Imported XML file has 4/4 bar with eight beats. How to split it into two bars?

See the top image. This is a music XML file exported from Sibelius and imported into Dorico Pro 4.3.30 (macOS 13.3.1).

In Sibelius, this was two measures of 4/4 (see bottom image).

I suspect that the cross-barline tuplet confused Dorico.

(It’s confusing that the signpost doesn’t reflect that Dorico is allowing 8 beats in a bar of 4/4.)

Is there a simple way to split this into two measures?

By “simple”, I mean simpler than inserting new bars and re-writing it.

EDIT: I’m not even sure how to re-write it. Or how I did it in Sibelius.


In Dorico:


In Sibelius:


Have you tried adding a 4/4 time signature again at B and then hiding it or showing (temporarily) the one indicated by the Signpost?

You could also try putting the caret at the appropriate place and adding the bar line manually with SHIFT + B + | (the pipe character).

@Derrek No, I hadn’t tried either of those! I didn’t know you could manually add a bar at the cursor location in Write mode. Cool.

Your post got me thinking that I hadn’t tried deleting the signpost, so first I tried that. It produced this:


It’s close, but Sibelius had the second quarter note in the second tuplet in the second bar, which is more accurate. (Each quarter note of the tuplet gets 3/4 of a beat (dotted 8th), so it’s complicated.)

I started over and tried manually adding a bar line with the cursor on beat one of the second bar (the F# dotted quarter in the bass clef) and got the same result.

Finally, I started over again and tried adding a 4/4 time signature without removing the existing signpost. Same result.

So is there any way to get the second quarter note of the second tuplet into the second measure?

No, because the onset of that chord is actually on the last 16th of the 4/4 bar. Dorico does have an option to “Split notes at spanned barline”, but IMO that becomes quite confusing for this rhythm (because it requires a nested tuplet which Dorico doesn’t do in this case).

I recommend writing this rhythm simply with running dotted eighths and no tuplets. Then it can tie over the barline normally.

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I tried that, and also tried retaining the tuplets by notating it as a bar of 3/4 followed by a bar of 5/4, or two bars of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4.

To my eyes, the Sibelius method is more intuitive, even though it’s not technically correct.

I’m hoping Dorico will let us “break the rules” in this case, like Sibelius did.

On the contrary, the signpost explicitly says “here is a 4/4 bar with 4 extra beats”! And the notation more accurately reflects the durations than your Sibelius example, which just looks wrong to my eye.
I’d recommend you have an explicit 8/4 (or even perhaps (3+3+2/4)) for these notes and then revert to 4/4. It will be perfectly clear to the performer.

How so? I thought the q simply indicates what unit is being expressed by the following beat grouping, in which case the signpost is simply saying “this bar has 4 quarter notes”. What am I missing?

Hadn’t thought of 8/4. That’s probably the best compromise…

To each his/her own! It doesn’t bother me. It’s only off by a sixteenth note (in the tuplet) so it’s closer than Dorico.

Any other way to get it looking like Sibelius?

My two cents:

Dorico (possible notation):

and to understand the rhythm of this notation:


Hmmm…double-clicking on the signpost shows that Dorico knows there are 8 beats in the measure (see screen grab below), and it doesn’t seem to mind. I actually rather like that it allows this without insisting on a meter change! So another option is to keep it as-is.


Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, as this is only for my own study. It’s a transcription of the Metheny/Mays song “Proof”. So far, I haven’t found a published version for comparison.

On further thought, I suppose I could live with Dorico’s way of allocating the tuplet over two bars of 4/4; I certainly prefer it to breaking up the quarter notes of the tuplet or writing it without tuplets.

Dorico can mimic the way Sibelius places the barline between measures 5 and 6, but it is not “simple” to do so:


Measures 5 and 6 have hidden time signatures of 4/4,3.75 and 4/4,4.25, respectively. The quarter note in the left hand on beat 4 of measure 5 is inside a hidden 4:3x tuplet, and is tied to a dotted quarter note which begins one sixteenth after the start of measure 6. The sixteenth rest between the tied notes has been removed.

Did I mention this wasn’t simple? :grinning:


Wow! Thanks, @johnkprice !

Good to know that’s possible, but yes, that’s not simple! I’ll probably stay with the default or change the meter to 8/4.

Interesting: when I added a time signature change at the start of the long measure, Dorico didn’t change any of the following 4/4 measures to 8/4 (by adding four beats of rests, for example).

Still, if someone would explain @Janus 's statement, I’d appreciate it:

I searched the online manual and couldn’t find anything that explains how 4/4 (q, 1+1+1+1) means there are extra beats.

4/4, 8 signifies a 4/4 measure with an 8-beat pickup measure.

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