Cross Staff Arpeggios

• Aug 23, 2011 - 20:03

Musescore Handbook states:
"In version 0.9.5 or later you can edit the length of the arpeggio by double clicking on it and dragging the handle up or down."
Below this is a picture of two staves (treble and bass?) with the arpeggio shown across both staves.

I've followed the Handbook instructions in the attached file.
The first arpeggio (treble clef only) and second arpeggio (bass clef only) are played correctly on playback as arpeggiated.
But the third arpeggio across both staves doesn't play correctly on playback.
I've slowed down the tempo to see what's happening - you can see and hear that in playback of the cross stave arpeggio Musescore correctly plays the bass chord as an arpeggio but simultaneously plays the treble chord on top of - not after - the bass arpeggio, and also plays it as a straight chord which is not arpeggiated.

What am I doing wrong?
Also, can the speed of arpeggiation be varied for the purpose of performance expression?

Many thanks for your help.

Attachment Size
Cross Staff Arpgeggio.mscz 1.67 KB


There is currently no way to make an arpeggio on two staves with the right playback in MuseScore. The speed of arpeggiation is not variable. You do nothing wrong but you might expect too much from the current MuseScore, it's a score writer with some playback capabilities but not a pianist ;)

Although technically you can't use MuseScore to notate an arpeggio to play correctly across 2 staffs, you can notate the notes that make up the arpeggio to sound correctly, in this case the lower set (Bass Clef) will start from the beginning of the bar. The top set (Treble Clef) will offset by an 8th rest and notated as half notes. Add the arpeggio separately and you have something that would sound roughly like what is required.

Next set all the rests & notes for the top set to Invisible. Then go to the Symbols menu and drag the symbol with the proper note head 1 by 1 into the staff. These are just symbols for display and will not play in MuseScore. This way takes a bit more effort but would produce something that would sound very similar to what you'd normally play.

Sample file included:

Attachment Size
arpeggio-playable.mscz 2.92 KB

In reply to by thepianoplayer

...that you can leave the top staff notes visible (make the stem invisible), then change the note head type to 'whole' in Note Properties. Next, position the whole notes over the notes in the bottom staff by double clicking to enter edit mode, then use the left arrow to move the notes.
(To get to note properties, select the chord, then right click and access 'Note Properties' in the popup menu.)
Use of the Symbols (Z) palette, would not be necessary in this case.

Select one note and add the glissando to the chord, triple click the glissando line, and press Shift-up or down to stretch it across both staffs.

Bit of a work-around, but here's what I do:

First, notate the entire chord in the lower staff, but make invisible the notes that belong in the upper staff. Then write the part of the chord you made invisible in the upper staff, except that in the Inspector, you un-tick the box that says "play". Lastly, add the arpeggio to the lower staff and extend it up so that it looks like nothing is wrong!

Attachment Size
Rolled_Chord_Across_Staves.mscz 4.72 KB

In reply to by wagill

Except... now that I tried it, in my case the invisible notes (added to the bass staff) do add extra space between the staves. Is there a way to suppress that, so that the staves will space as if the invisible notes were not there? Many thanks for the help.

In reply to by wagill

The problem with that method is that the stem is not made invisible. This is also why there is a larger gap the higher the notes go. You need to put everything that plays in an unused voice and everything you want to see and not play in voice 1. This will give you both visual and proper playback.

What I do is enter the arpeggio the way I want it to look except for the arpeggio symbol. I copy the arpeggion to an empty measure later in the score. Select the top and bottom measures (click one and shift click the other) and use Tools->Implode twice to put all notes in voice 1. I then Select this top measure and use Tools->Voices->Exhange (and select 1 and an unused voice, normally voice 2). I then open the filter selector (press F6) and turn off voice 1, select the measure and press v to make the notes invisible and copy the measure (this is assuming voice 2 is used). Check voice 1 since your done copying. Back in the original measure, select both measures and click the Notes button in the inspector and uncheck play to silence these notes. I then select a note in the top staff and paste. At this point a voice 2 note should be selected, so I add the arpeggio symbol to it. Double click the arpeggio symbol and drag it down to cover the notes in the bottom staff. I put the arpeggio visible in voice 2 because it makes proper playback and display. Under some conditions, putting an invisible arpeggio in voice 2 causes the voice 1 arpeggio to be in the wrong spot.

I haven't tried it, but you might be able to add the bottom staff notes on the bottom of the top staff notes and double click the stem so you can shorten it enough it doesn't look weird.

In reply to by mike320

Hey, there is another option which is sort of weird: to any chord with extensive ledger lines that is desired to be hidden afterwards for any reason, and the ledger lines end up undesirably extending a grand-staff's gap, (unfortunately mere invisibility still retains this gap), try using the Y-Offsetting of the chord afterwards. Usually, there's no reason to use this feature at all with notes, but here, there's an actual use case for it. Go extreme and bring the chord way down/up and away from the gap, and this should help.

In reply to by mike320

Thank you for your detailed explanation, mike. I get your point on your first paragraph; I am having some difficulty following your instructions on your second paragraph. But, no sweat, I'll play with it.

On a side note, the arpeggiated/rolled chords in my piece have different duration on the treble and bass staff. I wonder if that will interfere with your solution. But, again, I'll try. Thanks again.

In reply to by wagill

Aside: Here's a gif video of making the attached mscz playable with an arpeggio (it's sped up 0.20%). It might not be exactly Mike320's method, but maybe it can help for visuals. Note again that even with full invisibility, there was a gap that was addressed via Chord: Y-Offset and that the stems/slurs had to be re-directed manually.


In reply to by wagill

This is how it looks using my method. One issue to deal with is that there are different durations in the arpeggio, so I used ties. Notice that I only included the notes used by the arpeggio and silenced the visible notes that I duplicated. I also used Worldweary's trick of moving the invisible notes up so the staves will not be so far apart. As I said I would do, I used the measure I added to create the notes in voice 2 then cut and pasted them into the first measure.

Attachment Size
arpeggio sample.mscz 6 KB

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