37 votes

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

Time signatures look like fractions, but are not really. I grew up on crotchets and quavers, so I'll use those words, but the American/German number-names drop naturally out of the time signatures. 3/...
34 votes
Accepted

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

Actually, in terms of fractions, 3/4 is the same as 6/8. But time signatures are not fractions. 3/4 means each bar has 3 notes of 1/4 each. 6/8 means each bar has 6 notes of 1/8 each. And yes, the ...
  • 1,971
34 votes
Accepted

How to notate time signature switching consistently every measure

Yes, one possible way is to clarify a "5+3" meter throughout. Depending on the music, this could be preferable to just writing 8/4 if the meter is clearly a 5+3 layout. As one example of how this ...
  • 80.3k
32 votes
Accepted

Relationship between 3/4 and 4/4

Time signatures and bars are not there arbitrarily, nor just to help count your way through a piece. They are there to provide guidance on the rhythm of the piece. Where it is accented, where it ...
  • 35.8k
31 votes

Notes not adding up to time signature, with weird white oval note

The piece shown in the question is from the Punjabi psalter of 1908, which compiled the 150 psalms into a collection metrically appropriate for the Punjabi language. The complete collection can be ...
  • 62.5k
29 votes

Why are time signatures not used in this score?

This free-thinking question has already provoked at least one thoughtful answer. The sample score happens to have time signatures, however, beginning with 4 bars of 4⁄4 and going into a bar of ...
  • 642
29 votes

Is it true that cut time means "play twice as fast as written"?

It would be more accurate to say that cut time "will sound twice as fast as the same notes played in 4/4 at the same tempo". That's essentially what they're trying to get across. But even that ...
  • 4,737
28 votes
Accepted

Notes not adding up to time signature?

They add up fine. The first three notes you see, with the 3 underneath them are to be played on the count of one quarter. These are called triplets. The same for the second three notes and then the ...
26 votes

Why use odd time signatures?

It basically comes down to how the way the notes/beats are emphasised affects how your ear hears how the beats are grouped. Listening to a piece in 5/4, you'll hear that the beats are audibly in ...
24 votes
Accepted

How is it that 12 eighth notes fit in a measure labeled as common time?

They are actually eighth note triplets instead of eighth notes. The alternative notation to this would be to group the eighth notes and rests in threes and put a 3 over them like a standard triplet, ...
  • 46.5k
24 votes

Is 41/16 a proper time signature?

There aren't really rules around "proper" time signatures, so much as practical considerations. "Is there another way of expressing this?" Yes, there is almost certainly a better ...
  • 8,562
23 votes
Accepted

Sheet music time signature question

The first measure is called a pickup measure. The music stars on the fourth beat, so the music would start with rests. Sometimes people will put the rests in, other times (as here) they will leave ...
  • 15.7k
22 votes
Accepted

Whole bar rest in 6/8 time?

A semibreve rest CAN be used in 6/8 time - or ANY time (apart from 4/2 - quite unusual)) to represent one bar's rest. At that point, it isn't actually a 'semibreve', but represents just one bar of ...
  • 178k
22 votes
Accepted

Why does this time signature have addition?

It is 9/8, BUT the 'normal' 9/8 is three sets of three quavers - thus the bottom number of 8. 2+2+3+2 also equals 9, and it's written that way so the player can understand what the composer wants as ...
  • 178k
21 votes
Accepted

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

Technically speaking, you can't ever say for certain until you see the composer's original score (if there even is one); a piece could literally be written in an infinite number of time signatures. As ...
  • 80.3k
21 votes

Can music time signatures really be irrational?

He's just showing off. There's a few major reasons why what he describes doesn't matter. First and foremost, sheet music is a guide. It's not actually the music. You are always expected to put ...
  • 1,713
21 votes
Accepted

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

To put it very simply, the bottom number tells you what the top number is referring to. It is a little clearer to use the fractional way of discussing notes, so: minim = half (1/2) note crotchet = ...
  • 6,433
20 votes
Accepted

Does the line between the time signature have a name?

In Printed Music In typeset music, time signatures are usually not written with a line between the numerator and denominator (at least no more of a line than is already there). In Text However, ...
  • 20.3k
20 votes

How is it that 12 eighth notes fit in a measure labeled as common time?

The eighth notes in the left hand are all triplets. The ones in the right hand are normal. Note how the note heads line up vertically in measure 4. On a purely technical level, this is incorrect ...
  • 21.5k
20 votes

Is it true that cut time means "play twice as fast as written"?

That sentence "Played twice as fast as written" indicates that someone must have a misunderstanding. Someone who probably thinks that quarter notes are supposed to be played at a certain speed. That ...
20 votes

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

I would like to add a detail to Richard's answer. The bars sometimes has a 3+2 rhythm and other times a 2+3 rhythm. You could notate the long held chords in synchronization with that. So when it is 3+...
19 votes

Is there any practical difference between 3/4 and 3/8 time?

In the context of Baroque dance music or suites, then there are good reasons to use 3/8 in preference of 3/4 (or vice versa). In the days before metronomes, how the music was notated would be an ...
19 votes

Relationship between 3/4 and 4/4

Your understanding of the math, as it were, is correct. And I would say yes, a multiple of 4 bars of music in 3/4 can be expressed as music in 4/4 (in a multiple of 3 bars), but I would dispute that ...
  • 34.6k
19 votes

In 3/2 time why is a whole-note rest used as a bar's rest when a whole-note doesn't fill the measure?

A bar's duration can be represented using the whole note No, not always! This is the incorrect assumption you're making. A bar's 'duration' depends on the time signature. So, in a standard 4/4 bar, ...
  • 2,467
19 votes

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

To find the length in seconds of each beat for any given metronome marking in beats-per-minute (bpm), you would divide 60 (the number of seconds in a minute) by the bpm marking. For instance, if a ...
19 votes
Accepted

Can music time signatures really be irrational?

I'll give this another spin: Can music time signatures really be rational? Which I'd answer: no, not really. Rationality is a mathematical concept, depending on an exact, axiomatic notion of ...
18 votes

Do time signatures make sense?

If you think the denominators are arbitrary, try notating a stately sarabande in 3/8 time - you'll drown in beams and flags. Next, try notating a lively tarantella in 3/1 time - you'll be overwhelmed ...
  • 6,963
18 votes

Cannot get bar to accord with time signature

There are two separate voices, both add up to 3/4. You can think that there are two singers, singer 1 sings voice 1, and singer 2 sings voice 2.
16 votes

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

They are very different. In 3/4 you are playing in threes: [ONE two three] [ONE two three] [ONE two three]. In 6/8 you are playing twos [[ONE two three] [Four five six]] [[ONE two three] [Four five ...
  • 9,716

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