Multiple "instruments" on one staff (e.g., SATB on grand staff)

• Oct 15, 2019 - 03:20

I've worked with several other notation programs (and even helped develop Lime) and now teach MuseScore and Sibelius to undergraduates. In other programs I've been able to assign two different "instruments" to one staff, specify stems up or down, as in SATB: Soprano (one voice, stem up, treble clef) Alto (one voice, stem down, *treble clef), T, B stem up and down on bass clef. The advantage of assigning two instruments is that you can then extract these to separate SATB parts. I understand how to use voices to create stems up/down SATB on a piano staff (Sop; voice 1, treble, Alto; voice 2 treble, Tenor; voice 1 bass, Bass; voice 2 bass), but this cannot be extracted to individual parts: Sop, Alto, Tenor, Bass.

What am I missing? Or is this not possible.


In reply to by Shoichi

Thanks for the quick, but incorrect, reply. Yes, I've read both of these and tried them. I understand how to use voices to generate stem up/down scores.

Please re-read my question, which is: how can I extract these to one part per "voice": SAT and B? The Closed SATB template will only extract to one treble staff (S/A) and one bass (T/B). I want a closed SATB that will extract to one S, one A, one T, one B.

Stated another way: I want the instruments of an open SATB score (one instrument per staff), but displayed on closed staff, so that I can print both the closed Grand staff version, but extract all four parts.

In reply to by mikecottleuofu

The reply was correct but incomplete. You can create a voice instrument with 2 staves and put S & A on the top staff and T & B on the bottom staff. S & T go in voice 1 A & B in voice 2. With multiple voices on a staff, voice 1 always points up and voice 2 always points down unless you change it. If you do this you can then create parts out of the voices. In addition to the links shoichi gave you see for adding a staff and for creating parts. Note that starting in version 3.2 the New All button is labelled Generate. Otherwise this is still sufficient to explain the process.

In reply to by mike320

Well, and yes, I've both of these too. Maybe we're getting closer. When I then extract parts my only choice is Voice. When I create a part, I can only add Voice, but then I can uncheck which voice on each staff are included, but it requires at least one voice on each, and the "parts" are two staves.

So I'll ask again: given that I have a voice part with two staves, S stem up voice 1, A stem down voice 2, T stem up voice 1 staff 2, B stem down voice 2 staff 2, how do I extract just the soprano with one staff, voice one, that is, only the soprano part.

This seems like a very basic missing feature.

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In reply to by mikecottleuofu

I agree this is either a limitation or bug but is easily worked around. As I said before, use voices 1 & 2 for all of your parts. When you generate parts you can then select voice 3 or 4 in the unused staff. In all of the parts hide empty staves (menu format->Style check Hide empty staves & apply to all parts) and you will have parts you like.

In reply to by Shoichi

And yes, your first replay was correct. I didn't look closely enough at the staves in the part extraction and didn't understand how to select which voices were added to each part.

Thanks again. We keep a list of what we think are "missing" features, and this scratches one item off the list.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Well now that I understand how you extract parts, here is my suggestion. Allow the user to uncheck everything except one voice on one staff in a two staff piano part. That way you could extract a piano part into four separate parts: S, A, T, and B.

Reasoning: One of the discussions we have in our classes is how intuitive a software package is, and MuseScore is very intuitive. I often give students who have never used any notation program a simple lead sheet assignment and see if they can just figure it out. They can usually do most of it right out of the box. It's all about what a musician expects and how we think. A lot of software seems like it's designed by software engineers, not musicians. So MuseScore scores high in that regard.

When doing four part choral exercises we rarely think of it as two female voices on one staff and two male voices on one staff. We nearly always (right or wrong) work on a grand staff, i.e., piano. (And in fact, after switching to the closed choral staff I immediately changed the sounds to piano, because that's how I work on four part exercises and that's what I expect.) So that's where most musicians will gravitate when thinking SATB. The solution then is to make it easier to extract those four voices into four single staff lines.

In reply to by mikecottleuofu

FWIW: to further my argument. I've worked in notation packages for years and even wrote the manual for one (Lime) back in the 90s. I've used MuseScore for years and even after TWO explanations of how to extract SATB parts I didn't understand. That's because (again, right or wrong) I was thinking piano grand staff. Not two women and two men staves.

In reply to by mikecottleuofu

Makes sense. As I said, I suspect you'll soon run into enough other bugs & limitations that you'll probably stop using this approach at all, it really could use some work. FWIW, I assume the reason this wasn't thought of originally is that the intended use case wasn't for SATB vocal music - that rarely uses separate parts at all in my experience. It was more for orchestral music, sharing two flutes on a staff, etc. But it's true in order to make the feature more useful for vocal music also, it would be good to be able to separate out the parts of a grand staff.

Are you a programmer? MuseScore is, as you probably realize, open source, and this would make a fine place to get involved and make improvements (scratch your own itch, as open source people often like to say).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Got it. And we understand now. But in general MuseScore certainly scores points for support. I always teach it first to give students a solid open source option, and they really appreciate it. All in all, we are very impressed with the functionality.

I do code, but am an amateur (musician first). I've thought about joining, maybe over the break.

Thanks for all the input!

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