Alternative presentation of time signature for educational purposes

• Apr 20, 2014 - 18:01

Hello, there is, or was, an old tradition of representing time signatures in a different and more logical way.

The top number - that tells you how many beats there are in a bar - is the same.
The lower number - that tells you what constitutes a beat - is instead represented by the appropriate symbol - crotchet, quaver or minim as the case may be.

This system would be much better for teaching purposes.

Is there any chance it could be used on musescore?


You can hide the time signature then add whatever you want as text or symbols. THat's probably the best method, unless someone can think of another.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thank you very much for your answer Marc. I have figured out how to select the time signature and "set invisible".

Then I tried to create stave text but got stuck because it told me I had no note or bar selected.

So I think I need an intermediate step in order to be able to replace the standard key signature with a bespoke key signature.

Thank you in advance.

In reply to by Shoichi

Aha, yes, I see that by removing the time signature entirely, I can create symbols.....a bit extreme!

Anyway, I appreciate it will be low priority but I could log this as a feature request? Pupils get terribly confused by the lower number in time signatures and it would be great to represent the lower number with symbol instead.
Thank you.

In reply to by Razzmatazz

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying is extreme. Inserting symbols is a normal function of MuseScore, useful for all sorts of things, not just non-standard representations of time signatures. You can do it using the regular Symbols palette ("Z") or, within a text element, using the Text Symbols palette ("F2"). You can also drag and drop graphics files. That way you can add pictures of notes, giraffes, or whatever else you like to your score, anywhere you like.

In reply to by Shoichi

Thank you Shoichi and Marc for your patience.

Having looked at your comments, I have used the "Z" option and uploaded a file for you to look at if you have time. Here it is:

You will see that I
(i) made the existing time signature white (because when it is invisible, it still shows quite clearly onscreen)
(ii) inserted a symbol 4 as the "numerator"
(iii) inserted a crotchet symbol as the denominator.

You can see that I'm not there yet as:
- the white key signature underneath makes it all messy; and
- the tail on the crotchet symbol points up only.

I think I can persuade techie friends to show me how to create a basic graphics file.
But how can I make the existing time signature invisible online.

By the way, I read this current thread with interest:
It would really help if the "numerator" and "denominator" of the time signature could be manipulated independently.

Thank you again.

In reply to by Razzmatazz

Note the thread you link to is about *plugins* - the interface that allows you to write your own computer programs to manipulate scores. It was not about anything you might be able to do as a user of the program. But it *is* the case that 2.0 will also provide some more control over time signatures, including the ability to user arbitrary text for numerator and denominator. I don't think you can choose an arbitrary font, though, so this still wouldn't allow you to place a different symbol that way. But you could create a time signature with numerator only, then place the note as as symbol - and there will now be downstem note symbols you can use.

So the same basic process will work in 2.0, but with improvements.

In reply to by Razzmatazz

Do I gather that you're using English time names for the notes?

ie crotchet, minim, quaver etc?

I have found it helps tremendously with students' understanding of time signatures to use the American names -quarter note, half note, eight note etc

The American names have the advantage of relating directly to the time signature denominator which assists their understanding greatly.

I started teaching the American time names alongside the English ones around the turn of the century with an immediate improvement in my students' understanding of time signatures. I taught both because the English names were so ingrained into my own working that I automatically used them without thinking when teaching, so the students had to learn both sets so they could understand my terminology.

I hope this helps you with your teaching :)


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