Can different voices on a stave have different mixer channels - and different sounds?

• May 14, 2022 - 22:18

I really don't know the answer to this at the moment - other than that I suspect the answer is "No" - but it is only a suspicion.

I can see in the mixer that it is possible to mute individual voices, so I wondered if there were any other options. For example, if a flute and a piccolo had parts written on the same stave could they have two strips in the mixer, and perhaps use diferent soundfonts/audio libraries?

Clearly notationally there would be issues if instruments in different voices used different conventions - for example one normally using bass clef, the other normally using treble clef, or another example would be an oboe or flute playing with a B flat clarinet [transposing]. The difficulties might however turn out to be not so insurmountable. Some composers, for example - I think Stravinsky was one - wrote their works at concert pitch - and left any details of tranposition to editors. In Beethoven's time one simple solution was simply to write for instruments in C - parts which may well be transposed for modern instruments in B flat or A.

I just wonder if this is at all possible, or if my suspicion of a negative answer means I can shelve this notion - at least for a while.


For a long time, different mixer channels have been available for instruments like violin, trumpet, guitar which are able to produce different sounds, see:
where one can choose any sound for a channel. For example, the pizzicato channel can be assigned to any available sound in the soundfont and not restricted to violin (pizzicato) only.

Nowadays the same can be accomplished using the Text palette. Here's an example using S/A text from the palette, then assigning Flute and Trumpet to the two channels available in the Mixer:
2voices - 2 instruments.mscz
Instrument names are changed to Flute Trumpet in Staff/Part Properties.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Ah - your example is interesting and pretty much what I was looking for.

I haven't used the S/A or other options from the Text palette much - if at all.

So that's two instruments on one stave - which realistically is probably as many as any reasonably sane person would want ..... no further comment!!!!!

So is this for playback or real players. While there are players that can switch from flute to bass clarinet and back again (I've known some), they are not the norm. So there isn't much point.
I think some of this is already possible for playback, but why?

In reply to by bobjp

jm6stringer above has given a solution to what I was looking for.

Interesting about your flute to bass clarinet player example. I suppose there could be other crazy ones - for example oboe + drumset (using a foot pedal).

For writing scores/parts for performance you are pretty much correct - not much point.

There is some point for playback, as composers/arrangers can produce sketch versions of pieces on one stave instead of having to use several.

I am not sure if jm6stringer's suggestion above would also work with more instruments, using the Change Instrument command on the Text Palette. For instruments (sounds) playing sequentally - i.e. not at the same time - it is possible to use Change Instrument to get a change of timbre. I can't quite see how that could work with the S/A suggestion - but it might be possible. Is it possible to issue a Change Instrument command to alter just one "voice"?

I am looking at this from the perspective of a composer/arranger who might want to try out possible sounds quickly without having to write out a fuller score. It is surprising what can be achieved with just a few modifications to the way sounds are assigned to instruments within MS.

In reply to by dave2020X

I admit to not understanding how having to take the time to set up a single staff to play several instruments, plus having to make changes along the way, is better than having a few staves to begin with. Playback is only a rough estimation of the final product anyway. If I want the sax to double the guitar rhythm, that what I'm going to write. Relying too much on playback can be a problem. I have written things in one software that I thought sounded OK. Then I put them in another software and they don't always work the same way.
But I get it. You're asking questions. So am I.

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