Two concurrent time signatures at related but different metronome markings

At bar 109 of the first movement of Debussy’s “La Mer” the flutes and horns move (for one bar only) from 12/8 to 4/4 but the duration of that bar is the same for all instruments including the flutes and horns. Both time signatures involve 4 beats per bar but the note durations making up each beat differ and require different concurrent metronome markings for the two time signatures. I hope I am missing something but haven’t discovered a way notate this bar in Dorico.

#6 in this help document

Thank you but I had already tried this without success. Although this method gives the relevant staves the new time signature and the proper number of beats in the bar, the bars for the two time signatures are not of the same time duration and the barlines do not line up. I have attached a page of the original score showing what I hoping to get in the very first bar. Apart from the flutes and horns which are in 4/4 for that bar only, the other instruments remain in 12/8.

Hi Mike.
I don’t understand what is not working in your Dorico file. This is something that has been working for years (the Scoring Notes article is from 2017 IIRC). Put a local 12/8,8 time signature in every staff that needs it, and of course a 12:8e tuplet to be able to write the correct rhythm, and make sure that tuplet gets hidden.
Please describe what steps you’re taking, in order for us to help you debunk this. It’s the kind of operation that looks complicated but that’s very logical : once you’ve succeeded, you won’t mess it up anymore :wink:

Hi Marc. We are starting with a 12/8 time signature for all instruments and for one bar only, the flutes and horns change to 4/4. I tried to input the change for the flutes only just to see if I can get the process correct. My steps:

*highlight the full bar rests in the two flute staves
*click Insert
*open the time signatures popover with Shift-M
*enter 4/4
*press Opt-Return to enter the time signature on the flute staves

I also tried the same process without the Insert step but got the same result which you can see below. EDIT: Where the original score gives the flutes and horns four quarter notes in the same time space as four dotted quarters in the other instruments, this procedure instead puts four quarters against four quarters (actually, 2 +2/3 dotted quarters) which is not what the score indicates:

The procedure I used does enter the 4/4 time signature the the flutes only and does leave the other staves unchanged. However, instead of matching the the four quarter notes of the 4/4 staves with the four dotted quarters of the 12/8 staves, I instead get barlines that are no longer shared by all instruments and that are no longer in sync with each other in the following bar. In effect, what I need for this one bar is for the metronome beat to equal a dotted quarter note for the instruments in 12/8 and only a quarter note for those in 4/4. Thanks for your help and if it is possible, I will be very happy to learn a way to match the original score in Dorico!

Ok, I understood it the other way round. You must make sure your 4/4 bar has 12 eighths in it. How? Input 4/4,6 alt enter. Then use a 8:12e tuplet :wink:
The important step is to make sure the local time sig (hence alt-enter to close the popover) includes the same amount of rhymic time than the main time signature. It’s a hack, if you want. Then, the tuplet will show what you really want the reader to see.
Use alt-click to copy the time sigs and tuplets to other instruments that need it.

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The trick is that in this case you type 4/4,6 in the Shift-M popover, which is a pick-up bar with as many quavers as a 12/8, so that the barlines coincide. Then enter hidden 2:3 duplets in the extended 4/4, where you probably need to tweak beams/ties. Or maybe a big 4:6q first to fill the whole bar. It’s the reverse of a local 12/8 in a 4/4 context, as described elsewhere, but the trick is the same.
(Edit: too late🤗)


Thank you Marc and Pjotr! The idea of using a pick-up bar and hidden tuplets to sync the staves having different time signatures and give the proper appearance hadn’t occurred to me earlier but seems so obvious now that I feel rather foolish. Live and learn, I guess! It is very late on the west coast of North America but I will look at this again in the morning.

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