handling slashes for time signatures where denominator >8 and numerator not divisible by 3

• Mar 21, 2015 - 20:25
Reported version
S4 - Minor

When adding slash notation to odd time signature charts where a measure has a time signature with denominator greater than 8 and a numerator not divisible by 3, then slash head notes are created with a beam but without a stem. Thus it is hard to determine the rhythm of those slashed measures (although it can be inferred from time signature). Also if beam properties are set for a time signature with beam properties that groups eighths notes or shorter individually, then when slashed, those eighth note slashes appear identical to quarter note slashes.

In example attached test, the 3/8 measure, 3/32 measure, 3/64 measure appears identically as a dotted slash (no beam and no stem). The first two 5/8's measures have beams according to time signature definition, but no stems. The third 5/8 measure has time signature definition that indiviually groups the eighth notes, which causes the slashes to appear identically to quarter slashes.

My suggestion (see attached suggested png) would be to always include a stem for all eighths or higher when filling with slashes. This removes all ambiguity as to what rhythm those slashes represent.


Interesting suggestion. As a player, I think I might see those stems and think someone wanted me to *play* that rhythm. Anotheer possibility might be to have a dotted slash as in 3/8 followed by a regular slash, or perhaps the other way around (perhaps detemined by the beam groups in the time signature properties, if they happen to be helpful and not set to just beam all 5 together). But I recognize that's not ideal either. I wonder if people can point to some good published examples to emulate?

> "I think I might see those stems and think someone wanted me to *play* that rhythm."

That is a valid concern now that I think about it.

> "Anotheer possibility might be to have a dotted slash as in 3/8 followed by a regular slash, or perhaps the other way around (perhaps detemined by the beam groups in the time signature properties, if they happen to be helpful and not set to just beam all 5 together)."

This would only work if every grouping in time signature beam properties adds up to the duration of either a quarter beat or dotted quarter beat. This wouldn't work if time signature properties are set to not beam an eighth, or as you noted if beaming 4 or more eights.

I don't like having the duration of a slash represent anything other than a quarter beat of improv (or likewise the duration of a dotted slash as anything other than a dotted quarter beat of improv). I do lots of charts that frequently switch between _/4, _/8, _/16, etc and while it is possible to infer the duration of the slash from the time signature, having a slash represent a different duration from measure to measure would cause confusion. I realize this affects a very small minority of users. And I realize I can always work around by manually notating whatever rhythms I want with any head and stem and beams I wish.

I haven't found any published examples via quick google image search. I suspect there is no official way to handle this. Maybe best to table this and wait for other suggestions.

A former student of mine just ran into this. We should figure out what to do and do it.

If the goal is for 5/8 to show five unbeamed slashes, we can get that by setting the slashes to "no beam", which might be the best short term fix. Ultimately, I could see a single dotted slash followed by a single undotted slash - assuming 3+2 grouping - could make sense. That is, honor the beam groups. Still not really convinced that's the right thing.

Nice to know that someone else in the world has encountered this problem.

Only way to really know what is best is to do a scientific test by placing charts with the different methods and seeing what produces the least confusion. I don't know of any official standard for writing lead sheets with odd times. The only ones I've seen are handwritten slashes without beams or stems, and would use a dot if makes sense with the grouping. I would suppose most musicians would infer from the time signature whether each slash represents a quarter, eighth, or sixteenth (but it wouldn't make sense to mix quarter slashes, eight slashes, or sixteenth slashes in the same measure.)

I think I've figured out a reasonable solution if can assume the denominator of the time signature will represent the duration of a slash. So if we are in 5/8 time sig, then a slash will represent an 8th duration and a dotted slash would be a dotted 8th (while in 11/16 a slash will represent a 16th duration and dotted slash would be dotted 16th). To determine what to dot, will look only at the time signature grouping for the next shorter duration of the time signature's denominator. So if in 5/8, then musescore will look only at grouping for 16ths notes (while in 11/16, would only look at grouping for 32nd notes). (Now of course this won't work for time signatures with denominator 32 and 64, so I guess they will just have to look at 32nd grouping).

Now find all groups of three in the grouping for that shorter duration. Those will become dotted slashes. Now for all the other that aren't assigned, every time find two next to each other belong to a group (but that haven't already been covered by the dotted slashes), they will be merged together into a single slash. Now the only ones that are left over will be single isolated ones, and the only way I can think to display them would be to make them slashes with a beam and as many hooks as that needed (or maybe these isolated ones could be small slashes). I believe any reasonably sane odd time signature wouldn't have these isolated leftovers. But at least I think this will produce a valid result.

I'm not sure I followed this. In the third paragraph, it sounds like you are saying 5/8 would have five slashes, each indicating and eighth. But then you talk abotu looking at groupings of 3 sixteenths. I don't get where those would come from or why we'd want to do that.

To me, there are two and only two optiosn for 5/8 - five slashes (each indicating an eighth), or a dotted slash followed by an undotted one (each indicating a quarter). I can't imagien there would be other possibilities. And betwene these two, I'd favor the first by default. You could always overrule it by changing the duration, and its easier to change the first into the secnd than vice versa.

I was describing a methodology to handle any arbitrary time signature. So if the 5/8 time signature grouping had the first 3 16ths grouped together and the next 3 16th grouped together and the rest of the 16ths grouped only in powers of 2, then the method I described would produce 2 dotted slashes followed by two slashes. But if the 16ths were grouped only in powers of 2, then the method I described would produce 5 slashes.

There are more options for 5/8, for instance if the 16th grouping was 2 + 2 + 3 + 3, then the method I described would produce slash + slash + dotted slash + dotted slash.

Additionally, the method I describe is it would also handle the occasional time signature with 16th in the denominator by looking at how the 32nds are grouped and following the same rule (first find any groups of 3 and make them into a dotted slash, then pick out any two consecutive 32nds to make into regular slash).

I still don't understand why you'd be looking at sixteenths at all in 5/8. This makes no sense to me. As I said, the only meaningful answers I can see are to use five slashes where each is an eighth, or two slashes with one dotted. And if we chose the latter approach, the methodology one would need to do this would not involve sixteenths at all. We'd simply look at the *eighth* note groupings. If the time signature is set to beam eighths as 3 + 2, we show a dotted slash followed by an undotted one. If the time signature is set to beam eighths as 2 + 3, we show the undotted slash first. And if there are any grouping *other* than 3 or 2, we punt and go back to five slashes, as there is then no way to know how the user would want them grouped.

But I still say, not worth the effort. Give them five (or whatever) slashes, let them combine things themselves if they like, since it is trivially simple.

It is necessary to look at beaming of the 16ths to distinguish between a 5/8 that is simply beamed as three 8ths + two 8ths versus a 5/8 that is subdivided as two dotted 8ths + two 8ths. Since the time signature beam properties dialogue doesn't allowed user to use dots to specify subdivision, that is why need to look at 16ths beaming to determine if user actually is subdividing into dotted 8ths by looking for theree 16ths need together.

Ah, so I guess you are thinking of the possibility of representing such a measure using slashes that represent eighths, but instead of having five of them, having 2 dotted ones and two undotted ones? Yes, that is indeed a third possibility. By far the least likely it seems to me - really, that should have been notated as 10/16. I really don't think we need to be trying to automate that incredibly obscure case.

That is what I was trying to communicate.

But people would probably reduce 10/16 to 5/8 even if divided with dotted 8ths. It also happens with other odd time sigs like 7/8 which maybe subdivided with a couple dotted 8ths.

Anyway, it seems the simplest solution for now is simply have single slashes equal to the value of the time sigs numerator. Maybe in the future can extend time signature to understand the rhthymic subdivision.

I was playing someone's chart in cut time yesterday (I don't know what program), and I notice that the improv sections had two slashes per measure, not four. Since cut time is really 2/2, then two slashes would be consistent with having the number of slashes simply equal to the numerator of the time sig.

So it seems the simplest general solution is to have number of slashes equal to the numerator, and not try anything more complicated.

Well, I wouldn't want to lose what we currently do for 6/8 (or 9/18, or 12/8, etc, which is produce dotted slashes (representing dotted quarters). We already just use the raw time signature for other cases, we just need to make sure eighth notes don't get beamed, I think.

Marc, you are right. I apologise for making these things more complicated than they need to be. All the keysigs in the default advanced workspace make sense:


The only thing that needs to be done is (always) remove beams when generating slashes:


Can you do that or should I (should be straightforward)? Hopefully would get in 2.1

Should be striaghtforward, and I'm happy to do it. Not so sure if it really makes sense for 2.1 since it is kind of in a frozen state right now and this isn't that serious nor is it a regression, but since it would only affect this command, it also is very low risk. Anyhow, we'll see.