Time signature changes

• May 13, 2022 - 17:32


I have a problem with time signatures. I'm working on a composition exercise and I've already prepared instrument changes, keys, time signatures, staff type change, etc. This is a lot of work! But I thought of adding time signature changes in some exercises. And then the nonsense started...

Can't I just change one or several bars from 4/4 to 5/4 or 3/4 without damaging the whole layout? System breaks and page breaks disappear, in adition, changing the time signature automatically adds or deletes bars... How can this be avoided?

I imagine working with a score with 200 bars or more and wanting to change the time signature only on the second bar. After all, it should be possible without loosing all the prepared layout...

Thanks, K.


As soon as you change time signatures all system and page bread no longer make sense, and the measures you applied them to likely no longer exist.

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Unfortunately, yes, this is a really big problem... When working as a copyist, especially with cadenzas, we often modify the bars: add, delete, change or modify the time signature, etc. In the middle of the symphonic work with more than 400 bars. If you had to redo the whole score layout every time, this program would unfortunately not be suitable for that. I will transfer this problem to the bug section.

To be clear: it's not just MuseScore arbitrarily preventing it; in many cases, it's simply physically impossible. If the line break is at a place that is no longer the end of a measure, it won't make sense anymore. Unless you want that measure split in the middle, which is unlikely.

But that doesn't mean there is no way to accomplish what you want; it's actually quite simple. Just be sure to select the actual range of measures you want to change before clicking the system break icon. Only those measures will be changed, the rest of the score - including its system breaks - won't be changed.

If it's literally one bar only, this doesn't quite work, because we assume a one-bar selection really means, start the new time signature and continue to the next time signature change. So, simply apply the return to the original time signature first.

If you continue to have trouble, attach your score so we can understand and assist better.

In reply to by Karolis B.

You need those 6 measures of 3/4 to contain at least the same amount of time as you had in 4/4. The 16 original beats result in 5 and 1/3 of 3/4 bars required, which is why you end up with 6 of them.

If not, then which part should MuseScore throw away according to you? I can guarantee you that whichever option you pick (the final beat of every bar, or just the 4 superfluous beats at the end (essentially the last 4/4bar), or something different still) it will always be the wrong option for someone else.

So instead of potentially already removing music, MuseScore chooses to keep it and let you decide (afterwards) what to throw out (if any).

Yes, you still lose the system break at the end of the selected range, but at least the auto-inserted original time signature made it so that this is the only system break you lose, all others are still in place.

In reply to by Karolis B.

Expanding on the above...

What I said was, you won't lose breaks or anything else outside of the region you just asked MuseScore to completely rewrite for you with new measures and new barlines etc. And that's completely true. No breaks outside that selected range were touched at all. All that was lost was the one break within the selected region, and it happens for exactly the reasons stated - there is no particular to assume that the location of that breaks exists at the end of a measure anymore.

And indeed, it doesn't. Your original break happened after exactly 16 beats (four bars of 4/4). After the change to 3/4, that puts it between beats 1 and 2 of the sixth bar. Do you really want youtr break to be there, splitting the measure into two parts? Highly doubtful. Surely, MuseScore could flip a coin and randomly decide to put the break either at the end of the previous of next measure, but it would be wrong half the time, and you'd then have to delete the break as well as add a new one in the "correct" place. Rather than make you spend twice the time fixing wrong guesses half the time, it's much simpler for MuseScore not to play guessing games, and for you to simply add back that one break yourself.

So again, just as I said, all the rest of the breaks in the entire rest of piece are completely untouched. It's exactly one additional keystroke to establish the new break at the place of your choosing - something MuseScore could not possibly be relied upon to guess correctly.

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