Dual Time Signatures

• May 25, 2020 - 18:41

It would be very helpful if there was a way to easily create dual time signatures, i.e. ones of the sort "6/8=3/4" or "6/8(3/4)". As it works now, these have to be "assembled" using glyphs from the symbols pallette, which requires a lot of tricky (and unpredictable) placement, and has to be done for each staff. (Not to mention matching the typeface--something I missed the first few go-arounds.)
Of course, I'm talking about the glyphs only--not the measure lengths or beaming.
Any plans for this in a future version?


In reply to by wfazekas1

sorry again, I know mexican music with , in the same piece, differents times signatures , one after other, but, it's only a following , each of those different time signatures has the good rythm. Severals measure in 6/8, after severals in 3/4 if you want, or more complex.
But , write 6/8=3/4 or 6/8(3/4) seems to me an explanation for the musician how to read his sheet music. You must write 6/8//3/4 or 6/8 and 3/4, but it's not useful, this is written along the piece at each changement of time signature. It's only what I think. Bye.

In reply to by Spire42

I was only trying to say that Wfazekas1's original question is very valid (and the reasons Raymond Wicquart is providing not so much) I think we all now that 6/8 is not a 3 times rhythm, but different key signatures can be used at the same time and in fact have been used for a long, long time, not just horizontally "one after the other" but vertically.

I didn't really want to go looking for examples since I'm not requesting a new program feature here, but I guess now I have no option. Wagner did I say?

The Valkyrie is full of examples, really, all over the place.
You can quickly check the first page of the 2nd act:

Or check these two examples from the first act: (6 vs 4 and 3 vs 9)

Hope that works

Attachment Size
p70 6x4 vs 4x4.jpg 1.48 MB
p122 3x4 vs 9x8.jpg 1.11 MB

In reply to by Bernabé YK

But none of these examples show the notation you've been requesting.
None show 6/8 = 4/4 notation or 3/4 = 9/8 as a time signature.

What they do show is that some staves use a different time signature than others. And that is perfectly possible in MuseScore too: https://musescore.org/en/handbook/time-signatures#local-time-signatures
I believe the only drawback is that there might be some limitation to copy & paste when you're using local time signatures.

In reply to by jeetee

Yes, that is a feature I knew existed, but it's not the problem I have.

As I stated, the problem is not with the notaton of the notes, rhythms, or durations: that is all clearly possible (even 9/8=3/4--in the same staff, as it were--can be done using tuplets whose brackets are rendered invisible.) The difficulty arises in creating the time signature glyph itself: two fractions in the same staff. As I said, it is possible--but VERY cumbersome--to create them using glyphs drawn from the symbols palette, but I wish there was a more direct way to accomplish it.

Perhaps this a feature that could be addressed in version 4?.

Here is a score in which I managed to accomplish it (the "I want to be in America" meter, also found in a lot of Renaissance and Baroque pieces):

Attachment Size
The_Earl_of_Essex_his_Valse-Boston.mscz 32.41 KB

In reply to by wfazekas1

Currently, what you want is possible and so far no example (as in none at all) have been provided that this is part of published music at all. I personally don't even understand what the intention of such a marking is.

I won't be against adding such a feature if it's use/significance can be demonstrated.

In reply to by jeetee

Here are two examples, both drawn from the Durand edition of Debussy's preludes, although the first is not exactly the notation I remember.

When I was describing MuseScore to a friend of mine, a professional music typesetter, he suggested trying to recreate a score by Debussy or Ravel as a test of MuseScore's "completeness.

In reply to by wfazekas1

Interesting. Thank you for the example!
I'm probably lacking in broadness of musical knowledge, but I still don't understand the meaning of 12/16 = 2/4. Mathematically it doesn't make sense as 12/16 == 3/4
But at the same time, 12/16 is also 6/8 so I presume the indication would mean to play it with a 2-beat feel to it (as if it was 6/8, rather than 3/4).

I think if MuseScore is to implement it it should be somehow related to the current "text" field option. This feels slightly related to people that wish to notate 7/8 as 3+4/8 or as 2+2+3/8 or even as 2/4+3/8 and the likes.
So it would be an added bonus if this notation were made possible in the same attempt.

In reply to by jeetee

Yes, if I were to create (i.e. program) this as an option, I would put it in the Time Signature Properties menu, under Appearance. It's handy that MuseScore already makes it so simple to create additive signatures like "3+3+2/8" (as opposed to "4/4").

In reply to by Bernabé YK

As an only remotely important side note, I can't help but wonder about the value of this kind of dual meter. It might be interesting to see the original handwritten manuscripts of these pieces. Debussy in particular. Is this how the composer wrote the music, or is it the way a type-setter interpreted it? Maybe I can't count, but I find only 11 16th notes in one measure.
Yes, I know the goal might be to recreate how it was done in an old score. But is that way automatically the best way? And do people still use dual meter because it is the best way, or because they can, or it seems cool?

In reply to by bobjp

IMSLP has a lot of original manuscripts scanned and posted, but, alas, not of works by Debussy.

There are multiple reasons why one might want to notate time signatures in this way:
In the case of "3/4=6/8," to indicate that each measure has the duration of a dotted half-note, which is subdivided into three quarter-note beats or two dotted quarter-note beats, without an on-going preference for either.
In the case of "3/4(5/4)", as in the 2nd Debussy example, that the basic measure length is three quarter-notes, but with the occasional 5-beat measure thrown in, without having to re-write the time signature for each instance.
In the case of "2/4=12/16," as in the 1st Debussy example, the piece is in duple time, but with each eighth note divided into three sixteen notes. The Debussy is a little vague, I'll admit: in m.1, the six eighth notes are beamed in a way that implies 6/8; in m. 3, the first eighth note has the duration of two 16ths, but the second eighth note has the duration of three (although the rhythm seems clear to me, at least); and in measure six, where all the eighth notes are under one beam, who knows? This makes me think this was in Debussy's ms.; and perhaps a certain amount of vagueness is part of the aesthetic.

In my own scores, I've used dual time-signatures for each of these three reasons, because to me they seemed the clearest and most efficient means of notation; or else because they implied a connection with a particular genre or style of music.

In reply to by wfazekas1

Wfazekas1: I think somehow the dots for that note C# went missing (both in left and right hands).
I'm almost sure it is the first eight note the one that should be dotted (to make up for 3 sixteenth notes) and the last one the one with the regular duration. I think the flag of the next sixteenth note pointing backwards is the best cue for this mystery.

As per the = symbol in the dual time signature, instead of "()"... Maybe he wanted to say that it's not the eight note that always keeps the same duration, but the whole measure. This way he can write without tuplets or triplets and keep that hemiola feeling. I might be wrong, but that's how I'd interpret that score.
() Means you'll get either this or that time signature
= Means you'll get different time signatures, but they will be stretched or compressed to equal duration

Attachment Size
Debussy_Claude-Préludes_1er_Livre.png 163.2 KB

In reply to by wfazekas1

3/4=6/8 no sense to me as you put forth. If I see a measure with 2 dotted quarters, It might just be two dotted quarters. Not necessarily 6/8. Sure, 6/8 usually means a 2 feel, but it might also be a 3 feel. So is the 6/8 supposed to be a heads up of impending 2 against 3?
I have no idea how your West Side Story example is notated, but it could all be written in 6/8, and directed in 2, or even 3.
Dual signatures have never made much sense to me. in practice, that is. I get the theory. But what do I know? I'm just a guitar player. In spite of a music education degree.

"... any published examples?"
Brahms - 8 Lieder und Gesänge, Op.59, No.5 - Agnes:
The original score is IMSLP #81993 on this web page (see song No.5 "Agnes"):
This song uses a dual time signature, because it switches on a slightly irregular basis between 3/4 time and 2/4 time:
Brahms - 8 Lieder und Gesänge, Op.59, No.5 - Agnes - dual time signature.png

It was a bit tedious to notate the opening time signatures in MS2, but I find it almost impossible to notate them properly in MS3. And worse still, the MS2 version when upgraded to MS3 has displaced the second time signature on musescore.com! Here is a link to the broken online version:

I think this Dual Time Signature feature is really needed and is not properly supported at present. Do please correct me if I'm wrong.

I personally find the suggestion quite nice although the is not clear on why do that:

I'm not sure if it is already explained. But I believe the "second time signature" shows the version that the conductor must count: a score says 6/8 but the conductor doesn't need to count each measure with 6 moves thus you put (2/8)... Ok the truth is that this example wasn't really great. You can see some in the screenshots of pieces of Claude D.

Uhm now that I think of it again 6/8 is used for only one reason. And generally some others more perplexing... But a great medium would be to implement the idea because Musescore wants to appeal to most and be highly customizable... Right? I mean it doesn't hurt anyone COUGH except Devs. COUGH

In reply to by elerouxx

3/4=6/8 or 3/4(6/8) means an alternance between a ternary and binary 'feel' - since both measures have the same duration, it's just a matter of beaming and accents, like in 'I want to live in America' from West side story, or the Concierto de Aranjuez. Usually the composer just chooses one or the other but many people prefers to make that clear.
3/4 2/4 or 3/4-2/4 or 3/4+2/4 usually means that it really alternates measures, so it's a shortcut to avoid inserting a t/s every measure. In practice you should have to add hidden time signatures anyway, leaving the first one visible and changing its appearance to '3/4 2/4'.


Attachment Size
parser_ts_inspector2.gif 1006.73 KB

Thank you all for this discussion and especially for the explanatory video posted up here. I've been struggling with this issue for years, inventing the most bizarre workarounds for the staff to show a "bi-rythmic" time signature for transcribing latin american popular music with no satisfactory results (zamba, chacarera, cueca, gato, huella, litoraleña, vidala, chaya, etc, etc, etc). The solution shared in the video with the equal sign showing between both signatures is still unsatisfactory for transcribing this kind of music accurately, because 6x8 is not equal to 3x4 and the purpose of a bi-rythmic signature is not to make this point. The point has been made up here, it's about the ambiguity of the feeling of beat the musician needs to internalize while playing. Both feelings, both groups of gravitation points in time need to be present while playing, and the natural alternation from one accentuation to another through all the music is the essence of these musical genres. If english were my native language I would ceirtainly have more accurate words to explain this. Below you will find a thorough explanation of this written by the great argentinian composer and guitarist, Juan Falú, and other authors. (In spanish, of course).
Did anyone find a real solution for this since the last post?

Attachment Size
géneros birrítmicos-3.pdf 1000.07 KB

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