12/8 in a 4/4 meter

Madame/ sir,
in a piano score:
left hand is written in a plain 4/4 meter, right hand plays triplets the whole time.
Is using tuplets for writing the right hand part the only way to do it?
I’m convinced that a more practical way exists, but I couldn’t find it.
Could you please help?
Thank you very much in advance.
Bruno Giuranna

Tuplet entry is “sticky,” so you only need to invoke the triplet popover once, when you start note entry. That should make it easier. Then you select all, filter for triplets, and hide all the numbers. I think that is probably the easiest way to do it.

Support for polymetry with different values per measure is on my wishlist. This is one of the obvious cases. I would like to write like the 1st movement of the Ligeti piano concerto, where the general score is in 4/4 and some staves in 12/8

You can fake that (and Ligeti didn’t invent it, J S Bach and his contemporaries were already writing that way.)

To enter a time signature on one staff only, use the popover and press Alt-Enter not Enter.

The trick is to create a time signature of 12/8 with a pickup bar that matches the length of the 4/4 bar (enter 12/8,8 in the popover) and then change back to a hidden 4/4 time signature one bar later. You still need to use hidden tuplets, of course.

Since pickup bars in Dorico can be longer than a normal bar as well as shorter, you could do it the other way round and have the score in 12/8, and one staff starting with 4/4 pickup bar with 6 beats.

Thanks for the answers.
In my case, a 4/4 time signature for both systems, 12/8 tuplets seems to be the best solution.

This is indeed a clever solution, thanks!

Another wizard of polymetry is Elliott Carter. I would like to enter his String Quartet 1, which has dozens of examples of tempo modulation changes, some of which are confined to one or two bars in one part. Dorico’s version 2.2 tempo equations work perfectly for the global tempo changes. Dorico allows you to Alt-Click a 6/4 time into a 4/4 bar; however, the bars get 50% longer than the other 3 parts. Carter puts in a tempo equation to fix this. Unfortunately, Dorico does not at present allow you to Alt-Click the corresponding tempo equation into a single staff. I don’t know how dangerous this feature would be, if it were implemented.

Here is a good thread for making a text-only version of a time signature - for now this is the best way to implement the Carter 6/4 bar; I’ve used this trick to notate some Nancarrow.


Thanks for the help Rob! I just got this to work with Bach’s “Jesus bleibet”: https://www.dropbox.com/s/splyz25jg5274n0/Jesus%20bleibet%20meine%20Freude.dorico?dl=0

I had to make the first bar “9/8,6.”

Apologies to all power users who consider the answer to the following stupid question already answered in this thread:

I have the opposite question, so to speak.

I have written music in 4/4, and as it turns out after too many bars to re-enter, there are predominantly eighth note triplets all over the place.

Is there any way to convert all this music into 12/8 meter? Including converting non-tuplets, like quarter notes and half notes, into their respective dotted versions.

That question is not yet answered in this thread. If, say, 90% of your notes are in triplets, then it might be an option to

  • first convert everything manually to triplets (also the quarter notes etc, these will then be dotted quarter notes in triplets)
  • then, with insert mode on, select everything, filter all tuplets, and delete all. all tuples will be expanded into normal notes and everything will be pushed to the right in extra bars
  • then change your meter to 12/8 and don’t forget to turn off insert mode again

The first step can be omitted, but then you have to manually lengthen all note values that were not in triplets afterwards. Depending on how complex the rhythms are you may lose the overview over your music.

Thanks, that seems like a promising way to go about it.

When manually converting into triplets – is there an obvious way to convert, say, a quarter note, into a single triplet (dotted) quarter note?


Indeed! I searched for the answer on Google, found a couple of threads on the forum – and now I see that I actually ended up posting my question in a different thread than what I originally intended. My question does not really relate to this current thread at all! Sorry … and thanks for replying, mth!

With the roll-out of Dorico 3, is there yet a “one-click” way to convert a section of music written in 4/4 with tons of triplet-eighths into 12/8 time?

No. (“One-click”? Really?!)

Not quite one click but try:

Edit / Select All
Edit / Filter / Tuplets (which should leave just the tuplet brackets selected)
Insert mode
Press Delete
Change the time signature to 12/8.

If there were any beats that were not tuplets, you will have to add rhythm dots to them manually.