Notation software advice
  • Below is an example of what I am looking to do.

    I use Finale as my software but I am frustrated with the need to preset a time signature, hide it, hide note stems, etc. Is there a notation software that allows you to start writing without the need for a preset time signature? I would just like to focus on writing and not presetting and hoping it works out.
  • Yes: Dorico.

    Dorico does not force you to put in a time signature. In fact, you can work in completely free meter, and merely plop barlines where you want them after the fact. You can filter all notes and then press "hide stem" and all the stems disappear in one go. Also, if you ever make a mistake, there is something called "insert mode" where you can add and subtract beats at will, with or without a time signature being displayed.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 977
    In MuseScore, just set time signature to leave you plenty of space (like 20/4), delete the time signature immediately before you do anything, write your music, then edit the measures to fit. Not as streamlined as Dorico, but I don't find it difficult to do.
  • Here's a screenshot of something I did two days ago (full score not shown).

    (And if you want to listen to it, you can do so here: )
    Thanked by 1Mattspmusic0320
  • In MuseScore, just set time signature to leave you plenty of space (like 20/4), delete the time signature immediately before you do anything, write your music, then edit the measures to fit.

    I appreciate the insight although this is exactly what I am currently doing with Finale. I think I need to do a trial for Dorico. It sounds impressive and is exactly what I have been needing to find. Thank you both for your insight!

    (I have Finale, Sibelius, and MuseScore; I am a Finale user and feel very proficient at the program. I bought an old copy of Sibelius [5] at a discount from Guitar Center and upgraded it to 7.5. I got MuseScore because why not, it's free! None of these programs do it as simply as it sounds in Dorico. I may cross-grade the Sibelius program after a Dorico trial since I never really use Sibelius).
  • Final note; James, your psalm settings are so beautiful! Keep up the great work!
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,780
    A Sibelius kludge is to take advantage of the similar appearance of stemless quarters, eighths & sixteenths. In your example (but not in Serviam's) a single 3/2 signature is all that you need; "We are his people the sheep of his flock" (hadn't this better use a comma if not "and"?) is entered as 4x16+1/2+4x16+1/2 before changing to stemless notes.
  • Thanks, Matt! This one is almost a 1:1 transcription of the Gregorian antiphon in conspectu angelorum. It worked out swimmingly.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 693
    Mattspmusic0320, have you thought of making your own template in Musescore? I know there is a liturgical unmetrical template which might make things easier for you. I've created templates in Musescore which takes a lot of the drudgery out setting up scores.
  • Templates are everything with Finale.
    Or rather, Staff Styles are, and templates carry them.

    I edit a fair bit of liturgical music for CPDL, and I like to do original-notation incipits, which Finale 27 with its SMuFL support makes much easier than it was heretofore. I set up the Note Shapes staff style to be pitch-neutral (it was really designed for shape-note music) but to replace note heads with their white mensural equivalents. That does the bulk of the work, except for rests and ligatures. The template contains early versions of clefs, and an initial 1/2 bar with a note on the middle line, where the notehead is converted to the proper prolation sign.

    Such batching-the-default might help with your projects as well: set 10/4 as your default time, and only change the measures that are exceptions. But alas, there's no way to totally ignore beat numbers in non-metric music. Many of these projects have chant interpolations in black breves on 5 lines in the original, and these I generally set in the prevailing meter, changing the last measure if necessary to get the right number of notes. Change the noteheads, staffstyle stemless notes, invisify barlines and time sigs. This also gives better spacing than a single line of 21/4

    I recently did an edition with an interpolation of 4-line Solesmes-style chant, using the SMuFL characters. If I were doing an all-chant project, I'd certainly use Gregorio instead. But it turned out decently and wasn't that hard.

    And yes, I own Dorico. Old dog, new tricks...
  • While I would be the first to say Dorico is the answer, I thought I'd still point out how to do this well in Finale also as none of the prior commentators mentioned this.

    When I engraved the music for the Misal Romano I used the JW Meter and Rhythm plugin to analyze each measure to set a time signature that matches whatever was entered in each measure instead of having to count everything ahead of time and set the meter. To make entry easier, in Speedy Entry, I turned off the options to check for extra notes, and to jump to the next measure. So in entry I would enter whatever needs to be in each measure, and advance to the next measure using the right arrow key. It looked a hot mess during entry, but click one button in the plugin and it all fits perfectly. It saved a ton of time. My templates all had the display of time signatures disabled (in the staff tool).

    The plugin is available (for free) on this page: