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Most popular music is in double, quadruple, and occasionally sextuple meter, but there are quite few pop songs in triple meter. My impressions is that songwriters write their songs in triple meter only if they want to give a "waltz feel" to their song.

My question is, thus, why has triple meter pop songs not been more popular? Is there a music theoretical and/or historical rationale?

  • Actually, the vast amount of popular music seems to me to be derived from 4 time, I cannot of the top of my head think of any double time pop music. – Neil Meyer Nov 6 '18 at 13:29
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Maybe if we had been designed with three legs, the even time signatures of 2 and 4 wouldn't be so popular. 6 would possibly survive, especially in slow time! 5 time and 7 time remain rarities for much the same reason.

It's probably the fact that in 2 and 4 (and 6 if that gets counted in 2 lots of 3) literally evens everything out. Dancers will always be on the same foot at the same place in each bar, making the counting so much easier.

Historically, a lot of music was played for dancing, and there were several in 3 time, but most of that seems to have passed by. Of course, some songs start with words, and when they have music added, the 3 time becomes the natural rhythm to be in. But 4 time is the most common, by far - so much so, it's known as common time - although the 'C' as the time sig. does not represent the word 'common'.

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  • Yep. Triple time trips and dances. Two and four are square and cool. – Scott Wallace Nov 6 '18 at 12:32
  • Don't forget patterns of speech. In English we speak predominantly (and approximately) in iambic meters. If we spoke in dactylic meters, maybe waltzes would be more common ;) – ex nihilo Nov 6 '18 at 12:32

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