I'm trying to notate this particular passage here:

The notes in the LH come very slightly before the RH in some places, and I've tried to notate it as follows:

enter image description here

When I play this back in Sibelius it sounds vaguely correct, but it does look very messy, appearing to need 4 time signature changes and it's quite difficult to read, is there a better way I could notate this? (N.B. i would use cross-staff beams in the 2nd and 3rd bar to make it clearer which hand you should use but the software I'm using doesn't allow it)


I've taken the advice of the first answer and one of the comments and written in like this (including a bit of what comes after to show why i'm writing in 4/4) I'll run this by my teacher and mark it correct if she's happy with it :)

enter image description here

  • I like the idea of the ghost accidental reminders, as in l.h. bar 7. But why the F# shown in r.h? Are these optional to the package, or automatic? And which package, please? – Tim Jul 13 '16 at 6:57
  • Yeah I'm using Sibelius 7 first and have to go and hide all the unnecessary sharps it puts in automatically, but I just missed that one – Cubbs Jul 13 '16 at 12:36

Well, this was a nice distraction, thanks!

First off, what piece, or composer, is this? (I'm just curious.)

Here's what I've got:

enter image description here

I chose this route for a few reasons:

  1. The odd time signatures may seem strange, but it's certainly not written in 4/4. You'll need to have a few oddities and a few changes in an excerpt like this, it's just the facts of life. (Hey, blame the composer!)

  2. Furthermore, the 7/16 (or 7/8, if you choose to double all note values) shows the parallelism between the first two measures. In other words, it makes clear that both hands are using the exact same rhythm in both measures.

  3. I changed time signatures in m. 3 to show parallelism again; notice the E-Bf-A-F line in the upper voice starting at the 2/4. This then repeats starting at the 3/8, just an octave higher. (Note that I'm focusing on the RH here to find the meter; one could adjust a time signature here or there so that the LH is the metric anchor, but I find my way to be easier.)

  4. With that said, the composer threw in another little hiccup; instead of a second 2/4 bar, we need something with 9 sixteenth notes instead of just 8; hence the 3/8 plus 3/16.

  5. The concluding 7/16 serves two functions: it matches the durations of the held notes in the right hand, and it also nicely matches the left hand syncopations from the opening two bars.

  6. Lastly, someone might look at this and be troubled with the fact that every left hand downbeat except the first is a tie from the previous measure. At first glance, this would seem to suggest that I've chosen incorrect time signatures, until you realize that the right hand articulates every downbeat. Thus, no matter how one notates it (unless it's a string of 1/16 measures!), there will be tied notes held over into new downbeats. As I said in Step 3, I chose to use the RH to find the metrical downbeats, so here's our result.

The final two pitches could be notated in a variety of ways; we'd need to hear the next section to know for sure, but a fermata there is a relatively good guess.

EDIT: Things like this are always a little subjective; I'm open to any suggestions!

  • I'm composing this myself, trying to prepare some music for an AS music course in the next academic year. Believe it or not this isn't the rhythmically strangest part of the piece, I already change time signatures a lot... I'll try and fiddle around with this a little on paper perhaps and see if I can get a range of solutions for writing it, using 7/16 feels valid for parts of it but i think it might be sensible to keep my 9/8 bar in 9/8, since it just looks neater, but I'm willing to be open about finding an answer :) – Cubbs Jul 5 '16 at 20:34
  • Well congrats, I like the piece! The main reason I decided against the 9/8 is because that music is grouped in twos. The alternation of RH-LH-RH-LH-etc. doesn't lend itself well to 9/8, which is based on a grouping of threes. But hey, you're the composer! – Richard Jul 5 '16 at 20:46
  • I agree with this interpretation. I might condense the 3/8 followed by the 3/16 into one measure, but overall this does a nice job of showing the interaction of the lines in each hand and makes the rhythm very clear. – MattPutnam Jul 5 '16 at 21:26
  • Just curious: in measures 6–8, why did you pick tied notes for the right hand instead of a double-dotted quarter? – cjm Sep 5 '16 at 1:32
  • I could have used double-dotted quarters, I just figured the tied notes would show the 7/16 more clearly (and more easily). – Richard Sep 5 '16 at 1:33

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