In this video tutorial, we’ll cover how to create composite time signatures in Sibelius, including what Elaine Gould’s Behind Bars book calls “meters of mixed denominators.”
By “meters of mixed denominators,” we mean something like 6/8 + 2/4. Finale and Dorico handle this with ease, but in Sibelius it takes a bit of effort.
A tutorial video and full transcript follow.
Hi everyone, it’s Philip at NYC Music Services and Scoring Notes, back with another tutorial.
Today we’ll cover how to create composite time signatures in Sibelius, including what Elaine Gould’s Behind Bars book calls “meters of mixed denominators.”
By “meters of mixed denominators” I mean something like 6/8 + 2/4. Finale and Dorico handle this with ease, but in Sibelius it takes a bit of effort.
Let’s start with an ordinary file. We want to change the time signature to 6/8 + 2/4, which is non-standard, so press T for time signature and then choose More Options.
Choose Other:. Here, you have to do a little math. Sibelius only lets you have a single denominator, so let’s double the 2/4 portion of our desired time signature to 4/8. Type in 6+4 in the box, and choose 8 from the drop-down menu.
Then, click Beam and Rest Groups…
We want to group the eighth notes in groups of 3, 3, 2, and 2, so type those in and click OK.
Click OK again and then click to apply the time signature.
Many people don’t realize that you can apply a time signature like this in Sibelius, so if that’s all you needed, congratulations! You’re done. But we have further work to do to turn this into 6/8 + 2/4.
I’ve entered in some music, so now let’s go to Text > Styles > Edit Text Styles. Choose the Time signatures style and click New Text Style…
Yes, we want to create a new text style, so click Yes.
Name this new text style something sensible, like Time signatures (composite). From the Based on: drop-down, choose Time signatures. This allows our new style to inherit most of the settings of the main Time signatures style.
Indeed, uncheck everything except for Line spacing and Vertical scale. The reason we are creating a new text style is that we need to account for the “plus” character which will go smack in the middle, and so we need to halve the existing line spacing from 25% to 12%. Ideally we would be able to choose 12.5% but Sibelius won’t let us. So instead we’ll compensate by slightly increasing the Vertical Scale to 102%.
Click OK, then Close.
Now, let’s hide our existing time signature by clicking on it and hide it by choosing Home > Edit > Hide or Show. The reason we’re hiding the time signature and not deleting it is because we need Sibelius to take account of it in spacing the music, which it will do even if the time signature is hidden.
Now, go to Text > Styles and choose our new Time signatures (composite) style.
If the existing time signature wasn’t already selected like I’ve done here, click in the score and type the following to get 6/8 + 2/4:
6 space space 2 return + return 8 space space 4
Then press Esc.
You may need to nudge it into place, but that’s how you get a nice composite time signature in Sibelius.
You may wish to tweak the positions of the characters a bit; in this case the plus is a little too close to the 2/4. So, I’ll open the Inspector and carefully select the plus sign, and increase the Tracking to 10. There, that looks nice.
This will appear in all the instruments in your score as well as all of the parts. While I wish that Sibelius had native support for this type of composite time signature, at least now you have a way of creating it, and you can save the text style in your house style.
I hope you found this useful.