Music Notation for Choir and Piano – Adding Different Voices


How to notate different note values on the same beat without losing track

Susan wrote to us:
“I’m having trouble in the bass clef: I have inserted a whole note. Now I want to add quarter notes to the same bar. But FORTE jumps automatically to the next bar. Or I get the “NO”-sign. What do I do?”

Staff showing different voices/note values on the same beat

When you think of a choir, it’s easy to see that several voices are singing music at the same time. But you can also meet multiple “voices” when you look at instrumental music.

This is most common with piano music, but there are many other instruments whose sheet music can look like the illustration above.

Working with different voices

The solution to Susan’s issue is to think of the different note values as different voices. And each voice gets its layer, which you can assign.

Here is an example:

Staff from Amazing Grace showing different voices/note values on the same beat

As you can see, the soprano and the tenor are assigned to voice level 1.

This assignment influences the direction of the note stems. The stems of the notes on level 1 go up, while those of the notes on level 2 go down, making the music easier to read.

Writing piano music

If you’re writing piano music, there are additional voice levels for your left hand.


Image showing how to create different voices/note values on the same beat for piano music

Step-by-step demonstration

Please watch the following video for more information and a step-by-step demo on assigning voice levels:

Note: The illustrations and the video are made using FORTE Premium which has up to 4 voice levels per track. In FORTE Home and Basic, you are limited to 2 different voices per track.
For piano music, write the left hand on levels 3 and 4.


We hope this post has been helpful, please let us know. We look forward to hearing your comments!

2 replies
  1. Kashi
    Kashi says:

    Many thanks for the video whilst I knew that the programme catered for multiple voices the video made this easier to understand.


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