Irrational Time Signature

Hi, I was wondering if you could develop a way to have irrational time signature in Cubase?
It’s a very basic feature, if you ask me, that I wasn’t expecting Cubase to not have, or maybe I don’t know how to apply one?

If you don’t know what it is, an irrational time signature is when the denominator is not a whole note, but a triplet, for instance: 5/12 (where we’d have 1 triplet 3/12 + 2/12) or a 11/12 having 3 full triplets + 2/12 (3/12+3/12+3/12+2/12). please forget me if this is not the right way to submit such request. thanks, Adriano.

Not sure what you’re talking about. You can set an arbitrary time signature. In the quantize settings you can create custom quantize patterns which you could match to your triplets

That’s one heavy feature request. For Cubase to rationally :wink: display an irrational time sig, it would have to calculate the fraction, then the duration of the measure and notes within.

You mention triplets, and that is one use for this, but irrational sigs are used for any metric modulation a composer might want.

For those not acquainted with the concept, it’s used by contemporary composers as a means to notate metric modulations that would otherwise require much more ink to write, e.g., both tuplets and time sigs.

My understanding of how it works is this:

  1. The duration of the measure is divided by the denominator (lower number) and
  2. the quotient is multiplied by the numerator (upper number) to get the new duration.

The length of the notes is derived from that.

A “time signature” of 10/10 would mean 10 tenth notes in a measure. In 4/4 time it would be the equivalent of of a 10-tuplet: 10 notes over 4 beats. It could be written as eighth notes with a tuplet number and bracket. That’s simple enough, but the point of irrational sigs is to be able to use a fraction like 4/10. :astonished:

The result of that would be a measure of four notes, each with the length of one those 10-tuplet notes: 1/10th of a measure in the previous time sig.

Basic feature? Hm… :confused:

The denominator has to be always a “real” note value, half, quarter, 8th, 16th. Making changes here would interfere with the way music is written.
For complex rhythms it would be helpful to display “advanced grids”, such as quintuplets for example. But Cubase cannot even handle a simple triplet grid…
Theres much room for improvements, but it will get awkward when leaving standard notation as the common ground.

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Hi, thanks for your comment. Quantizing will only move to “relevant positions” which when working on a normal time signature … it just doesn’t work.

Exactly! Is it complex to develop? Maybe and maybe not, by definition that’s exactly what’s done when using a 4/4 or a 7/8. I contacted Steinberg support and they talked to the developer in charge of the signature track for Cubase and his answer was it’s possible to be developed as long as there’s enough people interested, so people come here and vote YES! :smiley:

Sorry to disagree but having only those options means we’d not be able to write certain music, making the music language incomplete. Can you image not having words to describe love, when you feel in love, and want to scream it to the whole wide world? :smiley:

thanks all for the comments, much appreciated.


just to quickly add; in the meantime myself and my band have this song we can’t have a correct click track for as there’s no way to have this beat patten written down. even recording this section offbeat will not fix it as the rest of the song is then all 1/3 of triplet off…
the only solution would be to change our section to be 12/12 in other words 4/4. What a waste!


Sorry, too :smiley:

What we have as denominator values:
(1), 2, 4, 8, 16, (32)
So you´re missing 3 or 6 or 9 for example? Use triplets or i.e. 3/8 time signature!
You´re missing 5 or 7 or 10? Use quintuplets or septuplets or i.e. 5/8 or 7/8 time signatures!
All this can be done already. You don´t have to make changes to the way music is notated. You don´t have to invent “new” mesures.
Classical composers with far out ideas were and are able to deal with that system.

Your example “11/12 having 3 full triplets + 2/12”
can be written as || 3/8 | 3/8 | 3/8 | 2/8 || or || 6/8 | 5/8 || depending where the “beat” shall be.

Composer Peter Maxwell Davies did exactly this in his opera “The Lighthouse”, for which I had the opportunity the play guitar this year. Get the score and see how he does it. This opera is full of the most far out rhythms imaginable, all notated with usual meters, x-tuplets and polyrhythms.

but 3/8 + 3/8 + 3/8 + 2/8 = 11/8 … nothing to do with 11/12.

watch this

Yea. This. I need to use a non-Dyadic (irrational) key signature of 6/6 or 3/6. I can’t believe Cubase doesn’t do this or it. I must be missing something.

One of the instruments I play is drums and I studied polyrhythms a bit. 5 against 4, 3 against 2 etc. I would just use a normal time signature like 4/4 but count out 5 or 3 or whatever I was using. Once you have the quarters you split them into eights, sixteenths, triplets etc. If I programmed a drum part I would do the math to place the notes :slight_smile:
Not the answer you’re looking for but there are ways to get it done.


Definitely +1 for irrational time signature support.

not the most pressing feature request in my opinion… but i like the idea of more customization… perhaps just an option to completely customize the grid and how it repeats?

For instance, I forget what they call it off the top of my head, but in India they have something akin to our “time signatures”… but each “bar” is not always the same… so, you could have a pattern of 1 bar having 2 beats and then next having 3 beats and then that could repeat…

idk… i don’t think this should be a priority, but if Steinberg does work on it, I do like the idea of being able to customize it completely even further than the irrational signature idea, so that you can easily express the most exotic rhythmic structures/concepts.