Applying polymeter to different 'voices' within one staff

I know that Dorico can easily (and beautifully) assign independent time signatures to different parts (players), so long as the time signatures have a common (time value) denominator, but I want to go a little further than that, notationally, and I’d really welcome some input on how best to achieve it.

I wrote the following passage using Finale – which does not have polymeter capability – some time ago. As you can see, the upper staff of the piano’s grand staff has two ‘voices’, with the top one in 6/16 and the lower in 4/4:


As far as Finale was concerned, both voices are in 4/4, but I created the “6/16” signature with ordinary text, manually overrode Finale’s 4/4 grouping/beaming to create a grouping proper to the 6/16 signature, and added small, dashed barlines using another Finale graphic tool.

What would be the best series of procedures to use to do something like this in Dorico?

(Please note, I’m not asking for feedback on the rightness of this notation – only on how to achieve it in Dorico! :wink:)

Many thanks, in advance, for any tips you’d care to share!

In that regard, even without trying it, I’d say anything is rhythmically possible in Dorico using nested tuplets.

I’m a bit confused here. Did you try to apply your Finale workflow, adjusting beaming manually and inserting the pseudo-metre as text? Because that should be pretty straight-forward exactly in that way. Did you encounter any specific problems?

Have you read this Scoring Notes blog post for a general guide to ways of having polymeter in Dorico?

Well… Maybe there’s something here I don’t understand, but… there’s no real polymeter in that example, right?

I used MusGlyph to write the 6/16 and 2/8 time signatures as staff text. You might use some kind of vertical dashed lines (or a font that gives you that) where you need…

Here with some hidden nested tuplets (and a representation of 6/16 I can understand, although I know it’s not what you’ve asked):

Those hidden tuplets were a 16th note based 6:16 tuplet, and on the last two 16ths, a 4:2 nested tuplet, all on the top voice. Hope it helps!

Thanks, Alexander!
No, I hadn’t yet tried the method I used in Finale in Dorico – wanted to hear suggestions first. I’m glad to hear that the same method will work in Dorico – thanks again!

Hi, Lillie. Thanks for this – I recall trying to understand it (with little success) when I first started learning Dorico, but it makes perfect sense now.

However, while I can see how useful this technique can be for other polymetric situations, I don’t think it applies to this specific one – for two reasons: first, I need to apply the polymeter to two voices within the same staff; second, the time values used in both meters (4/4 and 6/16) are identical.

Many thanks for putting this much care and time into your reply, Marc – I really appreciate it! First, perhaps you and I are using different definitions for “polymeter”: each “beat” of my 6/16 is equal to three quarters of a beat of the 4/4, so that – for example – four beats (or, two bars) of 6/16 equals 3 beats of 4/4. The 16th note’s duration is common to both parts – all that I’m doing is superimposing the 6/16 over the existing 4/4.

Thanks! This is very useful info!

Here’s where I may be having a hard time understanding :wink: : it looks like you have divided the one bar of 4/4 into six equal beats, using (perhaps?) a 6:4 ratio, and somehow getting Dorico to apply that ratio using 16th notes. It’s very cool, but my conception, for this passage is that each ‘beat’ (ie, dotted 8th) of the 6/16 compound meter is felt as being subdivided into three equal pulses. That way, the player hears the relationship between the 4/4’s sixteenth notes and the 6/16’s sixteenth notes.

Aha – “16th note based” – now I get it!

Wow - thanks for this, Marc! It hadn’t occurred to me that, of course, because they are tuplets, they would only apply to one voice! I’ll definitely give it a try.

Big thanks to everyone for helping!

Dorico deals with the polymeters with hidden tuplets. All the fuss about “long pickup bars” is only a way to fool the notation for one bar, but it’s still as long as the others it’s in sync with.
As you only can apply tuplets to one voice at a time, it does not really matter if there’s only one voice concerned by your polymeter… Everything else will still be on time.
I’m not sure I’m clear about this. Try it and it will probably make sense to you as it does to me :wink: