Mimicking different time signatures per staff

I’ve decided to now switch to Dorico for engraving my music, because of Dorico’s beautiful music typography and superior collision avoidance. Both Bravura and Academico make me very happy. (And, unfortunately, I’ll continue using Sibelius for composing because of Dorico’s immense sluggishness on my system. So I’m importing my projects into Dorico just before the engraving step.)

I have a (very specific) wish to change the time signature per instrument and I know that there is no software that can handle that natively. My question is: What is the best way in Dorico to (at least visually) get the purple time signatures from this picture?

You can change time signatures on individual staves in Dorico, but the bar lines will only match up if all the bars are the same rhythmic length.

In your example that is not quite the case, because you have a few bars where some instruments are in 4/4 while the others have all changed to 6/4 or 12/8.

I would probably change the key signature to 6/4 on each staff separately at bar 94. To do that select the first note in the bar on a staff, press M for the “measure” popover, type 6/4, and press Alt-Enter to apply it to one staff only. Repeat for the other three staves.

That will mess up the barring of the top and bottom staves, but don’t panic …

Select the two half notes you want in bar 94 on the top staff, press I for insert mode, press ; to make a tuplet, and type 2/3 in the popover. That should fill the bar with the two notes and push the rest of the music back where it belongs. Repeat on the bottom staff.

Then hide the tuplet brackets and numbers, and the unwanted 6/4 time signatures, using the Properties panel.

To create the 6/4 time signature on the top staff in bar 95, just create another 6/4 signature on one staff with M and Alt-Enter.

Hopefully, you can work out how to do the rest for yourself, using the same ideas. Bar 99 is simpler, because 12/8 and 6/4 bars are both the same length (i.e. 6 quarter notes) so you don’t need any hidden tuplets.

Thank you for the detailed instructions! Separate time signatures with shift-alt is better native functionality than what I expected. I managed to do bar 94 even better with a “6/4, 4” pickup bar and hiding the triplets for second violin and viola. This is great.

The only strange thing now is the system break in the middle of bar 97. Is there a way to fix this other than introduce 2 system breaks in engrave mode?

And the (selected, orange) tempo marking can only be hidden by coloring it white I suppose.

Update: I fixed the system break in the middle of the bars (which occurred very often from the 6/4 onwards: I added a redundant hidden system-wide 12/8 meter in bar 95. Now the system breaks occur only on barlines again.

I guess you have a system break in the middle of a bar because with independent time signatures, bar lines don’t match up in general so Dorico puts system breaks “anywhere”. When all the time signatures get back in sync, a hidden global time signature should keep them that way for the rest of the score.

I don’t think you can hide a metric modulation mark except by changing the colour. Metric modulation aren’t quite the same thing as tempo marks, though you create both with the T popover. For example, logically you should be able to have a metric modulation and a tempo mark at the same rhythmic position in the score (e.g “Allegro q = q.”), though the current version of Dorico doesn’t allow that.

If you added the metric modulation just to get the playback correct, use a MM mark instead, e.g. type q=100 in the T popover. You can hide the MM mark with the properties window, and it will display as a signpost.

In general it’s better to change the colour to transparent than white to hide something (set the alpha channel value to 0) otherwise the “white ink” will be visible if it overlaps something else in the score.

(Edit: you figured out the first suggestion here yourself while I was writing this!)

You can always control System Breaks manually. For example, add a System Break at the start of 93, and another at the start of 98. Then select the break at 93 and turn on the “wait for next” property in the properties panel. Or select the first note of 93 and the barline at the start of 98 and click “Make into System”.