Gareth Montanarello

Creating Tuplets Across Barlines in Sibelius

Cross-bar tuplets came up a few times in the music I was working on this summer. This one in a piece I am transcribing for bass presented the added challenge of notation: most notation programs don't allow tuplets to cross the barline by default. I eventually figured out a workaround in Sibelius that is fairly straightforward but not immediately obvious.

The Method

The example above is in 3/4 and the quintuplet spans 2 beats across the barline: beats 3 and 1. If you try creating an 8th note quintuplet on beat 3 in Sibelius, you get this error message:

This is a perfectly legal notation, but tuplets can't cross the barlines automatically generated in each score. The workaround involves thinking about the two measures as if they had no dividing barline. The two measures of 3/4 become one measure of 6/4.

After that, create a quintuplet (select eight notes and press ctrl/cmd + 5) across beats 3 and 4.

Sibelius thankfully has several formating features that allow you to add and move elements wherever you want. We need to turn the bar of 6/4 back into a bar of 3/4, so to do that we are going to add a barline from the notations menu after the third note of the quintuplet.

Technically the barline falls right in the middle of the third note, but it's easier to read if you round up and place it between the third and fourth notes.

The barline is a little far to the right, so use the Inspector (found by right-clicking the element) and adjust the X offset by clicking the down arrow.

The Inspector includes a visibility option called "Hide." Since we don't want the 6/4 time signature appearing on the final product, click on the time signature and select "Hide" on the Inspector. It will be ghosted on the score but invisible on anything you print or export. Make sure the next measure is changed back to the original time signature (if necessary) and hide that time signature, too.

If you have to add a cross-bar tuplet between bars that change time signature (i.e. a measure of 3/4 to a measure of 4/4), the process is similar to above, but the doubled measure will be the total of the two time signatures added together (7/4). You will also have to manually create a time signature from the Text "Styles" menu.

Use the inspector to move things around as needed.

And here are the final results of both tuplets. One spans the barline between two 3/4 measures and the other spans the barline between a time signature change.

This method is pretty flexible and can be adapted to all time signtaures or tuplet lengths. I mentioned earlier that I am transcribing a piece for bass, so that is going to be the topic of my next few posts! Please subscribe if you want to stay updated on those and check out some of my other posts, too!


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