Time signatures can be found in a Palette of the same name in both the Basic and Advanced workspaces.
Note: Whether or not a time signature is actually shown depends on the staff properties, by default it is not shown for tablature.
Add or replace a time signature
Use any of the following methods:
- Select a time signature, measure, note or rest, and click a time signature in a palette (double-click in versions prior to 3.4).
- Drag and drop a time signature from a palette onto a space in a measure, or onto an existing time signature.
Delete a time signature
- To delete a time signature in the score, select it and press Del.
Create a time signature
If the time signature you require is not available in any of the existing palettes, it can be created using one of the following methods:
From the Time Signatures palette
Available as of version 3.3.
- In the Time Signatures palette, click on "More", then, in the supplementary palette, click on the "Create Time Signature" button;
- In the top line, enter the Numerator, Denominator, and Text (the latter is optional where you need the display to be different from the actual time signature).
- Adjust the default note beaming in the Note Groups section. To restore the default beaming pattern, press Reset;
- Press the "Add" button to transfer the newly-created time signature to the Time Signatures palette.
From the Master palette
- Press Shift+T to display the Time signatures section of the Master Palette;
- Select a time signature to edit in the center panel;
- In the top line of the Create Time Signature panel, enter the Numerator, Denominator, and Text (the latter is optional where you need the display to be different from the actual time signature).
- Adjust the default note beaming in the "Note group" section". To restore the default beaming pattern, press Reset;
- Press Add to add the newly-created time signature to the center panel. To delete a time signature from the center panel, right-click (Mac: Ctrl-click) on it and select Clear.
- Drag and drop the time signature from the Master Palette to the Time Signatures palette. You can also drag the time signature direct to the score, if desired.
Fractional time signatures
Starting in version 3.5.1 there is limited support for fractional time signatures. Only ½ and ¼ are supported at this time. If your keyboard does not have the characters on them you can enter them using Alt+0189 for ½ and Alt+0188 for ¼ on some operating systems. You can also copy/paste from here.
Time signature properties
To display the Time Signature Properties dialog, use any of the following:
- Select the time signature, then click on "Properties" in the "Time Signature" section of the Inspector.
- Right-click (Mac: Ctrl-click) on a time signature and select Time Signature Properties….
- Global value: Shows the global time signature and is set automatically when you add a time signature to the score. It is the reference for beats (as shown in the status bar) and tempo markings.
- Actual value: Shows the time signature associated with a particular staff. This is normally the same as the global time signature, but can be set independently if required. See Local time signatures.
- Appearance: Allows you to edit the displayed text without affecting the underlying time signature. For an example, see Additive meters.
- Note Groups: Allows you to change the default beaming of notes associated with a time signature. See Change default beaming.
Change default beaming
To change beaming of individual notes, see Beams instead.
To adjust note-beaming for a particular time signature:
- Select the time signature, then "Properties" in the "Time Signature" section of the Inspector; or right-click (Mac: Ctrl-click) on the time signature and select, Time Signature Properties…;
- To break a note beam in the Note Groups panel, click on the note following it. To reset the beam, click in the same place. Alternatively, you can change beaming by dragging a beam icon onto a note, as follows:
- Start beam at this note.
- Do not end beam at this note.
- 1/8th note beam to left of this note.
- 1/16 note beam to left of this note.
Checking the box for "Also change shorter notes," means that any beam changes at one level are applied automatically to shorter durations as well. The Reset button cancels any changes made in that session.
Additive (composite) meters
Additive (or composite) time signatures are sometimes used to clarify the division of beats within a measure. To use an additive time signature:
- Create a new custom time signature, see above, or
- Modify an existing time signature on the score:
- Right-click (Mac: Ctrl-click) on a time signature in the score and select Time Signature properties…;
- In the Appearance section, adjust the "Text" property as required;
- Adjust note beaming in the Note Groups section if required.
Local time signatures
In certain cases a score may show staves with different time signatures running at the same time. For example, in Bach's 26. Goldberg Variation:
In the above example, the global time signature is 3/4, but the time signature of the upper staff has been set independently to 18/16.
To set a local time signature for just one staff:
- Hold down Ctrl (Mac: Cmd) and drag and drop a time signature from a palette onto an empty measure.
Resize time signature
- Select one or more time signatures and, in the "Time Signature" section of the Inspector, adjust the "Scale X" (width) and "Scale Y" (height) values.
Pickup measures and cadenzas
Occasionally you will need to decrease or increase the duration of a measure without changing the time signature—for example, in a pickup measure (anacrusis) or in a cadenza etc. See Measure operations: Measure duration.
Time signature changes and breaks
Multimeasure rests are interrupted when a time signature change occurs. Also, a section break will prevent a courtesy time signature being shown at the end of the previous measure.
- How To Using Polyrhythm, mixed meters and local time signatures in MuseScore (MuseScore HowTo)
- Additive meters at Wikipedia.