Open time signature?

I’m in a piece with lots of various time signatures, and have a few cadenza-like passages where I need to use the “Open Time Signature”. I can’t find anywhere in the manual that indicates how to add a “Open Time Signature” to a bar.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks

Type “open” in the Metre popover!


…and here’s the page in the manual: Time signatures popover


I have a bar in 5/16, then a long “Open” bar, then a 3/4 bar. I’ve already inputed the 5/16 and the 3/4 and after. But this “Open” bar doesn’t seem to have an unlimited number of beats? I need about 54 16th notes?

Invoke the caret at the start of the long open bar and type Shift-B 56q Enter. If you end up with too many beats once you’ve filled it, you can remove them in the same way - invoke the caret at the end of the notes and type e.g. Shift-B -3e Enter to remove three eighths, Shift-B -4q Enter to remove four quarters, Shift-B -9h Enter to remove 9 half notes etc.

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Many thanks @pianoleo. That works perfectly. Where did you find that info? It doesn’t seems to appear in the manual?

You have to bear in mind that I’ve been using Dorico (pretty much) every day since before anybody was hired to write the manual (and I say that with a huge amount of respect for the person that does write the manual). Frequenting this forum helps hugely with knowledge of the software too.

This information does appear in the manual, though, here: Inputting bars/beats with the popover

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Thanks! Indeed you seem to know it well. Thanks again for your time. And it’s great to have Lilly chime-in here with info too. She has often helped me.

In my opinion, on the page “Types of time signatures”, the Open time signature deserves a paragraph of explanation of how to work with it. Similar to what you’ve done here…

Lillie * :wink:

There are a few separate ideas involved here, and the manual doesn’t have a page for your specific circumstances because every user’s circumstances will be different.

  • Adding the open time signature: uses the same procedure as for all other time signatures. You can use the popover or panel. There’s a step in those procedures that involves optionally activating Insert mode if you want Dorico to add beats at the end of the new time signature, if there’s an existing time signature at a later position.

  • ^ The hint about Insert mode is a reference to how rhythmic position works in Dorico: Dorico won’t create extra beats within existing music unless you tell it to, because this can mess up the internal workings of a flow.

  • Adding beats has its own documentation, here. Although perhaps creating more time within an open meter passage could make for a helpful “For example” on that page, I’ve made a note.

(Edit - I have a vague recollection of adding some more information to the Types of time signatures page for open time signatures, but I can’t say what exactly that was off the top of my head. Guess we’ll all get a nice surprise whenever I next update the docs.)


Hey Lillie ! Sorry for the spelling error !

I didn’t see how to add an open time signature using the panel. It seems that “Create Time Signature” there has 5 options, but Open doesn’t seems to be there.

Yes, adding beats in the middle of a flow is delicate. On the “Types of Time signatures” page in the online manual, everything on that page seems (to me) to be understandable by any musician, except the Open Time signature. It’s a very powerful option that deserves a “how to use” type explanation in my opinion. It currently says “could be used for a cadenza”, but an explanation of how to use it for a cadenza, would be great. And right there would seem to be the perfect spot! And yes, Insert mode is a key notion in working like this, and I hadn’t even thought of it either.

All the best !

Ah yes, it isn’t possible to add an open meter using the panel. Except for creating a time signature with lots of beats per bar I guess…

I have made a note to review whether any additional explanations of open meter are necessary.

Another option with Insert mode in Dorico 4 is to the use the “global” or “global adjustment of current bar” scopes when inputting notes into a mid-flow open meter bar/passage.

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I watched the video on the new “Insert mode”. Excellent !!

Hi Lillie,

Thank you so much for sharing these resources! Where can I find documentation about what symbols are used for specific note durations (i.e. quarter=q, eighth=e, sixteenth=?)?

Edit: Basically, my question is how do you add/remove 16th note beats (and smaller note values) to a bar with an open time signature using the bar popover?

You’re very welcome – all the possible entries in the bars and barlines popover are listed on its reference page.

(This pattern of documentation structure holds true for the other popovers as well: you’ll generally find that the task gives you one or two common examples, with a comprehensive list on a separate page, as a useful reference and to avoid disrupting the flow of the steps too much.)

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I’m sure it’s already on your To Do list, but just to remind you that the Popover Reference PDF is missing the tickbottom barline entry.

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