Pickup and non-metered measures

Updated 1 month ago

    Creating a pickup measure

    A pickup measure, also known as an upbeat or anacrusis, is a partial, or incomplete, measure at the beginning of a score or section.

    Note: By convention, measure numbering starts at the first complete measure. MuseScore does not do this by default but you can accomplish this manually by checking "Exclude from measure count" in the Measure Properties dialog.

    Specifying the pickup duration during score creation

    1. Click on Measures in the "Additional score information" page (page 2) of the New Score dialog;
    2. Check "Create pickup measure";
    3. Choose an underlying time signature using the spin controls below.

    Converting a measure into a pickup

    1. Right-click on the measure and choose Measure properties;
    2. In the Measure duration section, next to "Actual", you can set an underlying "time signature" for a pickup measure. The number on the left specifies the upper number of the pickup's time signature—you can set it to any positive integer. The menu on the right allows you to select a value for the bottom number of the pickup's time signature;
    3. Click OK; or click Apply and then or if you want to configure an adjacent partial measure.

    NOTE: When there are notes in your intended pickup measure MuseScore only preserves the leftmost notes, if they fit in the Actual value you designate. For instance, if a 4/4 measure contains six eight notes starting on beat 1, and you set the Actual value to 1 beat (to create a quarter note pickup) MuseScore keeps only the first two eighths. If you set the Actual value to 2 MuseScore will keep the first four eighths. Whereas with a measure pre-populated with two eighth notes, starting at beat 4, and your Nominal value is 1 or 2 or 3, MuseScore will eliminate those notes from the measure, even though they exist in the logical place for such pickup notes. Finally, it should be understood that pickup configurations are accomplished without using the Time Signature palette.

    It is accepted musical practice to omit the same duration as the pickup from the final measure of the piece or of the same repeat section. The same method of shortening the measure applies here.

    Creating non-metered measures

    A non-metered measure is one which is less or greater in duration than the indicated time signature.

    A measures of less duration than the indicated signature may be created in exactly the same way as a pickup measure (see above).

    Other ways of creating non-metered measures are described below:

    Inserting notes and rests

    Extra notes/rests can be inserted in a measure with the help of either a keyboard shortcut, or by using a special mode of entry called Insert mode:

    Using a keyboard shortcut

    1. Select the note or rest in the score before which you want to insert notes/rests;
    2. Enter note-input mode;
    3. Select a duration;
    4. Press Ctrl+Shift (Mac: Cmd+Shift) while adding the note/rest from the keyboard or mouse.

    Using Insert mode

    1. Make sure you have the element selected where you want to start inserting notes/rests;
    2. Click and hold the Note input icon, and select Insert (or if Insert is the current default, just press N);
    3. Enter a note or rest as you would in step-time mode. Each note is inserted before the current cursor position;
    4. Move the cursor forward and backward if required (using the arrow keys), to change the insertion point.

    If, at any time, the total duration of the notes and rests within the measure does not match the time signature, a small + or - sign will be shown above the measure.

    Joining measures

    This command joins selected measures into one measure.

    Method A. To join two measures only:

    1. Select the barline between the two measures;
    2. Press Ctrl+Del; or select ToolsRemove selected range.

    Method B. To join any number of measures:

    1. Select the measures you want to join;
    2. From the menu bar, select ToolsMeasuresJoin selected measures.

    1. If you select measures on only one staff in a score with multiple staves, the same measures will be joined in each staff of the system.
    2. Beaming may be automatically modified.

    Splitting a measure

    This command inserts a barline before a selected note, splitting the measure into two.

    Use one of the following methods:

    • Select a note; then hold Ctrl and click a barline in a palette.
    • Hold Ctrl and drag a barline (from a palette) to a note.
    • Select a note; then, from the menu bar, select ToolsMeasuresSplit Measure Before Selected Note/Rest.

    See also

    Other measure-related pages: