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I am trying to recreate this time signature of 2 and a half over 4 in lilypond. I cannot figure out how to get the fraction in there, and for this project, I am required to keep as many engraving decisions the same as the manuscript, so I would rather do this than just write 5/8. Any advice?

  • 1
    How is that top line in time?
    – Tim
    Jun 29, 2020 at 7:18
  • @Tim I'm afraid it simply is intended to mean tremolo, until the the time is used up. The strange time signature and laziness in notation don't combine well here.
    – guidot
    Jun 29, 2020 at 11:40
  • @guidot - thanks for that. But there's still 1/2 a 'beat' missing somewhere. Sloppy.
    – Tim
    Jun 29, 2020 at 12:09
  • Easy: DON'T DO THAT . No musician wants to see that when a simple 5/8 signature could have been used. Tell whomever said "keep same as manuscript" to stop being a fuddyduddy Jun 29, 2020 at 13:27
  • @guidot Yes, I'm fairly certain it is just laziness. Unfortunately this is only a copyist's manuscript rather than the composer's original, so I cannot say for sure what the composer himself wrote there. I think I can safely assume that the composer did use (2 1/2)/4, as otherwise the copyist would not have changed it to something so strange, especially as 5/8 is used in other places, and there are several bars with blatantly wrong time signatures. Unfortunately the original manuscript has been lost, so unless it turns up somewhere this is the best I have. Jun 30, 2020 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


Here's some solution, but less than ideal. I'd prefer to use unicode for the 1/2 symbol, but the time signature font didn't seem to support it. I think you want some basic time signature as I've put (5/8) and then change the text of that, positioning the 1 and 2 in the 1/2 and drawing the line inbetween.

  myTwoAndHalfTimeSig = {
    \once \override Staff.TimeSignature.stencil = #ly:text-interface::print
    \once \override Staff.TimeSignature.text =
      \markup \override #'(baseline-skip . 0) \center-column \number {
        \concat  {"2" \magnify #0.5 \pad-x #-.2 {
                                   \translate #'(0 . 1) "1" 
                                   \translate #'(-1 . 0) \override #'(thickness . 2) \draw-line #'(1 . 2) 
                                   \translate #'(0 . 0) "2" }} "4" }
   \time 5/8}

right =  \relative c' {
  c8 c c c c

left = \relative c {
  c8 c c c c

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