Why can two consecutive beats be subdivided into "subbeats"?

If a rhythm consists of four beats in a bar, and those beats are subdivided into two "subbeats", can we call it a 8/4 time signature ?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Tetsujin, Heather S., Pat Muchmore, Tim, Richard Jan 21 at 19:23

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    I recommend that you search the site for questions about time signature. I believe at least one will answer your question. – Heather S. Jan 21 at 12:33
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    Welcome! It's difficult to understand exactly what you are having problems with. It may be the language translation. – Tim Jan 21 at 13:39
  • I suppose you are mixing the two time terms the "beat" with "measure". – Albrecht Hügli Jan 21 at 16:09

you mean: why is the time signature of a measure consisting of 8 quarters not a 8/4 signature? why is it divided in 2 measures of 4/4 ?

I have seen 8/8 or a 4/2 but not a 8/4 measures

in other words you mean to ask: is there a difference between a 4/2 an 4/4

this question has been answered recently

Is there any real-world difference between time signatures such as 4/4 and 8/8?


If meter consisting of bar of four beats...

That would look like this...

enter image description here

...the meter is 4/4 and there are 4 beats and quarter notes represent the beat.

...sub divided by two sub beats ...in between two consecutive beats

That wording is a little unclear, but "subdivsion of the beat" would look like this...

enter image description here

...there are 8 notes, but because they are subdivisions of the beat we use eight notes to represent eighth notes are half the duration of the beat. Notice the meter does not change. We still have 4 beats.

...call it as 8/4 signature?

That meter would mean 8 beats, like this...

enter image description here

...technically nothing is incorrect about 8/4, but it is not normally used. Instead 2 bars of 4/4 would be used, like this...

enter image description here

While 8 eighth notes in 4/4 and 8 quarter notes in 8/4 give the same number of notes (8 notes) the difference is whether the notes represent a full beat or half a beat.

This might become clearer if we use some actual music and follow a common convention of one chord per beat.

Here is a basic four chord progression with all the rhythms at the beat level...

enter image description here

Now let's increase the rhythmic activity to 8 notes by subdividing each beat. When we do that we will keep the chord rhythm to one per beat (the technical name for the rhythm of the chord changes is harmonic rhythm)...

enter image description here

...this kind of subdivision of the beat might happen where the tempo of the beats does not change.

In other words, subdivision of the beat, is a rhythmic change of splitting the beat, without necessarily changing the meter, tempo, or harmonic rhythm.

This is not the only way to subdivide the beat, but it's an example that brings together a few key ideas regarding meter, beat, subdivision, tempo, and harmonic rhythm, all concepts that are intimately inter-related in homophonic (chord based) music.

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