Note positions in multiple-voice contexts

Notes are usually placed directly above each other and at the same horizontal position, so that it is immediately clear which notes are played together. However, the horizontal alignment of notes can be different in multiple-voice contexts.

There are circumstances when some notes must be positioned slightly to one side in a different voice column to ensure the division of notes across the voices is clear. For example, when there are three or more voices in a single staff, or when notes in two voices are a second interval apart.

Figure 1. A phrase with multiple voice columns for some beats on the top staff

Interlocking notes in different voices can be positioned in two ways:

  1. Notehead to notehead, which allows noteheads to overlap partially. This voice order often takes up less horizontal space than positioning notes stem to stem, as notes can overlap.

  2. Stem to stem, which does not allow noteheads to overlap. This voice order keeps notes in different voices separate.

Dorico Pro positions notes by default with the noteheads partially overlapping, in order to minimize the horizontal space they occupy and to maintain the clarity of the rhythm. The order and position of notes in different voices is also automatically adjusted so that each rhythmic position uses as little horizontal space as possible, while remaining clear and legible.

  • You can change the default order of notes in multiple voices project-wide on the Voices page in Notation Options.

  • You can also change the minimum gaps between notes in different voices in the Voices section of the Notes page in Engraving Options.

  • You can manually swap the order in which opposing voices are positioned horizontally and change the voice column of individual notes.

  • You can move notes graphically in Engrave mode by changing the note spacing. You can move notes individually and independently of all other items at that rhythmic position, or move everything at the same rhythmic position.