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63

A time signature is simply the composer's way of telling you how s/he is subdividing the measure. So in 4/4 time, the composer imagines the measure divided into four beats, while in 8/8 time, the composer imagines the measure divided into eight beats. The difference is less in the strict timing and more in the feel or pulse of the music. Try counting ...


37

Go for a walk. Count each step, in twos or fours. Tread heavier on the ones. One two One two One two One two One two three four One two three four They feel different, don't they? This is the difference. And yet there is an equivalence between them. Walk at the same tempo, but count to four twice as fast, so you're stepping on the One and the three. One ...


22

Time signatures and bars are not there arbitrarily, nor just to help count your way through a piece. They are there to provide guidance on the rhythm of the piece. Where it is accented, where it breathes. Some composers do write pieces with no time signature or bars, as an indication that there should be no consistent rhythm. Eric Satie did this for several ...


19

Your understanding of the math, as it were, is correct. And I would say yes, a multiple of 4 bars of music in 3/4 can be expressed as music in 4/4 (in a multiple of 3 bars), but I would dispute that the same can necessarily be represented as such. The bar line placement of a piece of music has tremendous impact upon live musicians' interpretation of, not to ...


18

The "C" after the clef in place of the time signature stands for "Common Time," and it is shorthand for 4/4 time. If you see a "C" with a vertical line through it, that stands for "Cut Time," and it is shorthand for 2/2 time.


16

"Crotchet" is the British term for quarter note. A "Minim" is a half note and a "quaver" is an eighth note. 3/4 is a time signature. More specifically, it is simple, triple time. The top number in this time signature indicates that there are three beats in each measure. The bottom number (below the slash) means that one beat is defined as a quarter note, ...


16

I think the author of that Wikipedia page has rather misinterpreted Nancarrow's title page for the Study (linked on Roland Bouman's comment to the question). (1/√π)/√⅔ refers to a tempo ratio between two voices, not a time signature. Nancarrow was rather obsessed with canons. The canon is a form where multiple voices each play the same music at some time ...


15

I'm quite used to it by now, my point being that at one point, you can sort of feel this rhythm patterns. However, when you start a new time signature, it's good to break the bar up in smaller pieces. For instance, you can count a 7/8 as 2 times 2 and 1 time 3. Just tap your foot on the 1 when counting in your head the following pattern: 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3. ...


15

The other answers are all essentially correct, but I think a critical point is missing. There aren't just fully "strong" and fully "weak" beats; there are also beats of medium strength (and other varieties). 4/4 is emphasized like this: ONE two three four Note the half-accent on the third beat, different from what slim mentioned. If you're playing ...


15

Using only your ears, it's impossible to determine the exact time signature the composer would have used when writing the score. This is because there are many ways to write the same thing, all of which sound the same when played. For example, a piece written in 3/4 time can easily be re-written in 3/8 time by halving all the note values and playing it half ...


14

I recommend listening to Dave Brubeck's Time Out. That whole record is an exploration of odd time signatures and unusual ways of subdividing rhythms, but in a way that still swings. Three of the more famous tracks, for example, are: "Blue Rondo a la Turk": This is in 9/8, which is an old time signature dating back to the Baroque period, used when a ...


13

The song "Killing Me Softly (With His Song)", by Roberta Flack and re-made by The Fugees, which your linked piano tutorial would (kind of) fit with, is in 4/4 time like most pop songs. The rhythm would be three eighth notes, one dotted quarter, one non-dotted quarter. In pseudo-notation: * * * * * 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & ... for ...


12

After a quick listen I see no reason not to just use 4/4. The beat is definitely even, so whatever time signature you go with you should stick with or at least similar times (e.g., 2/2). You certainly shouldn't be switching signatures almost every measure. It's hard to say where you went wrong here, especially since you didn't describe your method, but ...


11

These numbers are time signatures. In brief, they tell you how many beats are in a measure. (This answer might not work as well for people not familiar with music that doesn't have a strong rhythmic component.) To start this off, think of a waltz. You might count it out like this: One two three one two three (and so on). That's 3/4 time; each measure is ...


11

Whilst even time-sigs are far more common that odd ones, once the 'feel' of a tune is running, most people will go with the flow. Even when there is a change of time in the middle of a line, most people don't spot it. Having sung/played 'The 12 Days of Christmas' (topical !) for many years, it took me by surprise when I looked at the music; the time changed ...


10

These two time signatures both indicate simple triple time (also known as waltz time). They are mainly used in the same genres: Formal dances such as waltzes, minuets, mazurka, and scherzi Country, R&B Western ballads sometimes pop All of these genres commonly use simple triple time i.e they have three beat per measure (usually with the first beat ...


9

I would say that the specific name is "experimental." My feeling is that it comes from the school of thought that attempts to turn the back on musical tradition and come up with something new. There's a certain arrogance to it in my opinion (famously, Schönberg said upon coming up with his rather superficial tone-row concept that he had assured the ...


9

Yes. This is a pick-up bar, also known as an anacrusis. This melody starts on beat 4 and so this note could also be called an up-beat. That is why the first bar is incomplete. When this happens the last bar should have a complementary number of beats (in other words, the number of beats in the time signature minus the pick-up bar, 3 beats in this case). As ...


8

For the most part, the time signature indicates what kind of feel the beat of the piece has. Consider waltzes, usually written in 3/4 – the beat goes ONE two three, ONE two three, ONE two three. Although you could write it as ONE two three, FOUR five six, ONE two three, FOUR five six with a time signature of 6/4, there's no point because the beat still ...


8

There is no clear and fast rule. The emphasis is entirely dependent on the rhythm of the tune. While there are some standard feels for different time signatures, they are broken as often as they are kept. In terms of standard feels, I'd say that all your examples are correct. It's important to note that 5/4 with accents on the 1 and 4 feels just like 3 + 2 ...


8

It is hard to generalize about music where there are odd time signatures or worse yet, frequently changing time signatures. Here are some suggestions that help me: When you are starting out, count every single fundamental beat, whether the eighth notes or the quarter notes, and be extremely aware of each "one" or the first beat of each measure. Always ...


8

Try and fully understand what rhythm you are working towards - and if necessary tap it out on a drum or something else so you can feel the beat. If you can describe it as 4/4 6/8 or standard structure then it should be straightforward. If you can't time it physically, you will have problems getting it into a DAW. Assuming you can do it audibly and make the ...


8

Even if a large orchestra in rehearsal is not getting a verbal count-off, the meter is stil getting set up by the conductor visually--it's just that in many cases the conductor won't bother giving more than a single cue because the ensemble doesn't need it. Certainly if it's fast asymmetric and mixed meter music, you'll see something a bit more active from ...


8

How about 2/2 (alla breve)? This also goes in two, but the pulse is a half-note so you can write your 32nds as 16ths, which should be readable. Nowadays alla breve is also usually associated with a quick tempo so to an experienced musician it should look right.


8

The way this band is approaching odd times is by adding the remainder to some kind of easily digestible time signature. In terms of 17/16, they're playing it like 4/4, but adding one sixteenth to the end of the beat. The 9/8 thing is the same as adding an extra 8th note to the end of a 4/4 bar. This way you get the rhythm of 4/4 then they create tension ...


8

The history goes that religious music was written in 3 time, reflecting the holy trinity.So a circle would be used. When music was written in 4 time, a BROKEN circle would be used. This over time became printed as a C. So it represents 4/4, but doesn't actually stand for 'common'.As above, when split, it means split time - 4/4 but played with a 'two' feel.


8

As others pointed out, the piece you cite has a "pick up measure". Note though that it is not categorically ok for measures to not add up to the number of beats in the time signature, it can only happen at the first measure. There is another case where you can have an apparent mismatch in the number of notes and the time signature. This happens if the ...


7

I'm a big, big fan of odd time signature. The thing is, there is not really any theory that I know of, it's all notation and counting/feeling, and notation is convention. Basically, the idea is you have a X/Y time signature, meaning you have X elements of value Y (generally 1/4 or 1/8 notes). That's about it. While Bryan's answer is perfectly valid, my ...


7

You need to understand that flamenco rhythm is very different from classical or popular music (it has more in common with Indian Classical music and the concept of "Tala"). All flamencos talk about rhythm using the notion of "compas" - these are rhythmic "styles", that include a time structure, as well as a feel and a usual tempo. For example, Bulerias ...



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