Voice and stem direction

• Apr 9, 2020 - 15:54

Is there a way to change the default stem direction of a voice? For example, in single stave notation for guitar voice 1 is always stems up and the bottom voice is always stems down.


No, you can't change the default stem direction, but nor would this be useful. The point is to choose the voice to fit the music. So use voice 1 for the notes you want to be stem up, etc. Or, in the cases where the voices dross, just keep using the voices consistently and the stem direction will be what alerts the reader that this has happened.

If you still have questions about how to use voices in MuseScore, please attach a sample score (or even just a relevant excerpt) so we can advise better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you both for the replies. For some reason the majority of notes I enter in voice 1 are stem down, not up. Since this is music for classical guitar I typically notate with the 8va bassa treble clef so that playback is the same octave as guitar which is notated an octave lower than pitch. Would this have an effect on default stem directions by voice. A score in progress is attached.

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ConTePartiroV040820.mscz 32.59 KB

In reply to by Dingalls0786

I think you are probably using voice 1 incorrectly if you are constantly wanting stem down notes in that voice. That should not happen much at all. Is there a particular measure in your attached score where you are concerned? First few measures I looked at had voice 1 stems up just as I'd expect. I would suggest, though, that the middle voice should probably have been entered in voice 4 rather than 3, if you want it stem down by default. No one ever said the voices other than 1 have to be used in order.

In reply to by Dingalls0786

Oh wait, maybe I understand: when you first enter the voice 1 notes, before you've entered anything else, the stems will be a mix of stems up & down depending on the pitch, according to the standard rules of notation. This is totally correct - if a measure has only one voice, its stems should follow those standard rules: notes on the top half of the staff have stems down, notes on the bottom half have stems up. So if you ever have a measure with only one voice, this will happen automatically and you shouldn't mess with it. But as soon as you enter anything into any other voice, MsueScore automatically flips all the voice 1 stems up, again in accordance with standard rules of notation. So you really should virtually never need to flip stems manually or need to override defaults at all, except maybe once in while with those inner voices 3 & 4.

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