Should We Always Distinguish Voices on Entry?

• Dec 5, 2020 - 04:40

Does it matter how we enter the notes for voices when there's an option?

For instance I have bass clef bar in 4/4 with three semibreves in it: C, F, A. I think the F,A. are in one voice and the C in another because the C has been repeated in every bar since the first bar.

So I can enter them as a three note chord in one voice or two notes in one voice and one note in another.

Does this matter at all, anywhere along the line?


As long as all of the notes in the measure have the same rhythms, they can be put into voice 1. Once you have different rhythms on the same beat you need to use voices. Always start with voices 1 & 2 then add 3 & 4 only if necessary. If you do this, your stems will automatically point the correct directions. So you know, I've been known to use more than one voice for a chord of whole notes, but this is normally because one or more of the notes is tied to an adjacent measure, normally with multiple voices. This is consistent with what you describe with the C in your measure. This is not mandatory since MuseScore will tie a voice 1 note to a voice 2 note and so forth.

If I understand correctly, you are referring to three simultaneous semibreves, and you are thinking based on the surrounding context that the F&A go together, but the C is logically separate, Because in other measures, the is also a C semibreve but different rhythms going on above or below it that require multiple voices.

If that is what you mean, then for this one measure, you could safely combine them into one chord in one voice indeed.

One reason not to would be ease of future editing - by keeping the one logical voice containing the C also literally in the same voice throughout, you can easily edit or otherwise work with just that part, such as using the selection filter, or the mute buttons in the Mixer, etc. Also, FWIW, a blind user navigating the score by keyboard would find this much easier to comprehend, I think.

But on the end, it's really a personal decision that doesn't affect anything about the appearance or playback of the finished score - just some details about the experience of working with it.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Exactly so, Marc, thank you. They are simultaneous. Sorry I didn't make that clear. I tried to add a pic but had smartphone hassles.
Based on what you say I'll put them in different voices in order to train myself to that habit for the sake of the benefits it can offer that perhaps I'd have a call for in the future.
But I won't "worry" about it - make a big thing out of it, needing to get it perfect - because you've assured me in the end it doesn't affect appearance or playback.
So I'm well satisfied. :)

In reply to by abrogard

Excellent! I should mention, I had to check one thing for myself before saying it wouldn't affect appearance, and that is whether there were likely to be any mialignments of the three notes due to the fact that whole notes are wider than other notes and this can sometimes cause surprising results with how things align. But in this particular example, it doesn't :-)

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