A train company poster features dubious music notation – and musicians are not on board

25 July 2022, 18:02

Metrolinx’s new train posters have caused havoc among musicians online.
Metrolinx’s new train posters have caused havoc among musicians online. Picture: Metrolinx

By Siena Linton

The Canadian train company’s poster has caused havoc online as musicians try to decipher its time signature.

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Complex time signatures have long been a point of frustration for many a musician. Let’s face it, no one enjoys trying to count to 11 each bar, let alone complicated cross-rhythms.

But a Canadian train company’s new marketing campaign has taken time signatures to a whole new level, and the online reaction has derailed the campaign’s message.

Metrolinx, which covers the Toronto and Hamilton area in Canada, has displayed posters in train stations publicising its new ticket offers, with a weekend day pass costing $10, or $15 for a two-day pass.

Read more: 13 horrifying music notations that will make you want to tear up your sheet music

Sounds great, right?

With the marketing slogan, ‘Don’t miss a beat this weekend’, one witty graphic designer has transformed the detail into a musical score. Except, it’s backfired rather extraordinarily.

Metrolinx has combined its ticket prices to create the brain-melting time signature of 10/15. For the mathematically minded, a ‘15th-note’ would be equivalent to a dotted semi-quaver-and-a-bit (good luck counting that).

Read more: If you can work out the time signature of this piece you’re officially a musical genius

To add to the madness, the music that follows the time signature (and an oddly placed bar line) manages to not only ‘not miss a beat’, but actually exceeds the length of a bar. By our estimations, one bar of music in 10/15 would be equivalent to a little over five quavers, or a minim and a quaver (and a bit more).

Instead, there are seven here… you do the maths.

Quite understandably, the mishap has whipped up a frenzy with musicians and mathematicians online attempting to decipher the passage. Among the suggestions is an alternative, more playable passage that would stay true to the time signature:

Or perhaps Metrolinx could adjust its ticket prices for the sake of the time signature, as another user advised.

We particularly look forward to hearing the live version at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, soon...