more independent voices, please

• May 8, 2019 - 20:39

In my experience, it is traditional to write guitar music on a single staff. As a composer / arranger for guitar, I have been thwarted by the four voice per staff limitation, especially when notating finger-style and finger-picking arrangements. Not being polydactyl, I've never needed six voices, but I've certainly needed five.

The four voice limitation forces me to use a grand staff, which guitarists find hard to read and which doubles the page length of a score.

Thank you,


You are aware that you can enter chords within a single voice?
I just can't imagine you using different rhythms at the same time, let alone resulting in something playable.

If you can show/find an example of what you're trying to write with MuseScore, I'm confident we can advise you on an easier way to notate it.

In reply to by jeetee

No doubt I am, as usual, misusing the software. I will provide an example, but first some background.

I have composed a finger-style guitar piece. To score my composition, I must approach the guitar as an instrument with six independent voices, one voice per string (ideally). This is the only way to achieve correct note duration in a complex arrangement where some strings ring while others are hammered/pulled-off or otherwise fretted and plucked or slapped in a syncopated fashion. Key words: note duration.

Indeed, it is often the case that two or more strings might be sounded on a particular beat, so the option of using a single voice beckons, but their durations are different, so chords won't work.

Stand by for an excerpt and thank you for taking an interest, jeetee!

In reply to by zzwerzy

Here is the sample.

In the treble clef:
V4=1st string
V1=2nd string
V2=3rd string
V3=4th string

In the bass clef V1 suffices for all and represents the 5th and 6th strings.

My goal is to include that bass voice with all the others on a single staff. Ha!

This file originates from MuseScore 2.3.2 and uses the FluidR3mono_GM font. Turn the reverb a bit to the Dry side for clarity.

Attachment Size
sample.mscz 21.21 KB

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

I am overwhelmed at how Ziya Mete Demircan turned my notational mess into something we can all read (and enjoy!). Aside from some missing notes, it plays correctly. I have little doubt that ZMD has shown me the way to superior notation. I'm still trying to understand that, seeing as the note durations are mostly truncated. But it indubitably works!

I am very, very grateful for your attentions, Mr Demircan! Thank you for taking the time to do this.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Yes, it did!

As you have no doubt surmised, I am only half-educated when it comes to scoring. Thus, some of the notation you used is mysterious to me; such as the dots below the bass note stems and the 2-measure-long lines below that. What are those marks?

Reworked example attached, TAB and fingerings removed as this is in a non-standard guitar tuning.

Attachment Size
alternate-guitar2.mscz 10.63 KB

In reply to by zzwerzy

Those dots are staccato dots in the articulation palette. It's used to shorten the length of the note.

Though here is "let ring." Although it doesn't work much for the way we use it, I used those dots because of basses are 1.5 beat long on your original note. For readability: I used the half note + staccato dot on it. (We could also use "tenuto + staccato" articulation.)

The "let ring" line means "continue to hold the played notes" and "do not lift fingers for holding notes". (or something like that).
It works like a "sustain pedal" on the piano or musical keyboard. But it's for using it on the guitar. (You can find it in the Lines palette.)

I often use TAB notation when writing guitar notes.
The reason for this: To prevent any finger from falling behind the barre and/or prevent to create impossible positions.

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