Altered unisons

Altered unisons occur when two or more notes of the same name in the same octave have different accidentals in the same chord, such as D and D.

In Dorico Pro, this is notated with a split stem by default. Split stems show the main body of a chord with a stem branch coming off the main stem that connects noteheads in altered unisons to the chord. This allows all notes to appear with their corresponding accidental directly beside them. A split stem is also known as a “cherry stalk” or a “tree”.

You can show individual altered unisons with a single stem, meaning noteheads appear directly beside each other, and the two accidentals are shown beside each other to the left of the chord.

You can also change the default appearance of all altered unisons in each flow independently on the Accidentals page in Notation Options.


If a chord contains notes a second interval apart and one of those notes has an altered unison, it is always shown with a split stem, regardless of your setting. This is to ensure clarity in clusters.


Figure 1. A single stem altered unison
Figure 2. A split stem altered unison