Questions tagged [time-signatures]

Numeric ratio indicating the subdivision of measures according to groups of beats.

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

These days I pretty much play everything by ear, but was originally trained in strathspey and reel violin so realise I should know the answer to this, but I can't remember what, if any, the practical ...
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60 votes
4 answers
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(1/√π)/√⅔ as a time signature?

I recently found this article on wikipedia about lists of musical works in unusual time signatures and the first unusual time signature is (1/√π)/√⅔. I looked up the piece that was listed as having ...
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52 votes
11 answers
185k views

Does 3/4 time signature differ from 6/8?

I've always wondered how time signatures were thought of- I got the question because I noticed that well in terms of 'fractions', 3/4 is just half of 6/8. Does that apply to music when counting beats ...
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43 votes
10 answers
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Is there any practical difference between 3/4 and 3/8 time?

Is there any practical difference between 4/4 and 8/8? regards a common and unusual time signature; both 3/4 and 3/8 time are pretty common. What difference in performance is implied in the the ...
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42 votes
8 answers
127k views

Is there a difference between 2/4 and 4/4

I cannot figure out the actual difference between these two beats. Isn't it sufficient to have only 2/4 (or 4/4 )?
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35 votes
8 answers
163k views

How to tell the time signature of a song by listening?

Every song has some kind of time signature; even if different parts of the song have different time signatures, there is always a time signature. When learning a song by ear and no score, knowing the ...
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23 votes
7 answers
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Is it true that cut time means "play twice as fast as written"?

I was just reading an e-book and saw this sentence which really confused me: "Played twice as fast as written" - This isn't what cut time actually means right, or are there situations where cut time ...
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23 votes
4 answers
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How is it that 12 eighth notes fit in a measure labeled as common time?

I am looking at Franz Liszt's Consolation S.172 No.3. I have checked out two different music scores of the same composition and they both have the same time signature (standard), however the base line ...
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23 votes
8 answers
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Relationship between 3/4 and 4/4

I understand the meaning of music notations such as 3/4, 4/4 and so on. The first number is the number of beats per measure, while the second number is the note-duration (quarter, half, one-eighth) ...
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  • 333
22 votes
9 answers
27k views

What is the "theory" behind "odd time signatures"?

There are a number of bands, Genesis, The Police, Crack the Sky, Gentle Giant, that have all incorporated unusual time signatures as their core sound - some entire "pop"songs, "Ordinary World - Duran ...
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22 votes
8 answers
5k views

I don't understand the bottom number in a time signature

I've learned that 4/4 means 4 beats with the kind of beat being a crotchet. However, I've seen pieces with that time signature that don't just use crotchets, but minims, quavers, etc. I am still a ...
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22 votes
2 answers
31k views

C in Treble or Bass Clef

I see a 'C' like sign in the beginning of the staff. What does it mean?
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22 votes
4 answers
88k views

What is the connection between time-signature, beat, and tempo?

What is the connection between time-signature, beat, and tempo? Mainly time-signature and tempo. Tempo is beats-per-minute I know, but does the time-signature affect it? For example, in a 120bpm tempo,...
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21 votes
8 answers
35k views

The practical difference between 2/2 and 2/4 time [duplicate]

In practice, what is the difference between 2/2 and 2/4? Doesn't the emphasis fall in the same place either way?
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20 votes
8 answers
37k views

Tips on counting and playing odd time signatures

I'm pretty interested in learning, composing and playing along to songs using odd time signatures (3/4, 5/4, 7/8, ...) and I'd like some advice on how to wrap my head around all this stuff. For ...
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19 votes
7 answers
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What made 4/4 time the most common time signature?

Most music is written in 4/4 time, and in today’s world it seems to be the accepted norm. Now, that doesn’t mean mainstream music doesn’t use alternate meters, but it’s just less common than I ...
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19 votes
5 answers
4k views

Is 41/16 a proper time signature?

I know nothing about music theory so please forgive my terminology. I made a pattern that I've counted off as having 41 16th notes. I'm counting 1-e-and-a-2-e-and-a...etc and the pattern ends on ......
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18 votes
4 answers
224k views

What do the 3/4 and 4/4 numbers mean?

In music notation, I've always been looking for a simple explanation of those numbers that appear on the far left of musical piece, such as 3 over 4 or 4 over 4. I have a hunch they affect the ...
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17 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
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17 votes
3 answers
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How do you know what beat to emphasize based on the time signature?

In learning the guitar I have run across various time signatures. In each time signature it seems as if you are supposed to emphasize different beats. Is this something that you just have to intuit, ...
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16 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why use odd time signatures?

I'm a beginner guitar player, and I'm trying to pick up some of the music theory behind the instrument, and one thing that I've sort of grasped is odd time signatures. I know what they are, and I can ...
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15 votes
5 answers
13k views

How to calculate the tempo of a song in numbers and find the Italian terms?

I'm trying to understand how exactly we calculate tempos and how we assign their Italian names in written music. I've searched before asking, but I'm not 100% sure I've understood everything correctly,...
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15 votes
4 answers
16k views

What time signatures are used in flamenco and related styles?

Recently I've been trying to get some flamenco spirit into my playing. I've already experimented with some 'gypsy' scales and it feels good, but I've also realized that part of the secret is in using ...
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14 votes
1 answer
28k views

How can I find the length in seconds of a quarter-note (crotchet) if I have a tempo marking?

Given a tempo marking in bpm (beats-per-minute), how can I work out the length of a crotchet (quarter-note) beat?
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14 votes
5 answers
6k views

What is the rhythmic notation for 5/8 the duration of a whole note?

Assume that the whole note time equals 8. Then a note which time equals 3 will be written as 1/4 note and dot. How you write down a note that time is equal 5/8 of a whole note?
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14 votes
5 answers
1k views

When practicing a song with frequently changing time signatures, what is the best way to count in?

My percussion ensemble is working on a song with different time signatures, i.e. it is constantly changing between 4/4, 7/8, 5/16 and so on. During the rehearsals, we sometimes want to start somewhere ...
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13 votes
10 answers
5k views

Can music time signatures really be irrational?

In this video around the 5 minute mark, the presenter mentions that "irrational units of time cannot exist because of Planck's constant", and therefore music time signatures like 2:√2 cannot be ...
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13 votes
7 answers
5k views

Can one use a whole note to span a full 5/4 measure?

I'm transcribing a piano passage in 5/4 time here, and I think I'm doing well so far. I find myself mildly annoyed by having to notate the chords that span the whole measure (first in right hand, ...
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13 votes
3 answers
12k views

Whole bar rest in 6/8 time? [duplicate]

Can one expect to find a semibreve rest in 6/8 compound time?
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12 votes
6 answers
1k views

How does the bottom number of the time signature affect counting?

I have learnt all the complicated mathematics subjects in my school, but that bottom number, I can't understand. Ok, the notation will be different, and it will say what kind of note gets the beat, ...
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12 votes
5 answers
25k views

Is a whole note always four beats?

I know that the whole note has 4 beats, the half note has 2 beats, the quarter note has 1 beat, the eighth note has 1/2 of a beat, and the sixteenth note has 1/4 of a beat. That's how they explain ...
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12 votes
3 answers
11k 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 ...
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12 votes
8 answers
12k views

What time signature has 3 out of 8 beats accented?

It's been a very long time since I've done musical theory but I know this rhythm is quite common, especially in dance and even some punk/metal. So, some songs have 4 beats to a bar but it has 2 ...
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12 votes
1 answer
3k views

0/0 time signature?

In a piece my brother is playing there's a weird time signature - it looks like a zero over a zero: a 0/0 time signature. It seems that the bars have 5/4 in them (probably not 10/8, but could be as ...
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11 votes
9 answers
4k views

How do you count many bars of silence (rests)?

Playing in a jazz band there are often 5,6 or 8 bars of silence. This is no problem as I can count them on my fingers. But how do I count larger rests, for example 52, 112 or even longer rests, as in ...
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11 votes
7 answers
2k views

Are odd time signatures perceived as execution errors by layman people?

I recall being told once that odd time signatures like 5/8, 7/8, etc. are perceived by layman people as if the interpreter had an execution error (like he/she made a tempo mistake). Is it common ...
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11 votes
4 answers
16k 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,...
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11 votes
2 answers
1k views

How much is convention when it comes to time signatures?

I know that in 3/4 you group eights by two and in 6/8 you group them by three. My question is simply, is this simply a convention or could I derive this from the time signature itself somehow? Or is ...
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11 votes
4 answers
987 views

How Do I Count Note Durations In These Bars?

I am learning a piece at the moment which is in 4/4, however some bars look like they should be 12/8, and I am confused about the mixing of notation of sometimes triplets sometimes not. Here is the ...
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10 votes
4 answers
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Does the line between the time signature have a name?

In a time signature (4/4 for example), does the / have a term or a name?
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Sheet music time signature question

I don't understand how the first measure only has one quarter note and how the third one has three quarter notes and a half note, both measures don't seem to add up to 4 quarter notes like the time ...
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10 votes
6 answers
10k views

Triplets in 9/8 time

How do eighth note triplets work in 9/8 or 6/8 time? I know in 4/4 they take up the space of two eighth notes but haven't been able to figure out how they work in 8.
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10 votes
3 answers
12k views

Making sense of 5/4 time signatures

Normally, we're told that 5/4 is usually 3/4 + 2/4 or 2/4 + 3/4. (At the very least, it's unusual to have a meter that large without "secondary stress" beats.) However, how do we make sense of the ...
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  • 1,813
10 votes
5 answers
941 views

Are notes played on the beat [always] played louder?

I know that the 4/4 time signature is played as [ONE-two-Three-four]. But in the third beat of the first measure there are two 8th notes; the first one coinciding with the beat. So would they be ...
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10 votes
3 answers
2k views

Are there names for referring to the top or bottom numbers in a time signature?

In a time signature of 3/4 (three by four), what is the name given to the 3 and the 4? I know it in my own language, but can't find the answer for the English equivalent.
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

8 beats per measure

I found this typesetting of a Late Renaissance cornetto piece, and I was instantly perplexed when I tried to hear it in my head when I noticed that there were 8 beats per measure. Is this something ...
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10 votes
3 answers
2k views

Understanding Time Signature: How do I identify the time signature of a song?

I have played music for years and I still don't understand what a time signature actually signifies. I understand it from a superficial sense. If given sheet music I could tell you what time ...
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  • 103
10 votes
4 answers
6k views

What does it mean when there are two time signatures

I am learning the Blazhevic number 34 for tuba and it is in (9/8 3/4) time. What does that mean? It seems to me that some measures equate to be in 3/4 while others equate to be in 9/8. Very confused. ...
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9 votes
7 answers
5k views

When does the amount of beats not add up to the time signature? (Besides pickup measures)

I read from https://www.boundless.com/users/232513/textbooks/understanding-basic-music-theory/notation-1/time-8/pickup-notes-and-measures-54-13529/ that there are exceptions to the rule that there ...
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9 votes
7 answers
11k views

How can I learn timing from a guitar tab?

When playing guitar/bass from tabs, I find that I can learn the fingering easily, but the timing is often wrong when I play with a backing track. I'm fairly noobish to music notation/tablature, but I ...
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