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I'm working with Cubase Elements 9, and I"m trying to designate different parts of my track to have different time signatures. In the tempo editor, I have the song from measure 9 onwards designated as 5/4. I'm trying to designate measures 1-8 as as 4/3. However, each time I try to change the signature from 4/4 to 4/3, it forces it to 4/2. Then, I try again to go from 4/2 to 4/3, and it forces it back to 4/4.

I failed to find a similar issue after a Google search. I also theorized that it may have to do something with quantization, but turning it off/messing with the values did not yield success.

Anyone have any idea as to what might be going on?

Edit: Thank you for all of the responses! The respondents here have clarified that I misidentified as 4:3 polyrhythm as needing to be expressed in a 4/3 time signature. Hopefully, some other poor soul may be saved from the apparent limbo that is x/3 by learning from my mistakes.

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    Are you certain that the time signature needs to be 4/3? It's very unusual, so possibly you mean the rhythm to be 4 against 3, not a time sig. of 4/3 – Tim Aug 3 at 7:40
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    I've been doing music formally since I was 4, and I don't know how I'd play/sing a meter of x/3. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Aug 3 at 14:31
  • @Tim Judging by the other responses I've received, you're probably right. I'm still a noob at this. :) – Hylian Pikachu Aug 3 at 14:38
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4/3 is what is known as an "irrational" meter. Accordinng to this discussion on the Steinberg website, Cubase is not able to handle it.

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Following @Aaron's answer, if Cubase doesn't support such time signature, you can still find a workaround by manipulating the tempo.

E.g. if you want to have the 5/4 section in 120 BPM (120 quarter notes per minute) you can notate the 4/3 section as follows:

  • set time signature to 4/4
  • set tempo to 3/4 of the 5/4 section tempo, e.g. 3/4 × 120 BPM = 90 BPM
  • fill the bar with four quarter notes (rather than four half-note triplets you intended)
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Are you certain that you really mean 4/3 as the time signature you want? There’s no way that Cubase can handle this extremely rare, unusual and controversial time signature. It would imply that the beat unit is defined by the triplet half note, and even in my world that does rarely see this kinds of time signatures, times like 4/6 or 4/12 are far more common. And again, that’s “far more common” in the context of any already exceedingly rare phenomenon.

I could see how this might have been a cool effect to get an uncommon relationship between two parts, but it’s beyond the normal usage of a DAW. Can’t you just select the notes that are supposed to be faster and just scale the percentage of durations and time between notes by a percentage to get the different tempo effect?

Oh wait, I see now that you’re just trying to effect a tempo change, not simultaneous tempos. Can’t you just put in a tempo change and not mess around with time signatures at all?

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  • Whoops, I miswrote that. It should have said "signatures." My apologies. I just learned about polyrhythms, and I'm trying to see what I can do with them, so I do expect I'll end up in some... weird... places, to say the least. – Hylian Pikachu Aug 2 at 22:51
  • @HylianPikachu I don’t think I understand, you did say signatures and that’s what my answer is about. And what does anything you’re talking about have to do with polyrhythms? I think you’re using the wrong terms for things, but I can’t quite figure out what you might be intending. What you describe in the question is just a tempo change, so just change the bpm for the first eight measures. – Pat Muchmore Aug 2 at 22:56
  • You said "effect a tempo change," and I noticed that I said "tempos" where I meant "signatures" at some point in my question, so I thought I may have miscommunicated. I brought up polyrhythms because I heard of the notion of 4/3 from this tutorial on polyrhythms, which motivated me to try to use it: youtube.com/watch?v=c1pejTgLuhA – Hylian Pikachu Aug 3 at 2:54
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    @HylianPikachu Ah!! No no, that person is talking about 4:3 polyrhythms, not 4/3 time signatures! 4:3 rhythms—usually pronounced “4 against 3”—happen whenever you have two different subdivisions happening simultaneously, most commonly sixteenth notes at the same time as eight-note triplets. This is really quite unrelated to time signatures, which are about the abstract structure of a measure of music. You can make 4:3 polyrhythms just by writing sixteenths in one part and triplets in another. The resulting composite rhythms is very similar to the phrase “pass the goddamn butter” – Pat Muchmore Aug 3 at 3:01

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