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25

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 ...


22

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 ...


20

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

In Printed Music In typeset music, time signatures are usually not written with a line between the numerator and denominator (at least no more of a line than is already there). In Text However, when writing text about music, it is an acceptable convention to use a slash to separate the numerator and denominator. See A Style and Usage Guide to Writing ...


16

Normally, we're told that 5/4 is really 3/4 + 2/4 or 2/4 + 3/4. Well, I have to ask "told by who?" It is not the case that 5/4 has to be interpreted as either 3/4 + 2/4 or 2/4 + 3/4. It is perfectly valid to use groups of 5 crotchet beats as the overall rhythmic template of a piece of music, without having to have the same sub-groupings in different ...


13

This will just be an embellishment of @user15077’s answer. This is the beginning of your piece as you’ve notated it: Here is what it would look like with a more standard approach: As you can see, many of the notes are expressed as tied notes now. For example, the quarter-note D-sharp in the first measure is written as a sixteenth tied to a dotted ...


10

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 ...


10

You can't do this algorithmically -- or I really mean to say you shouldn't. But as a musician and arranger, there are infinite possibilities to take some material and rework it into a different format. To the specific example of "Take Five", consider the 5/4 rhythm groove: 5 | 1 2 3 4 5 | 4 | e e - e e - q q | For me, I answer the question ...


9

A bar's duration can be represented using the whole note No, not always! This is the incorrect assumption you're making. A bar's 'duration' depends on the time signature. So, in a standard 4/4 bar, the bar is 4 quarter notes long. (4 * 1/4...see where this is going?) Alternatively, in a 3/2 bar, the bar is 3 half notes long, or 3 * 1/2! So, whilst a ...


9

Let's just pick the first bar apart which is pretty much a mess. I'll write down the note durations as fractions: 3/8 1/16 1/4 9/16 (bar line after 5/16 of that, the 5/16 written as 1/4~1/16). This does not look as much like "composing" as it looks like "let the notation program break the mess across bars and fix this up in the next measure". If this ...


9

Yes. In the treble clef it's called the B line, whilst in the bass clef it's the D line. In alto and tenor it's different... Aw, c'mon, it's nearly Christmas. I'm working from the heading question!


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 ...


8

My answer would actually be different for your two examples. That is, given no other indication in the score, when executing a time signature change from 3/4 to 6/8, I would keep the 8th note constant, whereas when changing from 4/4 to 12/8, I would keep the beat constant, making the 4/4 quarter equivalent to the 12/8 dotted quarter. But, if the 4/4 - 12/8 ...


7

To elaborate on @keshlam's point about older music, there are all sorts of musics for which regular measure lengths are simply not part of the genre. Go back far enough and you'll find non-mensural music, such as Gregorian and pre-Gregorian chant. The music of the trobadors (11th-13th centuries) was not noted with rhythm, and there's an argument made that ...


7

To find the length in seconds of each beat for any given metronome marking in beats-per-minute (bpm), you would divide 60 (the number of seconds in a minute) by the bpm marking. For instance, if a piece has a metronome marking of crotchet (quarter-note) = 120, each crotchet beat is 0.5 seconds long (60/120). You can follow this simple rule to find the ...


7

Actually, in terms of fractions, 3/4 is the same as 6/8. But time signatures are not fractions. 3/4 means each bar has 3 notes of 1/4 each. 6/8 means each bar has 6 notes of 1/8 each. And yes, the difference is in the way you count it: In 3/4 you count 1,2,3 and in 6/8 you count up to 6 and the notes are shorter. The accents change as well; 6/8 is an even ...


7

Time signatures look like fractions, but are not really. I grew up on crotchets and quavers, so I'll use those words, but the American/German number-names drop naturally out of the time signatures. 3/4 does not mean "3 divided by 4", it means 3 times 1/4, or 3 beats of a crotchet. So the piece is "in 3". In all traditional notation (Beethoven, Mozart, et ...


6

The only reason not to use a slash is that it implies division. But it's the closest match to standard notation and the symbol there looks even more like division. You're trying to reproduce what standard notation does, so use / That / will be the least of your learners' worries. I'd say the numbers themselves will be more worrisome. Triple meter? Have ...


6

I think triplets are always 2/3 of the duration of the 3 notes regardless of the meter indicated by the time signature. So a triplet of quarter notes will take up the space of a half note (or two quarter notes). A triplet of eighth notes will take up the space of a quarter note (or two eighth notes). ...and so on. I pulled up some useful links in ...


6

Lee is right, but there is a simpler way to think of triplets. Typically we break notes up into sets of 2 (or duples). For example, two half notes make a whole note, two quarter notes make a half notes, two eighth notes make a quarter note etc. All a triplet is is putting 3 notes where 2 normally go. So 3 eighth note triplets will always equal a quarter ...


6

Two time signatures indicates alternation back and forth between the two. It's just shorthand for writing a new time sig at the start of every bar. The second sig is usually in parentheses, so, for example, 3/4(6/8) would have a bar of 3/4, then a bar of 6/8, then a bar of 3/4, etc. That exact example is from the "America" song from Bernstein's West Side ...


6

No, not really, though it's not terribly common in some styles. I'd say it's relatively rare in Baroque music, for example (or at least it's not notated as such when it does occur, e.g. cadential hemiolas...). OTOH, it's often necessary when transcribing earlier music, due to the later's lack of meter. I think it may have become more acceptable again ...


6

A whole note takes up a full measure in 16/16, 8/8, 4/4, and 2/2 time only. A whole note has the value of 4 quarter notes or 2 half notes. Since how common 4/4 time is (it is even also referred to as common time) it makes sense that the notes name line up with the use in 4/4. In 3/2 the whole measure is represented by a dotted whole note (i.e. a whole note ...


6

In short, no. That slash is just a shorthand for typing; that's not how time signatures are typically notated. Some purists would even say that 4/4 is not a valid way to notate a time signature, because it implies equivalence between key signatures that represent the same fractional value. However, this notation has become somewhat accepted in print ...


6

If we use 'em, it's because they seem necessary to us. It might be that we need an irregular effect for expressive purposes; it might be that if we don't group the notes just so, the lines won't line up properly together rhythmically; it might be that we need them to avoid arriving at a definite downbeat until exactly the right time, and that irregular ...


5

The question has already been answered correctly by Lee and Dom, but I would like to add some pictures as clarification... I don't have an example right now from an actual piece, though I'm quite sure I've seen something similar. Anyway, it's not hard to come up with your own examples, so here's one which shouldn't even sound that odd: This should at ...


4

I think I know what you're getting at. First, a "musical passage" is just any group of notes that are organized into a single idea. It doesn't have anything to do with being on the beat or not. However... If you've lost the beat, you can stop playing, get back onto the beat, and start back in again while everyone snickers at you. Or, you can play a ...


4

Let's take a simple music sheet: As you can see, the time signature is given, and it's 4/4. That means every measure has 4 beats of quarters. I assume you know about the duration of the notes. Every measure/bar in the music sheet is defined by the vertical lines you can see in the image above. Between every two vertical lines, you must have notes whose ...


4

In plain text you can use the vertical bar symbol | (aka pipe) instead of /. It's a very common character, so your keyboard should have an easy way to type it. It would look like this: 4|4. You can check the list of Unicode characters and search for other characters that might be used instead of /, like ⧘ ⦙ ⬍, there's a lot of them (some have mathematical ...


4

Another question and answer give answers for any beat type and tempo, but for the examples above, it depends upon which note length beat is 120 bpm. For instance, a crotchet bpm of 120 (as would probably be used in 4/4), will always give a crotchet length of 0.5 seconds, whole-note length of 2 seconds, half-note length of 1 second, and so on. If, on the ...



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