# A polymeter question

I have a section in a string quartet where three instruments play in 7/4 and the cello in 3/4. with 7 crotchets taking up the space of 3 crotchets in the cello. I know about staff specific time signatures, but my fuzzy brain is having trouble working out how to fudge the ration to make this work. Any ideas?

A picture is worth some words:

The mensural barlines are 'beatlines’of two crotchets in the top three parts.

Before going into any more detailed discussion – are you aware of the tutorial linked below?

Yes, but that - while truly excellent - is 4/4 against 12/8 which is nicely commensurate. I am so far unable to translate what I see in that tut. to the horrible ratio of 7:3.

I’m not sure if I’m not misunderstanding something. The ratio that you are looking for is just that, that horrible ratio of 7:3.

[The following assumes that “74/4” in your post is a typo and that you actually mean “7/4”; which would correspond to your picture – I think…]

First question here would be what your base metre is (i.e.: the one you don’t want to “fake”).

If it is the cello part, then enclose each of the bars for the other three Players with a tuplet of 7:3 crotchets (pro tip: if it is a longer passage, you can do it all in one tuplet that is set to “span barline”; e.g., if you have a passage of three such parallel bars, for each Player one tuplet of 21:9 crotchets is enough).

Or you do it the other way round; adjust the cello “scale” (which is less work, but presumably further away from the implied structure of the score, as much as one can deduce this from a single bar, which one can’t): that would mean a 3:7 crotchet tuplet (9:21 for three bars, to complete the example above).

Depending on which approach you use, you may have to apply an anacrusis to the initial local time signature, as described in the tutorial.

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Typo yes. 7/4. Post edited.

Nancarrow’s 16th study has a large-scale 5:3 tempo relationship, which I was able to realize with hidden tuplets, very much like what Alexander Plötz describes above.
Nancarrow-Study-16.dorico.zip (701.3 KB)

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@Alexander_Ploetz I am indebted to you. I made it work! This is truly excellent, and so happy to know we can bend Dorico to do this. as a newbie coming from a decade of Lilypond, I am sincerly delighted. And thank you @Stephen_Taylor too.

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