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Multiple Clefs

Moderator: Michael Good

Multiple Clefs

Postby Evan Brooks » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:42 pm

Hi Michael,

The possibility of having multiple clefs on a single staff at the beginning of a measure is described and supported by the "additional" property of the Clef element as follows:

"Sometimes clefs are added to the staff in non-standard line positions, either to indicate cue passages, or when there are multiple clefs present simultaneously on one staff. In this situation, the additional attribute is set to "yes" and the line value is ignored."

This description describes two different scenarios:

(1) a clef is added to the staff in a non-standard line position (only one clef present)

(2) there are multiple clefs present simultaneously on one staff

In case (1), if a single clef is present on a staff, but in a non-standard line position, I think that just specifying that non-standard line position with the "line" value should be sufficient to render it properly. This brings up two questions:

(a) Why is the "additional" attribute needed in this instance?
(b) If the "line" value is ignored, as is required, how can one possibly know where to render this clef on the staff vertically? The "line" value is the only way of specifying a non-standard line position.

In case (2), I can see that the "additional" attribute makes sense because you are defining an additional clef or clefs beyond the first one. However, my objection in (b) above still stands - if you force the "line" property to be ignored, how can this additional clef be placed in any non-standard position? If the first clef is drawn in the standard position, all of the "additional" clefs will have to be drawn on top of it.

My sense is that any "additional" clefs will really need to use the "line" attribute in order to be drawn properly. The only other interpretation is that you are expecting the first clef to be drawn in a non-standard position, and all "additional" clefs will be drawn in the standard position, on top of each other. But this is not what the documentation describes when it says "Sometimes clefs are added to the staff in non-standard line positions".

Could you please clarify the intent and usage of the "additional" attribute in the context of multiple clefs at the beginning of a measure? Could you also possible provide a MusicXML or PDF example of some music that does this, so one could have a visual example of this scenario and some MusicXML code that describes it?

--Evan
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Re: Multiple Clefs

Postby Evan Brooks » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:47 pm

An afterthought to the issue of multiple simultaneous clefs:

How should one interpret the clef to use to render any notes that come after multiple simultaneous clefs on a staff when the clefs are not all the same? Perhaps this situation never happens, but I am not familiar with the circumstances that would require the use of multiple simultaneous clefs in the first place, so I can't rule anything out.

So what happens if both an F clef and a G clef are specified simultaneously at the start of a measure. How does one render the notes in that measure on that staff?

--Evan
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Re: Multiple Clefs

Postby Michael Good » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:10 pm

Hi Evan,

The line value is ignored for additional clefs because they are used in situations where the actual line value does not affect the sounding pitch. You can use the standard positioning attributes like default-y to modify the vertical positioning of the additional clef.

Note that your case 1 is not a use case for the additional clef attribute. This is only for multiple clefs, whether for cues, showing original clefs in addition to modernized clefs, or the unusual examples of multiple simultaneous clefs, such as the Debussy example in Figure 8 of:

http://www.informatics.indiana.edu/donbyrd/Papers/WrittenVsSoundingPitch.doc
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Re: Multiple Clefs

Postby SantaFeDave » Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:06 pm

I am looking for this solution for a specific instrument - namely, the organ. I have seen this done before, but can't find a way to do it. The situation is the left hand, normally, bass clef, is being played in the treble range and needs a treble clef for ease of reading. However, there is a pedal line which, up until the point that the left hand goes to treble clef, has happily trailed along in the left hand bass clef. The pedal line is simple and does not need it's own staff. In this situation, there are mainly whole notes in the pedal, lying at the bottom of the bass clef. A small simultaneous bass clef would be enough to announce to any player that the bottom notes are continuing for the pedal and continuing in the bass clef for the brief passage where the left hand jumps to treble clef.
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Re: Multiple Clefs

Postby Michael Good » Tue May 03, 2016 5:00 pm

Could you please post a picture or a link to a picture that illustrates the problem?
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Re: Multiple Clefs

Postby SantaFeDave » Wed May 04, 2016 8:30 am

Here's an image. I also figured it out. Using the Articulation Tool, I can create a bass clef (or any other clef), resize it, and place it on the staff. Playback will not work, of course, but that doesn't matter.

Use of simultaneous clefs was most often seen in older music, usually handwritten - a means of saving space and paper, which is what I want to do, also. I don't want to throw in a pedal staff just for a few measures.
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