I'm not native English speaking and not familiar with the technical terms in music. Thus this seems quite hard to Google an answer to...

In a dance, like a slow waltz, the count goes: 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3....

What are the correct technical terms for one count, like a 1, and for a set of counts that is repeated, like 1-2-3?

I often hear people use the word beat at random to describe it all. In Danish the words takt and taktslag are used as far as I know, but I can't seem to find it in the dictionary when trying to translate to English.

What are actually the correct terms?

  • 1
    It may translate more directly to say "the music is in 3/4 time", although just stating "the music is in 3/4" also works.
    – Chris
    Sep 7, 2014 at 21:13

3 Answers 3


What are the correct technical terms for one count, like a 1

It is simply called a beat.

for a set of counts that is repeated, like 1-2-3?

1-2-3 is a bar, so those three together could be called a bar. What might help you understand is called time signature, which counts the beats of each bar.

  • Thanks, this is great. Ok, how would you say the following: "The music is in 3/4...[what?]". I feel like I'm missing a word here - the Danish equivalent is simply 3/4-takt, which apparently means 3/4 bar (directly translated), but it doesn't sound right.
    – Steeven
    Sep 7, 2014 at 20:30
  • 1
    Actually, just saying that a song is 3/4 is enough. If you refer to the time signature link I posted above, you'll see what 3/4 means. The first image has this description: three (3) quarter-notes (4) per measure. So you can say to someone that a song is 3/4 and he'll understand Sep 7, 2014 at 20:31
  • 1
    Ok, thanks. I understand the meaning, but was looking for the correct English term. Thank you very much and have a good week.
    – Steeven
    Sep 7, 2014 at 20:33

The accepted formal term you are seeking is METRE (US English = METER). In ordinary language, the word "time" is more common. A waltz is said to be in "3/4 metre" (or time) or, alternatively, in "triple metre" (or time). For more, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meter_(music)


Both great answers,but there's also the RHYTHM of the bar that comes into the equation. Each bar in 3/4 or 4/4 etc. will have a distinctive rhythm pattern that goes with a particular piece. Not all 4/4 songs have the same rhythm. For example, a simple 4/4 can have either a straight or a dotted rhythm, which makes each very different in FEEL.The tempo could be identical but the feel won't be.A 12/8 piece can be written with a 4/4 time signature for ease of writing (and reading) - although usually with a little note stated at the top.

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