How can I change the time signature from 3/4 to 4/4 without destroying the whole score?

• Jun 2, 2023 - 02:57

I have a score I entered a while ago in 3/4. However, we are now now going to play it in 4/4 for jazz.
The note changes are rather simple in that only a dot has to be added to the first note of most bars.

However, when I change the time signature in Musescore, it upsets all the notes and the score is basically no longer fixable as it also moves to other bars adds extensions etc.

Is there a way to change the time signature and then be allowed to manually fix the score somehow or do I have to write this off and re-enter the lot?

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Musescore before.JPG 54.68 KB
Musescore after.JPG 49.36 KB


It's not clear what you expect to happen, but this seems correct - the note values are preserved. if you mean you want some sort of AI algorithm to go through your rhythms and figure out a musically-appropriate way to change the rhythms into ones that work better in 4/4, that's not something that exists in MuseScore. Maybe someone e has tried to create a plugin to do that, but if the whole piece is as simple as what your image shows, it shouldn't take but a few minutes to enter directly in 4/4, assuming you have some idea of the rhythms you want.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

To clarify the problem: How to momentary stop Musescore to be intelligent for a while and just become a dumb editor so it can leave the notes in each bar alone and incorrect until they have been manually fixed.
That does not need AI or any intelligent processing.

In reply to by berntd

I think you are misunderstanding what is happening. There is not "intelligence" going on here - it is simply keeping your durations exactly as you wrote them. What you want is for it to change the durations I guess, but that's what takes intelligence. If you want it to do something like, say, add a quarter rest at the end of each measure, probably a plugin could do that. But since it is such a simple example, you could also just copy and paste measure by measure into a new score.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

By copy measure for measure into a new score, do you mean select a measure in the 3/4 score and then copy that into a 4/4 measure of a new score? I will have to try that.

I have since entered the whole score from scratch as in this case, it was simple to do.
I am however still curious how to best solve this issue in the future.

Or try my Waltz2Swing plugin. Its written for MU3.6 but may work in MU4. I made changes recommended by Jojo Schmitz.
To use open your file in 3/4. Then open an empty file in 4/4. This has to be right next to the 3/4 file (The plugin uses cmd("next-score"). Go back to the first file and run the plugin (it changes half notes in 3/4 to dotted half notes in 4/4)
EDIT: the plugin adds a beat to every 1st beat of a measure. Attached what it does to "Someday My prince Will Come"

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Waltz2Swing.qml 6.52 KB
My Prince.mscz 14.25 KB

In reply to by elsewhere

+1 just use Waltz2Swing plugin

also try this unprofessional hack:
1. backup (create a duplicate file)
2. export as mscx
3. open as plaintext, search and replace all <sigN>3</sigN> with <sigN>4</sigN>, save
5. open in musescore, save, close, open again, see if any weird things happen

do not use this method if you need score file integrity / stability

then select by duration then batch change


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after.mscx 7.5 KB
before.mscx 7.5 KB

1-Switch to insert mode to make the length of the measures "flexible"
2-add your dot to the white note starting the measure, to make it 1 beat longer (or add a 1/4 note, or whatever way you want to extend the measure to 4 beats. Make sure you have done this for all measures
3-change the global time signature from 3/4 to 4/4

In reply to by rothers

Oh my, you're right, that doesn't work (and imho that's just a bug).

So you have to add a 1/4 note to all measures between beat 2 and 3 of the 3/4 score.
Then change to 4/4.
And then in "normal mode" add the dot overriding the 1/4 note.
Note: or add 1/4 note between beat 2 and 3 and tie it to the previous note, then no need to go back adding the dot (but more work to add the ties in the first step of course)

In reply to by frfancha

Surely, not a bug. In note input mode you select the duration before entering the note or rest You can only change the duration of a note that's already present out of note input mode. Changing existing note durations just by selecting a duration in note input mode would make entering notes really awkward.

In reply to by SteveBlower

You can change the length of existing notes in "overwrite mode" right? (I know, not in "input" overwrite mode)
Why can't you do the same in "insert mode"?
That's the bug.
For example when the selected input mode is "insert" in the drop down, changing notes length should shorten/extend the measure.

In reply to by frfancha

Suppose you have a quarter note and want to insert a dotted quarter after it. You click on the quarter and get into insert mode. Using your suggested behaviour if you then click on the augmentation dot, your existing quarter becomes dotted. How do you enter the dotted quarter without changing what is there already?

In reply to by frfancha

Just because something doesn't work the way you expect doesn't mean it is a bug. Shift+W does what it does by design. if you want a different design that would be a feature request and would require a different command to invoke it, leaving the current behaviour intact for those who need and use it.

In reply to by SteveBlower

In step mode, or normal, or classic, whatever you want name it, adding a note overwrites what previously exists.
Normal, expected, perfect.
Same mode, using shift w extends the selected note, and again overwrites what existed.
Idem: normal, expected, perfect

In Insert mode, adding a note will not overwrite what existed, it will extend the measure to make place for the new note.
Again, normal, expected, perfect.
Still in Insert mode, extending a note by shift w, will overwrites what existed instead of extending the measure.
This is what I call a bug.

Discussions about it being really a bug or not in this forum is pointless anyway, as, as it has been repeated again and again in many posts, there are no "MuseScore team" in here just users like you and me. Even if some of them such as Marc have a huge experience and a very deep knowledge of the product of course.

In reply to by frfancha

It's not a bug since it wasn't designed to work that, but I agree it would be an improvement if the design were changed so that it did work that way.

It's not pointless to ascertain whether or not something is a bug or not, BTW. It has significant impact on the likelihood of a change being made as well as determining the process for how that change happens. Bug fixes can be handled by individual developers. Design changes need more discussion and approval from the design team. My sense is that insert mode as a whole is probably going to be redesigned at some point to be easier to use and to deal with other quirks, like the inability to add notes at the end of a measure. The current mode is a hack, really.

In reply to by msfp

OT. Could you have a look at my plugin:
and the link mentioned in there
// see
The cursor gets stuck in the last measure (without error code!) and you get in an endless loop if you’re not careful.
It would be useful to add this to snippets… in the area of addnote/addrest but I’m not sure how to go about it myself.
EDIT: A few more fun facts to know:
1. In Snippets I noticed the function setCursorToTime(cursor, time). In the new retrograde plugin the author uses the built in function: cursor.rewindToTick(tick). Neither will work correctly if there is no segment at that tick. Which leads to:
2. If you remove rests in voice 2,3,4 you also lose their segment which causes problems. See:

In reply to by rothers

Ok taking into account what works and what doesn't, here another proposal (which will work well only if the rhythm is very regular):

1 - Go to note input mode, mode 'Insert'
2 - Add a 1/4 "thing" (whatever it is, doesn't matter: a note, a rest) between beat 2 and 3 of every measure. That "thing" just need to be there to extend the measures.
3 - Right click on the first note of the score and select "All similar element same beat", and press 6 then '.'. The "thing" added in step 2 is now replaced by the '.' on the first note of every measure.
4 - Change time signature to 4/4


Order of steps 3 & 4 doesn't matter, you can do 3 or 4 first.

I think MuseScore should respect the selected input mode in step 3.
Therefore selecting "Insert" (even not being in Note input mode) step 3 by itself should extend the measure.
It doesn't :-(, this is why the time consuming step 2 is necessary.

Of course if the plug-in does the job for you, by all means use the plug-in, my answer is more out of curiosity about what MuseScore can do.

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