Grand Staff: Voice 1 always in Bass Cleff

• Nov 8, 2019 - 04:40

Whenever you create a Grand Staff, Voice 1 (Rests) fill both the Treble and Bass Cleffs. It's easy enough to add Alto (Voice 2) to the Treble Cleff. But, in Bass Cleff, even after adding Tenor (Voice 3) and Bass (Voice 4), there is still Voice 1. Eleminating Voice 1 is almost impossible (if indeed not possible).

The smart thing to do is to have Voice 3 (or 4) automatically fill the Bass Cleff (with rests) upon creation of the Grand Staff.

Then, click on the Bass Cleff and provide the option to fill it with the other Voices (3 or 4) (Rests). That would be intuitive to the users needs.


You have voices confused. There are two definitions for voices.

  1. singing voices - S, A, T & B - These are instruments you add to the score.
  2. Notation voices 1, 2, 3, & 4. - Every staff has 4 voices that can be notated on it. Always start by putting the higher notes in voice 1 and lower notes in voice 2. Only use voices 3 & 4 if there are more than 2 rhythms on a staff. Unneeded rests in voices 2, 3, & 4 can be deleted. Voice 1 rests cannot be deleted since every staff needs a voice 1.

When you have a closed vocal score (SA on one staff and TB on another) put S & T into voice one and A & B into voice 2 in their respective staves.

From the handbook:
"There is no need to use (MuseScore) voices 3 and 4 unless there are more than two parts in the same staff. This means that in the bass clef of a “close score”, the tenor is voice 1 and the bass is voice 2—beginners often without thinking assign the bass to 1, resulting in stem-direction confusion, or assign tenor to voice 3 and bass to voice 4, which then leads to confusing rests appearing in voice 1 (which cannot be deleted)."


Thanks for the clerificaion.

For the benifit of anyone coming after me with the same confusion...

Each Clef can have up to 4 voices. Typically, in a Grand Staff, in Treble Clef, Voice 1 would be Saprano, Voice 2 would be Alto. In Bass Clef, Voice 1 would be Tenor and Voice 2 would be Bass.

In reply to by michaelch2934

There's a different misunderstanding that I'm afraid of.
Maybe some new users (with an incorrect guess) think that each sound is monophonic. *1 And they're trying to use all the voices they have.
You have had to make a statement like this: "A voice is not limited to a single note, it can also be a chord."

* 1: Actually there is a double answer: As a note value (duration): yes, it's based on a single duration. But in terms of the number of notes it can hold (chord): no, it is very polyphonic.

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

Thanks again for clearing this up. It makes better sense now.

A chord can be used when the tempo is the same for multiple notes. But a 2nd voice should be used when the tempo is different for two notes.
Also, when two distinct instruments are used, there should be 2 or more different voices.

Am I correct?

In reply to by michaelch2934

> 1. A chord can be used when the tempo is the same for multiple notes.
Yes, absolutely

> 2. But a 2nd voice should be used when the tempo is different for two notes.
Yes, Exactly

> 3. Also, when two distinct instruments are used, there should be 2 or more different voices.
I'm not sure about that. Each individual staff has its own 4 voices, independent of other staves.
Rule: Always start from the voice-1 for each staff. (The measure-rests you see in an a blank {non-note-entered} staff always belong to voice-1.)

In reply to by Ziya Mete Demircan

For 3, I think a further point is: when two distinct instruments (e.g. flute + oboe) are used there should be 2 or more different staves. For playback MuseScore can only reproduce a single instrument sound per stave. (Concurrently that is. It is possible to change instruments and have different sounds consecutively.) And the facility to have instruments assigned per voice has been asked for. One obvious difficulty with that would be how to deal with with differently transposing instruments concurrently on a single stave.

In reply to by SteveBlower

I cannot imagine differently-transposing instruments on the same staff. The music would make no visual sense to either player. That is a terrible idea. (Note, however, that something like this ("scordatura", deliberately detuned strings notated transposing) occurs in the Bach C minor cello suite (BWV 1011), where the top string is "in Bb", as it were (tuned a note down), and the score cannot be played on any other instrument, and presents visual chaos for analysis). Scordatura aside, this is a terrible idea. Have you ever seen it?

In reply to by BSG

No I haven't seen it and I am not advocating it. I am sure, however, that if the facility for multiple instruments on one stave was implemented someone somewhere would abuse it by putting oboe and clarinet together. If it ever is implemented, and again I am just pointing out that it has been asked for, it's not something I want or would support, I would hope that the implementation would include something that prevents, such an abuse, or at least makes it very difficult.

In reply to by SteveBlower

It is exceedingly common in music theory/analysis textbooks to condense orchestral scores by packing as many different parts as can fit onto a small number of staves, but it is intended for the eye and mind, or maybe even trying it at a piano, not performance. To play such a reduction with the parts intended would be like teaching a dog to dance; a neat trick if you can do it, but that's neither the optimal activity for dogs nor the best dance to be seen.

In reply to by SteveBlower

[…]For playback MuseScore can only reproduce a single instrument sound per stave. (Concurrently that is.[…]
This is not true.
If you have an instrument with multiple channels, then you can assign a channel to each voice using a staff text.
See for example the closed SATB templates where both the SA and TB staves have two channels and each can be assigned a different sound using the mixer.

In reply to by michaelch2934

@michaelch2934... You wrote...
But a 2nd voice should be used when the tempo is different for two notes.

Hmm... (perhaps a matter of semantics?)
Presumably two voices on a single staff must play at the same tempo so that their different rhythms will stay in synch such that they both finish playing the score at the same time.
In other words, one would not want voice 1 to play at a different tempo - for example, faster - and arrive at the score's end ahead of voice 2.

(After all, the 2 voices do share the staff's time signature, so one voice cannot play 3/8 time signature and the other 3/4 time signature at twice the tempo to remain in synch.)

In reply to by michaelch2934

If you consider a tenor voice and bass voice 2 distinct instruments, then saying each distinct instrument belongs in its own voice is correct. This is one of the few places you will see distinct instruments on the same staff. It is quite unusual to see an oboe and flute on the same staff, even though it is possible and would even be rather easy to understand what notes each is playing as long as each has it's own voice.

In reply to by mike320

This forces the "keyboard/MIDI" model question. If you attempt to play, as is done every day, four-part settings such as hymns and chorales written for four voices, or even contrapuntal music written for keyboard, on a real piano, organ, or other keyboard instrument (multiple organ manuals and pedals excepted), voices will disappear at unisons, and expressing unisons of different time-values is an issue, which was true centuries before the first computer spoke. Real keyboard instruments have forever been a "musical instrument digital (as in "fingers") interface" to polyphony.

In reply to by BSG

There are examples of all kinds of crazy notations. Most commonly, a unison between a tenor and bass in a closed score has both up and down stems as would be the default for MuseScore if tenor is in voice 1 and bass in voice 2. I've kept this discussion to voices for the most part because that is the question. You have been the first to say in the past that a keyboard player would not be expected to blindly play a closed vocal score but some common sense would need to be applied to a keyboard reduction, and I agree.

In reply to by mike320

I'm saying quite the opposite, to wit, (1) keyboard players ARE expected to play closed vocal scores every day, and have been for centuries (2) open vocal scores don't alleviate the problem (3) the issue is not a matter of notation, but a matter of using keyboard instruments to render polyphony, whether vocal polyphony or not (4) what "blindly" means is highly negotiable, i.e., how to treat overlapping unison notes (restrike or not? release at the end of the shorter one or not? Does it depend upon context?) -- and "common sense" is not at all obvious. MIDI is for this purpose a "keyboard instrument". Furthermore, organ (and harpsichord) couplers implement a specific interpretation, a logical "or", with no restrikes or releases (again, true for centuries).

In reply to by frfancha

I meant, "short release, then continue". Consider a fast scale of short notes that passes through a long-held note on a single keyboard, not "short note kills long note" as was the case in MuseScore until fairly recently. At any rate, I wanted to make the point that this is a fundamental issue with single-keyboard polyphony, not a notation problem.

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