Video #10: Multiple voices (or layers) in MuseScore 4

Video #10: Multiple voices (or layers) in MuseScore 4

Very good to everyone! How are you? I’m Ismael Vallejo from Clave de Mi and I welcome you to video number 10 of the MuseTube course, the course where we are learning MuseScore from the most basic to the most advanced functions.

As you can see, my voice is a little dull today, but that won’t stop me from continuing to make videos for you.

Specifically, in today’s video we will focus on the concept of “voices”.

We will see and clarify what voices are, since it is possible that the word can be confusing and that you may think that it is one thing instead of another, and we will learn what tools MuseScore gives us to be able to manage them.

So we go to the computer, and we begin! And the first thing is to explain what a “voice” is, so that we do not confuse it with other concepts that may be similar.

And a voice is nothing more than a line of music within a staff and with its own rhythm independent of another line of music also within the same staff.

If you come from other score editors, such as Finale or Sibelius, you may know this concept as “layers” instead of “voices”, but in practice it is the same.

That is, in this case, when we talk about “voices” we are not referring to the 4 typical voices of choral singing (soprano, alto, tenor and bass); That has nothing to do with the concept of “voices” that we are going to see here.

On the other hand, we should also say that we should not confuse “voices” with “chords”, since in a chord it is true that we have several melodic lines, but they all have the same rhythm.

However, when we talk about “voices” the rhythm is different for each of them.

We have many examples of scores that use multiple voices, the most typical are perhaps the piano ones or some typical singing ones, where both the soprano and the alto are grouped in a “treble clef” staff, while in the “bass clef” staff, the tenor and bass voices are grouped together.

That is, we would have several melodic and rhythmic lines within the same staff.

As a general rule, in MuseScore we will always work by default with voice 1 and that way we will introduce our first melodic line.

As we will see, MuseScore will automatically adjust the stems based on the pitch of the note.

As you know, if we write notes that are below the center line, the stems will automatically go up, while if we write notes that are above the center line, the stems by default will go down and if the note is on the center line we have the freedom to put it up or down.

However, if we add more voices, MuseScore will automatically try to adjust the stems so that their readability is much better.

But we are going to see everything little by little and with examples.

First of all, the buttons that allow us to switch between voices can be found up here, in the “Note input toolbar”.

As you can see, by default only voice 1 and voice 2 are shown, but MuseScore allows us to have up to 4 voices.

To show them, we simply have to click on the gear button and at the bottom, as you can see, we have the 4 voices, of which we were only showing the first two.

To show 3 and 4, we simply click on the eye.

I also tell you that, although we are going to give a quick example about voices 3 and 4, in practice I have only used voice 1 and voice 2 and in some very, very, very rare cases, from a more complex score, the 3, but really the normal thing is not to go beyond 2.

Now, as I said, if by default I click on the first measure, we see how voice 1 is automatically selected and in this voice, as I already said, I can add different notes, we will see how the stems adjust.

For example, I’m going to introduce a “Low C” and we see how the stem goes up.

If I now introduce a “High C”, we see how the stem goes downwards and if I introduce a “B”, by default it puts it downwards but we could exchange it, since musically it would be just as correct.

Another detail to take into account is that if we look at voice 1, we see how the stem is up and in voice 2 the stem is down.

Likewise for voices 3 and 4.

This is to tell us that when we use multiple voices, that is, not just one like now, MuseScore will automatically place the stems of voices 1 and 3 up while that of voices 2 and 4 He will place them down for us.

In this way, what it is telling us is that when we have a score with 2 voices, for example, we leave the high notes with voice 1 and the low notes with voice 2.

That way, the stems will not intertwine.

I give you an example.

I’m going to delete this measure and I’m going to write 2 melodic lines: one high and one low.

As I said, in voice 1 I will introduce the high notes (for example I am going to introduce four “D(s)” and we see that, by default, the spades are placed downwards since we only have 1 voice.

Now, to introduce a second melodic line, I would go to the first note, by clicking I would press the “N” to re-enter notes, and once it has been shaded I click on voice number 2.

We automatically see how it has now turned green , since the color blue is only for voice 1.

Specifically, the four colors are: blue for voice 1, green for voice 2, orange for voice 3 and violet for voice 4.

In this case, being in green is indicating to us that we are in voice number 2.

If I now introduce here, for example, a “Half note” in a “Low E” (I change to “Half note” with the number 6 and introduce the “E”), we see that the time signature has changed.

The first thing we realize is that the 4 notes of voice 1 have automatically changed the stem upwards, as I said, because they are the high ones and so that the stems do not intermingle.

Secondly, we see how this “Low E” that I just entered has automatically placed the stem downwards (for the same reason I was saying), and here now I could introduce another note (for example an “F”), and we see how in this way all the notes remain perfectly differentiated.

Keep this in mind because many people, by default, always place voice 1 for low notes and voice 2 for high notes, so that the stems will be intermingled.

To give an example and also to explain what it is like, we have the possibility of exchanging voices.

To do this, we select the compass and if we go to “Tools” -> “Voices”, we see that we have the possibility of exchanging them.

In this case we are going to exchange voices 1 and 2 so you can see how it looks.

Once exchanged, what we have done is that now the 2 “Half notes” notes are voice 1 and, therefore, we put the stems up, while voice 2 are the high notes and we put the stems down.

As we see, it is much less readable than before.

Therefore, remember, always high voice 1 and low voice 2.

I’m going to leave it as it was, clicking again on “Tools” -> “Voices”, and I will exchange them again.

Another thing that I have not mentioned is that we do not have the possibility of a different instrument sounding for each voice, that is, if we have here, for example, since it is the piano, both voice 1 and voice 2 will sound with piano.

Also tell you that if, for whatever reason, there is a note that we are not satisfied with the address of its escrow, we can always change it manually.

To do this, we select the note and using this button that says “Flip direction” or with the keyboard shortcut “X”, we see how we can exchange the direction of the stem manually.

Likewise, if I select the full measure and press “X” we see how they are exchanged.

I have already said it at the beginning of the video, but remember that it is important to choose the voice we want to write about after having entered the notes editing mode and I say this for the following.

If I come here and enter “Note input” mode (with the letter “N”) and here I put another 4 notes (for example, another 4 “D(s)”, and now imagine that I want to enter voice number 2 just like we have done in the previous measure.

If, for whatever reason, I click on the note where I want to start and do not press the “N” to introduce notes, before clicking on the voice button number 2, what it is going to do is that the selected note is going to change my voice.

As you see, what has just happened? What I have given to voice number 2 before having entered the note insertion mode, what it has done automatically is that the first “Quarter note” has been inserted into the second voice, it has inserted three rests to complete the measure of number 2 and in voice number 1, which we had the 3 “Quarter notes”, he added a rest to complete it.

In this way, we see that both voice number 1 and voice number 2 are complete, but really, what we should have done is the following: I am going to leave this note again in voice number 1, for this I select it and do click on number 1 and now, once I have the 4 “Quarter notes” in voice number 1, I click on the letter “N” (for introducing notes), now I click on voice number 2 and Here I can enter what I want.

Next, we are going to see some aspects that we have to take into account when we have silence in our voices.

For example, I am going to introduce in a first voice 4 notes as before, 4 “D(s)” and now in voice number 2 (as I said, first the “N” and then the number 2)…By the way , I haven’t told you the keyboard shortcut, but just as we can click on the different voices, we can also do it by pressing “Ctrl + Alt + voice number” to the one we want to go to.

In this case “Ctrl + Alt + 2” and we see how we can automatically start entering notes for voice number 2.

Once here, as I already said, I am going to first introduce a silence, in this case a “Quarter note rest” by pressing the 5 and the number 0.

Once this has been entered, I am going to introduce some “8th notes”, for example…As you can see, MuseScore has automatically placed the “Quarter note rest” a little lower than normal so that it does not overlap with the “D” above.

However, we have certain adjustments we can make about this silence.

The first one is to simply press the “V” key to make it disappear.

Although we see it in gray, if we export this to PDF, we will see that it will not automatically appear.

Likewise, since it is a rest from voice number 2, simply by pressing “Del.”, we can eliminate it (be careful, only if it is from voices 2, 3, and 4, if it is from voice 1 MuseScore will not let us eliminate it) .

Likewise, I recommend not eliminating it, since it seems to me that it can be helpful for the instrumentalist who has to interpret the work to have the silence occupying its corresponding position, to be guided by the fact that the next “8th note” begins on the second beat.


If we have deleted a silence by mistake and want to return it as it was, the only solution is to exchange the voices.

Therefore, I click on the measure, I go to “Tools” -> “Voices”, I swap them and I swap them again to leave it as it was.

In this way, we see how we have recovered the eliminated silence.

On the other hand, we can also fine-tune the position of the silence.

We can click on it and with the “Up Arrow” and “Down Arrow” keyboard keys place it where it seems most appropriate.

Likewise, we can automatically configure the position of the rests with respect to the other note from “Format” -> “Style” and in the “Rests” section, establish whether by default we want it to leave “1 space” or “2 spaces “.

As you can see, when I put “2 spaces” it moves further away from the note above and if I leave “1 space”, which is the default, it comes much closer.

You can configure this as you prefer.

Finally, and so that you can see how the 4 voices work together, I am going to make a small example introducing all of them.

For example, for voice 1 I first press the “N” key, I will enter a “Whole note”, for example, a “High G”.

For voice number 2, I go back by pressing “Ctrl + Left Arrow”, to return to the beginning of the previous measure, Now I change to voice number 2, to do this I press “Ctrl + Alt + 2”.

Here I will introduce, for example, a pair of “Low half notes”, for example 2 “E(s)”.

I go back to the beginning again with “Ctrl + Left Arrow”.

Change to voice number 3 with “Ctrl + Alt + 3”.

Here I am going to introduce some high notes, for example, “A, B, C and D”.

I go back to the beginning and finally, for voice number 4, I can introduce, for example, some “8th notes”.

As you can see, here we have the 4 voices in the same measure: the “Whole note” with voice 1, the “Half note” with voice 2, the “Quarter notes” with voice 3 and the “8th notes” with voice 4.

Now Here, as I said, we can make a fine adjustment by changing some stems.

For example, I can exchange this “Half note” one so that its stem can be seen better with the “X” key, and the same with the other “Half note” one.

In this way, we see how we have improved the appearance a little.

Likewise, we could also change this “Quarter note” so that it points downwards and that way we see how we now have all the notes displayed correctly.

Finally, and although we will see it in future videos, I wanted to tell you that there is a concept called “Implode and Explode” of notes and it is nothing more than the possibility of separating several voices into different staffs and also uniting several staffs into one, but in different ones.

voices, but as I said, we will see this in future videos.

And that’s it for today’s video.

I hope that the concept of “voice” has been more or less clear, how to use it and that it has not become too confusing, how to change from one voice to another and how to enter notes so that it is as legible as possible.

Likewise, as always, if you still have any questions, you can leave them in a comment and I will try to respond as soon as possible.

If you like this series of videos, you can also subscribe and activate the bell and that way YouTube will notify you when new videos are uploaded.

So nothing, we’ll leave it for today and see you soon with new videos.

See you soon!

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