Pickup Measure and Final Measure

• Mar 30, 2015 - 01:23

I am using MuseScore 2.0 under Windows 7. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I cannot find it addressed in the handbook.

In 4/4 meter, I have a 2-beat pickup measure. The final 4/4 measure should only contain 2 beats. It has 4 and I can't figure out how to change that behavior. I tried setting the final rests to not visible, but that makes the last measure look awkward.

Is there some setting I have missed?


FWIW, though, the convention of shortening the last measure of a piece to account for a pickup is no longer used very often. It has its place in short pieces used for dance or multi-verse hymns, but there is not generally any need to do this for all pieces.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Academically it is still a requirement for the last bar to omit the anacrusis beat, as demonstrated by this ABRSM workbook video....


Trinity College London also teach the same.


So whilst in the real world musicians and composers can and do break the rules on this, if you are working academically then you need to make sure that you subtract the value of the anacrusis from the last bar, otherwise you will lose marks.

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Indeed, the convention *does* exist, and makes sense to use in certain contexts, such as writing short dance pieces or hymns that may repeat (this was without doubt in my mind the reason behind the convention in the first place. So it makes sense to learn the convention, and even test one's knowledge of it in a beginning theory class, and that is why the convention is still taught. But I rather doubt the folks who put together that Level 1 workbook would try to make the claim that this is the only academically correct to write music - I suspect they know full well it is very context-dependent. It's not a "rule" that some composers "break" - it is simply a convention that can apply to a certain context but does not apply to all.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Certainly in the UK it is taught as a definite rule in music colleges.

IMO there always has been a difference between academically correct practice and what musicians and composers do in real life.

Even JS Bach, who is held up as a paragon of theoretical excellence by the academics does not always follow the academic rules of harmony.

So whether you doubt it or not it is being taught as a definite rule to music students, certainly in the UK and probably elsewhere, not just as a convention, although once they leave the ivory towers of academia I would guess most of them would go along with your view on the subject.

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

Could be, but it isn't just a matter of what individual composers might or might not do. it's also a matter of how professionally published music has actually been presented over the centuries. It doesn't take a whole lot of looking at score editions from 1600 through the presernt to see that this convention really has not been in the past and is not currently adhered to consistently. It's pretty clearly a subjective editorial decision.

It may have been "conventional" for some publishers but it has never been compulsory to shorten the last measure when the piece starts with a pickup. I have a copy of Bach's "Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darien" published in 1851 and it has a split-common-time part starting with a minim and ending with a semibrieve. Later it has a 3/4 section starting with a crotchet and ending with a dotted minim. I'm sure that there are older and newer examples/

I searched for the same thing you did. Since no one really answered your inquiry even to my satisfaction, I played around, and created a workaround to complete your truncation. Sorry it's a year after you asked...

First, click on the final measure you want to truncate, append one measure to that one(ctrl+B) Then go back to the rest(s) which needs to be truncated (in the now newly created penultimate measure), split the measure (Edit->Measure->Split measure). Then click on the last measure, hold shift while hitting the left arrow to highlight both empty measures.

Once a square hovers above the two measures, delete them (ctrl+del; or Edit->Measure->Delete measures).

This process very cleanly eliminates the last beat(s) which was(were) used as the entry pickup note(s). I did this on a tablet which doesn't have an easy way to "right click."

I understand this may not be modern practice, but the current behavior makes repeats involving pickup measures awkward at best, and if lyrics are involved, it just looks especially bad.

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