Time signatures

    Time signatures can be found in a Palette of the same name in both the Basic and Advanced workspaces.

    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 any of the existing palettes, it can be created as follows:

    1. Press Shift+T to open the Time signatures section of the Master Palette.
    2. Select a time signature to edit in the center panel.
    3. In the Create Time Signature panel, edit the various parameters (numerator, denominator, text, beaming) to get the time signature and properties you want. If you need to restore beaming to its default pattern, press Reset.
    4. Press Add to transfer 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.
    5. Drag and drop the time signature from the Master Palette to the desired score location.

    You can also 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" icon Start beam at this note.
    • "Continue beam" icon Do not end beam at this note.
    • "Sub-beam" icon 1/8th note beam to left of this note.
    • "Demi-sub-beam" icon 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

    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.

    See also