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Context: I recently transcribed a Piano solo piece in MuseScore 4. It was based on a different person's transcription that used ♩ = 70 as tempo marking. My transcription initially used the same tempo. However now I think the tempo should actually be ♩ = 140, so I used MuseScore's feature "Paste with double duration" to 'convert' the notes.

But there are some parts that look "weird" to me, but I'm unsure if its actually weird or really the best representation there is.

Here's the part in original:
Original transcription

As you can see the durations of the bass line are split up and tied such that the quarters are visually groupable.

This is what that part looks like after pasting with double duration:
Transcription with every note duration doubled

What looks "weird" to me is that now obviously not quarters but just the half notes are properly visually split. I am not experienced in writing sheet music or playing by sheet, so I have no idea how people playing by sheet would feel about that.

If I wanted quarters to be visible, I'd end up with a lot of ties:
Bass line with many tied eighths

If I combine as many split notes as possible, I end up with essentially four quarters for the right hand and three quarters framed by eighths for the left hand, making most notes misalign:
Bass line simplified to as few notes as possible

Or I could make sure that every time a note is played by the right hand there's a corresponding aligned note for the left hand:
Bass line split to align with right hand where possible

What would be the way people reading sheet music are expecting the durations to be?

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  • By the way: This isn't really about tempo. I assume the other person's transcription and yours "sound the same," they just look different. One big difference is how long each measure is: their one-bar excerpt is a two-bar phrase for you. Mar 12, 2023 at 22:47
  • Yes, they sound the same. But counting to the other transcription felt like I had to hold back a lot, it felt more natural to count double the tempo.
    – LWChris
    Mar 20, 2023 at 8:39

2 Answers 2

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Let's discuss the pros and cons of each version, albeit slightly out of order:

Version 3

enter image description here

This one is mainly non-ideal because of the half note that crosses the midpoint of the first measure. A sight reader could easily glance at this and think that the left-hand C occurs simultaneously with the right-hand F, which obviously isn't true. This is the least successful version.

Version 2

enter image description here

The rhythm in this one is very clear, but the notation is very cluttered, and cluttered to the point that I could easily envision a performer getting lost in all of the eighth notes, misconstruing which notes are articulated and which are tied, etc. This one is passable, but not ideal.

Version 4

enter image description here

This one is better than Version 3 because it de-clutters some of the eighth notes. I would argue that just about any musician would read this without problem, although they would probably find the left hand at the end of m. 2, with the four Cs in a row, to be a bit strange. This is fine, but it could be better.

Version 1

enter image description here

Notation to me is about clarity and efficiency, and I think this version handles both perfectly. The eighth-quarter-eighth rhythm in the left hand is standard fare for any musician worth their salt, so that syncopation won't present any problems. Furthermore, the left-hand ties into beat 3 show clearly how the right-hand melody aligns with the left-hand syncopations. This, in my opinion, is the optimal version.

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  • 1
    May be worth mentioning that in 4/4/ time it's quite usual to span beats 1–2 or 3–4, but not to span beats 2–3. So notation in the style of Version 1 is very common. (This answer explains why it makes sense — but familiarity is also important.)
    – gidds
    Mar 13, 2023 at 20:57
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No, your score is fine. There is no actual need to have a note on each beat, because you have something like a "beat grouping". A 4/4 measure will have strong parts (1,3) and weak parts (2,4). This means the meter actually can be felt as divided by 2. You ties make clear where in this subdivision you are. Mean while the figure 8th - 4th - 8th is a very common syncopation. So this is a rhythm any somewhat experienced musician should be able to feel within on macrobeat of this binary subdivision. If this was a more complex rhythm such as dotted 8th - 4th - 16th you should definitely split this in a way to make the 4ths visible. But in this case you do not need to do so, in fact it most liekly would become harder to understand the rhythm if you did.

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