Two measure excerpt

Here from the given notes, I think this is a 6/4 time signature. But I am very confused due to the rest and the note placement. Any suggestions or directions would be appreciated.


another two measure excerpt

So on following your comments and way of analyzing then is this time signature for the above piece 4/8?

  • It looks like 3/2, but basic analysis questions are off topic here.
    – PiedPiper
    Nov 3, 2021 at 18:17
  • 1
    Probably 2/4 for the newly added excerpt.
    – Aaron
    Nov 3, 2021 at 19:27
  • 1
    The new example is very different, and in my opinion makes the answer hard. Perhaps you'd like to ask a broader question, how do you determine a complex meter? In which case, two warnings: 1) time signature is not the same thing as meter, and 2) there could be situations where you can't guess either for sure just by looking at the notes. You can often rule out some possibilities, but the only way to determine the time signature for sure is by looking at where it is printed. Nov 3, 2021 at 19:44
  • 1
    That's why @Aaron says the new excerpt is probably 2/4. We're guessing that mainly because the notes are beamed in quarter note groups, and because there's little reason ever to use 4/8. But a perverse composer might have done so, and there's no evidence to rule it out for sure. Nov 3, 2021 at 19:45
  • @AndyBonner What happens if these 2 are different excerpts?
    – Swaraj
    Nov 3, 2021 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


It's a simple triple meter, so it would be more likely to be written as 3/2. Pay attention to the direction of the note stems, as those indicate multiple voices on the same staves.

This is a 4 voice composition, with soprano in the treble clef with upwards note stems, alto with downwards notes, tenor in the bass clef with upwards note stems, and bass at the bottom.

With that knowledge, you can pick out which rests belong to which voices, although the typesetting in this example is quite good and everything lines up well.

  • How about the newly edited question? Is that still correct ? @dissemin8or
    – Swaraj
    Nov 3, 2021 at 19:43

The excerpt is written in 6/4 (or, more probably, as pointed out by @dissemin8or, 3/2) time, but the visual complexity of the multiple voices can make things confusing to sort out.

As starting point regarding multiple voices, see Rest above a note in a piano piece

To help clarify the time signature, here are the voices all written separately.

Piano rewritten as SATB

And just for kicks, here's a colorized version.

Piano voices in color


The newly added excerpt is most likely in 2/4. A composer who specifically wanted 4/8 would most likely separate every eighth note to emphasize the "4 beats per measure" aspect, rather than beaming them.

  • So we consider it as 6/4 and 3/2, or is there just one correct answer ? @Aaron
    – Swaraj
    Nov 3, 2021 at 18:42
  • that minim rest suggests it is 3/2 and not 6/4 Nov 3, 2021 at 18:55
  • @Swaraj There will be one correct answer, but from those two bars alone, it's hard to tell which it is. My guess would be 3/2.
    – Simon B
    Nov 3, 2021 at 18:55
  • 1
    @Swaraj it's definitely 3/2. This answer is incorrect. See how there is a half note or a whole note every four eighth notes? By contrast, there is no long note in the middle of either measure. If it were 6/4 then the E and the A that are here written as whole notes would instead be written as quarter notes tied to dotted half notes. Also note how the beaming of the eighth notes breaks across the middle of the 6/4 measure in this answer, but it does not do so in the question.
    – phoog
    Nov 3, 2021 at 19:17
  • 2
    @Swaraj it might be a good idea to remove the second example and ask a new question about it. Changing questions so drastically after they've been answered is confusing.
    – phoog
    Nov 3, 2021 at 21:05

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