Big Time Signatures

• Dec 21, 2019 - 19:03

I know there are already multiple requests for this feature but I simply want to explain why this is so important.
For example when writing for a big ensemble it is sometimes a pain in the butt for conducters to read time signatures.
This especially becomes a problem when the composition involves multiple time signature changes in quick succession such as in film music.
Including this in the style menu as a checkbox titled: "create big time signatures" followed by the number of staves covered by the time signature would be the easiest way to make this feature accessible.
I know this is probably very specific but I really do need this feature in my Life.

Thank you in advance because you guys really rock,

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Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 19.02.48.png 35.63 KB


In reply to by Shoichi

@Shoichi This is indeed an improvement, but the convention as I've seen it (and as shown in the example posed by the OP) is to have the time signature span several staves - usually covering entire instrument families. ie. all brass, or all strings. While the example you've shown is considerably larger and easier to read, I'm concerned that it would really interfere with the rest of the score layout. Still, it is an improvement.

In my younger years, I took the habit of using a child's primer pencil to mark time signatures on difficult scores.

[EDIT] Upon a little bit of experimentation, I can see that your option does appear quite flexible, and could probably do the job with at little tweaking. For example, setting the vertical scaling at 10 and the horizontal to 2.5 will give a single time signature that can easily cover four staves. Setting the other time signatures to invisible completes the process. It still looks a little ungainly, but does the trick.

I withdraw any reservations I had about this approach. Still, it would be nice to have this kind of time signature display available without the added gymnastics.

I don't know how feasible it would be, but to have a feature where you could change the font time signatures independent of music font (ie. Bravura, Gonville, etc.) would be very very useful. That way, you could change the size of a sans-serif font time signature with the existing set up.

Another option is to HIDE time signatures and add 'System text' to the measures, so you can add your own text elements, which can be very big. So you can add texts like "2(enter)4"


The caveat is, I can't seem to find a way to adjust line spacing.

Well i don't really see how it is a big deal implementing this. Dorico uses the Smufl system as well, if I remember correctly. So it surely hasn't got anything to do with font format Musescore uses to display musical text. I would edit the font myself, but inserting the edited musical font for a sans look into the application package is a bitch and a half. I mean just dragging the file path in isn't the problem here it's just the compiling process that keeps me fro achieving this

In reply to by minionmax

Did you see the post above showing how you already increase the size of time signatures? That much is very easy using the Inspector. You can even make that the style default. You can also use the offset fields, and visibility, to achieve just about any effect you want regarding spanning multiple staves, but that much has to be done more individually (right-click / Select All Similar Elements in Same Staff can help though). So yes, a more automatic way would be useful, and will hopefully happen someday. Meanwhile, though, you can get the effect already without too much trouble.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I did this for a musical I recently worked on- I will try my best to describe the steps used to create a score with film score style time signatures.

  1. Create a duplicate (File>Save as a Copy) of the score you want to add large time signatures to. The score that contains the large time signatures cannot be the same that you use to create the parts. Ideally, the score should be completely finished and no changes to the layout will be made- all of the page and system breaks should be set.

1A. If you do not use my files for large time signatures or need some other time signature, you need to create them in vector image editor (I used Inkscape). I used Arial Condensed for the font, and set the overall height to be 10x that of the width. The actual measurements don't matter at it will have to be scaled within MuseScore.

  1. Select a time signature and increase the width to the width you want the large time signature to be- I scaled the X direction by 2.50. Set this as the style. Select all of the time signatures in the score by right clicking and choosing Select>All Similar Elements. In the Inspector, go the the color dialogue box by clicking on the color box, and change the Alpha Channel of the color from 255 to 0. (You can also set the color to white.) The time signatures will still show, but they won't print, because MuseScore considers them transparent- but not invisible. If they were invisible, the space where they would be would disappear.

  2. On the first page and any other that contains large time signatures, create a horizontal frame on the left-most measure. Using the Inspector, change the width of it to something super super small (but non-zero - then you won't be able to click on it again). I chose 0.05sp.

  3. Right click on the horizontal frame you added prior and select Add>Picture, and then choose the time signature you want to add. You will almost certainly have to scale this up by either dragging the corner or changing the height and width in the Inspector. Either way, make sure that all of the time signatures have a consistent dimension. Adjust the X position so that it lines up with the top staff.

  4. Once you are happy with the positioning of the first time signature, select it and copy it (Ctrl+C). Click on the horizontal frame, and paste it (Ctrl+V). It will look like nothing happened, because it pasted exactly on top of the time signature you just created, select it, and using the inspector, adjust the Y value so it sits correctly on the next stave you want to add it to.

  5. Repeat steps 3 through 5 for each instance of a time signature.

Unfortunately, this is the only effective way (that I have found) to achieve this type of notation.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Not necessarily a limitation in functionality but rather in design.
The new addition to change the size of the time signatures is great and I'm grateful for you guys implementing it, don't get me wrong but the design people are looking for with this is a readable, thin and clean looking time signature with a sans serif font. It's 100x more work but the only current solution I can see that works for the wanted design.
That's why I was asking if it were possible to add an easier way to add musical fonts. That way you could create an edited version of the font you wanted to use just with the sans serif look.
The origin of this design comes from the media music business, who sought for a more toner saving option for the time signatures and so, over time this kinda became the industry standard for media music.
The only reason I'm begging for this feature is because I have to use Finale for music school. And my scores would pass with Musescore if I had the design in question. I'm currently writing my music with Musescore and export it as a mxml file for Finale. Only issue here is that Finale screws up my layout and spacing, meaning I have to go through the whole thing again and layout the score.
I know many people before have requested this design, otherwise I wouldn't have started this threat. If I'm the only person who looks for this feature, why bother asking for it. I get why you and your team really evaluate the frequency or urgency for feature requests and I'm totally against feature clutters, that make it hard for beginners to pick up the software. But I reckon that it's really features like this that keep Musescore from becoming more popular in the pro world.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

@Marc Sabatella It is limiting if you want to have sans serif time signatures. What you described can be used to recreate a 20th century notation with large (serif) time signatures above the music, like in Schoenberg, Webern, etc. scores. I have never seen time signatures the size that are used in film/commercial scores that are serif- they are just too big.

In reply to by flavius.vitellius

Actually a nice workaround for that Hollywood/Broadway look.
The only thing that prevents the same score being used for parts is the fact that the svg images added to a score's horizontal frame are also shown in parts, right?
(I wonder what would the reason of propagating these images to the parts.)

EDIT: Alternatively to creating svg time signatures that are stretched, you can always use the Image scale on the inspector, unticking "Lock aspect ratio" and stretching the images there. These stretched images also can be added to a custom Palette (although I don't know why images don't show a preview there).

In reply to by flavius.vitellius

Hey, maybe the idea of using an invisible staff on all the score instead of horizontal frames on every page could improve this workaround?

I added a one-line "instrument" to the top of this score, then made staff lines invisible, hid system bar, removed it from any bracket, set barlines to hidden. Then I dragged this 5/4 image to the time signature measure on the empty staff and placed it where I wanted.
The image can be stretched in the inspector. "Auto placement" must be off.
After adjustment, the image can be dragged with ctrl-shift to a palette so it can be repeated later.

This way, the score can be edited and the image signatures will remain mostly in the right place, and the same file can still be used for score and parts, since normal time signatures can be black and with normal scaling in parts.
It adds a little empty space to the full score but I guess that's manageable by adjusting page margins. Something missing?

big sigs staff.jpg

In reply to by elerouxx

A collateral advantage of this is that you can copy a measure on the "time signature staff" and just paste to another measure on that staff, and the 2 or 3 images across the staves will be copied altogether, so you can i.e. "apply" the paste to all your 5/4 signatures, then do the same to 2/4 and so on.
This could be done with staff text and a Condensed font instead of images, except (again) text line spacing can't be controlled from Musescore.

In reply to by elerouxx

This is a lot better than using horizontal frames, thank you!

I didn't realize that images could be dragged and dropped from a custom palette, so this will save me a ton of time in the future.

You can also make the "time sig. staff" virtually nonexistent by adding a fixed staff spacer to each system, selecting all similar elements in the same staff, and change the value in the inspector to 0. That way, measure numbers still appear in the correct spots.
fixed spacer example.PNG

In reply to by flavius.vitellius

BTW I was also looking at that unwanted staff space, and another easy way is to add a negative "extra distance above staff" to the real first staff of the score (i.e. Flute).

negative staff distance.jpg

The problem with images on the palette is that they don't seem to show a preview on the palette, so I can't tell which is 5/8 or 2/4. Or it's just me?
But copying and pasting from the 'time sig staff' is a real time saver since it copies all the images on that measure.

In reply to by elerouxx

I'm in favor of this. I recently transcribed a symphony with

Kaun time sig.PNG

as the time signature. It would be nice to be able to do that. Also, there have been quite a few requests for fractions in time sigs.

Edit: I just saw you wrote a PR for fractional time sigs. +1

In reply to by mike320

Yeah! Thanks.
Then I kept playing around with these "styling alternatives". Activating the glyphs required some digging in the code but I managed to make this big "4" available as experiment.
Still requires the same manual scaling and adjustments (after selecting all t/s in one staff, for instance).
And it's difficult to insert in the Numerator or Denominator text fields. The "fractions" are pretty common but for this big "4" you would have to somehow enter the unicode (or just paste it from the SMuFL page) - so not practical yet but might be a start of something.

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timesig styling alternatives bravura.jpg 48.38 KB

To open up this topic once more, I’ve taken a look at how something like Dorico is handling this as it also a Smufl compliant system…
The options here are quite interesting and could possibly be adapted to the style architecture within Musescore:

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