pickup measure

• Jan 17, 2021 - 23:00

Is there a way to add a pickup note before the first measure?


In reply to by jeetee

Well, yes, but that pick-up note will add an extra measure to the measure count, which can cause problems if what you want is to have just a pick-up note (without adding a full measure).

There are situations where measure numbers are of critical importance, and if what you think you are doing (simply adding just a pick-up note) isn't what you're actually doing (adding an entire new measure, in order to add a pick-up note), you could inadvertently create a major problem to yourself (or others), later scratching your head trying to figure out why your score has an extra measure, even though everything seems to look and sound fine.

Insert a new measure before the start of your piece, then right-click -> measure properties and you can control the length of the measure, and exclude the measure from the measure count (essentially make it measure #0, so that it doesn't screw up measure numbers later on).

Also, you'll probably want to change the bar line (maybe to a double bar line) in between the pickup measure and the first measure to make it visually clear that it's a pickup.

In reply to by kwertyops

Thank you. I have retired (involuntary--lost teeth, chops, ear--but I played professionally for 60+ years (trombone, bass [jazz]).
It has always been common to have a pickup (say 2 eighth notes on 4) and then a dotted double bar I: to indicate the beginning of a chorus and, of course, a repeat sign :I at the end of the chorus. If the writer intends for the player to go on to another passage, there will be first and second endings. I can't find any of those symbols in this program.
I spent over 20 years writing and arranging music on another program and when they got in trouble for using Anastasia notation, I could no longer use it and lost 20 long years of work. Saving the work didn't help because there was no other program that would recognize the files (songs).

In reply to by tbonepickr

Yes, that's where I'm usually putting the pickup measures as well. I put the double bar line sometimes in lieu of having the repeat symbols, but here is some help finding those symbols:

First, if it's not already showing, bring up the Palletes menu on the left side of Musescore by going to View -> Palletes.

Once you see the Palletes menu, you can find the repeat barlines under the "Barlines" section , and the first/second endings under the "Lines" section. (See attached screenshot).

You simply click and drag them onto the measure where you want them to go.

With the first/second ending lines, there's a bit of a trick to it if you need it to go over more than one measure. First click and drag the symbol onto one of the measures you want it to go over. Then, double-click the symbol and to put it into "edit mode". You'll see a dotted purple line connecting one of the ends of it to the barlines where it is connected. Single-click to pick which end of the symbol you want to move, and then press Shift + Left Arrow, or Shift + Right Arrow to move the end of the symbol left or right so it can be over more than one measure. (see second screenshot)

Hope that helps! Musescore is great for making jazz charts, there's just a bit of a learning curve for some things. Hopefully that will get better with time.

PS: If you're making jazz charts and you want to hear the notes swing during playback, you can go to the "Text" section in the Palletes menu, and drag the "Swing" text onto the very first note (or rest) in your score. Then when you playback (Spacebar), the notes will swing automatically!

In reply to by tbonepickr

Different styles of music can have different conventions - there is a vast number of pieces starting with a pickup but which don't repeat. The dotted double bar I: is a 'start repeat' sign and nothing to do with pickups.

You'll find the symbols you want in the Palette - it's on the left, if necessary press F9. Then select "Barlines" for your repeat signs, and "Lines" for first and second endings symbols. See https://musescore.org/en/handbook/repeats-and-jumps

In reply to by tbonepickr

Now that you mention it, I remember seeing it in jazz scores and parts (decades ago, when I last faced those)... My experience with jazz scores is that they are written and laid out with maximum efficiency and economy, adding as much helpful detail to the player to provide maximum clarity. I think the only ones that have even greater efficiency are Broadway scores, where each measure is marked with a bar number, and multi-rests are split into logical phrases (rather than leaving a 69 measures long rest segment).

My wheelbase is symphonic (and a bit of operatic), where double bars aren't all that common in general, and when they do happen, they are at the end of a section (and at a key signature change). I don't think I have ever seen a double bar at the beginning of a piece (following a pick-up). Of course, if the section is repeated, the start repeat ( ||: ) will have to be there, although with older classical works, even that isn't usually the case. When there's a pick-up phrase (say, three eights in a 4/4 meter), and the beginning section (say, 16 measures) is repeated, there won't be any double repeat start bar lines at the beginning. The last measure (m 16) before the repeat will have the end repeat double bar line ( :||) right in the middle of the bar, splitting it in two at 5/8 spot.

Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" is a perfect example; both the 2nd and 3rd movement begin with a pick-up, and each phrase new phrase starts with a pick-up of the same length, without any double bar lines at the beginning (not even double repeats), and ends with the truncated measure, with the double repeat bar line splitting that measure:

Screenshot 2021-01-19 at 18.11.47.png

In reply to by Predragvasic

I would just add that I too have see the double bar after a pickup in jazz charts pretty often and somehow it feels right to me, so much so that I'm constantly having to check other scores when I'm writing to remind myself which way is more standard.

I think the specific reason you see it so much in jazz, lead sheets in particular, is the convention of marking each eight bar phrase with a double bar, and also using the double bars at the start of systems (something you don't see otherwise I'm guessing).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella


Jazz, and contemporary music in general, tends to have fairly square structure (8- or 16-bar phrases), and it is much easier to count rests and follow your part if the double bars are there at each phrase. In classical, longer rests are normally ended with cues from other instruments (to reassure the musician about their correct entrance), but jazz, Broadway and similar don't bother with cues when double bars do the job quite well.

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