I am looking for a specific, distinct name for the first beat in the first bar. The anacrusis or pickup measure should not be considered.

This is for a label in a software for playback-based performances. I want to annotate the time position of the "first beat of the piece" for synchronisation with a click track.

Note: The clicks do not require to start exactly at the mentioned point in time, it's just the reference point for synchronisation. There could well be a count-in like "1,2,3,4", then the next "1" is actually the beat I am referring to.

Note2: Assume, for this question, that the BPM and time signature remain the same for the whole piece.

  • 1
    Not aware of such name. First beat in the first bar sounds quite reasonably. Commented May 29, 2023 at 18:19
  • 2
    You could call it the downbeat. Commented May 29, 2023 at 18:31
  • "The first beat of bar #1" presuming any lead-in bars are either unnumbered or start at zero and number backward.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 2:57
  • The start....
    – Mazura
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 2:09

3 Answers 3


(with anacrusis) - "First downbeat after the anacrusis/pickup bar"

or simply,

"first downbeat" (when there is no anacrusis)

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    Commented May 29, 2023 at 18:56
  • 1
    Is there any situation where the lead-in bar/s could have any downbeat at all, while remaining as pickup notes but not being part of an intro? I can't think of one. "The first downbeat" is highly distinct in anything barring experimental music, so this short answer really describes it well. Welcome to the site!
    – Criggie
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 3:01
  • In a song like "On top of Old Smokey", I'd regard "On top of Old" as an anacrusis, with the first real downbeat as being "Smo-". If the song were notated with eight 6/8 bars per verse, it would have four eighth-note pickups, but the song is often notated with sixteen 3/4 bars per verse, which puts a downbeat in the middle of what should be an anacrusis.
    – supercat
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 20:55

In software, generally I expect a "Bar 1" marker to point at the beginning of bar 1, i.e. bar 1 beat 1. The term "Bar 1" doesn't exactly refer to "the first beat in the first bar", but it seems like an appropriate label to use for your purpose.

  • I like this, because in the end, it's the user (or the sheets they use) that say which bar is considered bar number 1.
    – Marcel
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 6:14

This is a very specific thing, and you will find that there often are no general terms for very specific things. If you were to include any sort of anacrusis you could go for capo (head), as in da capo. But I’d advice you against using some obscure term used for this in rare instances and instead go for something that is short, easy to understand and clear in meaning like first measure, first beat or even something like click start or click synchronisation (which might be relevant if you need the click to change throughout the piece).

  • isn't "first beat" vague with longer anacrusis? Commented May 29, 2023 at 20:08
  • @user1079505 I suppose with a longer anacrusis you’d rather sync the click track with the hypothetical measure you get from filling up the anacrusis. But sure, it is certainly not the clearest option.
    – Lazy
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 20:54

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