3

I have recently come across a time signature I've never seen before. It is in a Baroque piece of music. Each bar has a minim crotchet minim crotchet which I think should indicate 6/4 compound time, but there is only one number in the time signature: 3.

What is this time signature?

  • 4
    Is there a question hidden in here somewhere? – Tim Jan 28 '18 at 7:55
4

Time signatures occasionally do away with the bottom number. While I tend to see this more often in modern music, the tradition goes back centuries (in fact, to before time signatures were actually a thing).

If I understand your question correctly, you have this:

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Which tells you that there are three "beats" in the measure, and it's up to you to determine the denominator of the key signature. The above measure is equivalent to:

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Perhaps a clearer notation would be:

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Although one measure of 6/4 has the same note durations as 3/2, 3/2 has three large beats in the measure instead of the two beats that 6/4 has. (It's just like the distinction between 6/8 and 3/4.)

Since you're given a numerator of 3 telling you there are three beats in a measure, this is 3/2.

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