Combined tempo equation and resulting metronome mark

Hello All,

A very common tempo expression I see in contemporary scores is…

q = e = 120 (where q and e are note symbols)

I see that Dorico supports the equation and the mm mark separately; there appears to be no way to combine them.

I realize I can buy MusGlyphs — which seems like an excellent thing to do, regardless of this question — but entering the expression that way means more trouble when extracting parts, because I assume there’s no automatic way to include in every part an expression entered above the top staff of the score. Or is there?

Another negative is that in larger ensemble scores the tempo marks would be system objects appearing automatically above the top staff and above the strings, which the MusGlyphs method would not be able to take advantage of. It would be useful to have an option to make any text item a system object.

Before I try to deal with this, I wanted to know if there are any other options, as of v4.2.


Hi John, this is still the way. Sorry.

There is. It’s called System Text and it works just like system objects in the placement.

In music (modern or otherwise) or even in mathematics, this would be a nonsensical marking. What is it trying to convey?

Maybe he means that a swing rhythm = 120?

If this is the case, I personally would write a crotchet = 120 and then the metric modulation after.

Thanks, Dan. I’ll buy a copy of MusGlyphs now.


Great! Just what I need. Somehow I hadn’t learned about that yet, but it appears to work well. I’ll use that with MusGlyphs. Thanks, @Craig_F.


Yes, I agree it’s nonsensical, but it’s still commonly seen in scores, as an abbreviation of…

q = e (e = 120)

For example, the condensed format appears often in the music of Elliott Carter. (And, it must be said, so does the other, non-condensed format.) His Eight Pieces for Four Timpani has it at time=1:00 in a scrolling-score video you can find on YouTube. (Not sure it’s okay for me to link to that here.)


It’s just an affectation that demonstrates he can count. Only the metrical modulation (or the simple metronome mark) is required for the performer (and yes it would be nice if Dorico could handle metrical modulations)

In this case, it does. Shift-t, q=e is perfectly handled.

I disagree. It conveys two critical informations: first the relationship between quarter and eighth notes between two passages, second the absolute tempo (which was q=120 before).

So it both gives a relative as well as an absolute tempo information, clearly indicating the performer that any big deviations from the tempo are unwanted, and that if the tempo deviated too much, a musical way to come back to 120 should be found.

Is it the only possible way? no. Is it nonsensical? neither.

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