Changes to Automatic Beam Grouping

Every now and then we find we made a basic mistake back in those heady days when we were first building Noteflight, which has somehow lived on in the software. And if we can fix it for you, that makes us very happy!

It turns out that one of those early mistakes had to do with the automatic placement of beams: the horizontal lines that group adjacent notes together, when they’re eighth notes (quavers) or shorter. Noteflight automatically creates beams for you as you edit the rhythm of a measure, and it does this according to certain rules related to the time signature. Over time we have received feedback from our users that not all of our built-in beaming rules conformed to general expectations.

So we decided to change the automatic beaming groups to work the way most people expect. Of course, if you don’t like any particular way Noteflight auto-beams your score, you can always change the beams to anything you want (the quick way is shift-[ or shift-] but you can read the full details on how to do this here).

Here are the changes we’ve made today:

  • For simple duple meters (e.g. 2/4, 2/2, 4/4), simple triple meters (e.g. 3/4, 3/2) and for all irregular meters (e.g. 7/8, 11/4), beams connect notes that occur within the same beat, as defined by the lower number in the time signature.
  • For compound meters (when each beat in the measure consists of 3 equal pulses, e.g. 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, 6/4) beams will group all notes that occur within the same compound beat or set of three pulses.
  • Beams will never group notes across beat boundaries.

Let’s look at some examples (you can open this as a Noteflight score, of course!):

New Beaming Defaults