[Dorico 3.5.12] What does the "e" mean in a meter signpost with auftact?

This is what I input, setting the auftact amount as 1 beat (a beat = an 8th note):
It returns a signpost as “6/8 (e, 3+3)”:

It made me think that the “e” = “eighth note”.

However, when I change the auftact amout to other values like 2 beats:
It still shows an “e” there:

Also, the values of “pick-up bar of” shows that things are valued in “beats”:

However, tests proved that these values are actually valued in crotchets (quarter notes).
In case of using 6/8 beat… if you want to set the afutact amount as 1 beat (a quaver, i.e. an 8th note), you have to choose the “1/2 beat” in the context menu:
If you choose 1 beat in the context menu, the actual auftact amount will become 3 beats:

Something seems to be weird here.

BTW, what about changing the dropdown menu to a textbox and changing “Pick-up bar of:” to “Pick-up bar length (beats):” to make things clearer?

Same here. Also, this passage:

Not all pick-up bar lengths are possible when using the panel. For example, you cannot produce a single eighth note upbeat in 6/8 with the available options. In such cases, you must use the time signatures popover.”

in the manual looks incorrect to me.


“One beat” in 6/8 is of course a dotted quarter/crotchet, so that at least isn’t incorrect.

The text in parentheses in a time signature signpost tells you about the beat grouping for the time signature, with the letter representing the beat duration, the numbers telling you about the beat pattern.

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Daniel, not wanting to be difficult, but how isn’t this a discrepancy?


Perhaps that’s just imprecision in my choice of words. The letter in the time signature signpost represents the beat grouping duration, i.e. it is describing the unit in which the following numbers are expressed, so in 6/8, you have two groupings of 3 eighths, hence (e, 3+3).

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that signpost is completely logical and jibes nicely with popover entry, and I also understand how to use it.
I think much ambiguity could be avoided if the “beat” would always mean whatever the denominator indicates, and this should naturally extend to panel entry of time signatures.
Please consider this a feature request… :wink:

Thx, and all the best,

P.S.: I just read up about compound meter, and understand where you’re coming from, but my feature request still stands for the sake of clarity and consistency. :innocent:

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I thought that a 6/8 measure consists of 6 beats. Looks like we think different here. Time for me to learn one more new British tradition.

I agree with your opinion here.

6/8 is compound meter. Think of it as shorthand for 2/4 with triplets.

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I have to disagree with you in that it’s just a British tradition. Certainly, in Spain and Portugal, the beat (pulso, pulsação) doesn’t necessarily mean “what’s on the denominator”, but is a subjective feel of the tactus or pulsation of the music. Conventionally, in 6/8, that equals to a dotted crochet, and in any time signature with a 4 in the denominator, to a crochet.

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In a slow tempo, the conductor will often beat the six quavers, and the normal pickup value would be a quaver. For instance, the second movement of Mozart’s G minor symphony K.V.550, or the slow movement of Schubert’s B-flat symphony, No.5, (both coincidentally in E-flat!).


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It’s not just British. I (and those who were similarly trained) have taught for over 40 years at a US university that in compound meter the beat is a dotted note. It’s an essential part of conveying the difference between 6/8 and 3/4 (which after all also has 6 eighth notes). In compound meter the meter tells us how many divisions of the beat are present in a meter, as we don’t have convenient numbers for a dotted note (which is a 2 & 2/3 note).

In the case of compound meter, wouldn’t it be more correct to show the “1/3 beat” in context menu here, rather than “1/2 beat”? This is because when one beat is a dotted quarter, 1/3 beat is a single eighth. Not 1/2 beat.

Curious to know where you got the word “afutact”.

I think it is a variant spelling (or mis-typing) of the German word Auftakt which means anacrusis.


Simple typo.

So in the popover, if I enter „4/4, 1“ I get one quarter as a pickup bar, and when I enter „6/8, 1“ I get an eights as a pickup bar. So at least there, it’s not beats anymore, but denominator value?
Having to enter „6/8, 3“ but needing to select „1 beat“ is in my eye confusing. Why am I not choosing beats in the popover?

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Side note: Interestingly enough 6/8 is an implied compound meter - we don’t treat 6/4 the same way. I wonder why that is…

Yes we do! 6/4 is usually thought of as a compound beat of 2 groups of three. Otherwise, you’re in 3/2. (Or you might want to do 2+3+1, just to be avant garde.)