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Re: \time 2

From: Mats Bengtsson
Subject: Re: \time 2
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 12:33:46 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.0.1) Gecko/20021003

I'd say, the simple reason is that we don't want to mix musical
information and layout information in the syntax. As J├╝rgen explained,
you can get the desired layout by setting the style property of
the TimeSignature object. You don't want to go through the whole
input file to replce all \time 2 with \time 2/1 to change the
Another issue is if we should allow for a shorthand syntax, but I
don't find it worth the trouble in this case.


Heikki Johannes Junes wrote:
TimeSignature to #"1".  As far as I know, Lilypond requires a
denominator for internal timing; hence syntax like "\time 2" would be
inappropriate, since it does not deliver enough information.  Of course,

In this point I disagree. Time signature is a purely mathematical
concept, a fraction: "two whole notes"/"one whole note" = 2/1 = 2.
That is why 1/4 as a default denominator is simply wrong.

There has been a tendency in the last four hundred years that the same
music has been expressed with faster notes. For example: "a1 b1 c1 d1"
would nowadays be written with "a2 b2 c2 d2", or "a4 b4 c4 d4". Not even
that is enough. Until you start to put bars to the notes, you can put
the phrasing in the notes; with eighth notes you have a lot of
possibilities to group notes:

  "[a8 b8 c8 d8]", "[a8 b8] [c8 d8]", "[a8] [b8 c8 d8]",
  "[a8 b8 c8] [d8]", "[a8 b8] [c8] [d8]", "[a8] [b8 c8] [d8]",
  "[a8] [b8] [c8] [d8]"

As you can see, a lot of expressional information can be hidden to bars.
If this would not be the case, no note bars would be needed at all. You
could use different shapes for the notes. IMO, this kind of note grouping
has been the reason to start to use shorter notes.

Still nowadays, one can write a piece with "a2 b2 c2 d2" and put that
"one bar equals two whole notes". In that case, that is a reference to
a certain point in the music history. Play the piece in this or that
spirit. If you want to be modern, use "a16 b16 c16 d16" or faster.

/Heikki Junes

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        Mats Bengtsson
        Signal Processing
        Signals, Sensors and Systems
        Royal Institute of Technology
        SE-100 44  STOCKHOLM
        Phone: (+46) 8 790 8463                         
        Fax:   (+46) 8 790 7260
        Email: address@hidden

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