Creating an open time signature bar between existing bars

Is it possible to create an open time signature bar in between existing bars of music?

I’m transposing an orchestral trumpet part and there is a bar in the middle where the cello soloist has a cadenza. Some of the notes in this cadenza, particularly the last few beats - trills, etc., will be cued in the trumpet part. I have created an open time signature for that bar after first making sure that the following bar had a “normal” time signature in place, but I have been unable to work out how to enter notes in that bar without them affecting the notation in the following bars. I have already entered all the trumpet notes and am going back to enter all the cues, which so far have stayed in the prevailing time signatures - no problems there. But this cadenza bar has me stumped.

I’m beginning to think that an open time signature bar needs to be the last bar of music - as you keep entering notes, the final barline just keeps on moving and making room for more until you enter a normal time signature. I have tried “normal” mode and Insert mode, but what I enter into the open time-sig bar either overwrites or moves the existing notation in the following bars.

I suppose another option is to work out how many beats I need for the cadenza and then create a sufficiently long time signature and hide it.

Open meter is a bit of a difficulty in some situations. Here the easiest solution would be to set the bar as open meter, then add beats as needed using Shift-B, 4q (4 quarter notes, for example).

1 Like

Thanks for the idea Dan. I’ll give that a try.
Generally what happened with my earlier attempts was that the open time-sig bar would allow only the same number of beats as in the surrounding time signatures, sometimes fewer.

That looks like it will be effective. Thanks again for the help.

@stevenjones01 When you add a time signature before a subsequent existing time signature, Dorico won’t add extra beats unless Insert mode is active. This is because Dorico thinks in rhythmic time, and won’t override how many beats there are or the relative positions of notes to each other unless you tell it to (so for example, a note that previously started one quarter note after a note on a different staff doesn’t suddenly start two quarter notes after without you knowing about it).

Similarly, music flows freely through time signatures whilst remaining semantically correct for whichever meter it finds itself in (if Force Duration isn’t activated for notes) due to how Dorico approaches note and rest grouping.

Open time signatures have no defined duration, so you do need in that situation (of an open meter in the middle of a flow) either to input the next “regular” time signature at the rhythmic position of the end of the cadenza, or insert beats as Dan said. There are two ways of adding beats - using the popover, or using the system track.

You’re right that Dorico adds whatever beats/bars are needed at the end of a flow if you keep inputting notes - that’s true regardless of the time signature, and including if there’s no time signature at all!

1 Like

Hi Lillie.
Thank you for the clarification as to how Dorico handles this scenario. It was my first attempt at having a bar with an open time signature. I had checked the manual for relevant information and instructions before starting, to make sure that I would be heading at least close to the right direction. Following Dan’s suggestion, I ended up using the popover to add beats. That proved to be amazingly quick and easy. I wonder if the manual should refer to this method in the section(s) relating to open time signature, maybe in a “Cadenzas” section. Unless I have missed or misread something, what is currently there seems to be more applicable to when the open time signature bar is the last bar in the flow with any notation in it, in which case there aren’t any subsequent beats to be pushed along or overwritten. I suppose that what I was expecting to happen once I had created the open time signature and activated the caret within the bar, was that any notation entered would just keep expanding the length of the bar until I had finished. Lesson learnt. A new skill learnt.

I’ll certainly make a note. There’s not something like that currently because the behaviour is consistent for all time signatures, but I do see why someone might expect open time signatures to be different.

@Lillie_Harris : How do you add beats with the system track? I can’t see a way to select a fraction of a bar.

See here - there should be a link to this page from the “inputting” task, I’ll get that done.

1 Like