Mixed asymmetrical meters - Dorico best practice

If I am writing, for example, a measure of 5/8 divided 3+2, and then a measure of 5/8 divided 2+3, Dorico displays a time signature in the second 5/8 measure when it is not needed. This happens frequently in my music, so I am looking for a way to work around this as efficiently as possible. Do I have to go to the properties panel and hide each of these individually?

If the pattern is consistent, one should be able to set it up for two measures with the second time signature (and subsequently the first) hidden and copy/paste (or perhaps just use R to repeat the two measures) ad infinitum.

Unfortunately, consistent it is not!

Perhaps you can copy/paste the pattern where you need it and save at least some time that way.

Why not just hide the unneeded time signatures?

Once you have hidden a time signature, you can select its signpost, and then option-click to quickly copy it as often as you need. This saves me lots of extra time.

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Another way would be to have a hidden interchangeable time signature “2+3/8 = 3+2/8”. That way every time you subsequently input either “2+3/8” or “3+2/8” Dorico would automatically hide it.


Thanks for the ideas, but these don’t address the issue exactly. I am not alternating time signatures; there is no pattern, so there’s nothing to copy and paste. I might have 5/8 5/8 5/8 7/8 7/8 5/8 7/8 7/8 etc., in which adjacent time signatures have different divisions. I do not want to enter “2+3/8” because I don’t need to explain the beat divisions beyond what is expressed with proper beaming. “5/8” is sufficient if the beaming is consistent with the division. Thus, I have to enter “[2+3]/8” when I need 5/8 divided in the reverse of the Dorico default division.

I also know I can hide the time signatures, as I noted in my original post. But If I have to do this for, say, 100 time signatures, it’s very time-intensive. It would seem to me that Dorico could/should (I know, these things are not always as easy as they seem on the back end) know that when you enter “5/8” as a meter, then next enter “[2+3]/8”, there’s no need to show “5/8” again. The meter is already 5/8.

There’s no keyboard shortcut available for hiding time signatures, at least that I can find. A shortcut would at least make it easier to hide a lot of time signatures. Perhaps someone with a solid understanding of how to create a shortcut by editing the JSON file (as in this post) might be able to help.

That’s why I suggested interchangeable time signatures rather than alternating time signatures. See Types of time signatures

OK, but if I understand interchangeable meters correctly, I would type “5/8 = 2+3/8” at the beginning of the first 5/8 bar, then I can freely enter the meter changes without the time signature reappearing. Then, when I change to, say 7/8, the interchangeable meter is deactivated. If I want to regroup 7/8 at that point, I’d have to type “7/8 = 2+3+2/8”, for example. Then, if I go back to 5/8, I have to enter yet again a new interchangeable meter, etc. . . . for the rest of the piece, every time the basic number of divisions changes. Additionally, I have “5/8 = 5/8” at the beginning of each of these sections, instead of just a single “5/8”.

If I am misunderstanding the functionality, please do let me know. But if not, this seems like even more work than hiding the meters with the properties panel, and it still does not give me a single, basic time signature like 5/8 or 7/8.

When you go back to 5/8, try to copy/paste the signpost of the appropriate 5/8 version.

To put the summary at the top, here are my suggestions for possibly rethinking this problem, based on of course what I do day in and out on a similar problem.

Presuming you do want to use time signatures, rather than going without entirely (a la Messiaen):

  1. Use a free flow at first, that is, no time signature at all and as a consequence no bars (or by default actually on indeterminate-length bar) entering the rhythms, using beaming control (I find the select and shortcut for Beam Together to be more efficient than using Split Beam). For example,

  2. Then, add bar lines manually, where you want the rhythms to be grouped into bars. For example,

  3. Only now add time signatures… You will find that the custom beam groupings you earlier made will hold (as long as you explicitly made them rather than accepting a default that happened to work)

This so far is my most efficient method, and it is based on experience preparing scores (and composing directly) using Dorico. In a way, I am suggesting a method that uses Dorico according to its more essential design: the foundation is in the Flow. So if your flow is generated primarily from rhythms building meter secondarily, rather than from primarily meters realized in rhythms, then start with the rhythm alone and add meters as secondary.


This is a great idea! I wish I had thought of it before putting in all the time signatures in my current project. :slightly_smiling_face: But next time around, I’ll follow your advice.

Meanwhile, I did edit the key commands json file and add a shortcut to hide time signatures. This at least makes the process of cleaning up the existing signatures a little more efficient.

Perhaps there’s a feature request in here somewhere for Dorico to know that time signatures need not be repeated simply because of a change in grouping.

Just a tip: you can select voice by voice and paste from a flow into new flow that has no time signatures or bar lines. If required, you can also filter just for notes. This way, at least all your work entering the pitches and durations need not be redone.

(I do this frequently converting barred into un-barred)

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