Time signature 3/4 but written as 6/4


I’m trying to achieve a notation found in a Scarlatti cantata, where he writes 3/4 at the begining , but then groups measures by two (meaning we see some kind of 6/4). (see picture).

Is there a way?



I would suggest adding a 6/4 time signature in the first full bar and then using the Hide time signature property.

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Thanks Daniel, always great help. Will do that !

Take care


Since the problem has already been solved, may I ask if anybody could provide some historical context or reasoning to this?
To my eyes this just does not make any sense whatsoever, and I can’t possibly think of any reason why somebody whould have put 3/4 before a beasure with 6 quarter notes in it…

This is quite common in the 18th-century – most usually seen as 3/8 with 6 quavers to a bar! – (as a more or less identical question recently asked how to achieve).

Essentially, it implies a different tempo from 6/4. Barlines were a later ‘invention’ than time signatures, and they didn’t always coincide; the latter having their origins in tactus, and how many notes to the beat.


Indeed. And as a consequence, it relates to phrasing. It helps to see the music in larger phrases.

Also, it makes asymmetries in the form very clear, for at some places the barlines are back to 3/4 for a impair number of measures (not writable in 6/4).

@benwiggy , how do you suggest the tempo would differ if it was written in 3/4 ?

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BTW: in the example from the OP, the time signature is not just 3/4, it’s ‘C3/4’, which I think (but I’m not enough of an early music specialist to be sure here) suggests a compound metre (I’d say major division in 2 [or 4], subdivided in 3). Therefore, tempo would be relatively high, not counted in 3’s.
I don’t think Dorico can notate a compound TS like C3/4 yet. When more early music notations will be added eventually, I suggest this one should be among them.


Oh! I hadn’t noticed it! Thank you, yes it makes sense to have the measures divided in two sets of three quarter notes.

Now, is there a workaround to notate C 3/4 in Dorico ? :slight_smile:

I noticed that too. Checking some Scarlatti MSs on IMSLP, I concluded his usage was inconsistent (quite often C3/4 would be followed by standard 3/4 bars, other times he would use just 3/4). The outlier seemed to be the one above!

One way would be to add the 3/4 time signature glyphs to the common time glyph in the Edit Music Symbol dialog:

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Thanks that’s great.

How does a ‘relatively high’ tempo square with the direction Adagio written below the staff? (Though it does seem to be written later, in different ink.)

Adagio in the Baroque wasn’t as strictly defined as it is in Dorico’s tempo panel.


Most importantly, it doesn’t always mean “crotchet = slow”. In this case, it could even mean 3 crotchets to the beat.

It’s also indicative of a style or mood, as much as tempo, and often at the conclusion of a work, any tempo reduction is ‘written in’ by using larger note values.