Multiple slurs between chords

• Feb 2, 2023 - 22:53

In MS3 when there were chords with slurs between multiple noteheads on the cords, entering one slur line and a second usually resulted in two superimposed lines. You could click the line pair and hit x and you would separate the lines on up and one down. If you had multiple lines, you could also select a line and drag it off the superimposed set. So you could get three and even four lines if necessary and if there was also a tie, it would fit in. In MS4 I cannot get multiple slur lines. Adding a second just does not show up using either the slur in the menu bar or clicking on the slur in the palettes after selecting notes. I just get a single slur line. Only thing that worked was to highlight a slur and do copy/paste. Certainly this is not the only way so what am I doing incorrectly? Also slurs, and other lines, hairpins etc used to be set by selecting the start note and CTRL on the end note/rest +1. The line would then be placed from selected not to whatever came before the note indicated with CTRL. This no longer seems to work and lines extend to include the one selected with CTRL.


I don't have an answer, but I am having the same problem and it's driving me bonkers. I've spent the last hour trying to figure it out for one chord change in a piano part. I tried using multiple voices and hiding flags, but I couldn't get the slurs to be in the right position. They always anchored to the wrong note and every time I tried to move one of the slurs when I was able to get multiple slurs for one voice, it would select the entire measure.

In reply to by ToreVang

They were probably ties not slurs. It is very unusual to have slurs between individual notes of adjacent chords. There is usually only a single slur between adjacent chords Musescore does put ties between individual notes of adjacent chords.

To quote Elaine Gould in "Behind bars": "All notes on one stem take a single slur, and not a slur to each note."

In reply to by SteveBlower

I strongly disagree. I see double slurs all the time, in a variety of contexts. It's true that I have a lot of music originally printed between 1800-1950, and tastes change. Still, here are uses I have seen in more than one piano score form different publishers, in the last week

  1. Grace notes: A grace note is usually drawn with a slur to the specific note it modifies. Likewise, with grace note chords, when warranted, I see (at least) two slurs, showing (at least) where the upper and lower grace notes "go"

  2. Ordinary chords: the same principle applies. Sometimes it is desirable to clarify how to relate individual notes of adjacent chords. I'm interpreting the results to make sense of them, but I think all of these are common, usually between two (or a small number of) chords.
    (a) Disjoint Motion: for example, two note-chords where both notes move by leaps and perhaps in opposite directions, so that the single slur does not clearly delineate the effect of the phrasing
    (b) Voice Leading: in situations where the motion between adjacent notes produces important harmonic voice leading, the phrasing may be emphasized in both the upper and lower "voice".
    (c) Tracking a part: I find this a lot in popular sheet music from 20s-50s. They are usually transparent 4-part reductions with (from the bottom up)
    -- bass line (boom)
    -- chordal accompaniment (chuck)
    -- interior harmony
    -- melody
    Each of these "parts' may contain chords or single notes, may cross the range of other parts, or may use multiple voices within a part. When one part becomes busy, double slurs are used to clarify the upper and lower origin and destination notes, to avoid confounding it with other parts.

  3. Visual flow Well-organized visual cues make scores easy to read. Courtesy accidentals, verbose and "reminder" fingerings, detailed (possibly redundant) phrase marks -- judiciously chosen-- can all improve the readability of a score. Which is all that matters. It seems obvious that double-phrase marks I see are chosen in the final analysis because they aid in reading the score. We recognize the flexibility of rules in other instances (like courtesy accidentals which are by definition superfluous), and I'd love to have the same flexibility here. It may seem meaningless to some users, but piano music can be very dense, and engravers have used a variety of clever techniques to both
    -- limit as much as possible the number of distinct voices needed to express a musical idea, and
    --preserve as much information as possible about the phrasing, articulations, and interrelations among the implied voices

I can provide pictures of all the cases if necessary.

In reply to by SteveBlower

I'd like to make a distinction between common cases, and common practice. When I see the same practice regularly, across different decades, styles, quality of score, and publishers, I no longer consider that practice to be uncommon in the sense "non-standard". It may be more verbose, or it may simply address in a standard way, an uncommon situation. For phrase marks, I think this is intuitively obvious in at least two cases:

  1. At the piano (or any reduction), where different notes under one stem may be (with reductions "are invariably") different voices. Publishes draw whatever phrasing they see as necessary or desirable, and short of writing all piano music with a forest of stems, there will always be cases where a second slur is desirable but splitting the voices is not.
  2. With grace notes, where by nearly universal practice a slur is drawn to the specific note being modified. Grace-note chords are less common, and are often simple cases (e.g. in thirds), but nothing prevents the destination notes from being ambiguous. And standard practice would then be, to clarify.

(I'm making a case because currently in Musescore I can't make this choice)

In reply to by rkhirst

It is do-able in Musescore:

The examples of slurs under a phrase marking are trivially easy. Just select the notes of the phrase as a range and add the slur, then go back and select the notes under the slur and add that slur. To get this


Step 1 click on note on beat 1
Step 2 shift + click on note on beat 4
Step 3 press S - this creates the phrase mark
Step 4 click on note on beat 2
Step 5 press S - this creates the slur
Step 6 adjust the centre of the phrase mark to clear the slur.

The case where the notes are within a chord and are therefore necessarily the same length makes it difficult to have different sized range selections. But it can be done by adding another note on beat 3 and making a slur from beat 1 to beat three and another slur from beat 1 to beat two.

The steps are shown here:


In a real life case, there would probably be another note nearby that can be temporarily slurred to and therefore steps 2 and 7 would not be needed.

[Edit 2] See also

In reply to by SteveBlower

Thanks. I've come around to doing it this way.

I've taken to doing double slurs and grace note slurs at the end of a project because they behave badly when any layout changes are made.
Is there any plan for Musescore to support slurs attached to specific notes of a chord? This would solve a lot of problems.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Yeah. I imagine prioritization is a bear on a project like Musescore. Slurring to individual notes probably seems like a small, nonstandard issue, but I've been getting up to speed with Musescore by plowing through hundreds of old scores and doing my best to match the engraving...and every engraver seems to do it. Far and away I lose the most time with the specifics of slur behavior. Or the lack of specifics, in Musescore.

In reply to by SteveBlower

"It is very unusual to have slurs between individual notes" - this is not true. I've been playing piano for 35 years already. And this is not usual practice to put only 1 slur to the chord, I'm sorry.
I got that there is no such a function in Musescore. We will continue to add slurs manually as we cannot rewrite scores of great composers.

In reply to by iivtavi

Ok, "unusual" or "uncommon" perhaps rather than "very unusual". Indeed, there are examples given in this thread, And all composers, great or otherwise, have there own quirks. But my experience is that having slurs for all chord notes is rare and unnecessary, and that is borne out by Elaine Gould's advice.

Also, one can imagine how difficult it would be to decide what to slur to what when consecutive chords have different numbers of notes and how untidy things would look when there are widely different intervals in consecutive chords if "slurs for every note" was The Rule.

In reply to by iivtavi

Keep in mind, rules of notation change over the centuries. We don't still use soprano clef just because Bach did - we write his music in clefs we can read. Also keep in mind. the editors and engravers who published the music of these composers already made changes to make the music readable to the musicians of their day. You aren't seeing the actual notation they wrote - you're seeing notation written for musicians of the day. But even so, you are simply mistaken if you think single slur for chords hasn't been common for centuries - it absolutely has. Take another look at some of the music you've played over the past 35 years - you may be surprised it isn't all as you remember. You'll see a mix, probably, but very few multiple slurs for the past century or so.

In any case, today in 2024, it is absolutely positively the standard to only include one slur for a chord.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

There is a misunderstanding here. The reasons I listed for the use of double slurs are musical. Reductions use double slurs all the time.
1. Every piece I am scoring is from the past 100 years and I see them consistently in precisely those contexts I mentioned. The tracking of voices in a reduction by use of slurs is absolutely standard.
2. Feel free to look up the publisher’s sheet music for try piano score to Sumnertime available for digital download today. It uses exactly the slurring as the images above. Double slurs are standard in the 21st century, in the proper context. I give one example but a curious reader will find as many examples as she wishes to find.

Something is amiss here. I am used to double slurs as a constant companion in piano musics across the publishing spectrum internationally, over the last century. Perhaps it is a peculiarity of piano music because of the number of voices and the tremendous reduction in stem complexity to make scores readable. Every device to bring multiple voices into focus when desired, is still in use.

In reply to by rkhirst

Also, with piano reductions of jazz and orchestral music, the original publisher’s versions are often exactly the composer’s work. I am very skeptical of both prongs of your argument.
1. In the one hand not only is Gershwin well known for hand scoring his own reductions, but also I greet with deep skepticism the idea that other pianists like Cole Porter had no say in the scoring of their works for popular print.
2. Even in the case where the scorer is not the composer, the purpose of double slurs is precisely to convey the composer’s intention, i.e. to make visible the passage of key voices in the original orchestration.

In reply to by rkhirst

Indeed, there are unusual special occasions when multiple slurs might be called for. I was responding to the claim “ And this is not usual practice to put only 1 slur to the chord”. That’s just false. It is absolutely usual practice. But again, sure, exceptions exist.

Also, note that when multiple voices are involved, then of course multiple slurs will be involved, and MuseScore supports this directly. It’s only the much more unusual case of multiple slurs on a single voice chord we are talking about. There almost never a reason they need to be used, but again, yes in some case some editors might have chosen to do so anyhow, especially in previous centuries.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

And to summarise my earlier post. It is already possible to have slurs on all notes of a chord using the workaround I described and the utility of a non-workaround solution has been recognised and is logged on github which is the right place for it to be to be taken forward for development (link repeated here

I would think the next step would be for someone to come up with a design for the UI to allow a user to specify this less common slurring option while retaining the more common usage as the default. There probably also needs to be thought about whether all notes or just a selection of notes in a chord would be slurred and what to do when there are different numbers of notes in adjacent chords. Perhaps it would require the user to specify a "slur from" and a "slur to" note in each chord rather than a single "place slurs between all notes for these chords" command. But I guess someone with more experience than I have of the usage would be better placed to suggest such a design.

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