I won't go too much into detail regarding the piece of software I'm building, but it's a very small side-project which will allow for the recording of Midi inputs. Currently I'm thinking of displaying the midi input on two staves with normal musical notation. The only thing is, building time signatures and then a metronome is a great deal of extra work, which could add just a little bit too much complexity to this piece of software which I want to keep simple for effort and usability reasons. Now I'm not particularly knowledgable when it comes to musical theory, but from what I can gather this will cause an issue of lengths of Notes when editing. If I want to allow the user to change Note positions and values, then these can't actually have a meaning without a time signature + tempo, correct? So how do I get around this? Do I instead implement another way of displaying the midi inputs maybe something more akin to Logic's Midi Editor? I know that too would benefit from a time signature, but in my eyes at least it can more easily be referenced to other tracks. Or is this equally flawed?

Ultimately, if what I'm trying to achieve will in truth just end up being as complicated without time signatures, then I may as well spend the time to incorporate them. What do you think?


  • Mike, I am not sure that your question is completely clear, but you could always just output exactly what a strict midi file would output (which has no time signature).
    – Ben I.
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 3:55
  • 2
    @Choirbean every midi file has a time signature encoded in it as part of its header.
    – Dom
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 4:01
  • @Dom - I stand corrected - I didn't think that MIDI ever had this information (though this documentation indicates that it is neither in the header nor mandatory: ccarh.org/courses/253/handout/smf)
    – Ben I.
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 4:11

1 Answer 1


A time signature seems unnecessary for what you're describing, unless "moving a note" would invoke "moving all similar notes" where similar means the same note at the same spot in a measure: the concept of measure would require a time signature. If you don't need that concept then you don't need the associated time signature.

For tempo... same thing: do you want to move notes a distinct number of beats or just let users move notes anywhere? Beats would need a tempo. Otherwise no tempo required. But for what it's worth it could be tricky to get things accurate without a tempo.

Anyway, so it's those concepts (beats and measures) which will make composing easier, but aren't strictly necessary if you don't think you'll need them.

  • Think that sounds about right. I think I will need it, just for the long run. Appreciated, Mike
    – Mackey18
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 9:03

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