I've got a chord of whole notes and have no idea which voice they're in. whole note chord with tie

There are other chords in the sheet music that I looked at to try to figure out the voice, but this hasn't been conclusive. At first I thought that maybe the direction of the tie would denote the note's voice, due to the following:

but when I tried this method (first voice for top two notes, second voice for bottom two notes), the notes were in the wrong place:

For reference, here is the surrounding measures.

Followed by the whole note chord, then followed by:

Perhaps this will help with figuring out the voice of the whole notes.

The closest I've been able to come up with is this:

but one of this chord's ties is facing in the wrong direction. Is this perhaps only a visual difference, in that the composer manually switched the curve of the tie to face down?

  • Are you asking which musical voice, or which notation software "voice"?
    – Aaron
    Aug 18, 2023 at 6:17
  • Notation software voice
    – Lugnut
    Aug 18, 2023 at 6:22
  • Have you considered using or trying 3-4 voices? I'm worried you're restricting yourself to only 1-2.
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 18, 2023 at 6:26
  • 2
    @Lugnut I’d assume there is no reason to have different voices at at. To me this simply looks like a chord in a single voice, maybe with changes to the notation software’s default direction for ties (it is hard for some software to always find the best configuration).
    – Lazy
    Aug 18, 2023 at 8:20

3 Answers 3


There's no real reason the voices would matter in this context for any reason other than matching your reference.

It looks like you're using MuseScore, which matches that configuration by default when I enter those notes in one voice. If you feel the need to adjust anything manually, the setting is called "note direction" in MuseScore 4 and "mirror head" in 3.

  • hotkey to flip anything in musescore is x, I believe? works on stem directions, lyrics, text, articulations, slurs/ties, etc
    – user45266
    Aug 19, 2023 at 4:31
  • @user45266 Actually notehead direction in particular is shift+X in MS4. It'd conflict with stem direction otherwise. Aug 19, 2023 at 8:04

When working with only an image, it's essentially impossible to know how the software's voices were used to encode it, especially since different software may use different rules, and the person doing the engraving may have customized things like tie direction.

In the case of the whole-note chords, it's really just a visual difference. And if there's musical importance to how the ties are placed, that can be dealt with by hand.


If you're using Musescore 4, this is the default layout when all the notes are in Voice 1 or Voice 3. enter image description here

In Sibelius, the same.

enter image description here

I suspect I'd get the same in Dorico or Finale. So, unless notes have been manually shifted or the ties have been flipped (which are both perfectly possible), the most likely case is that they're all in the default Voice, Voice 1.

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