Music note stem direction
Which way does the stem on a music note go, up or down, and is it on the left or right? The best way to remember this is to think 'pizza doughnuts'. Yes! There really is such a thing.
Now just write 'pizza' on the top space of the stave (staff USA) and 'doughnut' on the bottom space.
So the music stem direction is:
By remembering 'pizza-doughnut' we now know that:
If the head of a music note is above the third line of the stave (staff USA), the stems must go down and be on the left-hand side of the head.
If the head of a music note is below the third line of the stave (staff USA), the stems must go up and be on the right-hand side of the head.
What about if the note sits on the third line?
Then it depends on averages:
When there are an unequal amount of notes on either side of the middle line (third line), the stems should go in the direction that the majority of the notes should go, as shown below:
For the third line, others say whatever looks neatest, up or down, should be used.
When the stem direction varies within a bar, maintain the stem direction of the notes that are part of the same beat or half-bar:
When there is no clear-cut case for either direction, the convention is to use a down-stem.
Some writers of vocal music use up-stems only, to allow the lyrics to be placed close to the stave.