Measure numbering

• Aug 28, 2016 - 01:57

When one is doing a medley of multiple pieces it would be very useful to have two sets of measure numbers (primary and secondary?). One set (primary) is the consecutive set that runs beginning to end of the medley. The other (secondary and printed in parentheses or brackets) is a set that starts over (from 1 or whatever the arranger indicates) with each piece, segment, or portion included in the larger work so that it matches the measure numbering in the original material.

By default secondary numbering would be unselected and not printed, but it can be selected with a checkbox to include it. Also by default secondary numbering would match primary numbering at the start, but it need not do so. A further nicety would be to be able to turn secondary numbering on or off at any measure of the piece. For example, it is not necessary to print it where it matches the primary numbering.

I realize that this may involve extending the MusicXML schema if the secondary numbering is to be exportable. I hope that's not too much to ask.


This seems analogous to several other feature requests pertaining to what the program does after a section break, a most useful tool that was instituted for 2.0.x. On the other hand, it seems you are asking for the ability to create TWO concurrent sets of measure numbers--one which would run continuously from start to finish; and a second set of numbers which would re-start at '1' after each section break. If I am reading you correctly, you would also like the ability to 'turn off' each (or either) set of measure numbers. Is that a fair description of what you would like to see?

In reply to by Recorder485

I am truly curious: Could you explain in which situation such a feature would be useful?

I can imagine measure counts starting at each rehearsal mark as marginally useful: When the conductor says "23 after B" everybody is on to it easily (and in most editions rehearsal marks are spread out way toot thin). But then why use rehearsal marks in the first place? You already have measure numbers. They do the job all by themselves and better.

When I transcribe a piece with rehearsal marks I include them in the score. But in practice I will always use measure numbers when I need to identify a location in the score.

In reply to by Recorder485

Not entirely correct. Yes, I am asking for two concurrent sets of numbers, but I am not asking that the secondary set automatically restart at 1 after a section break. Rather, I am asking only that the arranger be able to alter the numbering of each set independently at any point in the score. One can do that already with the one set provided; I'm requesting a secondary set and asking for the same ability as is provided for the primary set. The arranger would no doubt usually restart the numbering of the secondary set at 1 after a section break, but I have encountered circumstances where greater flexibility is required, both as to the starting number and where the change occurs.

I'm also asking for the ability to enable (turn on) or suppress (turn off) printing of the measure numbers not only for the score as a whole but at any place in the score at will, from that point forward to the next such place that the arranger may choose.

You ask why. It is particularly useful for a medley, a composite piece made up of multiple other pieces. I'm working with a score right now, being prepared for a group performance, where the original consists of several segments that have been edited, shortened in some places, and recombined in a different order, into a single piece without explicit section breaks. Thus the measure numbers restart in several places, not always from 1 and not at a section break, and have gaps in others. I need the usual consecutive (primary) set of measure numbers for rehearsal, and the secondary set to reflect the measure numbers in those segments of the original from which this arrangement is derived. It would assist greatly in making editorial comparisons between the arrangement as a whole and the various segments of the original.

In reply to by Gerald Reynolds

There are exceptional circumstances where multiple sets of concurrent measure numbers might be useful--for example, when an orchestra and chorus are using parts from two different editions. However, in cases like this, the conductor will simply pencil-in the rehearsal marks and measure numbers from the 'other' edition to his copy of the score. No one is going to take the trouble to do the input for an entire new score with double numbering, just for one performance of a cantata or oratorio. The pencil is much faster and easier.

What you are talking about is slightly different, but the simplest solution might still be a plain, old-fashioned pencil. If I understand you correctly, you are creating a new medley edition of several shorter works. You would like to be able to preserve the measure numbers from the originals as a 'road-map' for yourself to use while working on it, and then make them invisible before printing.

Unfortunately I know of no automatic way to do that at the moment. You can, of course, add as many rehearsal marks as you like, with whatever content you like. Perhaps you could put those at key spots in each section, and use a pencil to mark your copy of the original score with the same number/letter. Or, you could simply copy every tenth measure number manually into a rehearsal-mark box. That's a bit of extra work, but if you do them as you come to them, it will only take a few seconds each. Click on the first note of the measure, and type CTL+M.

In reply to by Recorder485

Those are solutions, but it means penciling the numbers in on the score for every orchestra member. The conductor who will rehearse the orchestra will use the consecutive numbers, but the conductor that will rehearse the choir and direct the program will use the discontinuous numbers from the original segments, and without those numbers in the orchestral scores the orchestra won't know where to find the measures the conductor calls out. So the entire orchestra needs to have both sets of numbers. That's why I asked.

In reply to by Gerald Reynolds

So what you are doing is preparing the orchestra score and parts? In this case why not arrange the measure numbers to match the choir's and put a rehearsal mark at every point of discontinuity? That way the conductor can call measures as A1 or B15 etc.

BTW if you need to pencil something into a set of parts you want to do it in rehearsal. Go over the parts with them and have everybody mark up their own part. Doesn't take all that much time.

In reply to by azumbrunn

And the Edit / Tools / Resequence Rehearsal Marks could even automate this to some estent, depending on exactly how you set things up. It tries to resequence the rehearsal marks based on the first one in the selection. If it contains a number that matches the measure number, it will automatically change al the others in the selection to correspond to measure numebrs as well.

In reply to by Gerald Reynolds

I originally thought it must be something like that. But since you are actually preparing a new score and parts for the orchestra, you can, as mentioned, set the measure numbers to match those in the choral director's score. I may be missing something, but I don't see why the orchestra needs two sets of marks in their parts if the orchestral conductor rehearses them from your new score.

OTOH, also as mentioned, it doesn't take more than a few minutes for the musicians to mark up their parts at the first combined rehearsal. I've played in several similar productions, and that's the way this is normally handled.

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