Beam notes across staffs

Music for keyboard instruments, and other instruments notated on multiple staffs, can contain passages where notes on different staffs (played by the left and right hand, for example) are connected with a beam, to clarify that the musical phrase continues across the staffs.

In the Score Editor, only notes belonging to the same voice can be connected with beams. By default, notes of the same voice are normally all displayed on the same staff. Using the Score Editor’s Staff Assignment commands, you can display notes of the same voice on different staffs.

For example, the following image depicts a piano passage using the Piano staff style featuring two MIDI channels (1 and 2). The notes in the upper staff belong to voice one (MIDI channel 1). The notes in the lower staff belong to voice two (MIDI channel 2).

Figure. Cross-staff beaming example.

Using the Voice/Staff Assignment commands in the Score Editor’s Functions menu, you can place the right-hand notes falling below middle C in the bass staff, but maintain the beaming.

Before using the Voice/Staff Assignment commands, make sure that all the notes you want to connect with beams use the same MIDI channel (and all notes you want to appear in the other staff, not connected by beams, use another MIDI channel). Select notes one by one and view their MIDI channel assignment in the Event inspector.

Beam notes across different staffs

  1. If necessary, change the voice assignments for the notes that you want to connect with beams by doing one of the following:

    • Draw a line below the notes with the Voice Separation tool.

    • Select all notes, then, in the Event inspector, change their MIDI channel to match that of the upper voice.

    The notes appear in the upper staff, possibly with multiple ledger lines.

  2. Select the notes you want to connect with a beam, then choose Functions > Note Attributes > Beaming > Beam Selected from the Score Editor menu bar (or use the corresponding key command).

  3. Select the notes to display in the bottom staff, then choose Functions > Note Attributes > Voice/Staff Assignment > Staff Below Voice (or use the corresponding key command).

    Figure. Cross-staff beaming example.

    The selected notes are moved down to the lower staff, but are still part of the upper voice.

    In the reverse situation, where notes continue above the bass staff, with ledger lines, you would follow the opposite procedure: assign all notes to the lower voice, then move some notes to the upper staff by choosing Note Attributes > Voice/Staff Assignment > Staff Above Voice from the Score Editor menu bar.

  4. To display all selected notes in their original staff, choose Note Attributes > Voice/Staff Assignment > Default Staff from the Score Editor menu bar.

Note: By default, rests are displayed according to the Rest settings for the staff style. In the cross staff beaming example described above, however, most (or all) notes belong to the voice of the top staff, and the lower staff will contain rests—some even at positions occupied by notes. To avoid this situation, choose a staff style where the automatic display of rests is turned off for the bottom staff’s voice, then add rests manually from the Part box.