For MuseScore 3 users, see Time signatures
Time signatures can be found in a Palette of the same name in both the Basic and Advanced workspaces.
Add a time signature to a score
To add a time signature, use any of the following methods:
- Drag and drop a time signature from a palette onto a space in a measure.
- Select a measure and then double-click a time signature in a palette.
- Select any note or rest and double-click a time signature in a palette.
The time signature will appear at the beginning of the measure in question.
To replace a time signature, use any of the following methods:
- Drag and drop a time signature onto an existing time signature.
- Select a time signature in the score, then double-click a time signature in a Palette.
Delete a time signature
To delete a time signature in the score, select it and press Del.
Create a time signature
If the time signature you require is not available in any of the existing palettes, it can be created as follows:
- Press Shift+T to display the Time signatures section of the Master Palette.
- Select a time signature to edit in the center panel.
- In the Create Time Signature panel, edit the various parameters (numerator, denominator, text, beaming) to get the time signature and properties you want. To restore the default beaming pattern, press Reset.
- Press Add to add the newly-created time signature to the center panel. To delete a time signature from the center panel, right-click on it and select Clear.
- Drag and drop the time signature from the Master Palette to the desired score location.
To move a time signature from the Master Palette to a custom palette:
- Drag and drop the time signature onto a palette in a custom workspace.
Time signature properties
To display the Time Signature Properties dialog:
- Right-click on a time signature and select Time Signature Properties….
- Global value: Shows the global time signature and is set automatically when you add a time signature to the score. It is the reference for beats (as shown in the status bar) and tempo markings.
- Actual value: Shows the time signature associated with a particular staff. This is normally the same as the global time signature, but can be set independently if required. See Local time signatures.
- Note Groups; Allows you to change the default beaming of notes associated with a time signature. See Change default beaming.
- Appearance: Allows you to edit the displayed text without affecting the underlying time signature. For an example, see Additive meters.
Change default beaming
To adjust note-beaming for a particular time signature:
- Right-click on the time signature and select, Time Signature Properties…;
To break a note beam in the Note Groups panel, click on the note following it. To reset the beam, click in the same place. Alternatively, you can change beaming by dragging a beam icon onto a note, as follows:
- Start beam at this note.
- Do not end beam at this note.
- 1/8th note beam to left of this note.
- 1/16 note beam to left of this note.
The Reset button cancels any changes made in that session.
Note: As of version 2.1, checking the box for "Also change shorter notes," means that any beam changes at one level are applied automatically to shorter durations as well. In versions before 2.1 you must adjust beams for the different note durations independently.
Additive (composite) meters
Additive (or composite) time signatures are sometimes used to clarify the division of beats within a measure. To create an additive time signature:
- Right-click on a time signature in the score and select Time Signature properties…;
- In the Appearance section, adjust the "Text" property as required;
- Adjust note beaming in the Note Groups section if required.
Note: The Time Signatures section of the Master palette also allows you to create additive time signatures (see above).
Local time signatures
In certain cases a score may show staves with different time signatures running at the same time. For example, in Bach's 26. Goldberg Variation:
In the above example, the global time signature is 3/4, but the time signature of the upper staff has been set independently to 18/16.
To set a local time signature for just one staff:
- Hold down Ctrl (Mac: Cmd) and drag and drop a time signature from a palette onto an empty measure.
Pickup measures and cadenzas
Occasionally you will need to decrease or increase the duration of a measure without changing the time signature—for example, in a pickup measure (anacrusis) or in a cadenza etc. See Measure operations: Measure duration.
Time signature changes and breaks
Multi-measure rests are interrupted when a time signature change occurs. Also, a section break will prevent a courtesy time signature being shown at the end of the previous measure.