is not right:

On a single-staff instrument, voices are assigned in the order they are created. Simple.

A 2-staff instrument such as piano already uses 2 voices by default, one on each staff. So they take the “Voice 1” and “Voice 2” colors (as labeled in Prefs), though they are both Up-stem Voice 1. Additional voices are assigned colors in the order they are created. So if I make a down-stem voice on the LH staff first, it will take the 3rd color, and then a new voice on the top staff takes the 4th color, etc.

Like Andro, I was expecting a given voice by name (e.g. “Down-stem Voice 1”) to be the same color in all staves at the same time, but clearly that’s not how it works.

That sounds about right. Voice numbers are staff specific; colours are shared across the entire instrument. This makes it easier to determine the origin staff of cross-staffed material, for instance.

The complication, as Andro has found, is that if the entire contents of a voice is removed (or moved to other voices) then that voice will be stripped out the next time the file’s loaded. Dorico won’t leave holes in either the numbering or the colour chart; it’ll renumber and recolour subsequent voices to fill the gap.

IIRC at some point there was discussion about eventually allowing users to give names to the individual voices. If my memory is correct and that eventually occurs, it could go a long way to ending the confusion.

I, too have been trying to figure this out. So there’s no simple way to do the following?:

  • always have the upstem voice 1 of BOTH the treble and bass clefs always the same, specific color (such as red);
  • always have the downstem voice 2 of BOTH the treble and bass clefs always the same, specific color (such as blue?)

(regardless of how many voices I end up using, what order I created them, etc.?) I’d just like to be able to look at my piano score with colors on and see that all voices in each staff have been assigned to one of those two things.

If this isn’t possible: then consider it a feature suggestion.

Best -

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I mostly like that idea, except when crossing notes to the other staff with the M and N commands. Then it’s good to have, say, the alto and tenor voices with different colors.