Convert 4/4 swing to 12/8 fully-written notation

• Apr 22, 2021 - 17:40

I have a piece in 4/4 that swings 8th notes. Is there an (automated) way to convert this so that the swing rhythm is explicitly written out? In other words - change the time signature from 4/4 to 12/8, convert quarters to dotted quarters, convert the first eighth note of a beat to quarter, and keep the second eighth note as an eighth note?

Said another way, I want to convert the first measure below into the second.


I know how to do this manually - am wondering if there is an automated way to put this in place.

Thanks -


No way I can think of. But, there is a trick that might make the manual job easier.

You will first need to define a shortcut for the undocumented "Paste Special" command (see Edit / Preferences / Shortcuts to define shortcuts).

Now, select the 4.4 region, then click a measure rest in the 12/8 region and click the quarter note and dot icons in the toolbar. This will enter a dotted quarter rest, but the point it, you will now have the dotted quarter selected on the toolbar and that rest selected. now issue your shortcut for "paste special". It will paste the original select but scaling all the durations by 1.5. That's why we select the dotted quarter first - the command uses the toolbar to specify the scaling factor. And yes, this is an absolute hack, which is why it isn't documented normally :-)

Anyhow, this will turn your original measure into:

Screenshot 2021-04-22 1.13.50 PM.png

Then you can just cursor through the passage pressing "5" on each beat you want to adjust. This will turn those dotted eighths into quarters and "steal" the dot from the following note.

Maybe not worth it for just a measure or two, but would definitely a lot of time if it's a long passage.

In reply to by mdeluca

You're welcome!

Another possibility - you could setting the swing ratio to 66% (right click the Swing text, System Text Properties, Swing) then export to MIDI. Import the resulting file, and be sure to turn off the "detect swing" option in the import panel if it otherwise tries to import as eighths again.

Tried both options. The first (with Paste Special) definitely works, with (as expected) some manual clean-up needed. Will need to spend a little more time looking at the second - when importing the MIDI file it defaults to 4/4 (which was the original time signature) and I'm not able to convert to 12/8. Will keep looking.

But I definitely now have a path forward. Now need to confirm if 4/4 (how the piece is currently written) or 12/8 would work best for the final score. Thanks again for good (and quick) help.

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