• Feb 23, 2022 - 21:38

Can you make an unmetered score?


Pretty much, yes. Hide the time signature with "V", then use the join & split commands in Tools / Measure to build up "measures" of the desired length.

OK, I'll start again.
Despite that fact that Mark Sabatella is an expert on Musescore, which I am not, I think the answer is "Yes", not "No." If you switch to the so-called "insert" mode, and you use the continuous view (I hope that is the right term), you can then enter an almost indefinitely long piece of unmetered music (at least six hours' worth, if Jojo is correct). The term "insert" is a misnomer, because you probably do not want to "insert", you simply want to keep typing, but it is called that because of an extended series of complaints from people demanding to know why Musescore doesn't work like a word processor, and not being able to understand the answer.

In reply to by Imaginatorium

The reason the answer though remains "no" is that internally MuseScore can't deal with "unmetered" at all. So your music technically doesn't become unmetered, but "custom metered".

In most cases and for many users this is a "same difference" approach, until they want to print their score and notice they'd still have to create some kind of "measures" to allow for system breaks.

In reply to by jeetee

Oh, you mean that when the length of the bar is 167 crotchets, then it is fixed ("measured") at 167, until you add or subtract some more, when it becomes fixed at a different value. You should rush to the programming forums, and tell everyone that we have to call variables "constants", since their values are always fixed until they get changed. No, perhaps go to philosophy... and describe the internals of a system which "technically" could offer unmetered.

If it turns out that Musescore simply cannot insert a line-break inside a bar, then that is a shortcoming, but essentially nothing to do with it. Exactly the same thing happens in "measured" music, if there is a very long bar.

In reply to by Imaginatorium

Sure.. let's make fun of the reason why the answer seems irrelevant to you. There's a difference between being unmetered and having a duration vs being metered. And it has nothing do with variables vs constants, which you're well aware of or you wouldn't try to dismiss and ridicule it that way.

As I mentioned to most people this will be a "same difference" thing. But it isn't. And perhaps the mid-bar system breaks weren't the best example; so let's take another.
Beaming will still follows the Time Signature, which shouldn't exist in a truly unmetered approach.

When exporting unmetered music to MusicXML I do not expect to find time signatures within it, however MuseScore (due to those "technically internals") will put one in there. Reopen the same musicxml file and the time signature magically reappears.
Sure you can go ahead and just call that an "exporting bug" as well; and undoubtedly it can get fixed. And if we fix all of those "bugs" related to actually not really supporting unmetered music the end result will be support for unmetered music.

But until that time, the correct answer remains "No, MuseScore does not support unmetered music; but it offers a number of features that can bring you extremely close."

In reply to by Imaginatorium

Note I did say the answer was "pretty much yes" :-). Insert mode doesn't do anything different under the hood from changing measure duration in measure properties or using split / join, so it's just a matter of which method fits your way or working best. For me, it's usually join measures, because then I don't need any special fancy modes and can use all the standard note input techniques. For others, it's insert mode. I rarely use that, but I do occasionally use the individual "insert note" commands (Ctrl+Shift+letter) within standard step-time note input mode. Also, for removing beats from measures, you have similar tools - measure properties, split, and "remove selected range" (Ctrl+Delete).

But no matter which tool you use, the end result is the same - measures of varying length, where you are in complete control of the number of beats in the measure. So, while there are still measures, they can contain any number of beats. To me that is unmetered in a practical sense.

As for what limits might exist on the actual length of a measure, whatever limits are placed by the compiler, probably something like 2^32.

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