I'm engraving some early music, and, occasionally, to follow what is in the sources, I'd like to replace the symbol for what would be notated in modern time signatures as "3/2" or "4/2" with either those for common or cut time (which did not have exactly the same implications as they have now). So, for example, replace:Music example in 4/2

with something like this (without having to cheat with it in Paint, which works well for putting up an example but not quite so well for actual pieces of music...):Music example in 4/2 notated as "C"

This seems close to what I want, but I don't need the double signature, and I can't find the reference in the documentation for the C and cut C glyphs.

  • Is it actual mensural notation? It might be nice use the actual symbol instead of modern common/cut-time symbols, to avoid confusion. Oct 6, 2023 at 17:43
  • 1
    No, it isn't, otherwise the question would not have been necessary, as in that case I think lilypond.org/doc/v2.24/Documentation/notation/… and the linked snippet cover the issue plainly enough.
    – AlexJ
    Oct 6, 2023 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


The glyphs are hardwired to particular number combinations, but you can use any glyph by setting timeSignatureFraction:

\set Staff.timeSignatureFraction = #'(2 . 2)  % 2/2 glyph
\time 4/2  % actually 4/2 time

The common and cut time glyphs aren't appropriate for 3/2. I'd either use a centered 3 (which I've seen in many early music editions):

\once \override Staff.TimeSignature.style = #'single-digit
\time 3/2

or the mensural or neomensural glyphs:

\override Staff.TimeSignature.style = #'mensural
\time 3/2  % circle

which can also be selected by setting timeSignatureFraction if necessary.

  • Minor quibble: "The common and cut time glyphs aren't appropriate for 3/2" - admittedly, by modern standards, yes, although that wasn't really part of the question. While at it, since I'm talking about "follow[ing] what is in the sources"; such notation does appear occasionally, for ex. the final (Psalm 150) of the tunes in the Becker Psalter, op. 5, by Schütz, has both a '3' and a cut-time symbol (in the original edition, available on IMSLP, p. 603).
    – AlexJ
    Oct 6, 2023 at 21:30
  • @AlexJ Okay, I see the problem (12/1 compound meter). I don't know how to notate it, but the snippet you linked from the question plus what's in this answer should cover all reasonable options.
    – benrg
    Oct 6, 2023 at 22:02

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