On 16/09/16 20:52, Kieren MacMillan wrote:
> Hi Karlin,
>> what exactly causes the attraction to combined voices and
>> the disaffection for separated voices? I'm not sure, but I'll try to answer.
> I think that answer is pretty good, and probably partly true. Related would 
> be the argument that combined voices allow each part to more quickly grasp 
> the relationship (both similarities and dissimilarities) between their own 
> part and the adjacent one on the same staff.
> However, I’m guessing that the most critical reason was far more practical, 
> and driven by space limitations.
> TL;DR summary: Less vertical space is required per page of music with 
> combined voices than with split voicing.
> Details: Combined voices (as you pointed out) have stems that go up from 
> notes near the bottom of the staff, and down from notes near the top of the 
> staff. Hence — and this is the important point — the range of the inner 
> voices (i.e., alto in the upper staff, and tenor in the lower staff) does not 
> force the stems to intrude into the inter-staff space (as they would in split 
> That seems the most likely reason to my mind — though I have no proof that 
> the reasoning is thus (though the truth of the spacing claim is easy enough 
> to demonstrate).
> Best,
> Kieren.
> ________________________________
> Kieren MacMillan, composer
> ‣ website: www.kierenmacmillan.info
> ‣ email: i...@kierenmacmillan.info
I also suspect that the real reason is "it's always been done that way".
 The style you learn as a child seems right, even half a century on!
Two points here though:

1) "Hymns Ancient & Modern" of 1868 has about 5% of the hymns with the
words printed between the staves, although it is set in the "English"
tradition with stems pointing into the space.  The old Methodist Hymn
Book (1920s IIRC) also had a minority of hymns set that way.

2) How does the "American" style indicate when the voices cross?


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