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First of all, is the beat in BPM based on the quarter note or the fundamental beat of each time signature?

For example, if it's 3/2 time and it's 80 BPM, does the half note go in 80 times in a minute?

The reason I'm confused about this is because I thought quarter notes were the standard in BPM.

In other words, I thought that a half note on the BPM would take two beats to sound.

But No matter how many examples of playing I looked for, they all played half notes in sync with the one-beat time shown on the BPM.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but if everything is decided by the BPM... what does time signature mean? That's what I don't understand.

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  • @Todd Wilcox No, I mean, if the tempo is the same, 3/2 time and 3/4 time would be exactly the same. In other words, the length of a note can change relative to the tempo and can remain the same at different beats, so what's the point of determining the length of a note?
    – guss2222
    Jan 6, 2023 at 5:36
  • What is it... If i select that, all the comments disappear. Anyway, The question in the text has the same part as the one some guy linked to, but it has already been resolved and the remaining questions are left in the comments above.
    – guss2222
    Jan 6, 2023 at 6:19

2 Answers 2

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BPM is based on the fundamental beat given in the time signature, unless otherwise indicated. So 3/2 time at 80 BPM means there are 80 half-notes per minute. In some cases, the tempo will be given in terms of a specific note value. For example, in 3/2 time, one might see <quarter note> = 160.

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  • So, if the BPM of 2/2 and 4/4 is the same, then 2/2 is shorter than 4/4, right? that's really weird
    – guss2222
    Jan 6, 2023 at 9:48
  • If the 2/2 time has the same length as the 4/4 time, 2/2 time is It should be half of the BPM of 4/4 time. That is, 2/2 time should be 30 BPM, 4/4 time should be 60 BPM.
    – guss2222
    Jan 6, 2023 at 9:59
  • @guss2222 It's more accurate to say that if there are 30 half-notes per minute, then there are 60 quarter-notes per minute.
    – Aaron
    Jan 6, 2023 at 10:40
  • OK. Anyway, it was awkward to me that note length is just relative to tempo. But maybe i get used to it. thank you.
    – guss2222
    Jan 6, 2023 at 10:55
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First of all, is the beat in BPM based on the quarter note or the fundamental beat of each time signature?

In the classical music world, and any place where music notation and music theory are taken seriously, the metronome marking (AKA "BPM") refers to the beat indicated by the time signature.

However, some DAWs another music-related software will not always conform to this real-world standard. This is most often true for compound time signatures such as 6/8. A 6/8 time signature (for example - all of this is true for 9/8 and 12/8 also) indicates that a dotted quarter note is one beat, but many DAWs or electronic metronomes will consider either an eighth note or quarter note to be one beat in 6/8 time.

For example, if it's 3/2 time and it's 80 BPM, does the half note go in 80 times in a minute?

Yes, exactly. Again, some software will not follow this convention, but it is most correct to have the half note come at 80 BPM in this example.

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  • Metronome marking is not necessarily bpm. Beethoven for example liked to indicate a timing for whole measures, much closer to mpm in dancing.
    – Lazy
    Jan 6, 2023 at 9:49

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