Alternating time signatures

• Aug 4, 2010 - 14:03

Would it be possible to add the ability to list alternating time signatures at the beginning of the score? For example, for a song alternating between 6/4 and 4/4, both time signatures would be listed together in the first line, then the program would know to alternate between the two as new bars (measures) were added. (Here's a Wikipedia example, if my explanation wasn't clear.)

I know you could manually add a new time signature at the beginning of every bar to work around this, and that implementation would be tricky, especially when it comes to deleting bars (measures), so I understand if this is really low on the priority list.


The workaround might be more simple that you thought. So just in case, and for future readers.
For the snippet from wikipedia, I created a flute score in 6/8. Enter the first measure. Change the actual duration for measure 2 to 3/4 (right click on the measure -> Measure properties->actual duration). I enter the note for measure 2.
Then I added some leading space to the very first note (Right click on the note -> note properties). And I added the 3/4 sign from the text palette (Press Z to display it).
Of course, MuseScore does not know about the second time signature and will not pickup the right one according to the content of the measure but it seems a very rare use case no? Someone has other examples of such a notation?

Attachment Size
AlternatingTimeSig.mscz 1.6 KB

In reply to by [DELETED] 5

This regular alternance is the rythm of Huapangos (north Mexico), and is found in many latino american music. That' the traditional introduction to La Sandunga (Tehuantepec, south of Mexico) .
There is also just hemiolas in ternary music...

The notation is disparate....
Often, specially in latino scores, the peculiarity is not given by any measure is clear from the music.
And you may have 3/4 or 6/8 for the whole score. Or even 3/4 running by two, in such cases the hemiolas implies some indication denying any accent on the first time of the second measure.
But, in non-latino, and sometimes in latino, you find 3/4 and 6/8, either when requested , either at the beginning, in case of regular alternance..
I have quite a lot of such scores
So it's sure that the 3/4 6/8 sign would be useful.

Definitely something I'd support for the 3/4 6/8 hemiola, though I don't know if it makes any sense for time signatures that alternate actual measure length. Mostly it would just be good to be able to have the visualization of the two times at the beginning. The automation of beaming would be nice but could be done manually.

I did the hemiola by just changing beam properties, with the start beam just begin the figure. I am doing a 3/4 in a 6/8 hemiola, the middle 2 I did the start beam and middle beam, and it was a-ok.

I second this request. Alternating time signatures are not uncommon in some literature.

In the meantime this can be accomplished the following way:

1) Pick one of the time signatures and assign it to all of the relevant measures. In the screenshot I picked 4/4

2) go to every other measure and change the actual duration to the real value Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 13.29.21.png

3) Change the time signature appearance to show both signatures by entering two values in each field. Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 11.47.43.png

4) Restore full measure rests for all measures.

This method works quite well for creating a score but it has a a few draw backs:
1) you cannot create distinct grouping for each signature. You have to alter each measure manually
2) You cannot create multi measure rests. the 4 empty measures in teh screenshot cannot be collapsed.
3) If you don't like that the 2 numbers of time signature are too close together then you have to add them manually into the staff. Be aware that they may move if you make changes to the score.

In reply to by freiversuch

There is an easier way. Choose 3/4 as the time signature. When you encounter a 4/4 measures press 5 ctrl+shift+a (or any other note name) and a quarter note A will be inserted where you press that (you can press any key from a - g if you need one of these notes), you can then edit the note length in may ways. Q halves the note length, W doubles it, shift + Q makes it one note shorter with a dot, shift + W adds a dot. You could actually add several shorter notes using chtrl+shift+notename if this makes more sense in your situation. I think this is easier since you don't have to open measure properties, it's all done with the keyboard. One disadvantage is that you cannot insert a rest, but you can insert the note any where in the measure if it starts with a rest.

The entire variety of world music is written in compound meter. Just take Czech "furiant" dance, beloved by both Dvorak, Smetana and Brahms. Just take Balkan music, Middle East, North Africa, Bernstein's West Side Story, Dave Brubeck, you name it. You'll find it everywhere and it's there for centuries. Any decent notation software should support it out of the box and not by using tricks and hacks

In reply to by cincplug

To clarify, by this I mean the ability to set the overall time signature as compound one. Like there already is an option to set the time signature to for example 7/8 or 9/8. What is missing in MuseScore is the ability to write 9/8 as for example 2/8 + 2/8 + 2/8 + 3/8, which should be there as an option because 9/8 by default reads as 3/8 + 3/8 + 3/8 which completely differently respells as rhythm and conductor would count it differently

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

An old subject, but one that has still never been addressed by MuseScore.

Beaming aside, could it not be possible to designate a time signature that alternates, either in a regular or irregular manner? For example Compound / Simple, or 12/8 / 6/4. The user could decide the beaming, or it could be done automatically.

At the same time, it ought to be possible to change time signatures independently in each staff.

The attached screenshot hopefully explains what I mean, demonstrating both linear and vertical hemiolas, independent time signatures in each staff and alternating simple and compound time signatures in different measures.

Attachment Size
compound-simple-hemiola.png 23.37 KB

In reply to by s c standen

"... it ought to be possible to change time signatures independently in each staff"
It is possible, using a local time signature. See the Handbook:…
However local time signatures impose all sorts of restrictions e.g. subsequent measures must be empty before setting a local TS, you cannot copy and paste in a local TS.

But you can achieve your example (more or less) without using a local time signature, by changing the Appearance section in the Time Signature Properties of the opening time signature. For each subsequent change of time signature you have to insert the new time signature manually and then hide it:

There has been a long debate about how to improve time signature creation, and no significant change will be available in MS 4.0. But the topic is regarded as important for some subsequent release after MS 4.0. See the Issue Tracker for this thread:
#277279: Lack of Capabilities in the Custom Time Signature Creator

Attachment Size
Alternating_Time_Signatures.mscz 8.26 KB

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.