Converting or transforming a piece to a different time signature

• Jun 22, 2019 - 23:34

I have a .mscz score in 4/4 time, and I want to convert it to 2/2 time (cut time).

Of course I want to change the time signature.

But I also want each measure to be replaced by two measures, quarter notes to change to half notes, eighth notes to change to quarter notes, etc., so that the new score is in a sense equivalent to the original.

What is that called, and where is the documentation on how to do it? Thank you.

I'm using 3.1.


Cut the contents of the score, change the time signature, then use Edit->Paste double from the menu and everything will be as you want it, though you will need to manually fix any system items like tempo, rehearsal marks, key signatures and so forth.

In reply to by mike320

Thanks for your reply. I'm running into some problems, most importantly: Pasting double duration seems to make a mess when there are partially-filled (meaning irregular-duration) measures, including any pickup measure. The cut separates the bars from the notes. So when pasting, the notes are doubled in length, but the measures are not simply duplicated one at a time. The notes are simply loaded into the existing measures (long notes sometimes being split in two and tied across bars), sufficient measures being tacked on at the end, those new measures being regular in length, seemingly as determined by the time signature.

In reply to by Odie

I didn't consider the possibility of a pickup measure. You are going to have to double that yourself. After you change key signatures, right click the pickup measure and change it's duration to match the notes doubled in the pickup measure. So if you had an 8th note pickup before make its actual duration 1/4 (because it needs to hold a quarter note which is double an 8th note). This should line up the measures. You can do all of this after you cut the existing notes because nothing in these instructions include a copy or cut of additional notes or measures, which would replace the contents of your clipboard.

If there are irregular duration measures in the middle of the paste then you have two choices. After you change the time signature count the measures, and adjust the actual durations of the appropriate measures to be double what they previously were (3/8 becomes 3/4 for example). The other option is to scrap the whole thing and start over. You have to decide which is easier, even if you show me the score it's a personal preference as to which will take you less time. At 10 measures 4/4 time it would be a no brainer to me, adjust the measures and then paste. At 100 measures, it would depend upon how many irregular measures there are. If there are a lot I would just reenter the score because it's not easy to change the duration of a lot of measures and there are too many opportunities to miscount measures. I'm quite proficient with the keyboard for score entry so my situation may be different than yours if you use the mouse for all note entry.

I know I haven't given you a definitely do this answer, but think I've given you the information you need to make a good decision.

In reply to by mike320

This was a revelation to read, because I transcribed some early baroque music that was in 4/2 and 3/2 time, and wanted to get it into more common times for the sake of being easily readable by performers. I had no idea how to do this until seeing your post. There are two incredible shortcuts in MS- paste double duration and paste half duration. Going from 4/2 to 4/4 or C I followed the same instructions, expect half duration. There were a lot of extra bars at the end of each paste that were easily removed. When there is another time signature in the score (like 3/2) the next one remains unaffected until you do the same process with that (3/2 reduced to 3/4). Etc. There is plenty of cleanup afterwards, but that part is easy- certainly easier than how that could work manually!
Just this simple procedure- have an extra copy in memory in case you mess something up and keep a finger on command-z. Click on the time signature, go to the palette and select one either double or half note values. Notice what the section looks like. Cut the section (can be all parts) leaving all those empty bars. Paste with edit>paste half duration (or double duration). delete any now extra bars (if half duration). fix the 2 tied eighth notes, rehearsal letters, DC/DS- all of that kid of stuff. In my one-time experience, everything else (articulations, slurs, dynamics, lyrics, etc. was all there with the shorter values.
This is a powerful function in MuseScore!

In reply to by mike320

I just tried this technique with my score that was 3/2 and I wanted it to be 3/4. It worked like a charm and saved me a ton of work. I had to remove a bunch of extra measures but that was a breeze. My question now is what is the technical name for what I did? In terms of music techno speak? Is it simply changing from 3/2 to 3/4, is that how you would describe it?

In reply to by Don9of11

If it's taking an entire piece and rewriting it this way, I don't know that there is a single term for it. But if it's taking a piece that has a passage in one time signature then also including a second version that has all the durations halved, that's called diminution. I guess you could say that's what you did to your piece even if you did it to the full score, but if you didn't keep the original around, there really isn't any evidence of it, it's like saying "is this bigger or smaller than what it was before" and if I don't know what it was before, that's a meaningless question.

Well I got the job done, but I can't say it was a lot of fun. I don't know the issues as to why there isn't an easy way to do this in Musescore. Are commercial score-creation tools able to do it?

Here is approximately what I did and how someone could convert a one-instrument 4/4 piece having some irregular-duration measures (e.g. pickup measures) to 2/2:
1) Open the score to be converted (named say old44), and Save-as under a new name (say new22).
2) Close the file (not sure this step is necessary).
3) Get both old44 and new22 open simultaneously, each in its own tab.
4) In new22, Edit->Select All, Edit->Delete. This removes the notes from the staves and leaves a score of all rests, each measure having its time value unchanged.
4.5) Find the 2/2 (cut time) time signature in the palette (View->Palettes->Key Signatures), and drag the icon atop the 4/4 time sig, thus replacing the 4/4 with 2/2. Actually I'm not sure whether I did this before or after doubling the measures as described in step (5). Probably it doesn't matter.
5) In the all-rests new22:
a) For each sequence of regular-length measures, count the measures, then Add->Insert->Insert Measures a like number of measures somewhere in the midst of the sequence, thus doubling the length of the given sequence.
b) For each irregular-duration measure, figure the time-value and multiply by two. Then replace the given measure with one or two measures having twice the value of the original. Thus you will have replaced the original measure with at-most one full measure and at-most one irregular-duration measure, the new measure(s) having twice the time value of the original.
6) By now all the measures in new22 should have the time values necessary to correctly accept a note-length-doubling paste-job from old44. Check your work and save new22, in case something goes wrong in the following step (and something probably will go wrong).
7) Click in the old44 tab, and Edit->Select All, Edit->Copy. In the new22 tab, click the first rest of your new all-rest score, thereby selecting that rest. Then Edit->Paste double duration.

If you are very lucky, your new score looks and sounds as you intended. Some of the loose ends that I had to deal with:
i) The key signature was not recognized when I pasted the notes in, and so a bunch of unneeded accidentals showed up unexpectedly inside the measures. I undid the paste or reloaded the all-rest back up, but I don't remember exactly how I fixed that problem.
ii) The name of the instrument appeared preceding the first line, but was absent from the following lines, where it is usually seen in abbreviated form. I fixed that by using Staff properties.
iii) Some bar-line repeats changed unexpectedly during my rest-doubling edits. I just fixed them using the bar-lines palette.
iv) The new time sig shows up as 2/2, rather than as the slashed 'C' as expected and shown as the palette icon. I haven't fixed that yet.

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