Pickup Bar Strangeness

Pickup bars don’t seem to work right in 5/4 and 6/4 time. (See picture).
In 2/4, 3/4, or 4/4, I get a bar of the expected length, but with more than 4 beats per measure, the pickup bar has too much time in it.

Dear Evan,

Use the popover : shift+M then write 6/4, 1.
I just checked, and it works properly. It is not the first time that it is reported some users have inconsistent results with the meter right panel
Hope it helps !

In 6/4, one beat is one dotted half note (dotted minim), so you’re getting what you ask for. Likewise in 5/4, one beat is a dotted half note, and the other is a half note, so if you ask for a 5/4 time signature with a pick-up of one beat, you’ll get a half note (implicitly the second beat of the bar).

The popover works a bit differently, in that rather than using specifically “beats”, it uses the denominator of the time signature to determine the value of the pick-up, so in 6/4, if you want a single quarter (crotchet) pick-up you would indeed type 6/4,1.

Thanks Daniel for that explanation !
I guess this is the kind of information we will be glad to find in the next manual :wink:

I thought that a “beat” was always defined by the denominator, so I’m struggling to understand how doing it a different way Is beneficial.

At present a one beat pickup bar will result in:
2/4 = one quarter note
3/4 = one quarter note
4/4 = one quarter note
5/4 = dotted quarter
6/4 = dotted quarter

To me this does not seem useful or intuitive.

Then what about 12/8?

I’m getting a dotted half note, even though the signpost specifies the grouping as 3+2

Beat is a very odd thing… which is sometimes synonymous with count.

In a music theory class, I was taught that if the “top number” was divisible by 3, then you need to divide it by 3 and that is the number of beats per measure in the music. Hence, 6/8 is 2 beats per measure, 12/8 is 4 beats per measure, 3/8 is 1 beat per measure, 6/4 is 2 beats per measure, 3/4 is 1 beat per measure, etc.

I always disagreed with this idea. Because the I believe the beat is what you feel. Sometimes in 6/4 you feel 2 beats per measure. Sometimes you feel a solid 6. I only bought into this notion when the bottom number is 8 or smaller value/larger number (16, 32), but not when the bottom number was a 4 or larger value/smaller number (2 or 1). The “text book” says this is the case, however.


I concur, Robby. It can make sense with 6/8 or 12/8 to count in larger beat groups but with 5/4 or 6/4 I think it would be better to stick with the denominator beat value.

When it only makes sense some of time, might it be simpler to stick with the denominator beat value all the time? At least then, one always knows what to expect.

It might be just as easy to use the popover. Perhaps eventually the Team will make the Meter Window clearer.

(I’m still dealing with people who think switching from 4/4 to 3/2 means the half-notes should automatically take on the speed of the former quarters.)

Very often the tempo of a piece determines if a 6/4 meter has 2 beats or 6. This can’t be said as a fixed rule. It varies.

That’s kind of my point. Using a group beat make sense with certain time signatures and at certain tempos.
Using the denominator beat value always makes sense.

The Meter Window method is illogical for compound meters. In 6/8 time, “half a beat” in the drop down menu doesn’t give half a beat but one third of a beat.

A literal “half a beat” pickup wouldn’t be very useful in compound time, but giving something the wrong label is just confusing!

If it is incorrect to call it a beat, then perhaps it should be called whatever one unit of the denominator is called. Does that have a name other than “beat”?