Time signatures

Time signatures are available in the main palette sidebar (see Palette for general information on working with palettes in MuseScore).

Time signature palette

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 your own time signature

If the time signature you require is not available in the Time Signatures palette of a workspace, you can create it in the Time Signatures section of the Master Palette: Press Shift+T to open it.

To create a new time signature, select an existing one in the Master Palette, then edit the various parameters (numerator, denominator, text, beaming) in the Create Time Signature panel. To add the newly-created time signature to the list, press the Add button. Once added, you can drag and drop it to the desired score location. To delete a time signature in the Master Palette, right-click on it and select "Clear".

You can transfer a time signature from the Master Palette to a customized workspace by dragging and dropping it onto a Palette in the workspace.

Additive (composite) meters

Additive (or composite) time signatures are sometimes used to clarify the division of beats within a measure. The visible time signature (numbers separated by a plus sign) is entered in the Text field in the Create Time Signature panel. e.g.:

Create new time signatures

Change default beaming

To make an overall adjustment to the way that notes are beamed in part or all of the score, right-click on the relevant time signature (in the score) and select "Time Signature Properties:"

Time signature properties

This allows you to adjust the beaming patterns for 1/8, 1/16 and 1/32 notes in the "Note Groups" panel. As of version 2.1, checking the box for "Also change shorter notes" allows you to change the beam grouping for all shorter durations at the same time. In versions before 2.1 you must adjust each beam grouping independently.

To break a beam, click on the note following it. To reset the beam, click in the same place. Note: This method only works if all secondary (or sub) beams are present at the intended location – if this is not the case then use the icons instead (see below). The Reset button cancels any changes made in that session.

You can also make additional changes to the beaming patterns by dragging one of the icons Beams palette (at the bottom left of the window) onto a note in the "Note Groups" panel:

  • Start beam Start beam at this note.
  • Continue beam Do not end beam at this note.
  • Sub-beam 1/8th note beam to left of this note.
  • Demi-sub-beam 1/16 note beam to left of this note.

Different duration from time signature: Pickup measures (Anacrusis) and Cadenzas

There are occasions when the actual duration of a measure is different from the duration specified by the time signature. Pickup measures and Cadenzas are common examples. To change the actual duration of a measure without displaying a different time signature, see Measure operations: Properties, Measure duration.

Local time signatures

Time signatures can be different for different staves. An example here is Bach's 26. Goldberg Variation:

Bach's 26. Goldberg Variation

MuseScore has the concept of a global time signature and an actual (local) time signature. To change the global time signature drag and drop a palette object to a staff. The global time signature is used to count beats (as shown in the status line) and is the reference for tempo markings. The global time signature is the same for all staves and normally identical to the actual time signature.

The actual time signature is set in the time signature property dialog and can deviate from the global time signature for every staff (upper staff 18/16 in the example).

Dialog: Time signature properties

The text of the time signature can be set independent of the actual values.

A local time signature is set by dropping a time signature symbol while holding the Ctrl key (Mac: Cmd). The local time signature is set only for one staff. A global time signature is replicated for all staves.

Time signature changes and breaks

Multimeasure 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.

See also

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