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Staff rules

multi-instrument staves


Standard staves only use one instrument each. Thus, all the notes of a given staff are played with the same instrument.

But, it is possible to relate several instruments to a single staff.

You can decide, for example, that on a staff playing the violin instrument, some notes will be played with the cello.

Any regular staff (treble, bass, or C key) can be related to several instruments, but the greatest benefit is that it makes standard drum staves possible.

To differentiate notes played on different instruments, a link is made between the graphical display of the note and the instrument. This link, completely user-definable, is called a rule.

Note: If you have used a previous version of Melody or Harmony, this new feature will not disturb you. Everything you may have learned about the normal functioning of staves and instruments remains true. Previous "drum staves" are simply called "grid drum staves" from now on, to avoid confusion.

What is a rule ?

An unlimited number of rules can be associated with each staff. Rules will define which instrument plays which notes.

You are invited to view the "Relate more than one instrument to a staff using rules. Apply colors to notes" video tutorial ("Windows>Tutorials" menu in the program).

A rule is defined by:

  • Its name: it is recommended that you give an explicit name to each rule, for example the name of the associated instrument.
  • The criteria for falling within its scope
  • The instrument used to play the notes
  • Special options
The criteria for falling within the scope of a rule can be:
  • The shape of note head
  • Note pitch
  • Note color
  • note velocity
Note: If several criteria are defined for a rule, a note will follow this rule only if all the criteria are met.
If a note is subject to several rules, the first rule in the list is applied.
It is better however not to define ambiguous rules (in this case, add another criterion).

In the above example, we have defined that diamond head notes will be played on the Piano instrument, and square head notes will be played on the Clavecin (harpsichord).
The caption is automatically written below the first note that follows this rule.

Rule sets can be saved in independent files, and reloaded. The extension for these files is .Lex. Thus, you can define the most commonly used rule sets and apply them on demand to your staves.

How do I edit the rules associated with a staff?

In the Staff menu, select Edit rules, or in the staff pop-up menu, select "Edit rules". The rule definition window opens. (Keep in mind that you are editing rules for this staff only. You can have as many staves with rules as you want in the same document.)

At the top of the window, you can see the rule set for this staff. Click on an item in the list to edit the rule.

Tip: You can move an item up or down the list (and so alter its priority) by Command-click (Macintosh) or right-click (PC).

The big dot to the left of a rule name indicates whether it is currently used by any notes on this staff. If you change a rule's criteria, any notes that are subject to it will automatically be adapted to the new criteria when the rule editing window is closed.

Beneath this the Delete and Add buttons delete or add a rule to the rule set.
The Purge button deletes unused rules from the rule set.

At the bottom is found the definition of the rule: its name, criteria, associated instrument and optional parameters.

  • The rule name differentiates one rule from another. It is the name that will be displayed as a caption on the staff. The caption can be displayed once per score, at each line break, or for every note. You can also disable it. If possible, the caption is displayed above the staff. Otherwise, it is displayed below.

  • The criterion can be head shape, pitch, color or velocity.

    Head shape is the simplest criterion to use, whatever the instrument related to your rule is (drum instrument or not). If you do not want your rule to depend on the head shape, select the "any shape" check box.

    Pitch: If you do not want your rule to depend on the pitch, select "Any pitch".
    This criterion can be used for building  standard drum staves or alternate tuning. Other examples are provided in the chapter Rules: advanced features.

    Color can be used no matter what the instrument is.  If you do not want your rule to depend on the color of the note, select "any color".  Only a few colors are available to define a rule, to avoid confusion on the staff.

    Velocity: If you do not want your rule to depend on the note velocity, select "Any velocity".
    Examples of this criterion are provided in the chapter Rules: advanced features.

  • The instrument can be any of the instruments in your score.

  • Optional parameters enable you to alter the way notes are played. You can for example add a delay, an effect or a grace note to all notes following this rule. You can also select the look of the notes generated when you use the "Split staff according to rules" option in the staff contextual menu.
Note: If you define two rules with identical criteria, they will be displayed in red in the rule set to help you track them.

Advice: If you define rules that are related to note color, remember that the coloring tool lets you color notes according to their pitch. Similarly, FaSoLa (shape note) mode changes the note head shape according to its pitch.

Important: If you change a rule's criteria while one or several notes are already following it, the properties of those notes will be adapted so that they continue to follow the new rule.

Example of use

On a regular staff playing the "Piano" instrument, we are going to add a rule so that red notes play with an "Organ" sound.

  • Open the contextual menu for this staff 
  • Select "Edit rules"
  • Type in a name for this rule (for example 'Organ notes")
  • Select bright red in  the color pop-up menu (under the button "all colors"). "All colors" must not be checked.
  • Select an instrument (bottom-right) for these notes. If Organ does not already exist in your instrument list, create it with "New instrument".
  • Do not forget to call it "Organ" and to select an appropriate sound (for example, Organ - Church Organ 1).
  • Click OK. That is all.
A rule applying to red-colored notes has been defined, to output an organ sound. All other colors have no rule defined, so will be output on the regular instrument for this staff, i.e. piano.
When you want to insert a note to be played on the organ instead of the piano, select the color red in the Note display tool palette (last icon).
Switch back to black to insert notes for piano again.
Important: A default effect processor can be related to each instrument. In case of staves with rules, the whole staff uses the effect processor defined in the default instrument (which can be edited by clicking the icon in the staff margin).

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