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Can someone please help me separate the two voices in bass clef. The stem direction doesn't help. The time signature is 4/4. When I try to identify voices, the count isn't right for them. Can a note or a chord belong to two voices at the same time? If notes are beamed do they belong to the same voice? If someone could please reference me a legit book on rules about this?

1 Answer 1


The problem is that an eighth rest is missing from the "tenor" voice. It should be on beat 3, vertically aligned between the eighth rest in the upper staff and the F octave in the lower staff.

X: 1
T: Question 113539
K: G minor
M: 4/4
L: 1/16
%%score V1 | V2 | V3
V:V1 clef=treble
V:V2 clef=bass middle=d
V:V3 clef=bass middle=d
[V:V1] [dd'][bb']2[dd'] [gg']d'bg z2 [DBd]2 [CBc]2[DBd]2 | [dd'][bb']2[dd'] [gg']d'bg z2 [D^FAd]2 [Bdb]2[Ada]2 | 
[V:V2] z2 g[bd'g']- [bd'g']2 G[dg] z2 z [fc'] z[fc']zf | z2 g[be'g']- [be'g']2 E[Be] z2 z [ad'] z[ad']zd |
[V:V3] [G,G]8 [Ff][Ff]-[Ff]2 F3[Ff] | [Ee]8 [Dd][Dd]-[Dd]2 D3[Dd] |

* The missing ties from beats 3-4 in the lowest part are a software limitation.

The same problem exists in the second bar (i.e., m. 20).

Regarding a note or chord belonging to two voices: yes, that can happen. It is typically indicated by double-stemming the note/chord. See for example: Why does this note have a stem pointing up and another pointing down?

A generally accepted standard text on notating music is Behind Bars, by Elaine Gould. You will find it frequently referenced on this site.

  • The image posted by the OP would make Elaine Gould shake her head sadly. Ideally the stems of a particular voice would be pointed in a single direction only, and the horizontal spacing in the first bar makes it look like the GD fourth in the "tenor" voice and the first F octave in the "bass" voice are simultaneous. Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 20:29
  • I'm always amazed by the reluctance of people to use a third staff. This is so much more clear on three staves than anything that could be done on two. Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 0:31

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