Questions tagged [meter]

The rhythmic organization of music into regularly recurring measures dictated by a time signature.

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35
votes
6answers
59k views

Polymeter vs Polyrhythm

What is the difference between a polymeter and a polyrhythm? Do these words mean anything different for different instruments? PS: I'm a drummer.
32
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9answers
16k views

Do musicians count the meter all the time?

When I started as a beginner on the piano I just timed the notes by feeling. That is, until my teacher played back a recording of me to show me just how messed up my timings were. Since then I've ...
30
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8answers
4k views

Aldous Huxley and 5/4 Meter in Music Predating “Take 5”

Background: "Take 5" by Paul Desmond (and famously recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet) is one of the more famous jazz standards out there, and one thing any analyst would point out ...
30
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5answers
7k views

How can a non-musician recognize anacrusis?

I need help understanding anacrusis (pickup notes). I'm no musician - I'm more of an anthropologist. I was reading some articles on ethnomusicology, and one of them makes reference to anacrusis in ...
16
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4answers
3k views

How to notate time signature switching consistently every measure

It seems my musical journey's always pushing me into left field territory when it comes to notation ... So this time I'd like to know what would be a good way to notate a consistent switching of time ...
15
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9answers
4k views

Intended shift of meter in certain songs?

In pop music, there are some songs that pretend to have the beat accent at a certain time in the intro but with percussion coming in, the beat (apparently) shifts the meter such that you have the ...
14
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7answers
7k views

Why must the final bar complete the anacrusis?

The Wikipedia page for anacrusis states that Western standards for musical notation often include the recommendation that when a piece of written music begins with an anacrusis, the composer, ...
14
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1answer
2k views

Does Chinese music avoid counting in 4s?

Many East Asian cultures consider the number 4 to be unlucky, because their words for that number are highly homophonic to the word for death. Quite often you will see companies skipping the number 4 ...
14
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3answers
206 views

Just how specific is the term “hemiola”?

In Name and structure of staggering beat in Ramones' “Merry Christmas,” the rhythm in the second measure of the following example is described as a hemiola: But to me, these are just triplets and not ...
13
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13answers
7k views

Is it hopeless in terms of becoming decent musicians, if they can't count beats?

My flesh-n-blood guitar teacher has tried to get me to count beats (verbally or at minimum in my mind), and I think that I've tried reasonably hard in doing so for few months now. However I've come to ...
12
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3answers
10k views

What is the importance of tempo and time-signatures?

What is the importance of tempo and time-signatures? Aren't tempo and time-signatures all interchangeable? 4/8 at 60 BPM can be also described as 4/4 at 120 BPM. Can't a 60 BPM tempo be transcribed to ...
12
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5answers
5k views

What exactly is a beat in sheet music/music?

A quick google search will reveal common answers, such as, beat is a steady "pulse" of music, beat is the foundation of rhythm, or beat is a basic unit. However, to me these are vague answers and I ...
12
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3answers
29k views

What is and what is not syncopation

I'll often hear tunes in which the first note is upbeat and the second is downbeat. When is it syncopation and when is it not? For one of many examples, take "Amazing Grace." The "A-" is a weak ...
11
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5answers
4k views

Why do you need meter in music?

The music score clearly specifies the length of all notes. So once you know how long a quarter note should last, for example, you already know the tempo and timing of entire score. So why would you ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

Can't feel meter when playing

I can't feel the meter when playing along very well, sometimes not at all. Note I can feel the "pulse" just fine. I have no problem tapping my foot to the beat in time but I can't feel where the one ...
10
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4answers
14k views

How do you know if a song has triplets in 4/4 or if the tempo is 3/4?

How do you know if a song has triplets in 4/4 or if the tempo is 3/4 ? For example, consider this song : For the first line , I can count 1,2,3 ,1,2,3 ,1,2,3 ,1,2,...
10
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3answers
382 views

Is there a term for metric equivalence analogous to “enharmonic” for pitch equivalence?

Key signatures, chords, scales, and phrases are said to be enharmonically equivalent if they contain the same pitches, but are notated differently. Is there an analogous term to express that time ...
10
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1answer
246 views

End Accents in Other Cultures

Disclaimer: It's difficult mixing terminology between Western and non-Western musics, but I'll try to make my question as clear as possible. Western Classical music most often has an accent at the ...
9
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7answers
5k views

Why is 3/4 a simple meter while 6/8 is a compound meter?

These two meters sound very much alike to me and they can often be used interchangeably. For example: it's a trivial thing to change the meter of "An der schönen blaue Donau" from 3/4 to 6/8. ...
9
votes
2answers
677 views

Reinforcing meter when dealing with alternating 1/8 and 1/16 notes and rests

Below is an excerpt from a not very known piece (in 4/4 time) that prominently features abuses ornament notes: In an attempt to simplify the piece (which is full of similar ornamentation) while ...
9
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6answers
7k views

Songs that move between 6/8 and 4/4?

I am trying to do this for something I've written (4/4 in verse, 6/8 in chorus) but it's difficult to get in and out of smoothly, so I'm wondering how other people have tackled this. For my song, if ...
8
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2answers
604 views

How to write a pickup measure with 5/16 duration in Lilypond?

I'm trying to write sheet music for a piece with a pickup measure of 5 sixteenth notes. Lilypond has the \partial command for this, but it only accepts a single duration. That duration may be dotted, ...
8
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3answers
580 views

Can beats in fractional meters be grouped? If so, are the groups integers or not?

I learned recently that time signatures can be fractional in the top number. For example, 2.5/4 meter. For normal time signatures, they have integer grouping structures. For example, 4/4 meter has a ...
8
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2answers
586 views

Why is meter divided into simple and compound types?

From what I understand, Simple Meter -- divisible by twos Compound Meter -- divisible by threes Why do we choose 2 and 3? Why not n divisions?
7
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4answers
579 views

Is 7/8 an example of measured rhythm or metrical rhythm?

Wikipedia provides the following definitions: Metrical rhythm, by far the most common class in Western music, is where each time value is a multiple or fraction of a fixed unit (beat, see paragraph ...
7
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3answers
8k views

Stress in music

I am currently reading up on songwriting and am confused by the idea of stress in music. I understand it will be necessary to match the lyrics word stress with the music beat stress but dont know how ...
7
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1answer
114 views

What is meant by “quarter = half” when changing tempo?

What is meant by the following indications when changing tempo: " In 4 quarter = 126" and later "In 2 quarter = half"
6
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5answers
997 views

Are there situations where a time signature is unknown?

My understanding is that a time signature like 4/4 time is known because certain beats are emphasized, for example: ONE, two, three, four. But let's say someone created a song with tempo alone (ie ...
6
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5answers
6k views

How does 'meter' differ from 'rhythm' in music?

The following introductory books' definitions don't distinguish meter from rhythm. Please see the titled question. I asked this on Music Fans, but I still don't understand. Please expound more plainly?...
6
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4answers
56k views

What is a measure?

I would like to understand what a measure is, can someone help me understand this concept? Wikipedia defines a measure as "a segment of time defined by a given number of beats", but this doesn't ...
6
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5answers
2k views

Is 5/4 simple or compound?

I have seen 3 major ways of subdividing the quarter notes in 5/4. 1 is treating it as a simple meter and 2 others treat it as an irregular compound(or technically speaking, complex) meter. I have seen ...
6
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3answers
753 views

What is this old time signature (2 with a vertical line through it)?

On the fourth line of page 5 of the score of Fasch's Ouverture-Suite in F major, one reads a time signature that is the number 2 with a vertical line through it: What does it mean? I know some '...
5
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2answers
638 views

How to interpret the '3' notation underneath the first two quavers?

I'm trying to adapt a guitar piece to the piano. The piece, shown here, is in 3/4. I've never seen this bit of notation before and I initially thought it was the indicator telling you to play 3 notes ...
5
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4answers
317 views

How does an apparent 4/4 arise from 2 totally unrelated time signatures?

So I have been listening to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and I notice something that is unusual to me in his promenades. It has a 4/4 feel but it isn't written in 4/4 at all, instead it is ...
5
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3answers
347 views

What is the name of this notation in this example by Couperin?

Consider following excerpt from the beginning of the 2nd leçon of Couperin's Leçon des ténèbres pour le mercredi saint: As you see, it uses a rather strange notation where, for instance, a bar of 3/2 ...
5
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3answers
142 views

Fractional phrase length in Chopin's Nocturne Op. 62 No. 1

The main subject in Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1 consists of two phrases that each begin with "B A# G# F# D#". However, they are not aligned relative to the barline, because it seems that ...
5
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6answers
1k views

How do time signatures relay information on the grouping of beats?

I'm trying my best to understand musical meter, but it's just not making sense to me. In particular, I don't understand how one might deduce from the two numbers in the time signature (i.e. 3/4 or 4/4 ...
5
votes
3answers
362 views

Metric Modulation: Length of 'swing' notes

I just exported a Piano score from Sibelius with a swing feel: I wanted to edit the MIDI in my DAW and noticed, that the notes actually weren't in a triplet duration. The second note was always off ...
5
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1answer
10k views

What is a hypermeter?

I understand both the terms polymeter and polyrhythm, but when songs from bands such as Meshuggah are discussed the term 'hypermeter' keeps popping up. Can someone please explain?
4
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2answers
977 views

Why does “Modern Man” from “The Suburbs (2010)” have missing beats?

I used to feel "Modern Man" from "The Suburbs (2010)" by Arcade Fire had an interesting "beat skip effect". But now when I really count the beat, there are indeed missing ...
4
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2answers
191 views

Counting 2+3 and 4 over a beat of 4 at the same time

I'm rearranging a piece of mine from 12/8 to 4/4. This works pretty fine for the harmony since those were arpeggiated chords, 4 groups of 3. But I notice the melody is rather complicated to transfer ...
4
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5answers
6k views

How to count a note which has 6 on above it?

It's on 2/4 meter. I know we all are much familiar with 3 on top of any note which is a triplet. Here I'm confuse today: What is 6? Please describe to me what the 6 is about and how to count those red ...
4
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3answers
380 views

Rhythmic/Metric Stress Patterns

The attached images are a page from Jack Perricone's Melody in Songwriting. I am familiar with the concept of stress patterns in music, but, honestly, have no idea what the hell he's on about here. ...
4
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2answers
5k views

What feel is 12/8 meter and why?

I know 6/8 is a two feel, so I feel like 12/8 would be a four feel of four triplet groups per bar. Is this correct?
4
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1answer
217 views

Regarding the beginning of Gould's B minor fugue, WTC 1, performance

I've listened to Gould's performance of this piece many times, sometimes following the score, and I've noticed that maybe Gould plays this piece wrong at the beginning. Unfortunately, I am unable to ...
4
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1answer
49 views

Does a phylogeny of Afro-cuban rhythms exist?

I've recently been immersing myself in Afro-cuban rhythms. There are many similarities between them, and it struck me that it would be interesting to learn how they are related to each other with a ...
4
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1answer
184 views

How do I explain a time signature switch from 2/2 to 4/2?

I am presently studying Nathaniel Dett's Chariot Jubilee, and the time signature switches from 2/2 to 4/2. What are some suggestions on how to approach explaining to singers.
4
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1answer
90 views

Is there any evidence that humans perceive meter using a metrical grid?

I have been perusing Ray Jackendoff and Fred Lerdahl's book A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. In this book, they propose some rules for meter and one of their assumptions is basically that musical ...
4
votes
2answers
139 views

Stressing the third beat more than the first in 4/4: is it syncopation?

The definitions of syncopation I've come across generally talk about stressing the offbeat (see, for example, Wikipedia) where "offbeat" sometimes refers to placing the accent in between beats (on the ...
3
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1answer
172 views

Why do notes not add up to the bar in this example by Couperin?

Consider following excerpt from the beginning of Couperin's Leçon des ténèbres pour le mercredi saint: I noticed that the note values don't always add up in a bar. Cases (indicated in the figure): ...