Cross-staff melody best practices

• Dec 4, 2022 - 05:29

In the attached image, all of the treble notes are played by the right hand and the bass notes by the left hand, except the high B and G in the bass clef, which are played by the right hand. I want to make this explicit or at the very least intuitive, so that an unconfident reader won't have to guess what's intended and an experienced reader can see it from a distance. In particular, I want it to be clear which notes belong to which hand and which ones form the melody.

I can't find anyone in agreement about what exactly cross-staff notation indicates with regard to fingering, but even if it were unambiguous, putting all the right-hand notes on the treble staff buries the shape of the melody. Are there rules? How does one learn about this?


A not uncommon technique is to add a play-with-this-hand hook to the starting note. You can find these in the master palette > All Symbols and search for "play" or "hand" to find them.

Unless you have specific reasons for putting them in the bass staff (reproducing an urtext score, for instance), as a keyboardist I would suggest putting the B and G in the treble staff (voice 2), with lines to and from, showing which direction the melody goes.

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