Changing meter without moving music (Dorico 5.0)

How can one change the meter for a passage of music already written without moving the music? So that measures are over- or under-filled and can be rhythmically adjusted after the meter change.


Welcome to the forum @Beth_Denisch !

Do you mean that you would want to keep barlines where they were previously relative to notes, and have Dorico add extra beats at the end of each bar, as required by the new time signature?

Dorico doesn’t work like that: in Dorico, the notes keep consistent positions relative to each other, and the barlines move around them. You can easily shift music around rhythmically later, and if Insert mode is enabled you can retain subsequent music (i.e. the changes won’t overwrite later notes, instead they’ll be pushed back in time).

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Yes, to keep the notes grouped within the measure and then to adjust their rhythmic durations and positions to match the meter afterwards. Or, How can I do this without “shunting everything along” as dspreadbury mentioned in the Dorico: Editing Meter Signature March ’22 Steinburg Discourse Forums? Actually to reduce the number of beats per measure and adjust down the pre-existing beats to fit the new meter.

You could, for example, change the time signature and then adjust note durations by:

  1. Selecting individual notes and selecting a new duration for them, e.g. select some half notes/minims and turn them into quarter notes/crotchets

  2. Use one of the larger-scale duration adjustments, like “Lengthen Duration by Grid Value” (which works in increments of the rhythmic grid) or “Double Note Duration” (which doubles each note’s duration, based on what it was before)

If you have Insert mode enabled, notes will either squish closer together when shortened, or push later notes back when lengthened. If Insert mode is disabled, notes will leave a gap after them when shortened, leaving the next note where it was; and lengthening notes can overwrite the next note.

If you’re still not sure, perhaps share an example of what you’ve got now, and what you want to end up with, and I can offer more precise steps to follow.

Yes, thanks, Lillie! I want to change this passage of 3/8 to 2/8 and some of the three eighth notes in a row will become two sixteenths and an eighth, and the dotted eight notes will become eighth notes:

Great, thank you. This looks like a perfect use-case for Insert mode! Maybe make a duplicate copy of your original project, for safety, then try it out.

  1. Input the new 2/8 time signature where you want it.
  2. Press I to activate Insert mode (it’s also in the Notes toolbox on the left, the button that looks like a line with inverted Vs at the top and bottom).
  3. Because you’re probably wanting the dotted quarters in b51-53 to become undotted (right?), I’d recommend changing the Insert mode scope to “Global” (so that when you shorten notes for some players, that time gets removed for everyone, keeping all the parts in sync).
  4. Select the notes in those repeated 8th note passages that you want to be 16ths.
  5. Press 4 (the key command for sixteenth notes).
  6. Select the dotted eighths in b55-59
  7. Press . (to undot them; or, just press 5 again to reselect eighth notes)

Ta-dah! Should work perfectly. (Although you’ll need to decide what to do about the 3 notes in b50 and b54, for example; you could make them triplets?)

Thanks for the suggestion, I will keep the Insert Global options in mind for the future but it didn’t work for this situation. Here is a partial rewrite of the adjustments I wanted to make after changing the meter. Any other suggestions? Is it possible to uncouple the “notes keep consistent positions relative to each other”?

Insert mode should work like Lillie suggested.

If you change the time signature to 2/8 it will become a mess. But it should solve itself.

With activated insert mode (all bar numbers ofcthe original 3/8)

Bar 51-53: delete the additional notes.
Bar 54: select first to eight hit 4 (to make them 16th
Bar 55ff: select the dotted eight, hit 5.

The concept of the music being, in a fundamental way, independent of the time signature (ie the music is a constant stream of information, and time signatures and barlines just provide different ways of marking points in that stream) is quite key to how Dorico works, so you can’t change that.

If you’re new to Dorico and used to the way other notation softwares work, I appreciate that can take some getting used to! But you’ve already done quite a neat job of adjusting your music from 3/8 to 2/8, so I’m sure you’ll get there very quickly.

Lillie and Nukkul! Thanks for working with me on this: yes, I was a long time Finale user but have been very excited about Dorico for awhile now although only recently really diving deeply into it and finding some work habits are obstructing my progress. Pardon the detailed inquiries but, for example: I changed the meter for the passage and changed Insert to Global and selected eighth notes:

but when I hit 4 to change them to sixteenths, I got this:

Any idea about why the second note disappeared?

I think Dorico got confused because you’d also selected rests on the other staves inbetween. Try just selecting the notes, then changing their duration (e.g. you can use a filter after making a larger selection, or click somewhere on the staff in a bar but not on the notes to select that whole bar)

That worked, thanks!

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